Susan countless efforts such as protests, hunger strikes,

Susan B. Anthony’s words changed America as we know it today, and they were almost exactly the same as the ones in the 19th amendment in the Bill of Rights. “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.” (Cayton et al. 637). The struggle for women to get the right to vote lasted for almost 52 years, as the first draft of the 19th amendment was proposed in 1868 but passed in 1920 (Cayton et al. 636). Even though women made significant progress in civil rights from 1868 to 1920, their battle did not end after the amendment passed. Women still grappled with sexism and discrimination which made having the right to vote even more important. Although many American men and even some women in the 19th and 20th centuries opposed women having the right to vote because it would double the electorate, nevertheless women’s suffrage succeeded because it was unjust for women not to be able to vote, so suffragists fought and won because of all of their countless efforts such as protests, hunger strikes, and picketing. Beginning in the 1800s, women organized, petitioned, and picketed to win the right to vote, but it took them decades to accomplish their purpose. Between 1878, when the amendment supporting votes for women was first introduced in Congress, and August 18, 1920, when it was ratified, champions of voting rights for women worked tirelessly, but strategies for achieving their goal varied. Some pursued a strategy of passing suffrage acts in each state—nine western states adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. Others challenged male-only voting laws in various courts. Some strategies were parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Often supporters met harsh resistance. Opponents heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused them ( The first event devoted to women’s rights in the United States was held July 19–20, 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York. The main organizers of the Seneca Falls Convention were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott. About 100 people attended the convention, and about two-thirds were women. Stanton read a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions” that sounded like the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.” The suffrage movement that grew out of the Seneca Falls meeting proceeded in waves. Initially, women reformers addressed social and economic barriers that limited women’s rights, including family responsibilities, a lack of educational and economic opportunities, and the absence of a voice in political debates. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a Massachusetts teacher, met in 1850 and forged a lifetime alliance as women’s rights activists. Like many other women reformers of the era, they both had been active in the abolitionist movement. For much of the 1850s, they fought against the denial of basic economic freedoms to women ( The convention at Seneca made Susan B Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton very famous. Stanton, a skilled speaker and writer, and Anthony, a tireless strategist and organizer would together take the suffrage movement into the 1900s. In 1866, they started and American Equal Rights Association and a newspaper, The Revolutionist. It later split into 2 groups, The National American Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association (Cayton et al. 636). The opposition to suffrage was great. Some men objected to women having the vote because they believed women to be inferior. It was suggested that women could not think about matters calmly. Others would not agree to women’s suffrage because they did not want change. Women had never voted before. “Why should they start now?” they asked. A further objection involved property. In 1900, only a few women were householders. If the vote were given to those women, then it would have to be given also to men who were not householders. At that time political parties were not prepared to do this. At first, the idea that women should have the vote was seen as being so ridiculous that nobody tried to oppose it. When the suffragettes began to win support, those opposing them had to take them more seriously.  These were their reasons: “Women and men have ‘separate spheres.'”, “Most women do not want the vote.” “Women’s role is in local affairs.” “Women are already represented by their husbands.” “It is dangerous to change a system that works.” “Women do not fight to defend their country.”(Diane Atkinson, Votes for Women). Grace Saxon Mills even said that one of the reasons men did not want women to vote was that “Women are not capable of full citizenship. All government rests ultimately on force, to which women, owing to physical, moral and social reasons, are not capable of contributing.” (Writing in the years before 1914, In the 1860s, opponents of woman suffrage began to organize locally. Massachusetts was home to leading suffrage advocates, and it was also one of the first states with an organized anti-suffrage group. In the 1880s, anti-suffrage activists joined together and eventually became known as the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. In 1911, Josephine Dodge, who also led a movement to establish day care centers to help working mothers, founded the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS). The NAOWS was most popular in northeastern cities. Like pro-suffrage groups, NAOWS distributed writings and organized events such as state campaigns. Just like men and women supported votes for women, men and women organized against suffrage as well. Anti-suffragists argued that most women did not want the vote. Because they took care of the home and children, they said women did not have time to vote or stay updated on politics. Some argued women lacked the expertise or mental capacity to offer a useful opinion about political issues. Others thought that women’s votes would double the electorate; voting would cost more without adding any new value ( In 1890, Anthony, Stanton, and Lucy Stone formed NAWSA, National American Woman Suffrage Association, which worked to make suffrage a constitutional amendment. From 1892 to 1890, Anthony was NAWSA’s president. Women had already won many rights since NAWSA’s founding, like buying, selling, and willing property. Working women