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Womens Rights

Information and Articles About Women’s Rights in America, an important movement in women’s history

The women’s rights movement summary: Women’s rights is the fight for the idea that women should have equal rights with men. Over history, this has taken the form of gaining property rights, the women’s suffrage, or the right of women to vote, reproductive rights, and the right to work for for equal pay.

Women’s Rights Timeline: Here is a timeline of important events in the struggle for women’s liberation in the United States 

Pre-settlement: Iroquois women have the power to nominate—and depose—council elders and chiefs.

1647: Margaret Brent demands two votes from the Maryland Assembly: one as a landowner and one as the legal representative of the colony’s proprietor, Lord Baltimore. She is refused.

1790: New Jersey gives the vote to “all free inhabitants” of the state. It is revoked from women in 1807.

1838: Kentucky allows widows to vote in local school elections, but only if they have no children enrolled.

1840: Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton meet in London, where they are among the women delegates refused credentials to the World Anti-Slavery Convention. Women are very active abolitionists but are rarely in leadership positions.

1848: Mott and Stanton organize the Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and take a cue from the Founding Fathers in issuing the Declaration of Sentiments: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”

1868: The 14th Amendment guarantees civil rights to all citizens but gives the vote to men only.

1869: Wyoming Territory gives women the right to vote. The national suffrage movement splits into two factions: one that supports the 14th Amendment and the franchise for black men and one that calls for woman suffrage above all else.

1887: Federal legislation to end polygamy in Utah contains a measure to disenfranchise women, who had won the vote there in 1870. They wouldn’t get it back until 1895.

 

Western women bear the suffrage torch for their Eastern sisters in “The Awakening,” a 1915 cartoon from Puck magazine. (Library of Congress)
Western women bear the suffrage torch for their Eastern sisters in “The Awakening,” a 1915 cartoon from Puck magazine. (Library of Congress)
1890: Congress threatens to withhold statehood from Wyoming because of woman suffrage. Wyoming threatens to remain a territory rather than give up women’s votes. Congress backs down, and Western states take the lead in giving women full voting rights.

Not every woman supported suffrage. The “Anti” in this 1915 Puck cartoon is backed by morally corrupt interests (“Procurer,” “Child Labor Employer”) and others who supposedly would benefit from denying women the vote. (Library of Congress)
Not every woman supported suffrage. The “Anti” in this 1915 Puck cartoon is backed by morally corrupt interests (“Procurer,” “Child Labor Employer”) and others who supposedly would benefit from denying women the vote. (Library of Congress)
1912: With 4 million women eligible to vote in the West, presidential candidates vie for their attention for the first time. Democrat Woodrow Wilson wins.

1913: Some 8,000 marchers turn out for the first national suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., the day before Wilson’s inauguration.

1915: Suffrage referendums are defeated in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

1916: Jeannette Rankin of Montana is the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

1917: Suffragists picket the newly reelected Wilson in front of the White House, the first time a public demonstration has targeted the presidential home. Throughout the summer, activists are arrested and imprisoned in the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia where they were kept in isolation, beaten and force-fed.

1918: Wilson endorses the 19th Amendment to the Constitution mandating woman suffrage. It narrowly passes in the House, but fails by two votes in the Senate.

1919: On May 21, the Senate defeats the suffrage amendment for a second time by one vote. On June 4, the Senate passes the 19th Amendment by a two-vote margin and sends it to the states for ratification.

1920: On August 18, Tennessee is the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, and “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” becomes the law of the land.

 


 

