Reasoning Behind the 19th Amendment

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 222
  • Published : November 7, 2007
Open Document
Text Preview
When the constitution was written, the idea of universal suffrage was too radical for our founding fathers to address. They decided to leave the states with the authority to decide the requirements for voting. (Janda) By allowing the states to decide who voted, the authors had not intended for each state's discriminations to prevent the country from maintaining true democracy. However, by not setting up a nationwide regulation, the authors launched the country into a century and a half long fight for freedom and equality for all. White males over the age of 21 were the first to be able to participate in American democracy. Besides some taxpaying or property owning laws, the majority of all working class white males were eligible to vote by 1850. During this time, the nation was on the brink of a civil war. One of the underlying issues of the Civil War was slavery. Blacks were beginning to cry for equality, and their right to vote was not far off. The 15th amendment was quick to follow the Civil War, making it illegal to deny the right to vote to anyone on account of their race. Blacks did not actually gain the right to vote in all states until The Voting Rights Act in the 1960s. The government gave blacks the right to vote because they saw it could produce an immediate political gain. Nothing could be gained from allowing women to vote, so the government refrained from amending the constitution for women. (Flexner) Once blacks gained their right to vote, women began to cry for equality. "The beginning of the fight for women suffrage is usually traced to the ‘Declaration of Sentiments' produced at the first woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N. Y. in 1848." (Linder) A few years before this convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott had to sit as observers at an anti-slavery gathering because they were women. Neither was very happy with that arrangement which led to the creation of Stanton's, "Declaration of Principles." This document called for a change in women's current social status in America. The Woman's Rights Convention in Syracuse in 1852 introduced one of the most prominent speakers in women's suffrage, Susan B. Anthony. She and Stanton became two of the biggest influences that helped women gain equality. Women activists involved in the movement were called suffragists. The typical woman activist was middle class, and usually unmarried. These were the women who were not afraid to step outside their traditional role in American history. They were becoming frustrated with their status, economically, because they had just watched black slaves gain more rights than they held. Not all states denied women from voting; Wyoming and Colorado gave women the right to vote in 1869 and 1893, respectively. The western states awarded women this right more quickly than other states because the women who pioneered out west were rebelling from the traditional role of women in society. (Janda) The western states were just being created and the founders were, usually, more modern thinkers. Ironically, many women were deeply opposed to women gaining the right to vote. They were comfortable with their positions as socialites, completely dependent on men. "Women were considered sub-sets of their husbands, and after marriage they did not have the right to own property, maintain their wages, or sign a contract." (Flexner) For many women, the idea of complete equality was too radical and unrealistic to pursue. In 1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her followers created The American Equal Rights Association. The goal of this organization was to organize the fight for women's rights. However, the women heading the organization were beginning to have differing ideas on how to reach their ultimate goal. Because of this tension, the organization split into two different groups. The more radical of the two, the "National Woman Suffrage Association", was founded by Stanton and Anthony in New York. The "American Woman Suffrage...
tracking img