were becoming more active in picketing, getting arrested, and in unions. The leaders, Stanton and Anthony, both died, Stanton in 1902, and Anthony in 1906 (Cayton, et al. 637). Carrie Chapman Catt, a former high school principal, rose to be a new leader of NAWSA. Catt was a talented speaker and organizer and led NAWSA from 1900-1904, and then again after 1915. Alice Paul also rose as a leader. She learned tactics from the women’s suffrage movement of England, and in 1915, she and Lucy Burns took over NAWSA’s committee. A few months later, Burns and Paul gathered a parade of over 5,000 women in Washington, D.C. to march the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Paul was so successful that she transformed her committee into a new organization called the Congressional Union (Cayton, et al. 638). Alice Paul, like Susan Anthony, came from a Quaker reformist family. Paul was born in 1885 in Moorestown, New Jersey, which was a Quaker community. Paul’s maternal grandfather helped found  Quaker Swarthmore College, where Paul, like her mother, would attend. Paul admired Anthony and Quaker Lucretia Mott. Paul had a nonviolent life guided by an inward light and strong tradition of gender equality. The younger leaders of Paul’s CU spent a lot of their time as “organizers”. Paul approved the plan for the National Woman’s Party to have the status of political prisoners, and to picket as radical socialists. When she approved, she was remarkably placed in a psychiatric ward, being force-fed when she was on a protestant hunger strike (Ford, 169). After earning several degrees in America, Alice Paul left for England to study there in 1907. While in England, she became interested in the Woman’s Social and Political Union, which was a group attempting to earn more rights for women. WSPU used militant methods such as hunger strikes, and Paul was arrested three times just for speaking her mind. Upon her return to the U.S. in 1910, she was disappointed by the lack of progress in the state-by-state suffrage movement. She tried to convince NAWSA to use militant tactics, but they didn’t agree. So she and Lucy Burns formed the CU. In 1913, Paul organized a parade in D.C. the day before Wilson’s inauguration. About 8,000 suffragists marched down Pennsylvania Avenue. There were not enough police, so more than 200 women were injured. In 1917, Paul organized daily picketing in front of the White House. Women picketed 6 times a week, dusk till dawn, for 2 years. In April of that year, the U.S. entered the war, and the pickets were seen as unpatriotic. People did not understand why women would focus attention on anything other than the War in Europe. People threw things, cursed, and verbally abused the picketers. Paul and many others were arrested. While there, she went on a hunger strike but was force-fed through a tube three times a day (Rau, 34). On August 28, 1917, ten protesters got arrested as they picketed the White House. The protesters were there in an effort to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to support the proposed “Anthony amendment” to the Constitution. This would guarantee women the right to vote. Daily picketing began on January 10, 1917. During that year, more than 1,000 women from across the country joined the picket line outside the White House in D.C.. Between June and November, 218 protesters from 26 states were arrested and charged with “obstructing sidewalk traffic.” Of those arrested, 97 spent time in either the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia or in the District of Columbia jail. Initially, protesters stood silently, holding signs that said messages such as “Mr. President, what will you do for Woman Suffrage?” and “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?” President Wilson maintained clam, greeting the protesters with a tip of the hat as he rode, his wife at his side, through the White House gates ( history/august-28/). Paul’s Congressional Union called for an aggressive, militant campaign for the amendment, and planned to bypass existing suffrage organizations in each state and set up new ones. The leadership of NAWSA opposed Paul and expelled the CU in 1914. The CU went on to stage militant protests, demonstrate in front of the White House, set dummies of President Wilson on fire, and burn his speeches. Wilson was still refusing to back the amendment. NAWSA went back to state suffrage campaigns, focusing on four eastern states, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. In 1915, the campaigns failed in all four states. Carrie Catt was appointed the NAWSA president, and of this came her “Winning Plan.” The plan consisted of forming a group of full-time leaders to run campaigns for 6 years (Cayton, et al. 639). Traditional lobbying and petitioning were a mainstay of Congressional Union members, but these activities were supplemented by other more public actions–including parades, pageants, street speaking, and demonstrations. The party eventually realized that it needed to escalate its pressure and adopt even more aggressive tactics. Most important among these tactics were picketing in front of the White House over many months, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of many suffragists ( By late spring, the picketers created more forceful placards. They took advantage of the United States’ April 6 entry into the war in Europe to press their case. Bystanders started violence on June 20, when picketers met Russian representatives with signs that proclaimed the United States a democracy in name only. The White House protest reflected a rift between NAWSA, led by Carrie Catt, and the Congressional Union led by Alice Paul. Having spent time in a British jail for her participation in suffrage protests in England, Paul was familiar with confrontation and its potential value to a political movement. Alice described her time in the Occoquan workhouse as such: “I resorted to the hunger strike method twice…When the forcible feeding was ordered I was taken from my bed, carried to another room and forced into a chair, bound with sheets and sat upon bodily by a fat murderer, whose duty it was to keep me still. Then the prison doctor, assisted by two woman attendants, placed a rubber tube up my nostrils and pumped liquid food through it into the stomach. Twice a day for a month, from November 1 to December 1, this was done.” -Alice