Hear My Voice Study Guide


Objective: Through the viewing of and participation in the live presentation of Hear My Voice: Win the Vote, as well as the use of this packet for pre and post performance exploration, students will gain a greater understanding of the American women’s suffrage movement, the roles of women in society over this period in time, and the importance of all citizens having a voice in their own government. Students then will be able to draw parallels between this movement and other historical events, particularly the other major social movements of the 20th century.


Hear My Voice: Win the Vote

Story Synopsis


The fight for woman’s right to vote in the United States is one of the most underappreciated civil rights movements in history: a seventy-two year long struggle whose methods of nonviolent protest predated many of the more well-known movements of the 20th century.


Jessie Barclay is the daughter of an important political journalist growing up in Washington, DC during the early 1900s. She dreams of being as important to her father as her younger brother Will is, but learns from an early age that boys and girls are not considered equal.


When Jessie’s father’s Aunt Charlotte, a longtime suffragist, comes to Washington, she introduces Jessie to the ideas and practices of the suffrage movement. Jessie begins to learn about the history of the women who started the movement, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the new generation who have continued the fight, like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns; and those who oppose it, including her own family. Despite her parents’ and her brother’s objections, Jessie soon becomes deeply involved with the National Woman’s Party, led by Alice Paul, participating in picket lines and protests, and even being sent to jail for her beliefs and actions.


When World War I breaks out, Jessie’s brother Will enlists and is sent overseas, where he begins to understand the comparison between the suffragists’ fight for democracy at home and the one he stands for as an American soldier abroad. Will’s letters home, and his subsequent death at the end of the war as a result of injuries he sustained in battle, forces Mr. and Mrs. Barclay to look differently at Jessie’s commitment to gaining her rights. And when the fight for the vote culminates in the Barclay’s home state of Tennessee, Jessie finally has her family standing beside her on this pivotal issue. That year, they all cast their votes together.


Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and its Leaders

Source: http://www.nwhm.org/RightsforWomen/tableofcontents.html


In the early 1800s, women were second-class citizens. Women were expected to restrict their sphere of interest to the home and the family. Women were not encouraged to obtain a real education or pursue a professional career. After marriage, women did not have the right to own their own property, keep their own wages, or sign a contract. In addition, all women were denied the right to vote. Only after decades of intense political activity did women eventually win the right to vote.

Gaining the vote for American women, known as woman suffrage, was the single largest enfranchisement and extension of democratic rights in our nation’s history. Along with the Civil Rights Movement, the woman suffrage movement should be considered one of the two most important American political movements of the 20th century. The woman suffrage movement was a full-fledged political movement, with its own press, its own political imagery, and its own philosophers, organizers, lobbyists, financiers, and fundraisers.

The movement to enfranchise women lasted for more than 70 years, and involved three generations and millions of women. Each generation of activists witnessed the division of the suffrage movement into moderate and radical camps. Suffrage activists spent more than 50 years educating the public and waging campaigns in the states and nationally to establish the legitimacy of “votes for women.” Suffragists undertook almost 20 years of direct lobbying as well as dramatic, non-violent, militant action to press their claim to the vote.

The Abolition Movement and Woman Suffrage

Prior to 1776, women exercised the right to vote in several American colonies. After 1776, states rewrote their constitutions to prevent women from voting. After 1787, women were able to vote only in New Jersey. Women continued to vote in New Jersey until 1807, when male legislators officially outlawed woman suffrage.

In the 1830s, thousands of women were involved in the movement to abolish slavery. Women wrote articles for abolitionist papers, circulated abolitionist pamphlets, and circulated, signed, and delivered petitions to Congress calling for abolition. Some women became prominent leaders in the abolition movement. Angelina Grimke and Sarah Moore Grimke became famous for making speeches to mixed (male and female) audiences about slavery. For this radical action, clergymen soundly condemned them. As a result, in addition to working for abolition, the Grimke sisters began to advocate for women’s rights.

Other women who were active in the abolitionist movement became interested in women’s rights as well, for many reasons. Female abolitionists sometimes faced discrimination within the movement itself, which led to their politicization on the issue of women’s rights. In addition, women working to secure freedom for African Americans began to see some legal similarities between their situation as Anglo women and the situation of enslaved black men and women.

In 1840, the World Anti-Slavery Convention was held in London. Abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott attended the Convention but were refused seats on the floor by male abolitionists because they were women. As a result, Stanton and Mott decided to hold a convention on women’s rights.

The Seneca Falls Convention and the Early Suffrage Movement

It was eight years before Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott would carry out their agreement to hold a convention on women’s rights. On July 19 and 20th, 1848, they hosted the Seneca Fall Convention on women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York. At the convention, they presented and the delegates adopted a “Declaration of Sentiments,” a document modeled on the Declaration of Independence, which called for a range of women’s rights, including the right to equal education, equal treatment under the law, and the right to vote. Sixty-eight women and thirty-two men signed the Declaration of Sentiments. Among the signers was Frederick Douglass, the prominent abolitionist.

Over the next decade, women held numerous other conventions and conferences on the issue of women’s rights and undertook campaigns to improve married women’s property rights and secure other rights for women.

During the Civil War, women temporarily suspended their work on women’s rights. Beginning in 1863, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony organized women in support of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.

After the end of the Civil War in 1865, two new amendments to the Constitution were proposed. The 14th Amendment, drafted in late 1865, was a disappointment to suffragists. It penalized states for denying the vote to adult males, for the first time introducing the word “men” into the Constitution. The 15th Amendment stated that voting rights could not be denied on account of race, but did not mention sex. In 1866, Cady Stanton, Anthony, and Lucy Stone were all involved in the formation of the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), an organization dedicated to enfranchising African Americans and women together.


Post-Civil War and the Emergence of Two Movements


Already by 1865, it was becoming clear that the country was about to legally enfranchise black men, but not white or black women. The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, and the 15th Amendment was under consideration. The suffrage movement began to divide over the question of whether to support black male suffrage if women were not also granted the right to vote.


On one side of the debate, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony refused to support black male suffrage if women were not also enfranchised. In 1867, while campaigning in Kansas for the enfranchisement of women, Cady Stanton and Anthony accepted the help of a pro-slavery Democrat, George Train. In 1868, they accepted his money to start a women’s rights newspaper, The Revolution.


In 1869, Cady Stanton and Anthony founded their own women’s rights party, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). The NWSA, considered a radical organization, did not support the 15th Amendment on the grounds that it enfranchised black men but not white or black women. The NWSA also initially discouraged the participation of men in leadership positions, and was a multi-issue organization, arguing for a variety of women’s rights.

On the other side of the debate, Lucy Stone argued that suffragists should support the enfranchisement of black men. Together with her husband, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe, she founded a second organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). The AWSA, considered a moderate organization, supported the 15th Amendment, actively sought to include men in leadership positions, and focused on the issue of woman suffrage. Its newspaper was called The Woman’s Journal.