Articles Featuring Women’s Rights From History Net Magazines

American Experience: The Abolitionists"American Experience: The Abolitionists" is a compelling, 3-part series on the rise, fracturing, decline, resurgence and ultimate triumph of the movement to make all Americans free.
Daily Quiz for November 23, 2011Of the original 63 female signers of the Declaration of Sentiments at the Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848, this is the total number who lived to see women achieve the right to vote.
'Prohibition' - A Review of Ken Burns' New PBS DocumentaryDocumentary filmmaker Ken Burns explores the Prohibition years in a new PBS special that begins Sunday.
Alice PaulCourageous or reckless, Alice Paul spearheaded a new suffrage campaign for American women
National Woman Suffrage ProcessionThe 1913 National Woman Suffrage Procession was a turning point for American women seeking the right to vote
American women's long road to political powerA brief timeline of American women’s long road to political power
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? U. S. Coins as Pop CultureJust when it seemed U. S. coins were going the way of the dinosaur, the State Quarters Program introduced a whole new category of coin collectors.
Slave to Soldier: Fighting for Freedom‘We Must Make Free Men of Them’ Confederate General Patrick Cleburne wanted to enlist slaves to fight for the Rebel cause
Women's History ResourcesA list of books and Websites for information on Women's History.
Heroines of Women's HistoryFive rules-breaking heroines of women's history who asked "How can I do that?" instead of "Can I do that?"
Women's History - Beyond the Famous NamesWomen's history gives all of us, female and male, stories we can easily relate to our own lives; it isn't just about the intermittent monarch, the suffrage movement, or the trailblazing aviatrix.
Women's History Articles - Suggested Online ReadingDescriptions of some online articles related to Women's History, with links; includes Irena Sendler, Queen Elizabeth I, and women of the Wild West!
Matilda Josyln Gage - the Unlikely Inspiration for the Wizard of OzSuffragist Matilda Josyln Gage was the unlikely inspiration for L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Safety in Numbers - The "New World Order" [Point of View]Casualty and other war statistics suggest that despite terrorism’s terrible toll, the New World Order really has created a more secure world.
Belva Lockwood: 'I cannot vote, but can be voted for'Belva Lockwood was the first woman to become a candidate for the American presidency. Her 1884 campaign stimulated media attention and social controversy.
Bartholomew Gosnold: The Man Who Was Responsible for England's Settling the New WorldThe vision, enthusiasm and organization of Bartholomew Gosnold, of Otley, Suffolk, resulted in the Virginia Company and the settlement of Jamestown now 400 years ago.
1st Louisiana Special Battalion at the First Battle of ManassasRecruited from New Orleans' teeming waterfront by soldier of fortune Roberdeau Wheat, the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion more than lived up to its pugnacious nickname--Wheat's Tigers--at the First Battle of Manassas.
The Fox Sisters: Spiritualism's Unlikely FoundersOut of the pranks of precocious sisters in upstate New York in 1847 grew a religious and social movement that swept across America. Often associated with abolition, suffrage and the brotherhood of all souls, spiritualism continued to evolve and flourish through the 20th century.
Jerrie Mock: Record-Breaking American Female PilotIn 1964 an Ohio woman took up the challenge that had led to Amelia Earhart's disappearance.
American History: Transformation of the U.S. Supreme CourtThe last four decades have witnessed a fundamental transformation in the types of men, and now women, who exercise the broad and untrammeled judicial power of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Molly MacGuires in Pennsylvania Coal RegionsA series of violent crimes was plaguing Pennsylvania's coal country. Mine owners placed the blame on a secret society of Irishmen--and took steps to wipe it out.
America's Civil War: Missouri and KansasFor half a decade before the Civil War, residents of the neighboring states of Missouri and Kansas waged their own civil war. It was a conflict whose scars were a long time in healing.
Picture of the Day: June 18


Women Can't Vote
On June 18, 1873 Susan B. Anthony (shown here standing next to Elizabeth Cady Stanton) is fined $100 for attempting to vote for president.

Photo: Library of Congress…

Picture of the Day: November 6


Jeanette Rankin

On November 6, 1916, lifelong feminist and pacifist Jeanette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. As legislative secretary of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Rankin helped the women of …

Picture of the Day: October 23


The hunger strike was one of the most formidable weapons in the arsenal of suffragettes in Britain and America. In July 1909, imprisoned English suffragette Marion Dunlop refused to eat. Prison officials, afraid that she might die and become a …

Picture of the Day: April 7


The Woman Suffrage Movement
By the second decade of the 20th century, woman suffrage–women's right to vote–had become an issue of national importance in America. To win public support for their cause, two rival women's organizations conducted a massive campaign …

Suffragists Storm Over Washington D.C. in 1917Wartime Washington dealt brutally with imprisoned suffragists who dared picket the White House for the right to vote in 1917.
Seneca Falls Convention: First Women's Rights ConventionMore than one hundred and fifty years ago the people attending the first Women's Rights Convention adopted the radical proposition that 'all men and women are created equal.'
Camp William Penn: Training Ground for FreedomUnder the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor recipients would pass through the camp's gates.
Picture of the Day: September 9


Nineteenth-century reformer Amelia Jenks Bloomer, (1818-1894) of Seneca Falls, N.Y., was the editor of The Lily, a periodical 'devoted to the interests of women.'Along with her support of woman suffrage and temperance, Bloomer was an advocate of dress reform. …

Picture of the Day: September 3


Helen Keller, on the left, with the faithful help of teacher Annie Mansfield Sullivan, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College at age 24 on September 1, 1904. This accomplishment was particularly remarkable because Keller had lost both sight and hearing …

Picture of the Day: August 26


On August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, giving American women the right to vote. The amendment had been first introduced in Congress in 1878, setting in motion supporters who demonstrated, lobbied, marched and spoke out …

Picture of the Day: July 19


Elizabeth Cady Stanton & the Seneca Falls Convention
Elizabeth Cady Stanton made her first public speech at the Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19, 1848. After Cady Stanton was denied participation in an anti-slavery convention …

Picture of the Day: February 1


The Thirteenth Amendment
On February 1, 1865 Lincoln's home state of Illinois became the first to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery throughout the United States. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, but it had …

America's Civil War: May 2001 From the Editor


From the Editor
America's Civil War

For one brief moment, President Andrew Johnson was more popular with Radical Republicans than Abraham Lincoln.

Given the fact that he was soon to become the first American president to be impeached, it is …

Book Review: By Grit & Grace, Eleven Women Who Shaped the American West (edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain) : WW


By Grit & Grace, Eleven Women Who Shaped the American West, edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colo., 1997, $22.95 paperback.