Paul(Paul, Women’s suffrage has impacted the U.S. greatly. When a poll was taken about the most important events of the 20th century, women getting the right to vote was second to WWII. That same poll found that Americans rejected a woman as a president in the 1930s, but are welcome to the idea today. There have been great gender differences on some issues. The constitutional amendment for women getting the right to vote followed a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol. Many women backed the prohibition of alcohol more than men did. Some of the predictions about the impact of the 19th amendment were not correct. Suffragettes predicted that men would vote differently than women. There has been some evidence for this in recent years, but for the most part, the initial impact of the amendment showed that women voted like their husbands or families. Also, once they got the vote, the rate of voter participation for women was low for a very long time. In fact, it was much lower than men’s. However, this had sparked the beginning of women’s political power in America. ( There were 2 goals for suffragists: To make a constitutional amendment to voting rights and to get individual states to let women vote. The first introduced amendment was in 1868 was stalled. The next one, introduced in 1878, used Susan B. Anthony’s wording. Using this, the amendment got its first hearing, and Stanton described the amendment to the committee. The bill wasn’t debated until 1887, then lost in the Senate 16 to 34, with 26 absent. The bill, dubbed the “Anthony Amendment”, was called every year until 1896 and did not resurface again until 1913 (Cayton, et al. 637). As a NAWSA committee, in the first phase of their political strategy, the early Congressional Union (later NWP) used traditional lobbying strategies. When they started as the Congressional Union in 1914, they upped the intensity of their power politics by using British strategies that were more aggressive, all to the dismay of NAWSA. After most of the British strategies finally failed in 1916, they moved to their last pre-militant campaign the CU formed a Woman’s Political Party to open the political system to women (Ford, 45). The U.S. entered WW1 in April of 1917. Women all over America wanted to do their patriotic duty by volunteering for ambulance corps, medical work, and taking on jobs left by men. Arguments of gender were forgotten during wartime. In addition, Congress adopted the 18th amendment which prohibited the sale of liquor, causing liquor interests not to fight suffrage (Cayton, et al. 639). The combination of NAWSA’s war efforts and the publicity attracted by National Woman’s Party pickets of the White House led to the widespread support for women’s suffrage. Although President Wilson previously had refused to support women’s suffrage, in September 1918 he addressed the Senate in favor of votes for women. He appealed to arguments for suffrage when he asked representatives, (see quote). After the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 18, 1920, female activists continued to use politics to reform society. NAWSA became the League of Women Voters. In 1923, the NWP proposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to ban discrimination based on gender ( 19-amendment/). Even prior to when women earned the right to vote, states were already supporting the cause. Four states had women’s suffrage granted to women by 1896. Seven new states had granted women the right to vote by 1914. After that, 15 states in total allowed women to vote by 1918. After the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, the rest of the 35 states permitted women to vote. The suffragists had achieved their goal, partially even before the 19th amendment was passed (Rau, 39). In 1919, Congress finally proposed the 19th amendment. Its members eventually gave into the political forces of states that passed suffrage and the unrelenting work of NAWSA. They had also been embarrassed when women going on hunger strikes were force-fed. After the amendment was proposed in Congress,  the ratification battle started. It ended in 1920 after Tennessee became the 36th state necessary to ratify the amendment. The 19th amendment was marked as the last major reform in the Progressive Era (Cayton, et al. 639). By 1916, almost all of the suffrage organizations such as NAWSA and the NWP were united behind the goal of a constitutional amendment. When New York adopted women’s suffrage in 1917 and President Wilson changed his position to support the amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift. The House of Representatives passed the amendment on May 21st, 1919, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment reached its final step of gaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states. On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification of the amendment, which was a victory for suffrage ( flash=false&doc=63). Women fought hard to win the right to vote, and voting was the best way women ensured that our leaders that have been elected support policies that expanded opportunity, helped women and their families through hard times, and strengthened the economy ? instead of standing in the way of policies that promoted fair workplaces, improved women’s health, raised wages, and supported families. During each election, critical issues hung in the balance ( resources/why-women-should-vote/). Out of the 327 who served in Congress, 111 are current members. There are 22 in the Senate and 89 in the House. There have been 288 members of the House and 51 Senators that have been women in total. 12 women have served in both the House and Senate ( No-Lady/Womens-Rights/). According to “Votes for Women”, women should vote because it is fair that people who obey the laws should have a voice in making them, and that those who pay taxes should have a vote about how they are taxed. Women should also get to vote because laws unjust to women would be amended more quickly and because equal suffrage would increase the proportion of educated voters ( presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/progress/suffrage/whyvote.html). Women have fought a long, hard struggle to get to where they are today, and without the suffrage movement, not even America would be where it is today.


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