A Brief History of Women's Suffrage

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Social Studies
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A Brief History of Women's Suffrage

Who was the Opposition?Everybody. Both men and women looked down upon those who supported women not conforming to normal "household" roles; that is, women cleaning, taking care of the kids, and cooking, very stereotypical stuff - as a living. (11,12) Men didn't normally support the movement for the Nineteenth Amendment, etc., because most wanted to stay in power. And many women didn't support women's suffrage and threatened to the others that if they didn't stop fighting for their own rights, women could potentially grow beards, among other things. (11)

What was the Fight for Women's Rights?Women were viewed as weak in almost every household setting across the United States. They could not vote or generally have the same type of job as a man. Women were expected to work in the house and take care of their kids all day. (12) Many decided to fight for their rights so they could be considered equal to men. One particular part of this is women's suffrage, or the camaign for the right for women to vote. On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, guarunteeing women's vote. (11, 12)

What was the Progressive Era?The Progressive Era was a brief time during the development of America from the 1890s to the 1920s. America was rapidly becoming more of an industrial country and “wage-slaves” became common. (12) People worked for very little pay for a company that could have owned their houses, shops, and even the town to some extent. This was accurately described in The Jungle, a book about a foreigner coming to America and having to deal with all of the above - with his new family, too.

A Brief History of Women's Suffrage Through the Progressive Era

Alice PaulAlice Paul was an American born in 1885. She was raised in a Quaker household where she was treated the same as a man. (2) To become part of one of their women's suffragist movements, Paul moved to England where she realized drastic reform was needed if women were to be treated equally. While there, she met Lucy Burns, also an American. Both joined England's Women's Social and Political Union to better the country. (3) Later, the two of them would head back to America and become leaders of the National Woman's Party. Paul was a leader of the movement for the Nineteenth Amendment (the right to vote) and spent half a century that way, fighting for equal rights for women. (1)

"The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void, precisely as is every one against Negroes." (4)Susan B. Anthony - 1873

How Does This Relate to The Jungle?After Jurgis leaves when his son dies, his sister-in-law, Marija, falls upon hard times because of illness. She lost her job and had to become a prostitute to support herself and, later, much of the family. Earlier, Jurgis' wife, Ona, was forced into prostitution by her boss. Women were considered more as items, not people, and men did nearly whatever they want to them. Women were considered very weak and were trained to be obedient and not have their own thoughts in the family household.

Susan B. AnthonySusan B. Anthony was a woman who grew up in a Quaker household where women were considered equal to men. After fifteen years of teaching students, she decided to go into the movement to free the slaves. (5) Since she was a woman, Anthony couldn't talk out in public. Enraged, she became a major leader in the movement of women's rights. In 1872, she was arrested for voting, tried, and convicted. Anthony was part of the women's movement until 1906, when she died, 14 years before she could vote.

What even was the Problem?Women were treated like they were weak or stupid by men (11), even though history has proved the opposite. Both men and women can make smart descisions, especially with voting. By gaining voting rights, women were treated more equally to men than before. Why should half of the world's population receive the same respect as a shovel, even if they are or have the potential to be smarter than those who discriminate upon them? (11, 12)This also helped women's rights gain traction, as stated in the next paragraph.

Lucy BurnsLucy Burns was an American born into an Irish Catholic family. She grew up having to go to a school where girls were taught to "act like ladies." (8) As stated previously, Burns quickly made the acquaintance of Alice Paul when she met her in England; Burns' first major contribution was in 1909 when she organized a parade in Scotland to gain traction. Together, Burns and Paul started the National Woman's Party back in the United States.(9, 10)

How is This Important to The United States?Women's Suffrage is very important in many different aspects. First of all, women could have more of a say in electing presidents, and their thoughts could actually be recognized by other progressives. This means that different presidents could be elected, among other things! On top of this, women were treated less like items and more like people. Because of this, women had a higher chance of receiving equal pay, as well as getting the same jobs as men, and in the long term, becoming considered equal to men, too.

How was Progress Achieved?As one would assume, fighting for rights of oneself as well as others wouldn't be an easy task. The following women made major contributions in many ways; some important ones that were very widespread is banding into organizations, peacefully protesting (for the most part), marching or parading, or just plain spreading the word. (11, 12)

Contributions of Susan B. AnthonyStraight after the Civil War, Anthony demanded that the Fourteenth Amendment not only include the guaruntee of the vote for African-Americans but for women too. (6) Since that didn't really take off, she became a big wheel in the women's suffrage movement. In 1869, she and a woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. (5, 6, 7)

Contributions of Lucy BurnsBurns was raised in a household where she was expected to fill the sterotypical role-model of a woman. (8) Because of this, she joined the movement for women's rights as well as women's suffrage. Imprisoned six times in the United States and more than any other suffragist, Burns founded the National Woman's Party in April 1913. (8, 9) One of Burns' first major contributions was organizing a parade in Scotland to help woman's suffrage gain traction. Another notable contribution is that she put pressure on President Wilson as he was inaugurated to give women equal rights. (8, 10)

Contributions of Alice PaulBecause she spent decades as the leader of the National Woman's Party, Alice Paul was instrumental in the woman's suffrage movement. (1) One of her first important tasks was, along with Lucy Burns, to organize a parade in Washington, D.C. to help put pressure on President Wilson(1,3) She also organized a lot of "silent sentinels," which is when a bunch of people stand outside a building , the White House in this case, holding banners with certain phrases. (1)



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