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Thesis paper Roman Maldonado
womens sufferage and how it affected them individually
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Woman Suffrage Movement
Civil Rights in the United States , 2000

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Woman Suffrage Movement
The earliest known call for female voting privileges in the United States came in 1648 from Maryland landowner Margaret Brent, who demanded that, like male freeholders, she be granted a vote in the House of Burgesses (the Maryland colonial legislature). Nonetheless, although some states allowed female taxpayers to vote for a time after the American Revolution, the issue of female enfranchisement was virtually dormant well into the nineteenth century. It was only in 1848, with the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, that an organized effort to pursue the vote was formed. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Quaker minister Lucretia Mott had first conceived of the convention years before, out of anger over the segregation of female abolitionists at the World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840 in London, England. They were joined by three other women--Mary Ann McClintock, Jane Hunt, and Mott's sister, Martha Wright--in organizing the Seneca Falls convention. Attended by 300 men and women, the convention produced the "Declaration of Sentiments," a document outlining eighteen grievances regarding the status of women and twelve resolutions for future action, including one that proposed female enfranchisement. Although the call for the vote was controversial even to the convention attendees, the Declaration of Sentiments received one hundred signatures. Two weeks later, at a Rochester, New York, convention, there was even more solid support for suffrage; two years later, at the first national women's rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, it became clear that the suffrage movement had found a broad base of support.

In the early 1850s, Stanton met temperance worker Susan B. Anthony, who would soon match her passion for Feminism and rank beside her as a principal figure in the suffrage movement. The two worked both together and separately on a variety of reform causes, including abolition and married women's property rights. Like other suffragists, they were hopeful that female contributions to the Civil War victory would be rewarded with enfranchisement; as that hope failed to materialize, they became more adamant that female suffrage take equal priority with other reforms. Beginning in 1869, the suffrage movement experienced a deep, two-decade rift over the issue of ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, which would completely prohibit the disenfranchisement of African-American males, a right that had been merely discouraged by the Fourteenth Amendment. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, states that did not grant African Americans the vote faced the prospect of suffering a relative reduction in their representation in the House of Representatives, a body which would be reformulated to reflect the overall number of male voters. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony insisted that the Fifteenth Amendment expand its provisions to include women.

In the past, both Stanton and Anthony had worked ardently for the rights of African Americans--in fact, earlier in the decade they had helped found the National Woman's Loyal League, which produced a petition with 400,000 signatures in support of the Thirteenth Amendment. That amendment freed slaves in states loyal to the union in 1865. Now, in 1869, however, they viewed the absence of a reference to women in the Fifteenth Amendment as a defect of such a magnitude that it interfered with their support for the earlier amendment. They stressed that women were just as qualified to vote as other disenfranchised groups and that it would be absurd for them to act as advocates for others and to neglect their own rights. Women, as longstanding supporters of the African-American cause, deserved to be simultaneously enfranchised, they argued.

Stanton and Anthony now exited an organization that had briefly united the objectives of both feminists and abolitionists to form a new organization that concentrated principally on feminist issues: the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). In response to the formation of NWSA, more conservative feminists, led by Lucy Stone, formed the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) later in 1869. Its disdain for the NWSA membership continued beyond the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870. AWSA continued to accuse NWSA of Racism. Comprised entirely of suffragists from existing groups, AWSA was dismayed by some of NWSA's suggested reforms--for example, the expansion of the grounds for divorce beyond adultery. Furthermore, it was outraged by NWSA's unconventional supporters, such as free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull, her sister Tennessee Claflin, and their friend Isabella Hooker, all of whom intertwined ideas of spiritualism and radical reform with feminist thinking. AWSA and NWSA were moreover divided on the question of which strategy to pursue in the suffrage battle. AWSA favored a state and local approach, whereas NWSA sought a federal amendment to the Constitution that would grant female suffrage.

