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Sufferage

By | Feb. 2013
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Suffrage is the right or privilege of voting and is frequently incorporated among the rights of citizenship (the duties and privileges of a person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation). However, just as not all people in the United States are necessarily granted the privilege of citizenship, not all U.S. citizens have been uniformly endowed with the right to vote. Throughout U.S. history, persons have been denied suffrage based on sex, race, age, and income. This lack of universal suffrage historically resulted in an avalanche of debate, protest and advocacy for political reform. There was great resistance to this reform, and the woman suffrage movement's accomplishments came over time. Though, in the broadest sense the suffrage movement embodies the fight by all individuals to obtain voting rights, the term is seen to be synonymous with the woman's suffrage movement, which stemmed from the fight for women's rights. This is likely due to the fact that the woman's suffrage movement was a seventy-two-year-long battle that was rooted in the abolishment of slavery and, at least for some reformers, linked to obtaining the right for both blacks and women to vote; that is, some suffrage activists sought enfranchisement for blacks as well as women. Beyond merely providing women the legal ability to vote, the suffrage movement promoted civic action among newly enfranchised women through such organizations as the League of Women Voters, the new arm of the now defunct National American Woman Suffrage Association. Seen as a means to an end rather than an end in itself, suffrage gave women a voice and greater ammunition with which to make a difference on local and federal levels. By engaging in public works such as the establishment of community development organizations (the primary vehicle for development in low-income neighborhoods), women have been able to make contributions to their communities and to the...
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