I. Suffrage

Elizabeth Cady Stanton launched the American suffrage movement in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY, when she organized a convention to “discuss the Civil and Political Rights of Women.” Speakers adopted a call for suffrage and local initiatives soon followed although the Civil War slowed such activism.  Denied the vote when the 15th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in 1870 to enfranchise African American men, the suffrage crusade nonetheless took on new life and energy.  For the next 50 years women campaigned for the vote.  They organized locally and by state, d through the National American Woman Suffrage Association and other groups, and had their first successes in western states.  Women mobilized through public meetings, parades, demonstrations, and the mass media of the time: newspapers and posters.  Former President Theodore Roosevelt supported suffrage by 1912, and President Woodrow Wilson did too in the 1916 Democratic platform. His daughter was a suffragist and he fully endorsed the cause after demonstrations at the White House led to arrests, jail, and hunger strikes in 1917.  The next year he asked Congress to take up a constitutional amendment: “We have made partners of the women in this war… Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?” But it would not be until June 4, 1919 that Congress voted to send the 19th Amendment to the states for ratification. It became law the next year, allowing all American women to vote for the first time in the presidential election of 1920.