1869-1890: A Movement Divided

For the next twenty years, the suffrage movement would remain divided, but women continued to campaign actively for their rights. In the 1870s, women tried, some successfully, to vote on the basis of the wording of the 14th Amendment. Susan B. Anthony was arrested, tried, and fined for voting successfully. However, in 1875, in Minor vs. Happersett, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution did not grant women the right to vote. Also during this time, some women refused to pay taxes, arguing that they were being taxed without representation in the legislature.

The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) campaigned for a federal amendment to enfranchise women. A constitutional amendment to enfranchise women was first introduced in Congress in 1869. A more narrowly drafted amendment was introduced in 1878, and reintroduced every year thereafter. In 1882, committees on woman suffrage were appointed in both Houses of Congress, each of which reported favorably on the suffrage amendment. In 1887, the Senate voted on the suffrage amendment, but it was defeated soundly.

Simultaneously, the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) worked to convince individual states to grant women the vote, although successes were few.

In 1874, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded, and soon became the largest and most powerful women’s organization in the country. Under the leadership of Frances Willard, its hundreds of thousands of members provided important support to the suffrage movement. However, the WCTU’s support of woman suffrage also meant that liquor and brewing interests became ardent opponents of the woman suffrage movement.

The Movement Reunites

In 1890, the acrimony had died down between the two suffrage factions and the two suffrage organizations merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). For a time the organization remained under the leadership of the “old guard” including Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In the early 1890s, the NAWSA oversaw some successes. Under the direction of organizer Carrie Chapman Catt, the NAWSA pursued a “state-by-state” strategy to win the vote for women in each state. By 1896, women had won the right to vote in four states – Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado.

As the older generation of suffrage activists began to pass on (Cady Stanton died in 1902, Anthony in 1906), a new generation of leaders assumed control of the organization. Among these were Carrie Chapman Catt, Anna Howard Shaw, and Alice Stone Blackwell.

In 1900, Chapman Catt was elected president of the NAWSA. As president, she pursued a strategy of attracting society women to the suffrage cause. However, Chapman Catt left the presidency in 1904 to care for her ailing husband. Anna Howard Shaw was elected president and served until 1915. Although Shaw was a committed activist and powerful orator, she was not a strong president and during much of her presidency the NAWSA languished. From 1896 through 1910, women failed to win the right to vote in any additional states.

African American Women and Suffrage

Many African American women were highly active in the woman suffrage movement. In the antebellum period, like Anglo women, many black women became active abolitionists and supporters of women’s rights. Sojourner Truth, a former slave, became famous as both an abolitionist and an advocate of woman suffrage. In 1851, she made her famous speech, “Ain’t I A Woman,” at a convention in Akron, Ohio. Other black women suffragists from this time period include Margaretta Forten, Harriet Forten Purvis, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

Black women participated in the American Equal Rights Association, and later in both the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. Historian Rosalyn Terborg-Penn argues that black women were drawn more to the AWSA than the NWSA as the AWSA supported the enfranchisement of black men.

In the 1880s and 1890s, black women, like their white counterparts, began to form woman’s clubs. Many of these clubs included suffrage as one plank in their broader platform. In 1896, many of these clubs affiliated to form the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), with Mary Church Terrell as president. From its founding until the passage of the 19th Amendment, the NACW included a department that worked for the advancement of woman suffrage. The National Baptist Woman’s Convention, another focal point of black women’s organizational power, also consistently supported woman suffrage. In addition, black women founded clubs that worked exclusively for woman’s suffrage, such as the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, founded by Ida B. Wells in 1913.

Despite this strong support for woman’s suffrage, black women sometimes faced discrimination within the suffrage movement itself. From the end of the Civil War onwards, some white suffragists argued that enfranchising women would serve to cancel out the “Negro” vote, as there would be more white women voters than black men and women voters combined. Although some black clubwomen participated actively in the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the NAWSA did not always welcome them with open arms. In the 20th century, the NAWSA leadership sometimes discouraged black women’s clubs from attempting to affiliate with the NAWSA. Some Southern members of NAWSA argued for the enfranchisement of white women only. In addition, in the suffrage parade of 1913 organized by Alice Paul’s Congressional Union, black women were asked to march in a segregated unit. Ida B. Wells refused to do so, and slipped into her state’s delegation after the start of the parade.

When the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, it legally enfranchised all women, white and black. However, within a decade, state laws and vigilante practices effectively disenfranchised most black women in the South. It would take another major movement for voting rights – the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s – before black women in the South would be effectively enfranchised.

A New Century: A Mass Movement

Despite problems with the NAWSA, the early 20th century was a time of great political activity for women. Many women initiated reform movements to address problems associated with urbanization, industrialization, and mass immigration. Women joined reform clubs and lived in settlement houses, such as the Hull House, founded by Jane Addams, in Chicago.

Many women sought to pass reform legislation. Over time, they realized that women would be better able to lobby politicians to pass reform legislation if women exercised the right to vote. Thus, women in the reform movement gradually became committed to winning the right to vote. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, woman suffrage had become a mass political movement for the first time.

Women and the Trade Union Movement

At the beginning of the 20th century, the working-class women’s movement became more connected to the suffrage movement. During this time period,  women workers initiated many important strikes. In 1909-1910, over 20,000 shirtwaist workers struck in New York and Philadelphia, in what was called the “Rising of 20,000.” They were supported by the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), an organization which united working-class women and middle- and upper- class women in an effort to win the vote, and secure better wages and working conditions for women.

In 1906, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter, founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later the Women’s Political Union) to organize working-class suffragists, primarily in New York City. In 1910, they organized the first large-scale suffrage march in the United States, in New York City. Eventually, the Women’s Political Union began working with the National Woman’s Party, the new radical wing of the woman suffrage movement.

The National American Woman Suffrage Association Reinvigorated

By 1910, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and its affiliated state and local organizations were showing new life. Between 1910 and 1920, the NAWSA and its state and local affiliates undertook numerous large-scale campaigns to win suffrage for women in individual states. In most states, suffragists first had to lobby state legislatures to put a woman suffrage measure before state voters. Then suffragists had to undertake a massive campaign, involving speaking tours, meetings, marches, door-to-door canvassing, and publicity blitzes, to convince male voters to vote for woman suffrage.

In the early 1910s, the still weak NAWSA could provide little support to state and local organizations, and thus the responsibility for undertaking these campaigns fell largely on the shoulders of state organizations. In 1910, suffragists were successful in winning the vote in Washington, ending a fourteen-year period in which no state victories had been won. In 1911, suffragists organized a successful campaign in California. In 1912, suffragists undertook campaigns in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Arizona, and Oregon. Of these, the Kansas, Arizona, and Oregon campaigns were successful. In 1914, campaigns in Montana and Nevada were successful, but campaigns in North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri, and Nebraska all failed. In 1915, four campaigns – in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania – were all unsuccessful. However, the unsuccessful campaigns laid the groundwork for future victories. The New York campaign was particularly important. Carrie Chapman Catt had returned to suffrage work to organize the  campaign, and working in tandem with Harriot Stanton Blatch’s Women’s Political Union, suffragists had significantly increased their support in the state.

