Back To CourseMiddle School US History: Help and Review
22 chapters | 257 lessons
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 75,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.Try it risk-free
Katie teaches high school social studies and has a master's degree in history from Providence College.
Women aren't as intelligent as men.
Women should maintain their positions inside the home and leave the politics to men.
Women are more delicate than men and therefore not equal.
These statements might seem ridiculous to us now, but are all examples of reasons that both men and women once used to keep women from being allowed to vote in the United States. It wasn't until August of 1920 that women were officially granted the right to vote in the form of an amendment to the Constitution.
The 19th Amendment was the result of decades of efforts from women from all walks of life. It states:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Although many people take the right to vote for granted, it is important to understand why the right to vote is such a symbolic right in a democracy. History shows that reformers went through many heroic efforts to achieve this right and to create a society in which democracy was not just mere rhetoric, but a valued and practiced principle.
The Women's Suffrage Movement was the fight for women to have the right to vote in the United States. The right to vote is not just the ability to choose leaders. The right to vote is the symbol that you, as an individual, matter in your nation. It gives you a voice in the matters that affect your life; it is the recognition of you as a citizen. So, when women were denied this basic civil right in early America, it was really only a matter of time before they organized to fight this inequality.
The fight on the national stage began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. The Seneca Falls Convention was the name of the first meeting to make woman suffrage into a national issue. The meeting was put together by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her friend Lucretia Mott. Stanton led a group of delegates to create a 'Declaration of Sentiments', modeled off of the Declaration of Independence, which declared equality for women and, more specifically, that women should have the right to vote. Though the idea was mocked by many at first, women's conferences continued to grow and others joined the cause, such as activist Susan B. Anthony.
With the start of the Civil War, many women chose to put the movement on hold while they turned their attention to the division of the country. Following the war, many women were torn about their support for the 15th Amendment. This amendment would grant black men the right to vote.
In the past, the black community and the woman suffrage movement had supported each other. But when this amendment failed to extend voting rights to women of any skin color, Stanton and other leaders of the women's suffrage movement withdrew their support. The 15th amendment was ratified in 1870.
In the face of this setback, Stanton and Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. The goal was to create a national amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. That same year, the American Woman Suffrage Association, another woman suffrage group, was formed. The goal for this group was to gain the right to vote for women by ratifying individual state constitutions.
By 1878, the suffrage movement had gained enough support to put an amendment on the Congress floor for debate. Though the amendment was struck down by the Senate, the suffrage movement did gain a victory in 1869 when Wyoming Territory granted women the right to vote.
Following the congressional defeat, the two suffrage groups merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association, or NAWSA. The goal of the newly formed group was to fight for woman suffrage on a state-by-state basis. In 1900, as Stanton and Anthony had aged, a new leader in the fight for woman suffrage emerged, Carrie Chapman Catt.
Following the deaths of Stanton and Anthony in 1902 and 1906 respectively, NAWSA met with some challenges but overcame them with smashing success between 1910 and 1918, as more than 15 states extended voting rights to women.
Also in these years another activist named Alice Paul made her way to the suffrage scene. A young, vibrant, and highly educated woman, Paul learned of controversial and sometimes militant tactics that were used in the British fight for women's votes. She was put in charge of the NAWSA post in Washington D.C., where she formed her own fundraising committee known as the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage.
The Congressional Union chose tactics that were more public and not as socially acceptable to NAWSA leadership. In fact, Paul planned a giant parade to occur on the same day as President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration. However, following a disagreement between Catt and Paul over these tactics, Paul split from NAWSA and formed the National Woman's Party, or NWP.
The NWP was known for using these unconventional campaigns, such as highly public parades and picketing in front of the White House. When the United States found itself in the middle of World War I in 1917, the women continued to picket in front of the White House. Many Americans saw this as an act of treason, as if the women were refusing to support their president in a time of national need. Many of these women found themselves jailed or placed in work houses as a result.
However, the women were able to use Wilson's rhetoric for participation in the war to illustrate what they viewed as hypocrisy. President Wilson claimed the U.S. was participating in the war because the country was standing up for democracy and for the right of free peoples everywhere to have a say in their government. Nevertheless, he was not voicing support for an amendment that would extend these rights to millions in his own country. This negative international publicity came at a time when Wilson was leading the U.S. to a global platform, so he finally voiced his support for the amendment.
In May of 1919, the amendment passed the House with more than the required 2/3 majority vote. The amendment also passed the Senate in June of 1919 with more than its needed majority vote. When the amendment was sent to the states, it took a little more than a year to receive the required majority for ratification, or formal approval. The Southern states remained opposed, although in August of 1920 it was the state of Tennessee that finally tipped the scales in favor of woman suffrage.
The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 and granted women the right to vote. The journey to making the 19th Amendment a reality began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. Over several decades, the Women's Suffrage Movement was led by several strong performers. Stanton, Paul and Catt were three of the nationally known activists that worked for women's equality in the United States. The American Woman Suffrage Association was one of the founding groups that would eventually merge to create NAWSA. Alice Paul was put in charge of NAWSA, but due to her use of debatable tactics, she split from the NAWSA and Carrie Chapman Catt. Paul went on to form the NWP. The U.S. involvement in World War I would actually bring attention to women's suffrage as the call for democracy overseas clashed with the state of women's rights in the U.S. Finally, with President Wilson's support of the amendment, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed the House and Senate in 1919 and was ratified by the states in 1920.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Already a member? Log InBack
Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Back To CourseMiddle School US History: Help and Review
22 chapters | 257 lessons