It would seem unbelievable that the women who lived before the 19th century were confined to their homes and actually had no freedom to choose the leaders that they wanted simply because they could not vote.
This was not until the suffrage movement was formed to fight for the women’s right to vote. During this time, men were still seen as more superior and women were only allowed to manage and participate in the domestic roles (Rossi 6).
Only adult males were allowed to vote. Even though, they had to own property in order to qualify to vote. With changes in education and social conditions, women in the 19th century began to seek their rights and equality with men and top in their agenda was the right of women to vote just like their male counterparts.
This saw the rise of the women suffrage movement of 1840 to 1920. The birth of this revolution is said to have occurred at a women rights meeting in Seneca Falls in New York. Women could see they were limited by their place in the society and in the Seneca Falls meeting the ‘Created Equal’ campaign was launched (Rossi 8).
Despite the many challenges that the women faced during this movement and an eighty years struggle, theirs became a won battle when the 19th amendment was signed in 1920 giving women the right to vote in national elections (Sochen 176).
A suffragist known as Elizabeth Cady Stanton is the one that introduced women’s sentiments at the Seneca Falls convection and wrote the plan for the feminist movement (Sochen 131). Later, together with Susan B. Anthony, she led women in the movement to fight for their rights of equality and their freedom to vote. Other significant leaders and suffrages included Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Alice Paul, Virginia minor and Sojourner Truth.
Elizabeth Stanton became the leading feminist philosopher guiding the American women towards the achievement of women’s right. She was a determined woman rights activist who despite her responsibility as a wife and mother devoted as much time as she could in the movement (Salibury 131).
Susan Anthony worked closely with Elizabeth and the two were said to be inseparable. Elizabeth is even said to have written Susan’s speech at the Seneca Falls meeting. Susan was an acknowledged spokeswoman for the campaigns of the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA) formed in 1878. She also wrote a magazine on women rights (Sochen 131). Alice Paul founded the founded the national women’s party.
The main objectives of this movement were for women to acquire their rights to vote equal to that of their male counterparts. The movement also sought to defend African American women who even after being granted franchise were not included in the fourteenth and fifteenth amends that gave them an equal opportunity to vote regardless of their race.
The reasoning behind this movement is that no one should be denied a right to vote based on their gender or race. They wanted the fifteenth amend not only to include right to vote irrespective of race and color but to also include gender (Rossi 17). Other reasons were specialized for example in Utah; women believed that their rights to vote would bring an end to polygamy.
The women suffrage movement managed to gain government support in granting voting rights to women. This they did through numerous campaigns and gaining the support of women all over America to support them. Many conferences and organizations to campaign for women rights to vote were organized in the leadership of Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton.
In 1871, about fifteen women registered and participated in the elections. Susan was arrested and in the following years, several more were arrested and harassed. The largest campaign was held in 1913 in Washington D. C when around five thousand women paraded showing signatures of one million women supporting suffrage for women (Rossi 35).
Apart from national wide campaigns, women pursued suffrage in individual towns and gradually many of them were granted the rights to vote. Grants of suffrage were more successful in the west with the first suffrage succeeding in Wyoming in 1869. Other examples by years are Illinois; 1891, California; 1911, Arizona and Oregon; 1912 and Montana; 1914.
The women of Utah were defeated after they voted for polygamy. The women suffrage was first introduced to the congress in 1915. The bill failed at least two times when it did not gain the support of two thirds majority required to pass a bill in the senate. Women started participating in politics and being voted for positions in the government (Sochen 178, 179).
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