As late as 1915, however, the NAWSA was still rife with internal divisions. Some western women resented the organization’s eastern leadership. Some southern members, such as Kate M. Gordon and Laura Clay, advocated extending the vote to white women only, in order to preserve white supremacy in the South.

Men Support the Woman Suffrage Movement

Since the beginning of the woman suffrage movement, men had been involved as active supporters. Some abolitionist men were supporters of women’s rights. The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 was presided over by Lucretia Mott’s husband, James Mott. Thirty-two men, including Frederick Douglass, signed the Declaration of Sentiments.

After the Civil War, some men were involved in the American Equal Rights Association (AERA), the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), and later with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The AWSA was actually co-founded by Lucy Stone and her husband, Henry Blackwell.

Men were involved with the suffrage movement in the 20th century as well. Beginning in about 1910, men began forming Men’s Leagues for Woman Suffrage. In 1912, the National Men’s League had 20,000 members.

During the 1910s and 1920s, male state legislators agreed to summit woman suffrage measures to state voters. Millions of male voters voted to approve these measures. Union men, in particular, were often strong supporters of woman suffrage.

After much persuasion by the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman’s Party, President Wilson finally worked to pass a woman suffrage federal amendment to the Constitution. Suffragists also counted numerous supporters in Congress. When the House of Representatives voted on the suffrage amendment in 1918, pro-suffrage Congressmen made heroic efforts to be there for the vote. Some Congressmen left their sickbeds to vote for the amendment. Congressman Henry A. Barnhart was unable to walk and had to be carried in on a stretcher. Congressman Thetus W. Sims had broken his shoulder, but despite the pain he refused to have it set in order to make the vote. At her request, Congressman Frederick C. Hicks left his wife’s deathbed in order to vote for woman suffrage.

In Tennessee, the last state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment, one young state Congressman had been planning to vote against woman suffrage. However, after listening to pleas from his mother, he promised to vote for suffrage if his vote was needed. When the time came, and one vote was needed to ratify the amendment, he kept his promise and voted for suffrage.

The National American Association of Woman Suffrage under Carrie Chapman Catt

In 1915, Anna Howard Shaw stepped down from the presidency of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and Carrie Chapman Catt was elected to take her place. Under Catt’s leadership, the NAWSA became a highly effective organization. It served as the parent organization for hundreds of state and local organizations, and its membership swelled into the millions.

In 1916, the NAWSA convinced the Democratic and Republican parties to adopt woman suffrage as a plank in their platforms. Chapman Catt also secretly unveiled her “Winning Plan” whereby the NAWSA would simultaneously work for a federal amendment to enfranchise women and also work at the state level to win woman suffrage. In addition, Chapman Catt developed an effective personal relationship with President Wilson, and began to pressure him to support woman suffrage.

In 1917, suffragists were finally successful in winning the vote in New York. In 1918, the NAWSA’s “Front Door Lobby” became famous for conducting their lobbying activities in public, instead of behind closed doors.


The Militant Women’s Movement

In 1913, activist Alice Stokes Paul returned to the United States from England where she had been involved with the English militant suffrage movement. With her friend Lucy Burns, she joined the NAWSA’s Congressional Committee. In March of 1913, they organized a large-scale women’s rights march in Washington, D.C. to coincide with President Wilson’s inauguration. The march received an enormous amount of publicity after marchers were harassed and attacked by parade onlookers.

Later that year, Burns and Paul founded the Congressional Union (CU) as a separate organization to forward their work. Immediately, the Congressional Union began to alienate the NAWSA with its radical tactics. In February of 1914, the NAWSA and the CU officially parted ways. The CU, and later the National Woman’s party, pursued a strategy of asking women voters in the West to vote against the Democrats, in order to hold the “party in power” responsible for failing to enfranchise women.

Between 1916 and 1917, the Congressional Union was transformed into the National Woman’s Party (NWP). In 1917, members of the NWP began picketing the Wilson White House continuously. The National Woman’s Party was the first group to employ this political tactic. After the start of World War I, picketers, including Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, were arrested on a trumped-up charge of blocking traffic. Imprisoned suffragists were badly treated and suffered severely. While in jail, Paul and others went on hunger strikes and were force-fed through tubes. This led to public sympathy for their cause as suffragists skillfully exploited their jailing in order to gain support for woman suffrage.

The NWP continued its activities, including protesting, picketing, petitioning, lobbying, and public speaking, until the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.


WWI and Winning the Vote

Women in the suffrage movement contributed to the war effort in many ways, by raising funds, selling war bonds, working in factories, and serving as nurses. In 1918, under the combined pressure of the NWP’s public efforts and the NAWSA’s lobbying, President Wilson agreed to push publicly for woman suffrage. He addressed the Senate in support of the 19th Amendment to enfranchise women. In his speech he argued that woman suffrage was needed to win the war and should be supported as a war measure.

In 1919 both the House of Representatives and the Senate finally voted to approve the 19th Amendment. The Amendment then went to the states, where  it required approval by three-fourths of state legislatures before it would be ratified. Suffragists in the NAWSA and the NWP undertook arduous campaigns in each state to win ratification. On August 26, 1920, Tennessee’s legislature approved the Amendment by one vote, becoming the last state required to ratify the 19th Amendment. After more than 70 years of struggle, American women had finally won the vote. Importantly, however, black women, particularly in the South, would quickly become effectively disenfranchised.

Aftermath of Winning the Vote

After the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, the women’s movement transitioned into a new phase. Already in 1919, Carrie Chapman Catt had moved to convert the NAWSA into the League of Women Voters. In 1920, after the passage of the 19th Amendment, the NAWSA became the League of Women Voters (LWV), which worked within the traditional political system to make women’s vote effective. Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party pursued a separate strategy by introducing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, which sought to make illegal any discrimination on the basis of sex.

By these and other means, the fight to politically, economically, and socially empower women would go on. It was not until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s that black women in the South would be able to exercise their right to vote. However, by all accounts, the passage of the 19th Amendment was a major step on the road towards full citizenship and equality for all American women.


Timeline of Women’s Suffrage in the United States

Source: http://www.dpsinfo.com/women/history/timeline.html



Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John Adams, asking him to “remember the ladies” in the new code of laws. Adams replies the men will fight the “despotism of the petticoat.”


Women lose the right to vote in New York.


Women lose the right to vote in Massachusetts.


Women lose the right to vote in New Hampshire.


US Constitutional Convention places voting qualifications in the hands of the states. Women in all states except New Jersey lose the right to vote.


Mary Wollstonecraft publishes Vindication of the Rights of Women in England.


Women lose the right to vote in New Jersey, the last state to revoke the right.

Women Join the Abolitionist Movement


Formation of the female anti-slavery associations.


Angelina Grimke appeals to Southern women to speak out against slavery.


The “Pastoral Letter of the General Association of Massachusetts to the Congregational Churches Under Their Care” is promulgated against women speaking in public against slavery, it is mainly directed against the Grimke sisters.


World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women barred from participating on account of their sex.

Women Begin to Organize For Their Own Rights


First Women’s Rights convention in Seneca Fall, New York. Equal suffrage proposed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton After debate of so radical a notion, it is adopted.


