The woman’s suffrage movement was a seventy-two-year-long battle that was rooted in the abolishment of slavery and linked to obtaining the right for both blacks and women to vote. The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified and officially abolished slavery in the United States in 1865. The Women’s Suffrage movement began around 1848. The first woman’s rights convention was held on July 20, 1848, at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls. By 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association began to fight for a universal-suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
A group of pro-15th Amendment supporters formed a group called the American Woman Suffrage Association and fought for rights in each state as women’s rights were held on a state by state basis. Most women were prohibited from voting or exercising the same civil rights as men during this time based on the idea that a married woman’s legal existence was based on that of her husbands. They argued that women deserved the same rights and responsibilities as men because women and men were created equal but different from men. This idea that women and men were created equal won the support of greater numbers of women and men to their cause, among them were the famous suffragettes attributed with founding the woman suffrage movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
At the turn of the century, women reformers had formed two groups, the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1890 the two groups merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Both groups wanted to pass reform legislation but many politicians were unwilling to listen to a disenfranchised group. Over time women began to realize that in order to achieve reform, they needed to win the right to vote. By the turn of the century, the woman suffrage movement became a mass movement. In the 20th-century leadership of the suffrage movement passed to two organizations. The NAWSA undertook campaigns to enfranchise women in individual states and simultaneously lobbied President Wilson and Congress to pass a woman suffrage Constitutional Amendment. In the 1910s, NAWSA’s membership numbered in the millions. The second group, the National Woman’s Party (NWP), under the leadership of Alice Paul, was a more militant organization. The NWP undertook radical actions, including picketing the White House, in order to convince Wilson and Congress to pass a woman suffrage amendment.
In 1920, due to the combined efforts of the NAWSA and the NWP, the 19th Amendment, enfranchising women, was finally ratified. This victory is considered the most significant achievement of women in the Progressive Era. It was the single largest extension of democratic voting rights in our nation’s history, and it was achieved peacefully, through democratic processes. The woman suffrage movement began in 1848 when a women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. The Seneca Falls meeting was not the first in support of women’s rights, but suffragists later viewed it as the meeting that launched the suffrage movement. For the next 50 years, woman suffrage supporters worked to educate the public about the validity of woman suffrage. Under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women’s rights pioneers, suffragists circulated petitions and lobbied Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women.
Women’s Suffrage effort was primarily organized in America and then influenced suffrage movements around the world. “One of the movements most important and influential people was Elizabeth Cady Stanton”. She was one of the foremost women’s rights activists and philosophers of the 19th century. She was born on November 12, 1815, to a prominent family in Johnstown, New York. She died on October 26, 1902, in New York, New York. She was educated at the Johnstown Academy and the Troy Female Seminary. Elizabeth Cady was surrounded by reform movements of all kinds. She married Henry Brewster Stanton in 1840, who was an abolitionist, and the pair traveled to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. They were turned away because female delegates were told, were unwelcome.
Another important figure in Women’s Suffrage is Lucretia Mott. She was born on January 3, 1793, and died November 11, 1880. She was raised in a Quaker community in Massachusetts. She married James Mott, and after their first child died at age 5, became more involved in her Quaker religion. “By 1818, she was serving as a minister. She and her husband followed Elias Hicks in the “Great Separation” of 1827, opposing the more evangelical and orthodox branch”. While on her honeymoon in London to attend a World’s Anti-Slavery convention, Stanton met abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Staton, who, like her, was also angry about the exclusion of women at the proceedings. Mott and Stanton, vowed to call a woman’s rights convention when they returned home.
Eight years later, in 1848, Stanton and Mott held the first Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York. It took place on July 19, 1848, and drew over 300 attendees. Stanton authored, “The Declaration of Sentiments,” which expanded on the Declaration of Independence by adding the word “woman” or “women” throughout. This document called for social and legal changes to elevate women’s place in society and listed 18 grievances including controlling wages, owning property, getting a divorce, gaining custody and and the right to vote. One hundred of the delegates, including 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, declaring that women were citizens equal to men. The Seneca Falls Convention marked the beginning of the campaign for woman suffrage. That same year, Stanton circulated petitions throughout New York to urge the New York Congress to pass the New York Married Women’s Property Act.
The Women’s Suffrage movement finally had a breakthrough in 1918 when a bill was passed through Parliament that granted some women the right to vote. In order to vote, a woman had to be over the age of 30 and own property, or be married to someone who owned property. The woman’s suffrage movement is important because it resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which finally allowed women the right to vote. In the Declaration of Sentiments, Stanton proposed twelve resolutions, of which women’s enfranchisement was just one. While many of her contemporaries initially felt that woman’s suffrage was inconceivable, Stanton and Anthony soon saw that achievement of their other goals regarding women’s rights was only possible through suffrage and the political advances and allies they would make along the way. The years of hard work women put into making suffrage a reality taught them the full potential of democracy and how to employ that potential. They learned skills and gained the political credentials that made them more effective and laid the groundwork for their increasing participation in government.
The Women’s suffrage movement caused a ripple effect on subsequent generation that is evident in a range of educational, civil rights, and health care reforms, as well as in the growing number of women elected to governmental positions. Besides providing women the legal ability to vote, the suffrage movement promoted civic action among newly enfranchised women through such organizations as the League of Women Voters, the new National American Woman Suffrage Association