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Essay: Women’s Suffrage Movement

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  • Published: 15 November 2019*
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  • Words: 1,051 (approx)
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  • Tags: Suffragette essays

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“In the adjustment of the new order of things, we women demand an equal voice; we shall accept nothing less.”(Catt). “There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”. (Paul) “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”(Anthony).

These quotes are just few of the words spoken by the strong female leaders in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Starting in 1848, the Women’s Suffrage Movement began. This movement was dedicated to fighting for women’s right to vote and run for office.

Where and why did it begin?

The Women’s Suffrage Movement began in Seneca Falls in 1848 at a Women’s Rights Convention. Three-hundred women showed up and began their fight for social, civil, and religious rights of women. During the convention, eleven resolutions on women’s rights  were discussed and passed, except for one. The resolution that demanded the right to vote“ The convention proceeded to discuss the 11 resolutions on women’s rights. All passed unanimously except for the ninth resolution, which demanded the right to vote for women. This became the cornerstone of the women’s suffrage movement.

Role of Women in the Suffrage Movement

The Suffrage movement had many strong female leaders who played great roles in demanding women’s rights. Before becoming one of the Suffrage movements greatest leaders, Susan B. Anthony was a teacher. She was the founder National American Woman Suffrage Association, also known as NAWSA, in 1869. In the 1870s, Anthony spent most of her time strenuously campaigning for women’s suffrage by speaking on tours. In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting in Rochester. She refused to pay bail, which her lawyer ended up paying to keep the case from making its way to the Supreme Court. When she was indicted, the judge advised the jury to find her guilty without discussion, with this she was fined $100 along with courtroom fees. In 1877, Anthony collected petitions from more than 26 states, with roughly 9,000 signatures in total. Two times, in 1869 and 1906 she stood before congress and asked for the passage of the suffrage amendment. Anthony retired as the president of NAWSA in 1900, at the late age of 80 and sadly passed away in 1906 right before women gained the right to vote. Anthony was not the only founder of NAWSA. She worked alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was a human rights activist and one of the first leaders of the women’s rights movement. She was the driving force and organizer of the Seneca Falls Convention. Stanton was also known as the brains to Anthony’s brawn. Carrie Chapman Catt served as president of NAWSA,  from 1900-1904 and 1915-1920. She was the successor of Susan B. Anthony. Before her time as NAWSA president, Catt found herself  giving speeches locally and nationally to help create suffrage chapters. She did not stop here, she went internationally. She founded the International Woman Suffrage Alliance in 1902 to help give all women everywhere a voice. Once women won the vote, she founded and organized the League of Women Voters in 1920 to educate all women on politics. Alice Paul was a member of NAWSA who took a different approach from the other women. Instead of giving speeches before congress and keeping a ladylike composition, she chose a militant approach. She engaged in hunger strikes and endured force feedings by the authorities.After 2 years with NAWSA she co-founded the National Woman’s Party in 1916.  Proposed the Equal Rights Amendment.

Racial Tension

“The undercurrent of racial tension the woman suffrage movement of- ten led to an uneasy and contentious relationship between Black and White advocates. Racial discrimination in the movement is well-documented and impeded Black women’s full participation in the white-controlled organizations and movement. (Phylon 8) The suffrage movement struggled with complying with white supremacy and double crossing the interests of African American women, when it became politically fit to do so. After the Civil War, it was known that black and white women had different views on the reasons why their right to vote was so crucial. Black women wanted the vote as a way of empowering black communities that were attacked by racial terror after the Emancipation. White women wanted the vote mostly as a symbol of equality with their husbands, fathers, and brothers. One great voice like W.E.B. Du Bois used his role as the editor of the NAACP to voice the opinions and the Crisis at hand. His position gave him the opportunity to widely propagate the importance of political equality for women and to show how giving women these rights was a  service to the larger cause of justice. Du Bois created a  national focal point to show the great work Black women have contributed during his time as editor.

The Long Road to Victory

By 1890, the approach of the suffragists had changed from women deserving the same rights as men because women and men were both “created different” to women deserving the vote because they were different from men. Carrie Chapman Catt and NAWSA created a striking campaign that assembles local and state suffrage organizations from all around. Meanwhile, the National Women’s Party had an approach that was more radical and militant with hunger strikes and pickets. World War I slowed the campaign down as the women chose to work to help the war effort, showing their patriotism and worthiness of the same rights of men. “That amendment would remove sex as a legal ground for denying any citizen the right to vote.” (Watkins 15)On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote was ratified. More than 8 million women from across the United States voted in their first election on November 2, of the same year the amendment was passed. This made it the largest increase in democratic voting rights in the nation’s history.

The Women’s Suffrage Movement was a great struggle for women to achieve the equal right to vote. This movement had many intelligent, capable and progressive women who organized or led the opposition. Though they were faced with lots of controversy, women stayed confident that they would win the vote. After many years of fight, speeches, and protests, women gained their right to join men in the equal opportunity to voice their political opinions, through voting.

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