Women’s rights convention held in April in Salem, Ohio. First national women’s rights convention held in October in Worcester, Massachusetts.


Annual Women’s Rights conventions held. The last, in 1861, in Albany, New York lobbies for a liberalized divorce bill. Horace Greely opposes the bill, which loses.


Civil War. Over the objections of Susan B. Anthony, women put aside suffrage activities to help the war effort.


Fourteenth amendment passes Congress, defining citizens as “male;” this is the first use of the word male in the Constitution. Kansas campaign for black and woman suffrage: both lose. Susan B. Anthony forms Equal Rights Association, working for universal suffrage.

Suffrage Movement Divides Over Black vs. Woman Suffrage


Fourteenth amendment ratified. Fifteenth amendment passes Congress, giving the vote to black men. Women petition to be included but are turned down. Formation of New England Woman Suffrage Association. In New Jersey, 172 women attempt to vote; their ballots are ignored.


Frederick Douglass and others back down from woman suffrage to concentrate on fight for black male suffrage. National Woman Suffrage Association formed in May with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as president. American Woman Suffrage Association formed in November with Henry Ward Beecher as president. In England, John Stuart Mill, economist and husband of suffragist Harriet Taylor, publishes On the Subjugation of Women. Wyoming territory grants first woman suffrage since 1807.

Civil Disobedience Is Tried


Fifteenth Amendment ratified. The Grimke sisters, now quite aged, and 42 other women attempt to vote in Massachusetts, their ballots are cast but ignored. Utah territory grants woman suffrage.


The Anti-Suffrage Society is formed.


Susan B. Anthony and supporters arrested for voting. Anthony’s sisters and 11 other women held for $500 bail. Anthony herself is held for $1000 bail.


Denied a trial by jury, Anthony loses her case in June and is fined $100 plus costs. Suffrage demonstration at the Centennial of the Boston Tea Party.


Protest at a commemoration of the Battle of Lexington. In Myner v. Happerstett the US Supreme Court decides that being a citizen does not guarantee suffrage. Women’s Christian Temperance Union formed.


On July 4, in Philadelphia, Susan B. Anthony reads The Declaration for the Rights of Women from a podium in front of the Liberty Bell. The crowd cheers. Later, the suffragists meet in the historic First Unitarian Church.


Woman suffrage amendment first introduced in US Congress.


Lucretia Mott, born in 1793, dies.


The House and Senate appoint committees on woman suffrage, both report favorably.


Belva Lockwood runs for president. The US House of Representatives debates woman suffrage.


Women protest being excluded from the dedication ceremonies for the Statue of Liberty. Suffrage amendment reaches the US Senate floor, it is defeated two to one.


Utah women lose right to vote.


The NWSA and the AWSA merge to form NAWSA. The focus turns to working at the state level. Campaign loses in South Dakota.


Matilda Joslyn Gage publishes Woman, Church and State. After a vigorous campaign led by Carrie Chapman Catt, Colorado men vote for woman suffrage.


Despite 600,000 signatures, a petition for woman suffrage is ignored in New York. Lucy Stone, born in 1818, dies.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton publishes The Woman’s Bible. Utah women regain suffrage.


Idaho grants woman suffrage.

Suffrage Activism Enters the 20th Century


Carrie Chapman Catt takes over the reins of the NASWA.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton, born in 1815, dies.


Susan Brownell Anthony, born in 1820, dies.


Harriet Stanton Blatch, Elizabeth’s daughter, forms the Equality League of Self Supporting Women which becomes the Women’s Political Union in 1910. She introduces the English suffragists’ tactics of parades, street speakers, and pickets.


Washington (state) grants woman suffrage.


California grants woman suffrage. In New York City, 3,000 march for suffrage.


Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party includes woman suffrage in their platform. Oregon, Arizona, and Kansas grant woman suffrage.


Women’s Suffrage parade on the eve of Wilson’s inauguration is attacked by a mob. Hundreds of women are injured, no arrests are made. Alaskan Territory grants suffrage. Illinois grants municipal and presidential but not state suffrage to women.


Alice Paul and others break away from the NASWA and form the National Women’s Party.


Beginning in January, NWP posts silent “Sentinels of Liberty” at the White House. In June, the arrests begin. Nearly 500 women are arrested, 168 women serve jail time, some are brutalized by their jailers. North Dakota, Indiana, Nebraska, and Michigan grant presidential suffrage; Arkansas grants primary suffrage. New York, South Dakota, and Oklahoma state constitutions grant suffrage.


The jailed suffragists released from prison. Appellate court rules all the arrests were illegal. President Wilson declares support for suffrage. Suffrage Amendment passes US House with exactly a two-thirds vote but loses by two votes in the Senate.


In January, the NWP lights and guards a “Watchfire for Freedom.” It is maintained until the Suffrage Amendment passes US Senate on June 4. The battle for ratification by at least 36 states begins.


The Nineteenth Amendment, called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, is ratified by Tennessee on August 18. It becomes law on August 26.

© 1995, Brooks and Gonzalez. The Women’s History Project of Lexington Area National Organization for Women. This timeline may be distributed freely under the following conditions: that the use is not for profit; that it is distributed in complete, unchanged form; that this complete notice is intact and included in the distribution.

Suffrage Ratification Timetable

Source: http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/book-sum/perfect.html


In Support of Ratification

1 Wisconsin

June 10, 1919

2 Michigan

June 10, 1919

3 Kansas

June 13, 1919

4 Ohio

June 14, 1919

5 New York

June 16, 1919

6 Illinois

June 17, 1919

7 Pennsylvania

June 24, 1919

8 Massachusetts

June 25, 1919

9 Texas

June 28, 1919

10 Iowa

July 2, 1919

11 Missouri

July 3, 1919

12 Arkansas

July 20, 1919

13 Montana

July 30, 1919

14 Nebraska

August 2, 1919

15 Minnesota

September 8, 1919

16 New Hampshire

September 10, 1919

17 Utah

September 30, 1919

18 California

November 1, 1919

19 Maine

November 5, 1919

20 North Dakota

December 1, 1919

21 South Dakota

December 4, 1919

22 Colorado

December 12, 1919

23 Rhode Island

January 6, 1920

24 Kentucky

January 6, 1920

25 Oregon

January 12, 1920

26 Indiana

January 16, 1920

27 Wyoming

January 27, 1920

28 Nevada

February 7, 1920

29 New Jersey

February 10, 1920

30 Idaho

February 11, 1920

31 Arizona

February 12, 1920

32 New Mexico

February 19, 1920

33 Oklahoma

February 27, 1920

34 West Virginia

March 10, 1920

35 Washington

March 22, 1920

36 Tennessee

August 18, 1920

Opposed to Ratification

1 Georgia

July 24, 1919

2 Alabama

September 2, 1919

3 Mississippi

January 21, 1920

4 South Carolina

January 21, 1920

5 Virginia

February 12, 1920

6 Maryland

February 12, 1920

7 Delaware

June 2, 1920

8 Louisiana

June 15, 1920

9 North Carolina

August 17, 1920

No Action on the Amendment

1 Connecticut


2 Vermont


3 Florida



The Declaration of Sentiments: Report of the Woman’s Rights Convention Held at Seneca Falls, NY, July 19-20, 1848

The Declaration of Sentiments:

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course,

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they were accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.

