America’s Women Suffrage Movement in Unit two

Category: Feminism, Voting, Women
Last Updated: 07 Dec 2022
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In unit two, American women made history by enduring the longest women political movement in America. One political issue they faced and which led to the movement was the denial of a right to suffrage which means they had no right to vote in general elections. They occupied the traditional position in the society and had no say in the running of the government. They were to be subjective to men and remain stuck in domestic chores. An attempt to defy from this was met with utter hostility. In response to these issues, women in America organized groups aimed at garnering for the women rights and recognition in the society.

Most prevalent were the women suffrage movement groups which sought to secure the right for women in America to vote in the general elections. The outcome of that was severe opposition both from the society and the government before the nineteenth amendment which was eventually passed to give women the right to suffrage. Many would describe 1877 to 1920 as the age in which America was being shaped into a modern world. This period was a fascinating as well as a turbulent one as new discoveries and innovations kept the American economy advancing. Government institutions received a major facelift and its functions became more specialized.

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It is during this time that the advancement in labor took a major turn and the capital grew at a high rate following technological advancement and increase in trade and business. The women however still felt economically and politically oppressed as they continued being deprived of an opportunity to participate in these exciting developments. Their roles rotated around domestic chores and there were little chances of working or even obtaining some education. This paper will address the issues that women faced and the formation of the women suffrage movement to campaign for women rights.

Analysis The political as well as social issues facing the women could have been said to be oppressive. Their voice was irrelevant as far as the society was concerned and therefore they did not have to vote during the general elections (Keller, 2003). Their place was in domestic affairs and had little if any chance to acquire an education. When it came to work, women were discriminated against and they could not take up jobs such as teaching and preaching (Keller, 2003). A few elite women felt that enough was enough and they were determined to end this once and for all.

Women rights organizations were set around America to address these issues. The three major organizations that undertook the campaign for women suffrage included the National Women Suffrage Association, the American Women Suffrage Association and the Congressional Union for Women Suffrage Association (Kerber and De Hart, 2000). The introduction of these organizations marked the beginning of a contentious fight that would eventually see women cast their votes in general elections by 1920. It was not an easy fight and numerous challenges faced the movement from the beginning.

Women leaders were arrested and subjected to torture in the arms of policemen during demonstrations (Crawford, 2001). Their propositions were constantly rejected by the Senate and men formed anti-suffrage movements to stop the women from campaigning. The National Union Opposed to Women Suffrage was also an obstacle to the developments. However, the women finally met their objective when the Senate eventually voted for the nineteenth amendment in 1920 which would allow women to vote in the general elections (Du Bois, 1999). Background of the women suffrage movement

The birth of the women suffrage movement can be traced back to 1848 during the Seneca Falls convection in New York (Joannou, 1998). However, it was not until 1869 that the first women suffrage organization was formed. The Seneca convection had been organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton out of the desire to fight for the rights of women in the American society (Joannou, 1999). The two women had met in the World Anti-slavery Convection where together with other women were denied a chance to talk. Enraged, the two decided that there needed to be movement to fight for human rights.

The discussions at the convection were centered on the notion that all women and men are created equally and there is no basis for women to be excluded from the voting process (Evans, 1989). The women suffrage movement had a clear cut objective; they intended to obtain a right to vote or suffrage for all the women in the United States. As it was during that period up until 1920 women were left out in the nation's decision making process because they were not allowed to choose the leaders that they wanted in the government (Frost-Kappman, 2005).

Other objectives of the movement included equality in access to education and the right to earn a living through taking up jobs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony became the leading activists in this movement which questioned the subjugation of women both politically and economically yet the state claimed that America was a democratic society (De Bois, 1999). Together with others such as Mary Ann McClintick, Lucretia Mott, Anna Howard, Carrie Catt, Lucy Stone and Julia Howe among others, they were determined that this fight would eventually be won (Adams, 2003).

As way to publicize these outcries, The National Women Suffrage Association (NWSA) was formed in 1869 to campaign against the injustices to women. American Women Suffrage Association (AWSA) was also been established in the same year by Julia Howe and Lucy Stone (Adams, 2003). Each of these organizations worked independently with NWSA fighting for both women rights and women suffrage rights. AWSA on the other hand concentrated on the voting rights only. These two women groups conducted many campaigns and demonstrations in their bid to pressure the state to amend the constitution and accord women the right to vote.

