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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 …
Multi-Media Review: UNDERSTANDING AMERICA: THE GREAT SPEECHES, SERMONS, DOCUMENTS AND NARRATIVES OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE : AHUNDERSTANDING 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), frontiersman Daniel Boone (1734-1820), and pioneering feministElizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) are among those brought to …
Multi-Media Review: Women First & Foremost: AHWOMEN 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 American society. Volume one includes women in medicine and social sciences; volume two features women in …
Civil War Times: October 1999 LettersLetters - SubmitCivil 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 wives took the place of their husbands working in munitions factories when the men went off …
WHEAT’S TIGERS Confederate Zouaves at First Manassas – May ’99 America’s Civil War FeatureWHEAT'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 Manassas. Of all the units that took the field at the First Battle of Manassas …
Camp William Penn’s Black Soldiers In Blue – November ’99 America’s Civil War FeatureCamp 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 recipients would pass through the camp’s gates. Major Louis Wagner of the 88th Pennsylvania Infantry …
“All men & women are created equal” – Cover Page: April ’99 American History FeatureAll 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 County Courier was small, but it attracted Charlotte Woodward’s attention. On the morning of July …
American History: May/June 1998 From the EditorThoughts on HistoryMagazine 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 time. For one thing, those numbers provide handy temporal yardsticks. Time flows past quickly, and it’s …
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, …
Civil War Times: August 1997 EditorialFrom the EditorCivil War Times CORSETS AND M-16s Sometime or another, every one of us daydreams about traveling in time. There are people who write out their time-travel fantasies in the form of novels or movie scripts, with characters who visit the past and change history. (You know the plot: someone gives Robert E. Lee …
American History: February 1997 From the EditorThoughts on HistoryAs you read the print issue, you will notice a new logo appearing at the end of “Code Talkers” by William R. Wilson. In the future, this symbol will be used in each issue to signify that an article complementing the one to which the logo is affixed can be found on the …
American History: April 1997 From the EditorThoughts on HistoryIn It Happened in Brooklyn: An Oral History of Growing Up in the Borough in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, Alan Lelchuk, the son of a Russian immigrant to the United States, is quoted as saying that “In the years after the war, nothing symbolized the feeling of hope and optimism more than …
Tall Tales of the Civil War – August ’96 Civil War Times FeatureTALL TALES OF THE CIVIL WAR Being a compendium of poppycock, balderdash, and malarkey told by civil warveterans for the amusement and amazement of future generations BY: WILLIAM C. DAVIS Men are deceivers ever,” wrote William Shakespeare in Much Ado AboutNothing. Certainly much of what men and women have said about their deedsthrough the ages …

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