To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.

He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men — both natives and foreigners.

Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.

He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.

He has made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master — the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty and to administer chastisement.

He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes, and in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given, as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of women — the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of man and giving all power into his hands.

After depriving her of all rights as a married woman; if single, and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.

He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself.

As a teacher of theology, medicine or law, she is not known.

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her.

He allows her in Church, as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.

He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated, but deemed of little account in man.

He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God.

He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

Now in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation — in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality without our power to effect our object.

We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and National legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press on our behalf.

We hope this Convention will be followed by a series on Conventions embracing every part of the country.

Winning the Vote for Women Around the World

Source: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/suffrage/a/intl_timeline.htm


1851: Prussian law forbids women from joining political parties or attending meetings where politics is discussed.

1869: Britain grants unmarried women who are householders the right to vote in local elections.

1862/3: Some Swedish women gain voting rights in local elections.


1881: Some Scottish women get the right to vote in local elections.

1893: New Zealand grants equal voting rights to women.

1894: The United Kingdom expands women’s voting rights to married women in local but not national elections.

1895: South Australian women gain voting rights.

1899: Western Australian women granted voting rights.


1901: Women in Australia get the vote, with some restrictions.

1902: Women in New South Wales get the vote.

1902: Australia grants more voting rights to women.

1906: Finland adopts woman suffrage.

1907: Women in Norway are permitted to stand for election.

1908: Women in Denmark some women granted local voting rights.

1908: Victoria, Australia, grants women voting rights.

1909: Sweden grants vote in municipal elections to all women.


1913: Norway adopts full woman suffrage.

1915: Women get the vote in Denmark and Iceland.

1916: Canadian women in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan get the vote.

1917: When the Russian Czar is toppled, the Provisional Government grants universal suffrage with equality for women; later the new Soviet Russian constitution includes full suffrage to women.

1917: Women in the Netherlands are granted the right to stand for election.

1918: The United Kingdom gives a full vote to women of age 30 and older and men age 21 and older.

1918: Canada gives women the vote in most provinces by federal law. Quebec is not included.

1918: Germany grants women the vote.

1918: Austria adopts woman suffrage.

1918: Women given full suffrage in Latvia, Poland, Estonia, and Latvia.

1918: Russian Federation gives women the right to vote.

1918: Women granted limited voting rights in Ireland.

1919: Netherlands gives women the vote.

1919: Woman suffrage is granted in Belarus, Luxemburg and Ukraine

1919: Women in Belgium granted right to vote.

1919: New Zealand allows women to stand for election.

1919: Sweden grants suffrage with some restrictions.


1920: On August 26, a constitutional amendment, granting full woman suffrage in all states of the United States.

1920: Woman suffrage is granted in Albania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

1920: Canadian women get the right to stand for election (but not for all offices – see 1929 below).

1921: Sweden gives women voting rights with some restrictions.

1921: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Lithuania grant woman suffrage.

1921: Belgium grants women the right to stand for election.

1922: Burma (Myanmar) grants women voting rights.

1924: Mongolia, Saint Lucia and Tajikistan give suffrage to women.

1924: Kazakstan gives limited voting rights to women.

1925: Italy grants limited voting rights to women.

1927: Turkmenistan grants woman suffrage.

1928: The United Kingdom grants equal voting rights to women.

1928: Guyana grants woman suffrage.

1928: Ireland expands women’s suffrage rights.

1929: Ecuador grants suffrage, Romania grants limited suffrage.

1929: Women found to be “persons” in Canada and therefore able to become members of the Senate.


1930: White women granted suffrage in South Africa.

1930: Turkey grants women the vote.

1931: Women get full suffrage in Spain and Sri Lanka.

1931: Chile and Portugal grant suffrage with some restrictions.

1932: Uruguay, Thailand and Maldives jump on the woman suffrage bandwagon.

1934: Cuba and Brazil adopt woman suffrage.

1934: Turkish women are able to stand for election.

1934: Portugal grants woman suffrage, with some restrictions.

1935: Women gain right to vote in Myanmar.

1937: The Philippines grants women full suffrage.

1938: Women get the vote in Bolivia.

1938: Uzbekistan grants full suffrage to women.

1939: El Salvador grants voting rights to women.


1940: Women of Quebec are granted voting rights.

1941: Panama grants limited voting rights to women.

1942: Women gain full suffrage in the Dominican Republic

1944: Bulgaria, France and Jamaica grant suffrage to women.

1945: Croatia, Indonesia, Italy, Hungary, Japan (with restrictions), Yugoslavia, Senegal and Ireland enact woman suffrage.

1945: Guyana allows women to stand for election.

1946: Woman suffrage adopted in Palestine, Kenya, Liberia, Cameroon, Korea, Guatemala, Panama (with restrictions), Romania (with restrictions), Venezuela, Yugoslavia and Vietnam.

1946: Women allowed to stand for election in Myanmar.

1947: Bulgaria, Malta, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore and Argentina extend suffrage to women.

1947: Japan extends suffrage, but still retains some restrictions.

1947: Mexico grants the vote to women at the municipal level.

1948: Israel, Iraq, Korea, Niger and Surinam adopt woman suffrage.

1948: Belgium, which previously granted the vote to women, establishes suffrage with a few restrictions for women.

1949: Bosnia and Herzegovina grant woman suffrage.

1949: China and Costa Rica give women the vote.

1949: Women gain full suffrage in Chile but most vote separately from men.

1949: Syrian Arab Republic gives the vote to women.

1949/1950: India grants woman suffrage.


1950: Haiti and Barbados adopt woman suffrage.

1950: Canada grants full suffrage, extending the vote to some women (and men) previously not included.

1951: Antigua, Nepal and Grenada give women the vote.

1952: Covenant on Political Rights of Women enacted by the United Nations, calling for women’s right to vote and right to stand for elections.

1952: Greece, Lebanon and Bolivia (with restrictions) extend suffrage to women.

1953: Mexico grants women the right to stand for election. and to vote in national elections.

1953: Hungary and Guyana give voting rights to women.

1953: Bhutan and the Syrian Arab Republic establish full woman suffrage.

1954: Ghana, Colombia and Belize grant woman suffrage.

1955: Cambodia, Ethiopia, Peru, Honduras and Nicaragua adopt woman suffrage.

1956: Women given suffrage in Egypt, Somalia, Comoros, Mauritius, Mali and Benin.

1956: Pakistani women gain right to vote in national elections.

1957: Malaysia extends suffrage to women.

1957: Zimbabwe grants women the vote.

1959: Madagascar and Tanzania give suffrage to women.

1959: San Marino permits women to vote.


1960: Women of Cyprus, Gambia and Tonga get suffrage.

1960: Canadian women win full rights to stand for election.

1961: Burundi, Malawy, Paraguay, Rwanda and Sierra Leone adopt woman suffrage.

