FIRST WAVE FEMINISM Women Politics _ Suffrage General issues

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					Week eight/Women& Politics I/History 2800/Uleth Spring 2001.

         FIRST WAVE FEMINISM: Women Politics & Suffrage

                                  General issues
    •   Height of suffrage activism (debate & public protest): 1840-WWI.
        Roots of feminism were in abolitionism: a belief in the moral equity
        of all beings. 1890-1920 is the apex of the fight for suffrage.
    •   The vote for women became the preoccupation of women’s rights
        activism prior to WWI.
    •   This fight was conducted via a variety of women-centred
        organizations: Antislavery or Abolitionist groups, and National
        Women’s rights organizations, Women’s Institutes or Leagues and
        temperance organizations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance
        Union (WCTU).
    •   The fight for woman suffrage (or franchise) assumed two strands; the
        latter of the two challenged the doctrine of separate spheres domestic

    1. Difference—political action for women was an extension of
       domesticity thus the franchise should be granted to them on the basis
       of moral superiority.

    2. Equality—women deserved equal citizenship rights and
       responsibilities equivalent to men and that their relationship to the
       state should be direct and unmediated by husband or children (women
       did not merely exercise rights through influence.)

           2.1.      Across Western Europe and North America women’s
              public activism around winning the franchise varied from
              informal to highly organized and, in the case of England,
              radical extremism but above all the movement for suffrage was
              international in scope. In fact the leadership of the various
              groups in Western countries and colonies consulted with each

Week eight/Women& Politics I/History 2800/Uleth Spring 2001.

                                 United States

Assumed a general progression from republican motherhood, to
the era of association and reform fervour to well organized
woman suffrage organizations.

    A Chronology of Significant Events & Activists in US Suffrage

1830s-40s black abolitionists and white reformers create alliances.

1838 Quaker pacifist, abolitionist and essayist Sarah Grimke writes
and publishes “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the
Condition of Women.”

-1848 first Women’s Rights Convention takes place at Wesleyan
Chapel in Seneca Falls.

-1848 “The Declaration of Sentiments”(penned at Seneca Falls)
served as the founding document of the US women’s movement, it was
a manifesto arguing on behalf of women’s rights to self, children,
property, franchise, and an indictment of the injustices suffered by
women under the thumb of men and British Common law.

-1851 Akron, Ohio, Convention, presided over by Frances Dana
Gage, from Ohio, it was Gage who documented through recollection
the speech given at this convention by former slave and high profile
abolitionist Sojourner Truth (known as the “And Ain’t I a Woman?”

-1867 Battles over the vote varied from state to state.
Week eight/Women& Politics I/History 2800/Uleth Spring 2001.

-1869 Catherine Beecher and her sister novelist Harriet Beecher
Stowe (of best selling novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852) became two
prominent nay-sayers of the early suffrage activism, by publishing an
anti-suffrage statement in their best selling book, The American
Women’s Home.

-pre 1868 American Equal rights Association founded by Anthony,
Stanton and Frederick Douglass to advocate both black and woman
suffrage but this organization splits when some members, led by
Douglass and Frances Harper, prioritized black male enfranchisement.

-1869 formation of the New York based (NWSA) National Woman
Suffrage Association (Stanton was its first president) concentrated
their fight on the national constitutional amendments; they pressed for
easier divorce laws and birth control and promoted a women’s union.
Stanton and Anthony abandoned a fight for the black and white vote
to form NWSA.

-1869 formation of the Boston-based American Woman Suffrage
Association (AWSA) led by Henry Ward Beecher, Harriet Beecher
Stowe, Catherine Beecher, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe and Alice
Stone Blackwell. The AWSA concentrated on getting popular vote to
change state suffrage law.

-1870s formation of the ecumenical (ie: Christian unity worldwide)
Women's Christian Temperance Union, headed by Frances Willard.

-1876 Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan Anthony and Matilda Joslyn
Gage begin writing and editing a history of the women’s rights
movement resulting in the six volume edition of The History of Woman
Week eight/Women& Politics I/History 2800/Uleth Spring 2001.

Suffrage (vol 1&2 published 1881-82; vol 3, 1886, vol 4, 1902 with
Ida Husted Harper; vol 5&6, 1922 under the editorship of Ida Harper.)

-1883 WCTU formally endorsed the demand for female enfranchisement
justified on the basis of protecting the home and women within it, thus
adopted a family-based analysis.
-1890 Consolidation of the two formerly distinct, even antagonistic, groups of the NWSA
& AWSA who formed a united front known as the American National Woman
Suffrage Association (ANWSH).
-1890s Black women formed their own suffrage groups, a growth of black women’s club
movement occurred including the National Association of Colored Women
in 1896 headed by Mary Church Terrell.

-1900 Susan  Anthony stepped down as president of ANWSH and was
replaced by Carrie Chapman Catt, who led the last phase of the
national suffrage campaign until the ratification of the 19th constitutional

              Nineteenth Amendment passed: “the right of citizens of
-August 26, 1920
the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United
States or by any state on account of sex.”