An attempt to pass an amendment to allow women suffrage in 1878 was severely thwarted when the proposal was rejected by the congress (Crawford, 2001). After conducting several negotiations following the realization that they could be better off working together, NWSA and AWSA joined to form NAWSA (National American Women Suffrage). Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Antony remained influential leaders in the newly formed organization with Stanton becoming its first president between 1890 and 1892 (Bell, 1911). Susan Anthony became president in 1892 and on her retirement in 1900 she was succeeded by Carrie Chapman Catt.

Anna Howard took presidency in 1904 from Catt and was later succeeded by Catt who led the organization again from 1915 to 1920 (Bell, 1911). An organization known as Women's Social Political Union came to the limelight in 1913 formed by Alice Paul, Olympia Brown and Lucy Burns (Evans, 1989). Paul had just returned from studying in Britain intended to introduce military tactics such as the ones practiced by the Women's Social Political Union. Members started picketing and demonstrating outside State House which led to many arrests and a seven months imprisonment for Paul (Evans, 1989).

She was however released after going on a hunger strike. All in all, the women suffrage movement went through its ups and downs until the desired objective was finally met. The Determined Fight The women suffrage movement encountered determined resistance as men vowed to do everything possible to stop the women. They believed that if the women got the right to vote then they would be equal to them; a reality they were not ready to accept. The convectional belief was that men should dominate the public sphere while women's sphere was confined in the domestic setting 9Adams, 2003).

Women campaigners were treated with hostility by men who opposed this movement. A good example is when women who appeared in the parade that Alice Paul organized to seek national support for the amendment on Pennsylvania Avenue (Keller, 2003). This was the day before the inauguration of President Wilson and thousands of male spectators turned the peaceful parade into a riot as they tried to break into the marchers' ranks. Many were not lucky as they got hurt while trying to escape (Keller, 2003). This kind of incident just goes on to show the difference in culture between now and then.

Men were willing to endanger the lives of their sisters and their wives so as to retain the power while women remained the objects of oppression and the direct victims of inequality. From the position given to women in those days, we can deduce that culture has evolved over time leading to the recognition of women as part of the society. Women now have rights equal to those of men as provided for in the constitution. This is what the leaders of AWSA wanted so much even though some like Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton never got to enjoy the fruits of their labor (Joannou, 1998).

The Pennsylvania Avenue incident coupled with others such as jailing of leaders and the force-feeding that they were subjected to in 1917 aroused huge public support from sympathizers and well wishers and is said to have attracted more male supporters for the movement (Adams, 2003). Several women did not support the movement as well and they maintained that women should keep off from politics since they were too beyond their understanding (Adams, 2003). Some claimed that such involvement would only serve to undermine their spiritual and moral roles.

This can probably be as a result of the way women were brought up knowing that their rightful place is in the domestic arena. As a result, deviating from this would result in going against the rules of nature and consequently against rightful morality. Josephine Dodge whose husband was an influential New York capitalist is the one who introduced the biggest movement against women suffrage. This was the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage which came into being in 1911 (Kerber and De Hart, 2000). The movement called for women anti-suffragists to influence their men behind the scenes consequently influencing policy.

This was a major throwback to the women suffrage movement which aimed at feigning collective support from all women so as to maximize the chances of accomplishing their objectives. The campaign was an uncertain and slow process as resistance continued to face the women suffrage movement (Adams, 2003). The effects however were being felt differently in every state such that different states in the US gave women a right to vote at different times during the movement (Evans, 1989). The state of Wyoming had been the first to give voting rights to women in 1869.

In the second unit, several other states gained the rights to vote before the government eventually agreed to pass it as a law throughout America. Colorado obtained franchise in 1893 and immediately after, Idaho and Utah gave rights in 1896. Women in Washington were enfranchised in 1910 and from this time on to 1918, Kansas, Arizona, Montana, Nevada, Michigan, California and South Dakota among others had given women a right to vote. Victory at last The House of Representatives passed the women suffrage amendment in 1918.