1961: Women in the Bahamas gain suffrage, with limits.

1961: Women in El Salvador are permitted to stand for election.

1962: Algeria, Monaco, Uganda and Zambia adopt woman suffrage.

1962: Australia adopts full woman suffrage (a few restrictions remain).

1963: Women in Morocco, Congo, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Kenya gain suffrage.

1964: Sudan adopts woman suffrage.

1964: The Bahamas adopts full suffrage with restrictions.

1965: Women gain full suffrage in Afghanistan, Botswana and Lesotho.

1967: Ecuador adopts full suffrage with a few restrictions.

1968: Full woman suffrage adopted in Swaziland.


1970: Yemen adopts full suffrage.

1970: Andorra permits women to vote.

1971: Switzerland adopts woman suffrage, and the United States lowers the voting age for both men and women to eighteen.

1972: Bangladesh grants woman suffrage.

1973: Full suffrage granted to women in Bahrain.

1973: Women permitted to stand for election in Andover and San Marino.

1974: Jordan and the Solomon Islands extend suffrage to women.

1975: Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique give suffrage to women.

1976: Portugal adopts full woman suffrage with a few restrictions.

1978: The Republic of Moldova adopts full suffrage with a few restrictions.

1978: Women in Zimbabwe are able to stand for election.

1979: Women in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia gain full suffrage rights.


1980: Iran gives women the vote.

1984: Full suffrage granted to women of Liechtenstein.

1984: In South Africa, voting rights are extended to Coloureds and Indians.

1986: Central African Republic adopts woman suffrage.


1990: Samoan women gain full suffrage.

1994: Kazakhstan grants women full suffrage.

1994: Black women gain full suffrage in South Africa.


2005: Kuwaiti Parliament grants women of Kuwait full suffrage.

Suffragist Biographies

Source: http://www.nwhm.org/RightsforWomen/listofleaders.html

Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906)

Susan Brownell Anthony, champion of temperance, abolition and African American rights, the rights of labor, and equal pay for equal work, devoted her life to organizing and leading the woman suffrage movement. A skilled political strategist, she was the General of the suffrage troops. Her strengths were discipline, energy, and organization and, after meeting Stanton in 1850, their partnership dominated the movement for over 50 years.

She was a member of the Equal Rights Association, and then founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, the radical wing of suffrage, pushing for a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women. She and Stanton opposed the 14th and 15 amendments for not enfranchising women. She published The Revolution, a radical paper, edited by Stanton (1868-1870), and lectured for over 6 years to pay off its debt. She organized the Council of 1888 helping lay the groundwork for the re-unification of the suffrage associations in 1890 and led the unified National American Woman Suffrage Association  until 1900. Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872 and was tried and convicted. She led a woman’s protest at the 1876 Centennial delivering a Declaration of Rights written by Stanton and Gage. She wrote and published, with Stanton and Gage, the History of Woman Suffrage.

Anthony’s Quaker heritage considered women equal and she spent her life seeking to establish equality in the larger world. She gathered signatures on suffrage petitions at the state and national levels and undertook arduous state tours to organize suffrage campaigns in the states and nationally. Called “The Napoleon of the women’s rights movement,” she lobbied yearly before Congress. Anthony was active in international suffrage circles, and personally raised money to insure admission of women to the University of Rochester.

Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont (1853-1933)

Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, a wealthy, influential New York socialite, multimillionaire, and ardent woman suffrage supporter, was a major financier and writer of the movement. After her husband’s death, she emerged as a militant suffrage leader, founded the New York Political Equality League and later became president of the National Woman’s Party whose activities she financed.

Born in Mobile, Alabama, educated in France, she came to New York after the Civil War, and married William Vanderbilt (1875), grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. From her 5th Avenue mansion, she embarked on dazzling social ventures that conquered New York society. In 1895, she divorced Vanderbilt for adultery saying, “I was one of the first women in American to dare…to criticize openly an influential man’s behavior.” She married Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, a wealthy society friend. After his death (1908), she embraced the suffrage movement, paid for the headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in New York, and financed their national press bureau. She was president of the New York Political Equality League, but gravitated to the militant National Woman’s Party, serving on its executive board. She used her Newport, Rhode Island home, Marble House, to host suffrage and feminist events. Elected president of the Woman’s Party (1921), Belmont contributed money to purchase their historic mansion headquarters on Capitol Hill. She spent her later years in France and died soon after her 80th birthday, having contributed millions of dollars, and millions of words in magazine articles, to advance woman’s rights.

Harriot Stanton Blatch (1856-1940)

Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch, suffrage leader, introduced innovative publicity, organizational, and political tactics to the lagging suffrage drive at a critical juncture, an effort that helped win suffrage in New York, the most populous state.

Born into the movement as Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter, Harriot married and moved to Europe where she witnessed the radical tactics of British suffrage. Returning to the U. S. in 1902, she was convinced that organizing labor women was crucial to winning the vote. She founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (1902), later the Women’s Political Union, whose membership of 20,000 women in factories and garment shops was its strength. The Equality League introduced outdoor meetings, suffrage parades, and sent working women to testify to the legislature. Finding it difficult to work with Mrs. Catt, Blatch’s group merged with the Congressional Union, later the Woman’s Party. Convinced that the U. S. should enter World War I, she directed the Food Administration’s Speakers Bureau and the Woman’s Land Army and published Mobilizing Woman-Power.  Post war, she supported the Woman’s Party’s drive for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Influenced by socialism in England, she joined the Socialist Party and made several unsuccessful runs for public office in the 1920’s. She enjoyed a great celebration of her 80th birthday, as did her mother. She collaborated with her brother Theodore in editing the book Elizabeth Cady Stanton, As Revealed In her Letters, Diary and Reminiscences (a strangely edited work, expurgating many of her mother’s most radical views). Her daughter, Nora, and the women in generations since, provided staunch support for the woman’s movement.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894)

Amelia Jenks Bloomer, temperance reformer, newspaper editor, and suffrage journalist, is noted for her pioneering temperance and woman’s rights newspaper, The Lily (1849), and for wearing a healthful reform dress featuring full pantaloons and a short skirt – giving the “Bloomer” costume its name.

Bloomer lived in central New York and attended the famed Seneca Falls woman’s rights convention in 1848. Despite little formal education, she published The Lily,(1849) which printed articles on woman’s rights, many written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1850, she introduced Susan B. Anthony to Stanton, thus beginning their life-long partnership. Bloomer herself adopted the healthful reform costume to which she gave her name, and defended its use in her paper. She lectured on temperance and women’s rights, while continuing to edit The Lily, (circulation 6,000). After moving to Iowa, Bloomer sold her paper but continued her reform work as president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Society in 1871. She died in 1894, having spent her best years as a propagandist for woman’s rights. 

Inez Milholland Boissevain (1886-1916)

Inez Milholland Boissevain, labor lawyer, feminist, and suffragist, joined Harriot Stanton Blatch’s Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later the Women’s Political Union) and lectured, arranged rallies, and testified at hearings. A pacifist in World War I, Inez became a war correspondent in Italy. Her beauty and social standing were an asset to the movement, and she gained fame as the “Suffrage Herald,” riding a horse at the head of two vast suffrage marches, one down New York’s 5th Avenue, the other in Washington, D. C. in 1913. She was so striking a figure that she became a suffrage symbol, part of the movement’s enduring imagery.

