Term Paper: Woman's Suffrage Women

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[. . .] With the efforts of the NAWSA, woman's suffrage was making headway in the West, but most of the East remained dead set against it. One theory for this dichotomy was that frontier conditions undermined traditional gender roles and that women, having proven their ability to conquer difficult conditions and do "men's work," were rewarded with the vote. Other historians believe that western politicians found it expedient to enfranchise women for a variety of other reasons. For example, Mormons in Utah hoped that the votes of women would help tip the balance of power in their favor in their ongoing power struggle with the non-Mormon population, consisting largely of miners, railroad construction workers, cowboys, and prospectors, who tended not to have women with them.

For whatever reasons, Wyoming was the only territory and Colorado, Utah and Idaho were the only states to adopt woman suffrage in the nineteenth century.

Susan B. Anthony retired from the presidency of NAWSA in 1900 and was replaced by Carrie Chapman Catt. Although Catt was an astute political campaigner, her leadership was cut short after her husband became terminally ill in 1903 and she quit the organization to take care of him. Anna Howard Shaw became NAWSA's president from 1904 until 1915. Shaw was among the first women to be ordained by the Methodist Protestant Church and had also earned a medical degree from Boston University in 1885. Shaw was know for being an excellent orator and was highly committed to the cause of the NAWSA. But, she was widely criticized for her ineffective leadership. "The phase of suffrage history during which Shaw was the leader of NAWSA saw few major victories and the NAWSA was thought by many to have been too quiet a force during her tenure."

During her tenure, only four additional states endorsed the woman's suffrage cause (Washington, 1910; California, 1911; Oregon, 1912; Kansas, 1912; and Arizona, 1912), bringing the count to only eight out of forty-eight states.

In 1915, Catt resumed the leadership of NAWSA. In 1916, at a NAWSA convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Catt unveiled her "Winning Plan," a strategy to campaign simultaneously for suffrage on both the state and federal levels, and to compromise for partial suffrage in the states resisting change. Under Catt's dynamic leadership, NAWSA won the backing of the House and Senate, as well as state support for the amendment's ratification. In 1917, New York passed a state woman suffrage referendum. Also, under Catt's direction, NAWSA became successful at recruiting large numbers of socially prominent and politically influential women and convincing the growing numbers of middle and upper-class women that woman's suffrage would be an asset to their civic improvement efforts. NAWSA also reached out to the new generation of college-educated women, many of them professionals, reminding them that their opportunities were owed to the efforts of the woman's movement.

There were several indicators that the public was becoming more receptive to woman's suffrage. For example, President William H. Taft chose to speak at the NAWSA 1910 annual convention. Although Taft did not offer an explicit endorsement of women's suffrage, his presence and speech sent a message to both the public and NAWSA members. Another significant indicator was the Progressive Party's public endorsement of women's suffrage in 1912. The endorsement underscored the long-term electoral and partisan stakes associated with the reform support. Women's suffragists also benefited from industrialization and urbanization and from increased public interest in political reform and other social movements. By 1917, the NAWSA membership had increased to two million and twelve additional states had approved women's suffrage since 1910.

In addition to the NAWSA's efforts, the more radical Congressional Union for Women Suffrage (CUWS) which would later become the National Woman's Party was formed by former NAWSA member, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Inez Milholland and several other feminists. This group introduced the militant methods used by the Women's Social and Political Union in Britain and organized huge demonstrations and daily picketing of the White House. The day before Woodrow Wilson's first inauguration, on March 13, 1913, Paul organized a women's suffrage parade of more than 5,000 participants from every state in the Union and hundreds of thousands of spectators. Some onlookers began assaulting the marchers and the police did little to stop the attack. Despite the violence, the parade succeeded in obtaining Paul's objective of gaining national attention on the women's suffrage issue. Paul was later arrested during another protest and began a hunger strike. She was force fed through tubes and threatened with commitment to an insane asylum. Some credit Paul with making President Wilson aware of the suffrage movement's growing political strength and resolve, but most agree that Catt's more conservative tactics had a far greater impact on Wilson.

During World War I, women had joined the labor force in record numbers to support the war. Catt and the NAWSA took many opportunities to remind the President and the Congress and requested that the work should be rewarded with recognition of their political equality. Wilson finally began to support woman's suffrage as evidenced by his speech on September 18, 1918 when he said, "We have made partners of the women in this war. Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of right?" Less than one year later, the House of Representatives passed, in a 304 to 90 vote, a proposed Amendment to the Constitution that read:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any States on Account of sex. The Congress shall have the power by appropriate legislation to enforce the provisions of this article."