By Grit & Grace is the first offering in a new series called "Notable …

Book Review: THE READER'S COMPANION TO U.S. WOMEN'S HISTORY (edited by Wilma Mankiller, Gwendolyn Mink, Marysa Navarro, Barbara Smith, and Gloria Steinem) : AH


THE READER'S COMPANION TO U.S. WOMEN'S HISTORY, edited by Wilma Mankiller, Gwendolyn Mink, Marysa Navarro, Barbara Smith, and Gloria Steinem, Houghton Mifflin, 672 pages, $45.

This is the first book of its kind "devoted to exploring moments, topics, and events …

Book Review: MAPPING AMERICA'S PAST: A HISTORICAL ATLAS (edited by Mark C. Carnes and John A. Garraty) : AH


MAPPING AMERICA'S PAST: A HISTORICAL ATLAS, edited by Mark C. Carnes and John A. Garraty, with Patrick Williams (Henry Holt and Company, 287 pages, $50.00).

Nearly four hundred color maps created especially for this book, along with more than 120 …

Reference Book Review: WE AMERICANS: CELEBRATING A NATION, ITS PEOPLE, AND ITS PAST : AHI


WE AMERICANS: CELEBRATING A NATION, ITS PEOPLE, AND ITS PAST, National Geographic Books, $40.00.

THE events that have shaped America are well detailed in this visually outstanding book featuring more than 400 photographs and illustrations from the collections of the …

Book Review: Laborers for Liberty: American Women 1865-1890 (Jeffrey D. Wert): AH


LABORERS FOR LIBERTY: AMERICAN WOMEN 1865-1890
by Harriet Sigerman (Oxford University Press, 144 pages, $22.00). Published as one of 11 books for young adults in the series The Young Oxford History of Women in the United States, this volume examines …

Book Review: A Voice of Our Own: Leading American Women Celebrate the Right to Vote (Nancy M. Neuman): AH


A VOICE OF OUR OWN: LEADING AMERICAN WOMEN CELEBRATE THE RIGHT TO VOTE
edited by Nancy M. Neuman (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 265 pages, $24.00). To commemorate last year's seventy-fifth anniversary of the 1920 ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment–which declared that no …

Multi-Media Review: Women First & Foremost: AH

WOMEN FIRST & FOREMOST
(The Monterey Movie Company, $24.95 each or $69.95 for the set). Narrated by Rita Moreno and Dee Wallace Stone, this three-cassette video set highlights some of the many stories of women who left their mark on …

Undermining the Molly McGuires - Cover Page: April 2000 American History Feature


Undermining the Molly McGuires

A series of violent crimes was plaguing Pennsylvania's coal country. Mine owners placed the blame on a secret society of Irishmen–and took steps to wipe it out.

by Joseph H. Bloom

On October 27, 1873, a …

Multi-Media Review: UNDERSTANDING AMERICA: THE GREAT SPEECHES, SERMONS, DOCUMENTS AND NARRATIVES OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE : AH

UNDERSTANDING AMERICA: THE GREAT SPEECHES, SERMONS, DOCUMENTS AND NARRATIVES OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE (Freeman and Cashill, $18.50)

The words of such notables as Pilgrim leaderWilliam Bradford (1590-1657), poet Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612-72), scientistand statesman Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), Shawnee chief Tecumseh(1768?-1813), …

Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers In Blue - November '99 America's Civil War Feature


Camp William Penn's Black Soldiers In Blue

By Donald Scott

Under the stern but sympathetic gaze of Lt. Col. Louis Wagner, some 11,000 African-American soldiers trained to fight for their freedom at Philadelphia's Camp William Penn. Three Medal of Honor …

Civil War Times: October 1999 Letters


Letters - Submit
Civil War Times

THE WOMEN'S WAR

Finally a leading Civil War magazine recognizes the fact that Rosie the Riveter started many years before World War II ("Women in the Civil War," special issue, August 1999), when American …

WHEAT'S TIGERS Confederate Zouaves at First Manassas - May '99 America's Civil War Feature


WHEAT'S TIGERS Confederate Zouaves at First Manassas

By Gary Schreckengost

Recruited from New Orleans' teeming waterfront by soldier of fortune Roberdeau Wheat, the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion more than lived up to its pugnacious nickname–Wheat's Tigers–at the First Battle of …

"All men & women are created equal" - Cover Page: April '99 American History Feature


All men & women are created equal

Over one hundred and fifty years ago the people attending the first Women's Rights Convention adopted this radical proposition.

by Constance Rynder

The announcement of an upcoming "Woman's Rights Convention" in the Seneca …

American History: May/June 1998 From the Editor


Thoughts on History

Magazine editors love a good anniversary. Give us an event that happened 50, 100, or 200 years ago and chances are we'll find someone to write about it. There's something seductive about a nice round block of …

Ruhleben Prison Camp - October/November '97 British Heritage Feature


Ruhleben Prison Camp

British citizens in Germany at the onset of WWIsoon found themselves in the Ruhleben prison camp. Before long their genius for setting up rules for living and improving theircircumstances proved nearly boundless.

By Herman Herst Jr.

It …

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