Citizenship by Emma Guy Cromwell is a pamphlet describing what it means to be a citizen of the United States and an overview of how our government works on local, state, and federal levels. Cromwell stresses the importance of understanding the system to be better involved in the system. The pamphlet is a guide to being a responsible citizen.
Cromwell strongly believes in the responsibility of voting. She even writes
“Every citizen should study the ethics of his government, think for himself, and form his own opinion.
A person with no public opinion on public affairs is a coward and unpatriotic.”
Women have earned the right to vote and if they don’t utilize their right there is no point in having it. As a responsible citizen, everyone should vote to express their opinion so the political leaders that are chosen represent the entire population.
Cromwell’s primary audience are new voters and since the 19th amendment was newly ratified, women were her main targets. Cromwell believed that women should be rational when making political and public decisions, but should also consider their past experiences in the home. Cromwell writes that
“…the chief end of all good government is to improve and protect the home, the church, and the community…”
With that idea, women would be perfect voters because they have the greatest experience in the home. Approximately 27 million women were eligible to vote so the vote of women should greatly propel the nation.
Cromwell stresses that the United States Constitution is the supreme law. On several occurrences she explains that the federal laws are above state laws. Many states tried to keep women and African Americans from voting and this pamphlet taught new voters that the do in fact have the right to vote, regardless of what their state says.
The pamphlet has a four part call to action. This call to action is directed primarily at women but includes all voters. The first part is that everyone with the right to vote should. Second, citizens should help manage public affairs and if they are elected, they should be ready to hold that office. Her third point is that citizens should understand public questions so they can vote intelligently and criticize justly. Finally, all citizens should pay their taxes.
Emma Guy Cromwell’s pamphlet was important at the time of publication to guide the new voters and citizens of the United States. The information found in the pamphlet is still pertinent. Some of the information is dated, however, chapters that give overviews of the government systems, particularly federal government, is still useful and many current citizens could learn a great deal about our system of government.