She attended Vassar and earned a law degree from New York University (1912). At Vassar, she enlisted 2/3 of her fellow students in the College Equal Suffrage League. Inez married Eugen Jan Boissevain and joined radical causes – the Women’s Trade Union League, the Child Labor Committee, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the militant Woman’s Party – and proclaimed herself a Socialist. Despite severe anemia, she undertook a strenuous speaking tour of Western states for the Woman’s Party. She collapsed during a speech, and later died — a martyr for the movement. Her memorial service on Christmas Day, 1916, was the first ever held for a woman in Statuary Hall in the U. S. Capitol.

Olympia Brown (1835-1926)

Olympia Brown, universalist minister and prominent suffrage speaker, she entered theological school in 1863, and became the first woman minister ordained by full denominational authority. In 1878 she became a pastor in Racine, Wisconsin, where her suffrage work was most active and influential.

She married Henry Willis, retained her own name, and had two children. She spoke in state campaigns at the request of Anthony and Lucy Stone. She brought a suit against Wisconsin election officials after attempting to vote, but was unsuccessful. Brown formed the Federal Suffrage Association in 1892, to obtain the vote through Congressional resolution.

She spent the later part of her life with her daughter in Baltimore. In later years she served on the board of the Woman’s Party and, in her 80s, joined their “watchfires” at the White House, publicly burning President Wilson’s speeches. Her life spanned the era from the first suffrage organizing to passage of the 19th Amendment. A campaigner with a powerful voice, she was one of suffrage’s most vigorous spokespersons and lived to cast a ballot!

Lucy Burns (1879-1966)

Lucy Burns, co-founded the Congressional Union and the National Woman’s Party (NWP) with Alice Paul, and led the militant wing of American suffrage.

A brilliant scholar at Vassar and at the University of Berlin, visits to Britain imbued her with a passion for the vote. She was a paid organizer for the militant British movement, was jailed, hunger struck, and force-fed. Meeting Alice Paul, Burns returned with her to the U. S. to set up an organization to work solely for a constitutional amendment for the vote.

She and Paul co-organized the famous 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D. C. They formed the Congressional Union and, later, the National Woman’s Party. Paul was the strategist, Burns the ultimate organizer. Burns headed the NWP’s lobbying in Congress, edited the NWP’s journal The Suffragist, and spent more time in prison than any other American suffragist. Burns led political campaigns in western states, many of which already had woman suffrage, urging women to vote against Democrats as long as the Party refused to pass suffrage. She organized White House demonstrations against Wilson, was arrested, hunger struck, and force-fed. She managed the publicity tour for the “Prison Special” taking jailed suffragist to speak around the country.

Exhausted after suffrage was won, Burns retired to private life to raise her orphaned niece. She died in Brooklyn in 1966. Burns injected passion, high drama, meticulous organization, and fiery oratory power to the militants’ final drive for the vote.

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt (1859-1947)

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt was a suffragist and peace activist whose most important lifework was winning the vote for American women. She directed the mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to victory, and founded the League of Women Voters (1920) to bring women into the political mainstream. A brilliant political strategist, suffrage organizer and fund-raiser, she formed NAWSA’s powerful Organization Committee to direct state suffrage campaigns. Elected president of NAWSA in 1900, she retired in 1904 to care for her dying husband. Later, she consolidated New York city suffrage groups into the Woman Suffrage Party, greatly contributing to the NY state suffrage victory in 1917.  Resuming leadership of a faltering NAWSA in 1916, she devised the “Winning Plan,” which carefully coordinated state suffrage campaigns with the drive for a constitutional amendment – the plan which brought final victory. She helped found the Woman’s Peace Party (1915) and, after the horrors of World War I, organized the Committee on the Cause and Cure of War (1925).

Raised in Iowa, Catt was a lecturer and newspaper editor prior to suffrage work. She married twice, but both husbands died.  George Catt’s death left her wealthy and able to devote full time to suffrage. Realizing that national stability enhanced women’s integration into political life, she devoted herself to world peace. She was the driving force behind the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, spreading the democracy of suffrage around the globe. Concerned at Hitler’s growing power, she worked on behalf of German Jewish refugees, one of the few to speak openly on their behalf, and was awarded the American Hebrew Medal (1933). She died at her home at age 88.

Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898)

Matilda Joslyn Gage possessed one of the movement’s most original, brilliant, and radical minds. She married Henry Gage at 18 and had five children. One of the woman’s movement’s philosophers, she was a skilled writer and organizer, active after her children were grown. Gage joined the National Woman Suffrage Association, wrote for the Revolution, was an officer of the New York State Suffrage Association and later was president of both groups. She co-authored the first three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage with Stanton and Anthony. Gage’s intellectual vigor made her one of woman’s rights most able philosophers but, fearing repercussions from her anti-church stand, the movement virtually wrote her out of its own history.

Gage and Stanton co-authored the “Declaration of Rights” presented at a women’s demonstration that disrupted the Philadelphia Centennial Celebration (1876), in which women could not participate. She edited the National Citizen and Ballot Box, newspaper for the National Woman Suffrage Association. Believing that Church teachings on women’s inferiority were the greatest obstacle to women’s progress, she founded the radical Woman’s National Liberal Union, published a book, Woman, Church, and State (1893) and was a prominent force in the “revising committee” of Stanton’s shocking book, the Woman’s Bible.

Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880)

Lucretia Coffin Mott, a Quaker minister, protested injustices against women and slaves. Mott explained that she grew up “so thoroughly imbued with women’s rights that it was the most important question” of her life. Mott, along with her supportive husband, agued ardently for the abolitionist cause under the Garrisonians as a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. Mott’s stymied participation in the Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840 brought her into contact with Elizabeth Cady Stanton with whom she formed a long and prolific collaboration.

Angered by their exclusion in the convention, the two formed a collaboration that resulted in the 1848 Seneca Falls meeting and the proposal of the “Declaration of Sentiments.” Following the convention Mott continued her crusade for women’s equality by speaking at ensuing annual women’s rights conventions and publishing Discourse on Women – a reasoned account of the history of women’s repression. In 1866 Mott became the first president of the American Equal Rights Association. Dedicated to all forms of human freedom, Mott argued as ardently for women’s rights as for black rights, including suffrage, education, and economic aid. Mott played a major role in the woman suffrage movement through her life.

Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977)

Alice Stokes Paul, social reformer, lawyer, and political strategist, devoted her life to securing equality for women. She led the militant wing of the suffrage movement and, realizing that the vote did not bring women legal equality, wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, introduced to Congress in 1923. Influenced by the radical suffrage movement in England, where she was jailed, Paul returned to the U. S. to found the Congressional Union (1913) whose sole purpose was to lobby for a constitutional amendment for suffrage. She organized the famed 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D. C., a spectacle unequalled in suffrage history. Differences over tactics with the parent NAWSA led her to form the National Woman’s Party (1916). She introduced picketing at the White House and non-violent confrontation as protest tactics, exhibited a flair for dramatic street theater, and ensured continuing publicity for the cause by the Party’s confrontations with President Wilson. She was arrested, imprisoned, went on a hunger strike, and was force-fed. She founded the World Woman’s Party (1938), which worked to have equal rights for women included as a tenet in the United Nations Charter.

