In 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York, the fight for women’s voting rights began when two women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony wanted to expand women’s rights and opportunities. They wanted to make women self-sufficient and equal with men. They were unaware that an organized meeting by wives and mothers about the rights of women would make history. This would be the beginning of a long hard struggle for the rights of women and the battle would span over a time of 70 years.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a wife and mother of three young boys, hated the day to day life of housework and living in a small town. She complained to her friends over tea about how women were not treated equally by men. Stanton and her friends decided to hold a meeting to discuss the rights of a Woman. They drafted “A Declaration of Rights and Sentiments” for their concerns. They wanted to add “and women” to “all men are created equal” to the Declaration of Independence. They also included 12 ways to foster equality for women in education, law, labor, morality, and religion, but the ninth called for women to vote. How could women change the laws if they could not vote? Stanton’s resolution for women’s voting rights passed by a slim majority, but most of the men were comfortable with the way life was. Men did not want to give women what they wanted. In 1861, the civil war broke out and the women set aside their fight and supported the war. The war ended April 9, 1865, and the women’s issue was pushed to the side to be dealt with later. The Constitution was amended several times after this, but there was no mention of gender in any of them. Stanton and Anthony did not like the newest amendments. They decided to organize the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and another woman by the name of Lucy Stone, organized the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Men were not allowed in these groups. Both groups agreed, the only way to get votes for women, is to get new laws.
The Susan B Anthony Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1878. It lay there for over 40 years. Men saw no point in women voting. They felt women had no understanding of politics and they would only vote the way their men wanted them to vote. There was also the fear of women taking over the government. With this kind of thinking, the Anthony Amendment seemed like it would lie dormant forever, until a well admired Alice Paul and several other women would join the fight. In 1913, Alice Paul helped plan a parade. It was one of the first parades in support for women voting. This parade became a turning point in their long struggle. Alice organized this parade the day before the Inauguration of the 28th President, Woodrow Wilson. She knew there would be a crowd of people there, to include the media and this would help her get attention about their event. She wanted women to gather from so many different places so that their presence would be overwhelming and no one would miss this point in the parade. Over 8,000 women came to Washington D.C. to be a part of this march. These women were courageous and full of purpose. They demanded an amendment to the Constitution. The crowd, being mostly men, did not like what they were seeing. They were intimidated by all of the women marching who were seeking their own power. The men harassed the women and did not see this as a laughing matter. The police officers, who were also male, did little to protect the women. They merely stood by and laughed at what they were seeing. The march turned into a small riot and a few National Guard troops and a group of male college students joined together and pushed the crowd back. Federal cavalry troops were called upon to help restore order. This march was projected to last only a few hours, instead, it last into the early nightfall. The next day, the newspaper coverage was just what Alice Paul had hoped for. Overnight, the right for women to vote went from a few activists to a national topic...
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