U.S. Woman Suffrage
1848 - 1920
Teaching With Documents:
Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment
Resolution Proposing an Amendment
to The Constitution Of The United States
In July 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY. It was here, that the woman suffrage movement was born. The attendees to the convention also included abolitionists who sought universal suffrage. The abolitionists goal was realized in 1870 when the 15th amendment to the Constitution, granting black men the right to vote, was ratified.
Women's suffrage, under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the United Nations in 1979, is now considered a right except in several Muslim Middle Eastern countries that continue to deny voting rights to women.
Memorial to Congress from
The American Woman Suffrage Association
The tactics of the suffragists went beyond petitions and memorials to Congress. Testing another strategy, Susan B. Anthony registered and voted in the 1872 election in Rochester, NY. As planned, she was arrested for "knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully vot[ing] for a representative to the Congress of the United States," convicted by the State of New York, and fined $100, which she insisted she would never pay a penny of. On January 12, 1874, Anthony petitioned the Congress of the United States requesting "that the fine imposed upon your petitioner be remitted, as an expression of the sense of this high tribunal that her conviction was unjust."
Petition for Woman Suffrage Signed by Frederick Douglass, Jr.Wealthy white women were not the only supporters of woman suffrage. Frederick Douglass, a former slave and leader of the abolition movement, was also an advocate. He attended the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, and in an editorial published that year in The North Star, wrote, ". . . in respect to political rights, . . . there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the elective franchise, . . ." By 1877, when he was U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia, Douglass's family was also involved in the movement. His son, Frederick Douglass, Jr., and daughter, Mrs. Nathan Sprague, and son-in-law, Nathan Sprague, all signed this petition to the U.S. Congress for woman suffrage ". . . to prohibit the several States from Disfranchising United States Citizens on account of Sex."
Association of Army Nurses of the Civil War Letterto U.S. House Judiciary Committee
Petition to U.S. Senate Women Voters Anti-Suffrage Party of New York World War I, ca. 1917By 1916 almost all of the major suffrage organizations were united behind the goal of a constitutional amendment. When New York adopted woman suffrage in 1917 and President Woodrow Wilson changed his position to support an amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift in favor of the vote for women. There was still strong opposition to enfranchising women, however, as illustrated by this petition from the Women Voters Anti-Suffrage Party of New York at the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War I.
Photograph of Suffragist with "Kaiser Wilson" Poster
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