On 14 June 1907, Norway’s Storting demonstrated the difficulty faced by women’s suffrage advocates around the world. On the one hand, the national legislature approved a bill that would allow some of Norway’s women to vote for lawmakers and even to win seats in the Storting. On the other hand, the male lawmakers limited national voting rights to women who had the right to vote in municipal elections.
First woman to cast her vote in the municipal election, Akershus slott, Norway, 1910. Oslo Museum collection via DigitaltMuseum under Creative Commons License.
Those limits meant that only women who were at least 25 years old and met certain tax-paying thresholds had the right to vote. The Storting voted by a 3-to-2 margin not to enact universal female suffrage.
From the 1300s to the 1800s, Norway was joined with its neighbors Denmark or Sweden. While reforms in the late 1800s created a powerful Norwegian legislature and considerable autonomy over domestic conditions, Norway did not gain full independence until 1905. Even then, the legislature accepted a king and put a constitutional monarchy into place.
Democratic reformers were among of the forces pushing for these changes in the late 1800s. Norwegian men gained the right to vote in 1898. A women’s suffrage movement had been active since 1885 but was unable to convince the Storting to extend the right to women. Norway’s women did enjoy some advances. In 1854, they gained the right to inherit property, and in the 1890s, they won the right to control their own property.
Nevertheless, it was another six years after the 1907 vote for the Storting to agree to full women’s suffrage. While the delay may have frustrated Norway’s women, they were still better off than the women in all but three other countries. Only New Zealand, Australia, and Finland allowed women to vote at that time.
In the summer of 1899, a ship sailing from Hong Kong to San Francisco had had two cases of plague on board. Because of this, although no passengers were ill when the ship reached San Franscisco, it was to be quarantined on Angel Island. When the boat was searched, 11 stowaways were found the next day two were missing. Their bodies were later found in the Bay, and autopsy showed they contained plague bacilli. Despite this scare, there was no immediate outbreak of disease. But rats from the ship probably had something to do with the epidemic that hit San Francisco nine months later.
On March 6, 1900, a city health officer autopsied a deceased Chinese man and found organisms in the body that looked like plague. In 1894, two research physicians had simultaneously and independently identified the bacillus that causes bubonic plague. Shibasaburo Kitasato published his findings in Japanese and English; Alexandre Yersin published in French. People in different parts of the world credited one or the other with the discovery, depending which journals they had read. That the plague had an identifiable “germ” was known. But other recent findings had not been disseminated — or believed. Most people felt that the germ infected humans through food or open wounds. Disinfection campaigns were the order of the day. In some places they ran carbolic acid through sewers, actually spreading the disease faster because it flushed out rats that had lived there.
The Panic of 1907 also known as the 1907 Bankers’ Panic or Knickerbocker Crisis was a United States financial crisis that took place over a three-week period starting in mid-October, when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on banks and trust companies. The 1907 panic eventually spread throughout the nation when many state and local banks and businesses entered bankruptcy. Primary causes of the run included a retraction of market liquidity by a number of New York City banks and a loss of confidence among depositors, exacerbated by unregulated side bets at bucket shops. The panic was triggered by the failed attempt in October 1907 to corner the market on stock of the United Copper Company. When this bid failed, banks that had lent money to the cornering scheme suffered runs that later spread to affiliated banks and trusts, leading a week later to the downfall of the Knickerbocker Trust Company—New York City’s third-largest trust. The collapse of the Knickerbocker spread fear throughout the city’s trusts as regional banks withdrew reserves from New York City banks. Panic extended across the nation as vast numbers of people withdrew deposits from their regional banks.