American Women and Community

Prior to Aug. 26, 1920 women in the United States could not participate in the democratic process. Following the Civil War, American women wanted to have more input into the decisions that would impact their lives. In order for women to gain suffrage groups across the nation had to gather together and create a unified effort for change. The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, the first formal conference for woman’s suffrage, challenged America to a revolution that would endure for more than seven decades before women actually were granted the right to vote.

Convened by Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott, the conventions aim was to empower women and invoke change through suffrage for women. Since the Civil War women had begun to feel the need to represent themselves and be able to participate in the decision making process which would affect their daily lives. “The catalyst for this gathering was the World Anti-Slavery Convention held in 1840 in London and attended by an American delegation which included a number of women. In attendance were Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who were forced to sit in ther galleries as observers because they were women.

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This poor treatment did not rest well with these women of progressive thoughts, and it was decided that they would hold their own convention to discuss social, civil and religious rights of women, (, 2008, ¶ 3). ” The community of women who gathered in 1848 faced their first challenge in 1869 when the 15th amendment, which extended the right to vote to African-American men, was introduced and passed. “During the civil war, women’s suffrage was eclipsed by the war effort and movement for the abolition of slavery. While annual conventions were held on a regular basis, there was much discussion but little action.
Activists such as slave-born Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B Anthony lectured and petitioned the government for the emancipation of slaves with the belief that, once the war was over, women and slaves alike would be granted the same rights as white men. At the end of the war, however, the government saw the suffrage of women and that of the Negro as two separate issues and it was decided that the Negro vote could produce the immediate political gain, particularly in the South, that the women’s vote could not, (, 2008, ¶ 6). ”
Some women felt that they should support the 15th amendment as a victory which would bring women one step closer to voting. This faction of women’s suffrage supporters believed that after black men gained the right to vote there would be no barriers preventing women from gaining that right as well. Yet another faction felt that they could not endorse the amendment until they had been granted the right themselves. Two groups emerged, the National Woman Suffrage Association and Woman’s Suffrage Association. Both groups worked toward suffrage as well as securing property rights for married women and other institutional changes.
Following the Civil War, women’s study groups flourished. These groups gave women access to education and an intellectual forum. By the early twentieth century communication was also more effective and women across the nation had more experiences and were generally better prepared to organize themselves, (Bauer, 1999). However, this was also a quiet time for the suffrage movement. It was not until 1914 when a younger generation of women began to hold street presentations, parades and other activism stunts to gain attention. In 1915 the National Woman’s Party formed and began to campaign against the party in power, (Bauer).
At this time women were being arrested for their action and in jail some were mistreated. The mistreatment of women gained much attention creating public sympathy for the suffragists. Although World War I slowed the progression of suffrage by 1919 women the 19th amendment was officially passed. By Aug. 26, 1920 then President Woodrow Wilson ratified the amendment allowing women to enter the polls for the first time in the United States. References (2008). The History of Women’s Suffrage. History . Retrieved from www. history. com Bauer, H. (1999). The Priviledge for Which We Struggled. Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society Press.


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