Women's Suffrage- The 19th Amendment
The Seneca Falls Convention convenes. Women discuss women's rights and other social reforms. The convention is the first of its kind.
A list of women and men who attended the Seneca Falls convention and signed the Declaration of Sentiments.
At the convention a group of about 300 women and men brainstorm and produce The Declaration of Sentiments, creating the suffragettes’ agenda for generations to come. The convention and The Declaration mobilize suffragettes across America.
The women in attendance included Lucretia Mott, Harriet Cady Eaton, Margaret Pryor, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eunice Newton Foote, Mary Ann M'Clintock, Margaret Schooley, and Martha C. Wright to name just a few.
The men in attendance included Richard P. Hunt, Samuel D. Tillman, Justin Williams, Elisha Foote, Frederick Douglass, Henry W. Seymour, David Spalding, and William G. Barker to name just a few.
Image courtesy of PBS
The first National Women's Rights Convention is held. A strong alliance is formed between the abolitionist movement and women's rights activist.
Notable attendees include Frederick Douglass, Paulina Wright Davis, Abby Kelley Foster, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth. When the Civil War begins in 1861, civil rights campaigns are put on hold and all energy is directed towards the war.
The Fifteenth Amendment is passed in 1868, granting black men the right to vote in elections. In response, two iconic political groups are formed to advocate for women’s suffrage: National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and The American Woman’s Suffrage Association (AWSA). Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the more radical NWSA and argued that the Fifteenth Amendment should be abandoned and replaced with a universal suffrage amendment. This disagreement led Frederick Douglas to abandon the partnership between the abolitionists and the women’s rights movement. The American Woman’s Suffrage Association (AWSA), the more moderate of the groups, is founded by Lucy Stone, her husband Henry Blackwell, and Julie Ward Howe. AWSA openly supports the Fifteenth Amendment and is successful in winning suffrage in several states.
Woman's Co-Operation Essential to Pure Politics is a leaflet that was distrubuted in Boston in 1885. The leaflet was written by Republican senator George F. Hoar in response and support to the Suffrage movement.
We are here to ask two very simple things:
First, That in counting the votes in our elections, the vote of women shall be counted.
Second, That when the people vote for public officers, or they are otherwise appointed, if a woman seem to be the fittest person for the office, she may be selected; and that is all.
The Progressive Era begins, changing women's roles in society. Women are granted more economic freedom and masses of women begin attending college.
Women begin to acquire jobs in domestic work and companies specifically target women by marketing products that make housework easier. Education is made more accessible to women during this era, prompting them to attend universities and earn degrees. These new roles and freedoms draws many more women to the Suffragette movement.
In 1890, the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman’s Suffrage Association merge becoming the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
In 1912, Alice Paul and Lucy Jones are appointed to the National American Woman Suffrage Association's (NAWSA) Congressional Committee. Paul and Jones, both Americans, introduce the more aggressive tactics, such as demonstrations, parades, picketing, and hunger strikes to bring more attention to their cause. These tactics that are introduced were inspired by the British suffrage movement.
Image courtesy of the National Archives
1913 Washington, D.C. - The first march in Washington, D.C. is stragetically organized and takes place a day before President-Elect Woodrow Wilson's Inaugration. Organizers made repeated attempts to secure police protection in preparation for the parade — they even contacted the Secretary of War seeking assistance from the U.S. military. Richard H. Sylvester, Chief of DC Police, had assured organizers that he could manage the situation without the military, but he ultimately failed to control the crowd. Denied police protection, many of the women are assaulted both physically and verbally during the parade. The event gains much attention with spectators watching the march and poor treatment of the protestors sparks immediate outrage. Determined to finish the march, 100 women were hospitilized after the march ended.
The day after the parade, the Senate passes a resolution authorizing the Committee on the District of Columbia to investigate the police’s handling of the incident. The women testify about their experiences—some note the lack of police presence, or officers’ indifference, and some even applaud the Boy Scouts for being more effective at crowd control than the police. Others describe drunken men along with the parade route hooting and jeering at them, blocking their path, and making insulting remarks. The committee determines that protestors had not been protected; and ultimately the DC Superintendent of Police was removed.
Image courtesy of the National Archives.
Years after the Civil War had ended, the subject of race within the Suffragette movement had caused a rift between white and Black women. There were some organizations that Black women had founded, including Mary Church Terrell's group, the National Association of Colored Women. National groups, such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association firmly stated in their mission that all women were welcome to the movement and had active members in the association that were Black. The policies of their leaders, though, reflected a different perspective.
