The Women's Suffrage Movement

Essential Question

How did women (specific women) work to get the right to vote during the Women's Suffrage Movement?

The Women's Suffrage Movement

Although women had many duties in the home, church, and community, they had few political and legal rights. When Abigail Adams reminded her husband John during the Constitutional Convention to "Remember The Ladies!" her warning went ignored. Women did not have the power to make contracts, own property, or vote. A woman was seen merely as a servant to her husband. By the 1830s and 1840s, however, that began to change, as many bold, outspoken women championed social reforms of prisons, war, alcohol, and slavery. Activists began to question a woman's role as a man's servant. They rallied around the abolitionist, or anti-slavery, movement as a way of calling attention to all human rights. Many abolitionists, like Sojourner Truth, were also Suffragettes (people working to get women the right to vote).

Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)

According to Stanton and Anthony Fuller, “possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time.” She was a member of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transcendentalist circle. She was brilliant and accomplished; worked as a translator, editor, author, and critic. Her most famous work is Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845); a groundbreaking study on the mistreatment of women and their lack of equality.

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)

Was a Quaker minister and organizer for abolition and women’s rights. In 1840, she was also a delegate to the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London but was denied entry because she was a woman. She was furious as was her friend Elizabeth Stanton, so they organize the Seneca Falls Convention and drafted the “Declaration of Sentiments.” Mott was also the first president of the American Equal Rights Convention, which argued for the voting rights of women and freed black men

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

Stanton was the best-known advocate (supporter) for women’s equality in the 19th century. She was married to Henry Stanton, a well-known abolitionist, mother of seven. Stanton and Mott organized the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first national convention for women’s rights, where she drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments,” modeled on the Declaration of Independence. She began to work with Susan B. Anthony in 1851 and wrote many of Anthony’s speeches. She was also President of the National Woman Suffrage Association and wrote the History of Woman Suffrage (1881-1885)

Activity 1: Primary Source - Declaration of Sentiments

Define the vocabulary words, read the primary source excerpts, and answer the text-dependent questions.

Primary Source-Declaration of Sentiments

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

Anthony was the main organizer of the women's suffrage movement. She was Quaker-educated, taught school for ten years, an activist for abolition and temperance (alcohol abstinence) before meeting Stanton. She Founded the International and National Council of Women and was a resident of the National American Woman Suffrage Association until she was 80. She was most famous for being arrested for voting illegally in the presidential election of 1872. She was tried and then fined $100 but refused to pay.

*Note: None of these women saw an America where all women could vote, despite working towards it their whole life. Women received the right to vote in 1920. 100 years ago!*

Alice Paul (1885 -1977)

Born in 1885 to a wealthy Quaker family living in New Jersey, Paul was determined to win the vote by any means necessary.

After becoming a suffragist, she helped organize an enormous suffrage parade, which occurred on the same day Woodrow Wilson was being sworn in as president. The parade interrupted Wilson's inauguration and drew great attention to the women's suffrage cause.

Paul was too extreme for some women suffragettes, and in 1914, she started the National Woman's Party (NWP). The NWP specialized in forceful protests, including a seven-month picket in front of the White House.

Paul and others were eventually arrested and imprisoned for their "unpatriotic" picket. During their imprisonment, they went on a hunger strike to protest this unfair treatment. The women were then force-fed for as long as three weeks. These abuses did not have their intended effect. Once news of the mistreatment got out, public sympathy swung to the side of the imprisoned activists and they soon were released.

Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)

Catt became involved in the women’s suffrage movement in the 1880s. She served as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) from 1900 to 1904 and again from 1915 to 1920, spearheading the movement with her ability to organize campaigns, mobilize volunteers and deliver effective speeches. Shortly before the suffragists celebrated the victory with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Catt founded the League of Women Voters.

The triumph of woman’s suffrage in the United States in 1920 was very much the work of Carrie Catt. A brilliant strategist, she was twice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), first from 1900 to 1904 and then in the dramatic final years of the struggle, from 1915 to 1920.

Discussion Questions

  • What did Margaret Fuller work to get women the right to vote?

  • What did Lucretia Mott work to get women the right to vote?

  • What did Elizabeth Cady Stanton work to get women the right to vote?

  • What did Susan B. Anthony work to get women the right to vote?

  • What did Alice Paul work to get women the right to vote?

  • What did Carrie Chapman Catt work to get women the right to vote?

  • How/when did women finally get the right to vote?

Activity 2: How did individual suffragettes fight to get women the right to vote?

Using the information from this lesson, answer the question in a thinking map. Complete this assignment digitally or on paper. It will be collected in your portfolio.

Extension Activities

Women Leaders: Susan B. Anthony

Famous Speeches: Susan B. Anthony's "Women's Rights to the Suffrage"

Famous Speeches: Cady Stanton's Address on "The Destructive Male"

Sojourner Truth: "Ain't I a Woman?"

Famous Speeches: Catt's Address to Congress on Women's Suffrage

Iron Jawed Angels

With your parents' permission, I recommend watching this amazing movie about the Women's Suffrage movements and Alice Paul.