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American Suffrage Movement

American Suffrage Movement

The American Suffrage Movement not only aided in the passing of the 19th Amendment, which finally guaranteed a woman's right to vote, but also set the stage for women to enter positions of power, making changes in the realms of education, healthcare, and civil rights. After generations of women marched, lectured, and lobbied for their rights, the US was finally making strides towards equality.


American Suffrage Movement Timeline

1848 - The first women's rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York, with 68 women and 32 men in attendance. At this convention, they signed "The Declaration of Sentiments," modeled after "The Declaration of Independence." The document contained 12 resolutions that requested equal treatment for men and women and voting rights for women.

1849 - In Worchester, Massachusetts, the first National Women's Rights Convention was held with more than 1,000 people in attendance. Well-known abolitionists and women's rights supporters such as Frederick Douglas, William Lloyd Garrison, and Sojourner Truth were present at the convention.

1850 - At a women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth makes her famous "Ain't I a Woman" speech.

1861 - The Civil War began, and women's rights conventions and advocacy paused to give attention to the war effort.

1865 - Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony created the "American Equal Rights Foundation." The foundation is created for Black and white men and women with the goal of universal suffrage.

American Suffrage Movement Elizabeth Cady Stanton StudySmarter   Elizabeth Cady Stanton US Library of Congress American Suffrage Movement Susan B. Anthony StudySmarter Susan B. Anthony US Library of Congress

1868 - The suffragists split into two groups, one which focused more on a woman's rights to vote by receiving an amendment, and the other group focused on a woman's right to vote throughout the individual states.

1870 - While women kept pushing for the right to vote and a woman by the name of Victoria Woodhall spoke directly to the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives, the Anti-Suffrage party was founded. Anti-Suffragists believed that a woman's right to vote would undermine their roles as mothers, wives, and educators.

1871 - Susan B. Anthony registered to vote in the US presidential election and was arrested. She was tried and convicted in 1873.

1873 - Minor vs. Happersett ruled that the 14th Amendment did not give a woman the right to vote even though she was a citizen.

American Suffragists often tried to use the 14th and 15th Amendment to attempt to show a woman's right to vote.

14th Amendment - "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

15th Amendment - “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

1875 - The "Declaration of the Rights for Women" was put forth to Congress by Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joselyn Gage.

1877 - California Senator A. A. Sargent put forth a Women's Suffrage amendment to Congress.

1890 - The "National American Women's Suffrage Association" (NAWSA) was founded.

1896 - The "National Association of Colored Women" was founded.

1911 / 1912 - The "National Association Opposed to Women's Suffrage" (NAOWS) was founded. In contrast, Theodore Roosevelt's "Bull Moose Party" was the first major political party to support women's suffrage.

1916 - After a transcontinental tour that gained over 500,000 signatures the previous year, the first woman was elected to the House of Representatives.

1919 / 1920 - The "Woman's Suffrage Amendment" was once again put forward to Congress and was sent through to the states for ratification. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed and certified as law. The NAWSA disbands, as their hard work finally paid off.

The right of 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.” - 19th Amendment of the US Constitution

American Suffrage Movement History

After the passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865, supporters of women's rights that were active in abolitionism now had the attention of abolitionists, who hoped to put forth the same support that women did for slaves to become free. American Suffrage quickly became a national movement, with tours and speeches for a woman's right to vote branching all across the country.

Suffragists were inspired by movements such as the American Revolution and the French Revolution, which laid the foundation for citizens to challenge US democracy and its denial of women's suffrage and people of color.

With the invention of the transatlantic telegraph lines, women's suffrage ideas could spread across the world, creating a sort of "Global Sisterhood". Their publications were offered in German, French, and English but unfortunately, the "Global Sisterhood" left out much of the rest of the world (including women of color).

American Suffrage Movement Violence

Though American Suffrage protests, speeches, and tours were peaceful, a woman acting out against society was seen as "violent". In 1917, a young girl named Dorothy Day and 32 other women were arrested for picketing outside of the Whitehouse. During their time in prison, they were brutally beaten by the guards.