In an interview with Alice Paul in 1974, Paul recalls that the “greatest hurdle” in planning the 1913 parade came when the National Association of Colored Women wanted to march in D.C.. Paul knew, though, that southern women and men who were participating in the parade would not agree to march with Black women. A compromise was proposed that the parade would be segregated, where Black women would march in the back of the parade. Some Black women refused to be segregated, one of them being Ida. B Wells. In a defiant act, as the all-white Delegation of Chicago passed, Wells-Barnett emerged from the crowd and joined her delegation.
Meet Black Suffragettes Who Fought for the Right to Vote
Mary Church Terrell
Mary Church Terrell was the daughter of former slaves, born in Memphis, Tennessee on September 23, 1863. Her father, Robert Reed Church, became one of the South’s first millionaires. She attended Antioch College Laboratory School in Ohio and went on to attend Oberlin College, where she received a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. She moved to Washington DC in 1887 to teach at the M Street Colored High School. She married fellow teacher Herberton Terrell in 1891.
Mary Church Terrell joined Ida B. Wells-Barnett in anti-lynching campaigns in 1892 after a friend had been lynched in Memphis. Terrell’s activism focused on the notion of racial uplift, the belief that Black people would help to end racial discrimination by advancing themselves in their communities through education, work, and community activism. The belief led her to help found the National Association of Colored Women in 1896. While president (1896-1901) Terrell got the group involved with the Women’s Suffrage movement. Terrell argued that the vote for Black women was essential to the fight for civil rights due to the disadvantages of being both Black and a woman. During the famous demonstration in Washington, D.C. in 1913, she refused to be segregated and marched alongside the sisters of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. She and her daughter also participated in picketing the White House in 1917. Terrell dedicated her life to advocating for her women’s and Black communities’ rights. In 1948, she became the first Black member of the American Association of University of Women after winning an anti-discrimination case. Mary Church Terrell died a few months after the 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education.
Angelina Weld Grimke
Angelina Weld Grimke was born into a distinguished and biracial family in Boston, Massachusetts on February 27, 1880. Her father was Archibald Grimke, a prominent attorney who was the second black man to graduate from Harvard Law School and served as the Vice President of the NAACP after helping found the organization in 1909. Angelina was named after her great aunt, Angelina Grimké Weld, a famous white abolitionist and women’s rights advocate.
Archibald moved to Washington, D.C. with his daughter where she became a well-known feminist. Angelina was a journalist, poet, playwright, suffragist, and teacher. She taught English at Dunbar High School and then went on to write short stories, poetry, and even wrote a play titled, Rachel, which was the first play to be performed with an all-Black cast and written by a Black woman. In her literary work, she wrote of the pain and violence that Black women experience in their day-to-day lives. Her literary works foreshadowed the Harlem Renaissance, not actually having been apart of the movement, but rather, helping inspire the poets and writers who would become famous during the Harlem Renaissance. Scholars have also distinguished strong evidence within her texts that she was either bisexual or a lesbian. There was also a letter that Angelina wrote when she was 16 years old to a friend, Mary P. Burrill, a fellow playwright and educator, that she hoped to marry and love her one day. Angelina rejected the double standards that were imposed on women, such as marriage, education, and employment. She believed that “the injustices will end” once women obtained the ballot.
Nannie Hellen Burroughs
Nannie Hellen Burroughs was born in Orange, Virginia to former slaves in 1879/1880. After the death of her father, Burroughs and her mother moved to Washington, D.C to ensure that Nannie would receive an education. After graduating from high school, she was rejected from teaching positions because she was considered “too dark.” Burroughs later moved to Memphis, Tennessee to join and work for the Black Baptist Convention. She garnered support and attention when she delivered a speech at the National Baptist Convention titled, “How the Sisters are Hindered from Helping.” She later founded the Women's Convention of the National Baptist Convention, a nationally powerful group that consisted of Black women. A primary focus of the group was women’s suffrage.
In 1909, Burroughs established the Trades Hall of National Training School for Women and Girls on land she purchased in Washington, D.C.; the land was bought with donations from the Black community. The curriculum combined academic work with domestic and industrial training. Along with advocating for girls’ education, Burroughs also supported civil rights, particularly for Black women in the United States. She wrote articles in the Crisis Magazine, the official publication of the NAACP. Burroughs believed that all women, regardless of race, should have access to education and job training and that Black and white women needed to work together to achieve women’s suffrage. After Burroughs’ death in May of 1961, the National Training School for Women and Girls was renamed the Nannie Helen Burroughs School in honor of her life’s devotion to women’s rights.
The Nineteenth Amendment is ratified. Women are granted the right to vote in the United States of America.
"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." - 19th Amendment of the Constitution
Next: Explore the Indian Citizenship Act
SUPPORT THE ARCHIVE'S WORK
When making a contribution please be sure to select “library archives“ for your gift designation. We thank you so much for your support!