This was after President Woodrow Wilson declared that America needed to accept women suffrage urgently as a war measure (Keller, 2003). The motion was however rejected by the Senate so that the amendment was defeated yet again. Another attempt in 1919 February failed as well. It was not until June 1919 that the Senate finally bowed to the pressure and the nineteenth amendment was passed (Keller, 2003). This was later signed into law by the Secretary of State in August 1920 (Adams, 2003). This day marked the liberation of women in America and the women could now participate in the voting process. Significance of the women suffrage

The final outcome of the women suffrage movement was a victory worth reckoning. The American women had made history in one of the most persistent politically inspired campaign (Cooney, 2009). The women suffrage movement can be said to have had an enormous impact on American politics and the meaning of democracy. Women in America could finally lend their voice in government decisions through their votes. The victory of women suffrage laid the basis of equality and democracy as we know them today (Cooney, 2009). The nineteenth amendment advocated for equal rights to vote and that no one would be discriminated on the basis of gender or race.

This was a major breakthrough which the present women generation should hold dearly. Thanks to the woman suffrage movement, women today can vote and influence major policy decisions of the state. Had there been no women suffrage movement, women would have retained their inferior position in the society and they would have never been part of the democratic society through selecting their leaders. Not only was it a great achievement for the American women but also for women in the world who had not yet secured their rights to vote.

The American experience encouraged them to fight on. Examples included United Kingdom, Philippines, Japan, Italy and Switzerland among others where women were allowed to vote in later years. Conclusion The women suffrage is one event that will remain a significant part of history for a long time. This is because it was a major breakthrough both in the country's democracy and in the position of women in the society. It reflects a determined fight on the part of the women leaders such as Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony who exerted all their efforts into women liberation.

The challenges that the women went through during this period and their willingness to endure is a reflection of the commitment that they had on the movement. NAWSA being the organization that lobbied for the support of women across the country played the role of pressuring the government to amend the constitution to include women as having equal rights to men. Even though not many men supported the women suffrage movement, some were for the signing of the amendment as reflected during the voting done in the House of Representatives which most definitely consisted of men.

The Senate also later agreed to side with the motion to support women voters. This change in perspective is a reflection of changes in culture that have occurred in history. From this, the women fraternity could now be included in the government decision making process by electing leaders whom they wanted to represent them. Democracy was now afforded to everyone in America alike; many steps away from the previously male dominated society. In unit two, American women made history by enduring the longest women political movement in America.

One political issue they faced and which led to the movement was the denial of a right to suffrage which means they had no right to vote in general elections. They occupied the traditional position in the society and had no say in the running of the government. They were to be subjective to men and remain stuck in domestic chores. An attempt to defy from this was met with utter hostility. In response to these issues, women in America organized groups aimed at garnering for the women rights and recognition in the society.

Most prevalent were the women suffrage movement groups which sought to secure the right for women in America to vote in the general elections. The outcome of that was severe opposition both from the society and the government before the nineteenth amendment which was eventually passed to give women the right to suffrage. Word Count: 2574 References Adams, C. (2003). Women's Suffrage: A Primary Source History of the Women's Rights Movement in America. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group. Belle S. B. (1911). The Woman Movement in America: A Short Account of the Struggle for Equal Rights.

Boston, MA: A. C. McClure & co. Crawford, E. (2001). The women's suffrage movement: a reference guide, 1866-1928. London: Rutledge. Cooney, R. (2009). Taking a New Look - The Enduring Significance of the American Woman Suffrage Movement. Retrieved on June 6 from http://www. mith2. umd. edu/WomensStudies/ReadingRoom/History/ Vote/enduring-significance. html Dubois, E. C. (1999). Feminism and suffrage: the emergence of an independent women's movement in America, 1848-1869. US: Cornell University Press. Evans, S. M. (1989). Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America.

Free Press. Frost-Knapp man, E. (2005). Women's Suffrage in America. U. S: Facts on File. Joannou, M. & Purvis, J. (1998). The women's suffrage movement: new feminist perspectives Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press. Keller, K. T. (2003). The Women Suffrage Movement, 1848-1920. New York: Capstone Press. Kerber, L. K. & De Hart, J. (2000). Women's America: refocusing the past. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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