The women's movement relied heavily on speechmaking at civic clubs and other local volunteer organizations. There were numerous conventions and a stream of feminist articles, books, and periodicals. Another favorite tactic among all generations of suffragists was the petition drive, whereby petitions were circulated in support of various measures. Occasionally there were staged publicity-seeking events, including Susan Anthony's disruption of the 1876 centennial celebrations in Philadelphia and acts of Civil Disobedience, such as Lucy Stone's 1858 refusal to pay property taxes on her New Jersey home. Even in the late nineteenth century, there were various female candidacies for government, although these were often purely symbolic; in the early twentieth century, bolder feminists staged a number of marches, demonstrations, and pickets.

The suffrage movement, over its seventy-two-year history, was influenced by and came to influence many other social trends and political movements. Even the earliest suffragists had extensive prior experience as activists involved in volunteer or charitable work before becoming involved in the suffrage cause. Many had been abolitionists as well and saw female suffrage as a natural extension of the liberation of African Americans. A number of notable suffragists were of the Quaker faith, which had long promoted progressive ideals. Suffrage was also embraced by scores of noted writers or other women of accomplishment of the day--for example, pioneer female clergywomen Antoinette Blackwell and Olympia Brown; author Julia Ward Howe; American Red Cross founder Clara Barton; journalist and civil rights activists Ida Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell, who was the first president of the National Association of Colored Women. And there were prominent male supporters of female suffrage, including anti-slavery orator Frederick Douglass and poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Suffrage became closely linked with the issue of temperance, especially during Frances Willard's leadership (1879-1898) of the national Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). WCTU was a force behind the drive to permit women to vote in municipal elections, because those local elections often involved referenda determining whether liquor could be sold. (This did, of course, at the same time make the suffrage movement a target of the liquor industry's retaliation.) Beginning in 1878 with the California State Grange organization, the Granger movement--a political-action group that had been representing the needs of farmers from 1867 onward--began offering support to woman suffrage through local bodies of the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry, the principal Granger organization. Although the suffragists' relationship with the Labor Movement was initially checkered, they continued to court labor until 1890, when suffrage received a formal endorsement from the American Federation of Labor. Further reform movements were to follow the AFL's lead, including ones promoting consumer rights and other progressive causes. Ultimately it was the trend toward greater female Education and the desire for more social freedom that strengthened the suffrage movement the most.

Throughout the suffrage campaign, some feminists suggested modified strategies for securing the vote. Because it was widely recognized that it was essential for mothers to have a voice in matters pertaining to education, suffragists were able to obtain for women a kind of limited so-called "school suffrage," which allowed them to vote only on certain issues--on school-related matters, in some states: Kansas, 1861; Michigan and Minnesota, 1875, for women who were both widows and mothers of school children; Vermont and New York, 1880. In 1898 tax-paying women in Louisiana were enfranchised on tax matters. Generally, Western states were more receptive to female suffrage, in part because of the hope that women's influence would promote law and order. In Utah female suffrage gained ground because it bolstered local support for the practice of polygamy, which Congress sought to prohibit. As U.S. territories Utah and Wyoming enfranchised women in 1869, as did Washington in 1883; Wyoming retained female suffrage after gaining statehood in 1890, although Congress reversed women's enfranchisement in Utah as part of the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act, and the vote for women was defeated in Washington in a state referendum in 1889. In 1915, Congress considered but did not pass a law to permit women who met state voting requirements to vote in congressional elections.

