Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

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“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves” – Mary Wollstonecraft. In the 19th century the hot topic was women’s rights everybody had an opinion about it. Of course the expected ones like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had much to say but a few unexpected ones like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass spoke out for women’s rights. The focus will be the responsibilities and roles that the activists played in the Women’s Rights or Feminist Movement. The relevance to the theme is the activists had a very important role toward reaching the ultimate goal of the Women’s Rights Movement. The Women’s Rights Movement was one of the most essential times in American history; it was the fight for women acquiring the same rights as men. Susan B. Anthony was considered the leader of the Women’s Rights Movement after she was denied the right to speak in a temperance convention; she had the responsibility of creating the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) and helping to secure voting rights by her historic court case, the Trials of Susan B. Anthony. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an important women’s rights activist that helped plan the first organized women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York and wrote the Declaration of Sentiments. Lucretia Mott worked along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton to plan the first women’s rights convention and wrote the, “Discourse on Women”. Lucy Stone formed the American Women’s Suffrage Association (AWSA) and convince individual states to join the effort towards women rights. These women had an influence in the National American Women’s Suffrage Association’s (NAWSA) achievement of the goals in the Women’s Rights Movement. These women had a profound effect on reaching equal rights between men and women.
Before the Women’s Rights Movement women were viewed less than men in every aspect. Pre- Civil War women were viewed as the source of life but viewed less than men intellectually . In the 19th century the ideal women was submissive, her job was to be an obedient, loving wife . There were two important thing that ruled the way that women were treated. One of these was the most important out of the two during this time period this was the Cult of Domesticity, which basically said that women were supposed to do all of the domestic work in a household 3.

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The second is important factor was the Cult of Womanhood, which basically stated that women needed to be submissive, pure, have religious piety, ensure that the house is in the best condition, and only worked domestically . After the Civil War, people began speaking out against these theories and for women’s rights, which sparked the Women’s Rights Movement. The main goals of the Women’s Rights Movement were for women to gain the same rights as men and to gain voting rights for women . The first step that they took for women was gaining voting rights .
One of the most influential women’s rights activist during this time was Susan B. Anthony. Anthony was born February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts, to a family of Quakers. In the Quaker religion women were allowed to hold positions of power, voice their opinions, and believed that daughters were just as valuable as t sons, Once Susan grew up she became an activist in the temperance movement. While at a temperance convention, she was denied the right to speak because she was a woman. As a result of her denial, her focus shifted to women’s rights. The only good thing that came out of this was the friendship that she gained with Elizabeth Cady Stanton who eventually became her political partner7. Anthony believed that women first needed the right to vote before anything else could be achieved.
Anthony was soon arrested after she gave this declaration because she illegally voted in New York, which launched the Trials of Susan B. Anthony, most significant case in the Women’s Rights Movement . Anthony registered to vote then voted, but when performing this action did not anticipate getting arrested. She just wanted them to deny her the right to vote so that she could sue them in federal court . She believed that it was a time for a change and that women should not be denied their basic rights . Anthony was charged guilty of voting without the legal right to do so . This caused a large amount of debate over voting rights for women. This set the precedent for all women’s rights activist to all look for Anthony for guidance. Shortly after the trial Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony came together to form the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA), which fought of women’s rights by causing national change all over through federal reform .
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born November 12, 1815 in Johnstown, New York. While, growing up it was not accepted for a woman to be educated . Even though this was the case she attended the highest accepted education for a woman . She went to London to an anti-slavery convention; it was here that she met Lucretia Mott. After this trip, Stanton took a genuine interest in American traditions of women’s rights12.Stanton soon grew tired of her confinement in society and in her home with the help of Mott she planned the first organized women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York . While at the Seneca Falls Convention she drafted the Declaration of Sentiments, which was similar to the Declaration of Independence but included women. This also calls out the thing that men and the government do to mistreat and oppress women. In the Declaration of Sentiments, she wrote that “Men are denying women there consciousness by dictating”. They are also doing what Britain did pre-American revolution, which was taxation without representation . Stanton had the responsibility of planning the first organized women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls and drafting the Declaration of Sentiments
Lucretia Mott was born January 3, 1793 in Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, in a predominantly Quaker church . Mott attended boarding school in New York at the age of 13 . It was here that she became a teaching assistant and protégé to Elias Hicks14. While working for Hicks she became more aware of the salary differences between men and women. Even though this became important to her abolitionism was more important . While working as an abolitionist, she wanted to speak at an anti-slavery convention, but she was denied the right and most of the people there did not want her to speak. While at the convention she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton . At the convention that Stanton and her planned together, she proposed the Declaration of Sentiments that Stanton drafted15. After the Seneca Falls Convention Mott wrote the Discourse on Women, which was a document that told about the things women go through . The Discourse on Women particularly talked about the oppression that women had to face. In this document it stated, “In the beginning, man and women were created equal. Male and female created he them, blessed them, and called their name Adam. He gave dominion to both over the lower animals but not to one over the other.” Mott had the responsibility of helping Stanton plan the first women’s rights convention and writing the Discourse on Women.
Lucy Stone was born August 13, 1818 in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. She grew up as Congregationalist but grew distant to the church once they exiled the Grimke sisters for speaking to male and female audiences . Stone loved education and continually excelled in school. Despite her families and societies ridicule Stone attended college at Oberlin Collegiate Institute and became the first woman to graduate college in Massachusetts . Under the direction of William Lloyd Garrison she found her voice as a public speaker at the American Anti- Slavery Society . After the Civil War Stone founded the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), which fought for equal rights of both black and women all over the nation19. The women did not agree with each other causing the women to split into two groups . After not agreeing with Anthony and Stanton’s beliefs in achieving women’s rights Stone formed the American Women’s Suffrage Association (AWSA) 22. The AWSA wanted to achieve women’s rights by working on a state by state level.
All of the responsibilities of these activists combines with the formation of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890 . The NAWSA was the combination of two rival groups the NWSA, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and the AWSA, led by Lucy Stone . It took this long for the two groups to combine forces because the NWSA was radical and the AWSA was conservative26. Once the two groups settled their differences and combines Anthony, Stanton, and Stone led the group by getting state commitments to equal women’s rights so that the Congress will have to listen to them . With the leadership of these three the National American Women’s Suffrage Association achieved their goal in 1917 with 30 states petitioning to Congress for equal women’s rights, the passing of the nineteenth amendment. The nineteenth amendment stated that, “the right of citizens of the United States shall not be denied or abridged the right to vote by the United States or any state” . After this occurred the National American Women’s Suffrage Association disassembled26.

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