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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

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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.
Picture of the Day: June 18Women 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 6Jeanette 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 Montana win the vote in 1914, six years before all American women won the vote. …
Picture of the Day: October 23The 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 martyr to her cause, released her. Soon after, so many suffragettes had adopted the same …
Picture of the Day: April 7The 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 of lobbying, picketing, petitions and nonviolent demonstrations. The growth in the numbers of American working …
Picture of the Day: September 9Nineteenth-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. Believing that restrictive corsets and cumbersome skirts were injurious to the health of women, in the …
Picture of the Day: September 3Helen 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 at age 2 after contracting scarlet fever. Sullivan, who broke through Helen’s childhood isolation to …
Picture of the Day: August 26On 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 for woman suffrage. They were often met with venomous opposition. Early on, the two main …
Picture of the Day: July 19Elizabeth 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 and was told that women were ‘constitutionally unfit for public and business meetings,’ she and …
Picture of the Day: February 1The 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 not effectively abolished slavery in all of the states–it did not apply to slave-holding border …
Book Review: By Grit & Grace, Eleven Women Who Shaped the American West (edited by Glenda Riley and Richard W. Etulain) : WWBy 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 Westerners,” and obviously this promising series will be looking beyond Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Sitting …
Ruhleben Prison Camp – October/November ’97 British Heritage FeatureRuhleben 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 has been said that one Englishman, alone and without contact with another of his countrymen, …

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