History of Women's Suffrage

The history of the battle for women's rights is filled with women of courage and persistence. From marriage and dating liberties to voting rights, women have fought long and hard for their freedoms. In the nineteenth century the suggestion to change the Constitution and allow women the right to vote was a radical idea. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt and other dedicated individuals, women are now free to practice one of an American citizen's most fundamental rights.

One of the most significant events in the history of women's suffrage took place in the year 1848. A women's rights convention was held in Seneca, New York during which Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented a document demanding equal rights for women. This piece of writing outlined the lack of equality for women in the areas of education, employment, and voting. Elizabeth Cady Stanton used the Declaration of Independence as a pattern for her famous women's rights document. Her writing was called the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions.

Another important event in the women's suffrage movement happened in 1869 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and another crusader for women's rights, Susan B. Anthony, created the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). The NWSA fought for an amendment to the Constitution that would allow women the right to vote. Another group, led by Lucy Stone joined together to form the American Women Suffrage Association (AWSA). This particular group also campaigned for a woman's right to vote but their focus was to change each state's constitution. In 1890 the two groups combined forces to work for the ultimate shared goal of winning a woman's right to vote.

There were a number of women who were critical in helping fight for women's suffrage:

  • Susan B. Anthony was a woman who fought courageously for a cause she believed in. She joined the struggle to win a woman's right to vote after meeting suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1852. In 1866 the two women created the American Equal Rights Association in an effort to draw more attention and support to their cause. Susan B. Anthony had a gift for delivering convincing speeches that highlighted the terrible injustice of barring women from the vote. She believed so strongly in women's suffrage that she was arrested after casting an illegal vote in 1872. In addition, she refused to pay the fine issued by the judge. Susan B. Anthony was a woman accustomed to backing up her beliefs with action.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton will forever be connected with the women's suffragist movement. Elizabeth Cady Stanton used her gifts as a writer to garner support for women's rights. In fact, she and Susan B. Anthony worked together to publish a newspaper called the Revolution. In it Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote about the basic unfairness of not allowing women the right to vote. Her life as an activist on behalf of women even influenced her daughter to continue on in her mother's noble struggles.
  • Carrie Chapman Catt was another important figure in the fight for women's suffrage. In 1915 she led women's suffrage efforts as the director of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Using her talents to organize the powers of the NAWSA she fought for women's suffrage on both the state and federal levels. Her persistence in the cause finally helped bring about the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The facts on the 19th Amendment state that in May of 1919 Congress obtained a vote of two-thirds in favor of an amendment that would allow women the right to vote. The proposal now had to be ratified by the states. This was not a simple task due to the fact that many of the states in the South were against this radical amendment. In fact, the amendment may have been lost in the Tennessee house if it hadn't been for a man named Harry Burns whose vote helped to pave the way for the success of the 19th Amendment.

Dating back to the early nineteenth century you'll find that the women who fought in the women's suffrage movement were endowed with courage and persistence. Their combined and sustained efforts won one of the most important victories for women in the history of the United States.

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