In 1890 the branches of the women's movement, NWSA and AWSA, united to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). NAWSA was the organization that probably deserved greatest credit for the enactment of the Nineteenth Amendment, which enfranchised women. NAWSA was first headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, although it would later repudiate her 1896 denunciation of the Bible. Susan B. Anthony followed Stanton as NAWSA president, with an eight-year tenure beginning in 1892. Both the Stanton and Anthony presidencies were marred by enormous frustration in the suffrage campaign. It was under the first presidency of Iowa educator Carrie Chapman Catt (1900-04) that NAWSA and the movement as a whole experienced a new infusion of energy and demonstrated more savvy. In her second presidency (1914-21), Catt enacted the "Winning Plan" (1916), which promoted the state-based strategy as a means to an ultimate federal suffrage amendment. NAWSA, however, still faced competition from a younger, more aggressive contingent of feminists including Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, whose Congressional Union (later the National Woman's Party) practiced a confrontational strategy and demanded the immediate enactment of a federal amendment. In 1917 Paul organized a picket of the White House, for which she and many followers were arrested and imprisoned. Public outrage over these arrests was another significant factor in creating momentum for the drive to pass the suffrage amendment.

The Nineteenth Amendment is worded as follows:

Section 1: The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Section 2: Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Suffrage amendments had been offered each year since 1868, and the wording of the amendment was unchanged from its 1878 version. In spite of support from President Woodrow Wilson, the amendment was still the subject of considerable controversy in Congress. Among the issues raised in congressional debate were fears in the North of detriment to business, distaste in the South for perceived damage to states' rights, and a widespread phobia of involving women further in the public sphere. Nonetheless, suffrage finally was passed by the 66th Congress: by the House of Representatives, 304-89 (May 20, 1919), and by the Senate, 66-30 (June 4, 1919). The amendment secured its thirty-sixth state ratification from Tennessee on August 18, 1920.

Following the enactment of the Nineteenth Amendment, some of the former suffragists reorganized into the League of Women Voters to offer their advocacy of progressive reforms on issues such as child welfare and workers' rights. The League joined with other groups to form the Women's Joint Congressional Committee to enhance female voting solidarity. Many former suffragists, such as Carrie Chapman Catt and Jeanette Rankin (the first woman elected to Congress), stressed the importance of pacifism and saw it as an outgrowth of their feminist efforts.

Further Readings
•Anthony, Katharine. Susan B. Anthony: Her Personal History and Her Era. 1954.
•Barry, Kathleen. Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Singular Feminist. 1988.
•Blackwell, Alice Stone. Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman's Rights. 1971.
•Catt, Carrie Chapman, and Nettie Rogers Shuler. Woman Suffrage and Politics. 1923.
•DuBois, Ellen Carol. Elizabeth Cady Stanton/Susan B. Anthony: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches. 1981.
•DuBois, Ellen Carol. Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848-1869. 1978.
•Duniway, Abigail Scott. Path Breaking: An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in the Pacific Coast States. 1914.
•Flexner, Eleanor. Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States. Rev. ed., 1975.
•Frost, Elizabeth, and Kathryn Cullen-DuPont. Women's Suffrage in America: An Eyewitness History. 1992.
•Frost-Knappman, Elizabeth, with Sarah Kurian. The ABC-Clio Companion to Women's Progress in America. 1994.
•Griffith, Elisabeth. In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 1984.
•Grimes, Alan P. The Puritan Ethic and Woman Suffrage. 1967.
•Gurko, Miriam. The Ladies of Seneca Falls: The Birth of the Woman's Rights Movement. 1974.
•Harper, Ida Husted. The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony. 1898.
•Kerr, Andrea Moore. Lucy Stone: Speaking Out for Equality. 1992.
•Kraditor, Aileen. The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890-1920. 1981.
•Lunardini, Christine A. From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party, 1910-1928. 1986.
•Wheeler, Leslie. Loving Warriors: Selected Letters of Lucy Stone and Henry B. Blackwell. 1981.
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2000 Macmillan Reference USA.
Source Citation:
"Woman Suffrage Movement." Civil Rights in the United States. Ed. Waldo E. Martin, Jr. and Patricia Sullivan. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2000. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.
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Gale Document Number: GALE|BT2338231249

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Carrie Chapman Catt:

- spoke out 

-talked about lack of education, equal pay for men and women, equal job opportunities

-founded International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA)

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EBSCOhost: Reader recommendation: Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment

womens sufferage

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History Reference Center: Women's Suffrage & the Nineteenth Amendment

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