Women's Rights- Suffrage

Important People
Opponents and Barriers
Associations and Organizations
Woman Suffrage Timeline
Why Should Women Have the Right Vote?
The Women's Movements
Statements by Presidents
Suffragists or Suffragettes?
Minor v. Happersett
Wyoming

Summary of the Woman Suffrage Movement:


Women's efforts to win the vote were significantly influenced by both the Civil War and World War One. Before the Civil War the idea of women voting was a far-fetched concept that threatened the traditional male role as head of the household. In 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York, activists from the Northeast began the 70 year struggle for what seemed to them as a natural right of all Americans
The organized suffrage movement was in its beginning stages in 1861 when the pressures of the Civil War forced activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to choose between concentrating your energies on activities such as organizing fundraisers to support Union troops or or focusing on suffrage laws and property rights for married women.
Suffragists claimed that women needed judicial, religious, and civil equality with men. By the 1850s, suffragists, sometimes affiliated with antislavery and temperance groups, were actively lobbying at the state level for constitutional changes while they traveled throughout the United States giving speeches to raise the women’s consciousness of the importance of the vote. Unfortunately these hopes were not realized. Women were not included in the postwar settlement that included the ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. Time and time again the courts denied that citizenship included the right to vote.
By the twentieth century, the focus warped into a crusade by the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association to pass a national amendment authorizing suffrage, which had been presented to Congress every year since 1870. However, it wasn’t until 1914 that the resolution had sufficient support for an affirmative vote.
Inspired by the extremist tactics used by women in Great Britain, a group of younger American women formed the National Woman’s Party in 1915. This group spotlighted attention-getting parades and other forms of publicity along with pressure tactics that made women’s suffrage a completely unavoidable topic even for those who opposed it. When World War I began in April 1917, the more conservative National American Woman’s Suffrage Association buried its suffrage activities in war work. The association supported war work and efforts in order to inspire female patriotism even at the cost of suffrage efforts.
During this year women also made the case that the war was being fought for democracy, often using President Wilson’s own words on their banners. The National Woman’s Party stationed pickets right outside the White House until embarrassed officials began arresting and imprisoning them on giddy charges such as obstructing access to sidewalks. In prison, when privileges such as writing letters and not wearing prison uniforms were denied, women in jail began hunger strikes, which, because of an overreaction from the government, led to them being force-fed.
Finally, in 1918, under pressure from both of the woman suffrage associations, Wilson urged a acquiescent Congress to pass what later became, when it was ratified in the summer of 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment (also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment).


Bibliographies