On June 4, 1919, the United States Senate endorsed the Amendment, with fifty-six votes in favor and twenty-five against.

The amendment was then sent to the states for ratification.

The anti-suffrage forces, including both men and women, were well-organized, and passage of the amendment was not easy. Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan were the first states to pass the law; Georgia and Alabama were the first to reject it. Near the end, thirty-five of the necessary thirty-six states required for ratification had been obtained. The battle came down to Tennessee which ratified the vote in a close race, forty-nine votes in favor and forty-seven votes against.

And so on August 26, 1920, more than seventy years after the first organized demands for the vote, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution became law, and women could vote in the fall elections, including the Presidential election. Women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton devoted more than fifty years of their lives to the woman's suffrage movement, but neither lived to see women gain the right to vote. Although women today have had the luxury of being able to vote form more than eighty years, they shouldn't forget the struggle that went into securing a voice for women in the United States government.

Bibliography

Carrie Chapman Catt." American Memory. 08 May 2003. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/cattbio.html.

Imbornoni, Ann-Marie, "Timeline of Key Events in the American Woment's Rights

Movement." Infoplease 07 May 2003. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html.

Lewis, Jone Johnson. "August, 26, 1920." Women's History. 08 May 2003. http://womenshistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa081700a.htm.

Kromkowski, Charles A. "Woman's Suffrage." University of Virginia. 08 May 2003

University of Virginia. http://216.239.53.104/search?q=cache:0zFfYInuK-IC:www.people.virginia.edu/~cak5u/WOMAN%27SSUFFRAGE.doc+Minor+v.+Hapersett&hl=en&ie=UTF-8.

Living the Legacy: The Women's Rights Movement 1848-1998." Legacy '98-08 May 2003 http://www.legacy98.org/move-hist.html.

People Alice Paul 1885-1977." PBS 08 May 2003. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/peopleevents/p_paul.html.

The First National Woman's Rights Convention." The National Park Service. 08 May 2003. http://www.nps.gov/wori/nwrc1850.htm.

The Suffrage Cause and Bryn Mawr." Bryn Mawr College 08 May 2003. http://www.brynmawr.edu/Library/Exhibits/suffrage/speakers1.html.

Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill. "The History of the Suffrage Movement." PBS 08 May 2003. http://www.pbs.org/onewoman/suffrage.html.

Women's Suffrage." Grolier. 08 May 2003. http://gi.grolier.com/presidents/ea/side/wsffrg.html.

Living the Legacy: The Women's Rights Movement 1848-1998." Legacy '98-08 May 2003 http://www.legacy98.org/move-hist.html.

The First National Woman's Rights Convention." The National Park Service. 08 May 2003. http://www.nps.gov/wori/nwrc1850.htm.

Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill. "The History of the Suffrage Movement." PBS 08 May 2003. http://www.pbs.org/onewoman/suffrage.html.

Kromkowski, Charles A. "Woman's Suffrage." University of Virginia. 08 May 2003 University of Virginia. http://216.239.53.104/search?q=cache:0zFfYInuK-IC:www.people.virginia.edu/~cak5u/WOMAN%27SSUFFRAGE.doc+Minor+v.+Hapersett&hl=en&ie=UTF-8.

Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill. "The History of the Suffrage Movement." PBS 08 May 2003. http://www.pbs.org/onewoman/suffrage.html.

Imbornoni, Ann-Marie, "Timeline of Key Events in the American Woment's Rights Movement." Infoplease 07 May 2003. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html.

The Suffrage Cause and Bryn Mawr." Bryn Mawr College 08 May 2003. http://www.brynmawr.edu/Library/Exhibits/suffrage/speakers1.html.

Imbornoni, Ann-Marie, "Timeline of Key Events in the American Woment's Rights Movement." Infoplease 07 May 2003. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html.

Carrie Chapman Catt." American Memory. 08 May 2003. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/cattbio.html.

Kromkowski, Charles A. "Woman's Suffrage." University of Virginia. 08 May 2003 University of Virginia. http://216.239.53.104/search?q=cache:0zFfYInuK-IC:www.people.virginia.edu/~cak5u/WOMAN%27SSUFFRAGE.doc+Minor+v.+Hapersett&hl=en&ie=UTF-8.

People Alice Paul 1885-1977." PBS 08 May 2003. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/wilson/peopleevents/p_paul.html.

Lewis, Jone Johnson. "August, 26, 1920." Women's History. 08 May 2003. http://womenshistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa081700a.htm. [END OF PREVIEW]

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