Women’s suffrage was an important development in American history. The 19th Amendment officially granted women the right to vote, and the right to vote surfaced in numerous other areas of American society. This sample history paper explores the movement and women’s uphill fight to freedom.
Women’s suffrage in the United States
Since the inception of the United States, various groups have struggled and fought for increased human rights. Modern societies view voting and participation in government as one of the hallmarks of a progressive and inclusive society. The history of Women’s Suffrage in the USA was a long and hard-fought battle that sought to include women in the progress and development of the nation.
The causes of Women’s Suffrage are related to the cultural and historic changes that were going on in the USA during the 19th and 20th centuries. Clear effects could also be seen once the right to vote was obtained by women in the 20th century with respect to not only women’s conditions but also children and the overall society. Women’s suffrage was a very important part of the Civil Rights Movement because it tied into so many other important social movements like the abolition of slavery, worker rights, and children’s rights.
Women’s right to vote
The beginning of women voting in the USA started in the earliest years of the nation. There were accounts of women fighting for the right to vote and actually having that right as early as the late 18th century. Once the right to vote was taken away from women there were small movements taking up the cause of women’s suffrage culminating in the inclusion of that right in the presidential platform of the Liberty Party in 1848.
These women were fighting for what they believed was a basic human right. They also believed that women should have a say in their government and that they could effect change greatly through political involvement.
From this point in history, the women’s suffrage movement grew and important events like the Seneca Falls Convention and Declaration of Sentiments took place. Shortly after these events, the beginnings of the intense abolition movement was taking place and the women’s suffrage movement was an active member of that movement (DuBois, 7).
During those formative years, there were women’s suffrage conventions held every single year. During the years of the Civil War, the suffrage movement slowed slightly and focused efforts, like much of the nation, into saving the Union.
After the war, the movement consolidated and pushed forward stronger towards the end of the century making small but meaningful strides in the western part of the country (McCammon, et al, 49). The diversity in the suffragist organizations led to their successes in the early 20th century, which would eventually lead to the 19th amendment to the US Constitution (McCammon, 787).
The final pushes for women’s voting rights came during WWI when intense and extended protests were carried out against then president Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was not in agreement with the movement but eventually changed his opinion and supported the right of women to vote and it became a law that could no longer be disputed at the state level.
Women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment
The results of the 19th Amendment were profound and led to changes in many different parts of American society and politics. Politics changed to accommodate the moods and activities of the new female voter and this could be seen in the types of campaigns that were being used. At this time the nation was also focusing more than ever on social changes and government involvement in said changes (Baker, 620).
The female voters played a large role in these policies as well by influencing the way local and national leaders addressed problems like child labor laws and worker rights (Miller, 1287). The 19th Amendment and women’s rights were a turning point for the nation in many ways, despite critics feeling that the women’s suffrage movement did not produce any major change until the 1970’s (Andersen, 3).
Other scholars believe that although the changes of the early 20th century were not as loud and fast moving as those of the 1970’s, they were impactful in that they changed the manner in which women were seen in the political process overall. The success of women’s suffrage in the USA and around the world can be seen in the fact that by 1994 96% of all nations had voting rights for women in place (Shanahan, 735).
This is a huge number and this trend started to evolve in the late 19th century. These movements, like the one in the USA, affected the way not only women voted, but the way politics operated as a whole, and this was a big development.
Conclusion and summary
The significance of the women’s suffrage movement is huge to not only women but the entire country. The suffragists were involved in some of the most meaningful and hard fought battles of this nation’s history. They were involved in more than women’s rights and feminism; they helped the abolitionist movement, children’s rights, worker rights, factory conditions, and these are only the tip of the iceberg. Had there not been a constant push on their part this process could have been delayed for decades.
The USA, as a leader in the world in terms of freedom, equality, and democracy, could not have done so while marginalizing an entire section of its citizens. Therefore, the women’s suffrage movement showed the USA as well as the world how important it was by fighting tirelessly for its own cause, while also fighting for causes that were all related to human rights and social justice.
Women’s suffrage was an important event in the history of the USA. The activities of these suffragists led to the creation of the 19th Amendment as well as the advancement of the rights of many other groups. These events impacted the manner in which politics operated as well as campaigns and elections. The fight for the right of women to vote and the subsequent success of the movement was a defining movement in United States history for millions.
Andersen, Kristi. “After Suffrage: Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics Before the New Deal”. University of Chicago Press. (1996): 1-22. Online: Accessed November 12, 2013. Web.
Baker, Paul. “The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920”. The American Historical Review. 89.3 (1984): 620-647. Print.
DuBois, Ellen C. “Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women’s Movement in America 1848-1869”. Cornell University Press. (1978):1-55. Online: Accessed November 12, 2013. Web.
McCammon, Holly J. “Out of the Parlors and into the Streets”: The Changing Tactical Repertoire of the U.S. Women’ Suffrage Movements”. Oxford Social Forces Journal. 81.3 (2003): 787-818. Print.
McCammon, Holly J., Campbell, Karen E., Granberg, Ellen M., and Mowery, Christine. “How Movements Win: Gendered Opportunity Structures and U.S. Women’s Suffrage Movements, 1866 to 1919”. American Sociological Review. 66.1 (2001): 49-70. Print.
Miller, Grant. “Women’s Suffrage, Political Responsiveness, and Child Survival in American History”. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 123.3 (2008): 1287-1327. Print.
Ramirez, Francisco O., Soysal, Yasemin, and Shanahan, Suzanne. “The Changing Logic of Political Citizenship: Cross-National Acquisition of Women’s Suffrage Rights, 1890 to 1990”. American Sociological Review. 62.5 (1997): 735-745. Print.