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Early in America’s independence, anyone who was not a white male property owner was shut out of the ballot box. No one else had the right to vote. Seeking that right and broader social justice reform, women’s rights activists  organized the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention that launched the suffrage movement. 

The push for a woman’s right to vote was disrupted by the Civil War but regained momentum during the Reconstruction period. Controversy arose over what became the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed voting rights regardless of race or color but did not mention gender. Some women’s rights supporters were split on whether to support or oppose the amendment. 

On May 15, 1869, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, which opposed the 15th Amendment, seeking instead a constitutional amendment that  guaranteed women the right to vote. At the same time, NWSA advocated for broader social reforms to ensure equal rights for women.

About the same time, women’s rights advocates who supported the 15th Amendment formed the American Woman Suffrage Movement, which concentrated on getting individual states to pass laws allowing women to vote.The group had some success in doing so, particularly in the West. The territory of Wyoming was the first to allow women to vote.

Yet it would be more than 70 years after the Seneca Falls Convention before all women in the United States were allowed to vote, after the states ratified what is the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.