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Womens Right Essay

2855 words - 12 pages

The beginning of the fight for women’s suffrage in the United States, which predates Jeannette Rankin’s entry into Congress by nearly 70 years, grew out of a larger women’s rights movement. That reform effort evolved during the 19th century, initially emphasizing a broad spectrum of goals before focusing solely on securing the franchise for women. Women’s suffrage leaders, moreover, often disagreed about the tactics for and the emphasis (federal versus state) of their reform efforts. Ultimately, the suffrage movement provided political training for some of the early women pioneers in Congress, but its internal divisions foreshadowed the persistent disagreements among women in Congress and ...view middle of the document...

” Among the 13 resolutions set forth in Stanton’s “Declaration” was the goal of achieving the “sacred right of franchise.”2

The sometimes-fractious suffrage movement that grew out of the Seneca Falls meeting proceeded in successive waves. Initially, women reformers addressed social and institutional 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. For much of the 1850s they agitated against the denial of basic economic freedoms to women. Later, they unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to include women in the provisions of the 14th and 15th Amendments (extending citizenship rights and granting voting rights to freedmen, respectively).
Suffragists parade in New York City in 1916 with a banner that reads "President Wilson favors votes for women." Woodrow Wilson, a reluctant convert to the cause, eventually supported the 19th Amendment which passed the House in 1918 and was ratified by the states in 1920.View Larger
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Suffragists parade in New York City in 1916 with a banner that reads "President Wilson favors votes for women." Woodrow Wilson, a reluctant convert to the cause, eventually supported the 19th Amendment which passed the House in 1918 and was ratified by the states in 1920.
In the wake of the Civil War, however, reformers sought to avoid marginalization as “social issues” zealots by focusing their message exclusively on the right to vote.3 In 1869 two distinct factions of the suffrage movement emerged. Stanton and Anthony created the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), which directed its efforts toward changing federal law and opposed the 15th Amendment because it excluded women. Lucy Stone, a one time Massachusetts antislavery advocate and a prominent lobbyist for women’s rights, formed the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA).4 Leaders of the AWSA rejected the NWSA’s agenda as being racially divisive and organized with the aim to continue a national reform effort at the state level. Although California Senator Aaron Sargent introduced in Congress a women’s suffrage amendment in 1878, the overall campaign stalled. Eventually, the NWSA also shifted its efforts to the individual states where reformers hoped to start a ripple effect to win voting rights at the federal level.

During the 1880s, the two wings of the women’s rights movement struggled to maintain momentum. The AWSA was better funded and the larger of the two groups, but it had only a regional reach. The NWSA, which was based in New York, relied on its statewide network but also drew recruits from around the nation, largely on the basis of the extensive speaking circuit of Stanton and Anthony. Neither group attracted broad support from women, or persuaded male politicians or...

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