Picketing is a form of protest where people congregate outside of a place of work, or an event, in order to get a message across.

Never was there a sentence like ours for an offense such as ours, even in England" - Mary Nolan (73 years old) after the night of their arrests

American Suffrage Movement - Suffragists picketing outside the Whitehouse - StudySmarter - US Library of Congress Suffragists Picketing outside the Whitehouse US Library of Congress

Suffragists were split between those who wanted to continue their silent protests while others organized parades; the Suffrage Parade of 1913 (held in Washington DC) was led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. Those who took part in the parade were attacked by spectators and over 100 women needed to be hospitalized for their injuries.

Though some suffragists were closely connected to militant suffrage movements in England, who smashed windows and committed arson, the Americans chose to take a less violent route of civil disobedience (as quite a few suffragists were Quakers).

Quakers believe that any form of war and violence is wrong, whether it is direct service in the military, or even paying taxes towards military funding.

American Suffrage Movement Impact

The American Suffrage Movement had a large impact on American society, economy, and politics. Higher expectations were set for women, as they were now able to enter colleges and male-dominated professions (medicine, law, corporate, etc.). Women were able to take higher positions in society and have opportunities to create successful careers. Though their salaries were still not equal to those of men, working in the same position, or field, was a huge step in the right direction.

The movement also set in stone all of their hard work by the passing of the 19th Amendment of the US Constitution, guaranteeing a women's right to vote. This would lead to women getting more involved in politics than ever before and setting up the country for advances in education, civil rights, and much more.

American Suffrage Movement - Key Takeaways

  • The American Suffrage Movement officially began during the Seneca Falls convention of 1848.
  • The 14th and 15th Amendments were often used by women to try and show their right to vote.
  • The suffragists split into two groups, one which focused more on a woman's right to vote by receiving an Amendment, and the other group focusing on a woman's right to vote throughout the individual states.
  • Even though Suffragists protested peacefully, their acts against society were considered "violent".
  • The American Suffrage Movement and the passing of the 19th Amendment had large impacts on society, economy, and politics.

Frequently Asked Questions about American Suffrage Movement

The suffrage movement in the US began in 1848 with the Seneca Falls Convention in New York. 

The women's suffrage movement directly stemmed from the previous abolitionist movement in the US. People were starting to believe that all people in the country should have equal rights to one another, regardless of being a woman or an African American. 

The 19th Amendment affected the United States by guaranteeing women their right to vote.

During the suffrage movement, several generations of women marched, lectured, and practiced civil disobedience in order to finally receive the right to vote. 

The suffrage movement impacted the US by not only granting women the right to vote, but also leading women into positions of power in public affairs. This would result in changes to education, civil rights, healthcare reforms, etc. 

Final American Suffrage Movement Quiz

Question

The American Suffrage Movement officially began with the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.

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Answer

True. 

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Question

The 19th Amendment guaranteed women their right to vote. 

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Answer

True.

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Question

Why were the Suffrage Movement protests considered "violent"?

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Answer

Women were protesting what was normal for society; speaking out against the norm was considered violent. 

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Question

The 14th and 15th Amendments were often used by suffragists to show their right to vote. 

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Answer

True. 

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Question

Abolitionists and Suffragists did not support each other. 

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Answer

False. 

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Question

The "Global Sisterhood" was inclusive of all, including women of color.

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Answer

False. 

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Question

Some suffrage protestors preferred to get their message across silently, while others preferred to be more vocal and hold parades. 

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Answer

True.

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Question

The American Suffrage Movement had a large impact on American society, economy, and politics. 

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Answer

True.

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Question

In 1917, 33 women were arrested and beaten by guards for picketing outside the Whitehouse. 

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Answer

True.

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Question

Theodore Roosevelts "Bull Moose Party" was the first major political party to support women's suffrage.

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Answer

True.

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