Womens RightsBeginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of woman suffragesupporters lectured, wrote, marched and disobeyed many rules to change in the Constitution. parades, silence and hunger strikes where used to demonstrate the need for a change in the constitution. Women struggled for their rights ,and they struggled equally to black americans who desired voting rights as well(The Fifteenth Amendment., Susan Banfield pp.11-20).
Women had it difficult in the mid-1800s to early 1900s. There was a difference in the treatment of men and women. Married women were legally concidered a property of the man they married in the eyes of the law. Women were not allowed to vote. Married women had no property rights. Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law. Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students.
Then the first Women’s Rights Convention was held on July 19 and 20 in 1848(What’s Right with America., Dwight Bohmach pp.261). The convention was convened as planned, and over the two-days of discussion, the Declaration of Sentiments and 12 resolutions received agreement endorsement, one by one, with a few amendments(http://www.nara.gov/education/teaching/woman/home.html). The only resolution that did not pass unanimously was the call for women’s authorization. That women should be allowed to vote in elections was impossible to some. At the convention, debate over the woman’s vote was the main concern.
Women’s Rights Conventions were held on a regular basis from 1850 until the start of the Civil War. Some drew such large crowds that people had to be turned away for lack of meeting space. The women’s rights movement of the late 19th century went on to address the wide range of issues talked about at the Seneca Falls Convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth, who were pioneer theorists, traveled the country lecturing and organizing for the next forty years. Winning the right to vote was the key issue, since the vote would provide the means to accomplish the other reforms. The campaign for woman’s right to vote ran across continous opposition that it took 72 years for the women and their male supporters to win (When Hens Crow : the Woman’s Rights Movements in Antebellum America pp.66).
During the Women’s Rights Movement, women faced incredible obstacles to win the American civil right to vote, which was later won in 1920.There were some very important women involved in the Women’s Right Movement. Esther Morris, who was the first woman to hold a judicial position, who led the first successful state campaign for woman’s right to vote, in 1869(What’s Right with America., Dwight Bohmach pp.260-263). Abigail Scott Duniway, the leader of the successful fight in the early 1900s. Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell, arrangers of thousands of African-American women who worked for the right to vote for all women. Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt, leaders of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in the early years of the 20th century, who got the campaign to its final success.
If the suffrage movement had not been so ignored by historians, women like Lucretia Mott, Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul would be as familiar to us as Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, or Martin Luther King, Jr. We would know how men took away the right to vote. We would know how women were betrayed after the Civil War, defeated and often cheated in election after election, and how they were forced to fight for their rights against the opposition, with virtually no financial, legal, or political power of their own. If the history of the suffrage movement was better known, we would understand that democracy, for the first 150 years of our nation’s existence, excluded more than half of the population. And we would realize that this situation changed only after one of the most remarkable and successful nonviolent efforts the world has ever seen.
The suffragists’ nonviolent approach was a logical strategy since a remarkable number of the movement’s prominent leaders, including Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul, were Quakers and pacifists. They were committed to peaceful resistance and they were opponents of war and violence. And, they were clear about their goal: not victory over men, but equality with men.
Women won the vote. They were not given it or granted it. Women won it as truly as any political campaign is ultimately won or lost. And they won it by the slimmest of margins, which only underscores the difficulty and magnitude of their victories