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This reform effort encompassed a broad spectrum of goals before its leaders decided to focus first on securing the vote for women. The convention eventually approved the voting rights resolution after abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke in support of it.
Like many other women reformers of the era, Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a Massachusetts teacher, had both been active in the abolitionist cause to end slavery. Some Members, including George Washington Julian of Indiana, welcomed the opportunity to enfranchise women.
The Douglasses topped the petition ed by many other African-American residents of the Uniontown neighborhood of Washington, DC, in what is today Anacostia. They were the first African-American lawmakers to serve in Congress. During the congressional battle over the Fifteenth Amendment, Stanton and Anthony had led a lobbying effort to ensure that voting rights for women were included in the legislation.
With increasing frequency, Stanton denounced the extension of voting rights to African-American men while restrictions on women remained. Eventually, the NWSA began a parallel effort to secure the right to vote among the individual states with the hope of starting a ripple effect to win the franchise at the federal level.
During the s, the AWSA was better funded and the larger of the two groups, but it had only a regional reach.
When neither group attracted broad public support, suffrage leaders recognized their division had become an impediment to progress. The determination of these women to expand their sphere of activities further outside the home helped the suffrage movement go mainstream and provided new momentum for its supporters. For the next 20 years, the NAWSA worked as a nonpartisan organization focused on gaining the vote in the states as a precursor to a federal suffrage amendment.
Anthony, and Lucretia Mott. But the suffrage movement was only so welcoming. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, civil rights and voting rights came under constant attack in large sections of the country as state policies and court decisions effectively nullified the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. As the system of segregation known as Jim Crow crystallized in the South, African Americans saw protections for their civil and political rights disappear, and few Members of Congress or suffrage advocates were willing to fight for any additional federal safeguards.
Their voices, however, could only be heard outside of Congress. In the House and Senate, those voices had fallen silent: from to no African-American legislator served in Congress.
The promise of the Reconstruction Era—that American democracy could be more just and more representative—was undermined by an organized political movement working to restrict voting rights and exclude millions of Americans from the political process. Women had won complete voting rights in Wyoming inbut almost 25 years had elapsed without another victory. Some scholars suggest that the West proved to be more progressive in extending the vote to women, in part, in order to attract women westward and to boost the population.
Others suggest that women played nontraditional roles on the hardscrabble frontier and were accorded a more equal status by men. Still others find that political expediency by territorial officials played a role. All agree, though, that western women organized themselves effectively to win No real women here vote. Women won the right to vote the next year in Montana, thanks in part to the efforts of another future Congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin.
Despite this momentum, some reformers pushed to quicken the pace of change. Moreover, leading suffrage advocates insisted the failure to extend the vote to women might impede their participation in the war effort just when they were most needed as workers and volunteers outside the home. Next Section. Standard biographies of these two women include Lois W. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. New York: Times Books, New York: McGraw-Hill, : Washington, D.
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The Women’s Rights Movement, –