Women's Suffrage

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Women's Suffrage

Women’s Suffrage is a subject that could easily be considered a black mark on the history of the United States. The entire history of the right for women to vote takes many twists and turns but eventually turned out alright. This paper will take a look at some of these twists and turns along with some of the major figures involved in the suffrage movement.

Women's Suffrage Background

The first recorded instance in American history where a woman demanded the right to vote was in 1647. Margaret Brent, a property owner in Maryland wanted two votes in the newly formed colonial assembly to represent her vote and the vote of Lord Baltimore whom she held power-of-attorney. (Pleck, 2007) The governor eventually turned down her demands. The 1790 constitution of New Jersey allowed women property owners the right to vote through a loophole that stated that “all inhabitants” that met property and residence requirements could vote. This loophole was closed in 1807 by a state legislator that had almost lost an election do to a women’s voting block. Other than these isolated incidents the first organized women’s suffrage movement can be traced back to the mid 1800’s with the Seneca Falls Convention.

Key Members of the Movement

The organized movement started at Seneca Falls, NY with a meeting called by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. (National Women's History Museum, 2007) Both women received their start in the women’s suffrage movement by being active in the abolitionist movement. Stanton and Mott attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840 and were refused seating for being women. After this incident the two women started seeing a connection between the plight of slaves and the treatment of women in the United States.

The women’s movement took a back seat to the slavery movement during the American Civil War as the women turned their attention to working through the war. However, after the war was over the women’s movement thought they were in a good position to win some key battles due to their war work and the attention being paid to equal rights at the time. This was not to be so as the Republicans in power believed that women’s suffrage would hurt their chances to push forth rights for freed slaves because of the widespread unpopularity of women’s rights. (National Women's History Museum, 2007)

After the war the women’s movement split into rival factions with Stanton and Susan B.

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