Born a New Jersey Quaker, Paul graduated from Swarthmore, then worked at the New York College Settlement. In England she joined the militant Pankhurst wing of British suffrage. Influenced by their tactics, she introduced them in the U. S., “holding the Party in power responsible” for refusing to pass suffrage. Paul earned a law degree from the Washington College of Law (1922) and an M. A. and Ph.D. from American University (1927-28).  She opposed protective labor laws for women, causing a dramatic rift in the women’s movement lasting until the1960s.

Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919)

Anna Howard Shaw desired to excel in a man’s world, which she accomplished as a doctor, orator, and first ordained Methodist woman preacher. She lectured throughout her life on issues of temperance, suffrage, and woman’s social reforms believing there was “but one solution for women – the removal of the stigma of disenfranchisement.” Shaw worked toward that goal as a member of the Massachusetts Women Suffrage Association, official lecturer and vice-president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and superintendent of the Franchise Department of the national Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. She lectured throughout the country as a way of earning a living while promoting her favorite causes – suffrage and temperance.

A successful vice-president, unfortunately Shaw lacked the administrative, organizations, and philosophical strengths necessary for leading the NAWSA. After Shaw resigned from a turbulent eleven year presidency, she continued to lecture for the cause whiles also serving as chairman of the Woman’s committee of the United States Council of National Defense during World War I. Throughout her long career, Shaw remained an avid and eloquent spokeswoman for suffrage, temperance, and woman’s rights.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, author, lecturer, and chief philosopher of the woman’s rights movement, formulated the agenda for woman’s rights that has guided the struggle to the present. She called the first Woman’s Rights convention, with Lucretia Mott, at Seneca Falls, New York (1848), and wrote “The Declaration of Sentiments,” calling for changes in law and society – educational, legal, political, social and economic – to elevate women’s status, and demanding the right to vote. Her intellectual and organizational partnership with Susan B. Anthony dominated the woman’s movement for over half a century. In 1895 she wrote The Woman’s Bible, questioning Biblical teachings on the inferiority of women that she felt were the greatest obstacles to women’s progress. She wrote The History of Woman Suffrage with Anthony and Gage, preserving the record for future generations.     

Well-educated for a woman, Elizabeth married abolitionist lecturer Henry Stanton, and had 7 children. On their honeymoon in London to attend a World’s Anti-Slavery convention, she and Lucretia Mott were angered at the exclusion of women and vowed to call a woman’s rights convention. She circulated petitions to pass the New York Married Women’s Property Act (1848). An outstanding orator with a radical mind, she lectured, wrote speeches and, with Matilda Gage authored the Declaration of Rights delivered by Anthony at the Philadelphia Centennial celebration (1876). Her autobiography, Eighty Years and More, recalled the great events and work of her life.

Lucy Stone (1818-1893)

Lucy Stone aimed to overturn human injustices by furthering the cause of woman’s rights and abolition. Continuously challenging conformity, Lucy Stone became the first Massachusetts woman to receive a college degree in 1847. Shortly after graduating from Oberlin, Stone began lecturing for the American Anti-Slavery Association. As a protest of restrictive marriage laws, Stone kept her maiden name when she married thereby coining the phrase “Lucy Stoner” for all women refusing to take their husband’s name.

She joined the Women’s Loyal National League in 1863 to mobilize support for the passage of the thirteenth amendment and then collaboratively organized the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) in 1866 to press for both black and woman’s rights. After the AERA split into two factions, Stone and Julia Ward Howe founded the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Stone began the Woman’s Journal which gained the reputation as the “voice of the woman’s movement.” In 1890 she became chairperson of the executive committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association – the new organization resulting from the union of the AWSA and the NWSA. Throughout her life, Stone acted to further the cause of black and woman civil rights.

Sojourner Truth (1797?-1883)

Sojourner Truth made herself into a forceful advocate for the rights of blacks and women and was a moving preacher. She coined her own name in freedom, after rejecting her slave name, Isabella. Truth was involved in the Methodist church and a free love, mystical commune in New York before starting her career as an itinerant preacher. An illiterate Truth memorized the Bible and used it as a rhetorical tool in her speeches.

She entered both abolition and suffrage circles, periodically speaking at meetings. Truth shifted her focus after the Civil War to the freedman’s bureau, arguing that former slaves should receive land in the West.

She not only had a commanding presence and spiritualism but also advocated for civil rights and suffrage, yet most of what we know about Truth is myth. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the article “The Libyan Sibyl” for the Atlantic Monthly which gave Truth a false air of mysticism, and Frances Gage attributed the “Ain’t I a Woman” speech to Truth which left a legend for civil rights and woman rights workers. Truth is an important figure in suffrage circles for both her accomplishments and her legend.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931)

Ida B. Wells-Barnett challenged racial and sexual discrimination through the power of the pen. As a young woman, Wells-Barnett successfully sued the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad for segregating its cars and forcibly removing her from coach to the colored car. In April 1887, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed her earlier victory. Wells-Barnett wrote scathing articles about lynching and other injustices under the pen name “Iola.” After three friends were lynched in 1892, Wells-Barnett wrote an expose about the lynching and urged the black population to leave Memphis; her expose enraged the citizens enough to burn her press and run her out of town.

She settled in Chicago where she met her husband, exposed lynching records, wrote a pamphlet about the exclusion of black from meaningful roles at the Worlds Columbian Exposition, started woman’s clubs, founded the Negro Fellowship League, and involved herself in suffrage. She marched in several national suffrage parades, lectured, and founded the first black woman suffrage organization – the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago. Wells-Barnett used her gift of language to challenge discrimination and sexism throughout the United States, revealing injustices and fighting for equality and fairness.

Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838-1927)

Victoria Clafin Woodhull created a stir in politics in the late nineteenth century as a suffragist and proponent of free love. She ran for president in 1870, coming from relative obscurity, and caught the attention of the suffrage movement. In 1871 Woodhull urged Congress to legalize woman suffrage and members of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) were impressed with her oration. Courting “the Terrible Siren” was a mistake the party did not realize soon enough. Woodhull unsuccessfully attempted to usurp Susan B. Anthony’s leadership role.

Woodhull practiced mysticism, believed in free love, and embraced her own type of socialism called Anarchy – a perfect state where free love reigned among individuals while children and property were managed in common. She also published a weekly magazine, Woodhull and Claflin, as a mouthpiece for her philosophies, passions, and to publish such documents as the Communist Manifesto. Woodhull’s political career was fleeting, yet she exacerbated existing tensions within the NWSA which lead to its eventual split. Woodhull was a woman of notoriety who, for better or for worse, left a lasting impression on suffragists throughout the century.