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Women and the Right to Vote (the Suffragist Movement) - Essay Example

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The Suffragist Movement
Women’s fight for suffrage had its beginning in the US as early as in 1848. It started with the Seneca Falls women’s rights convention. …
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Women and the Right to Vote (the Suffragist Movement)
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Download file to see previous pages In the declaration, there were issues of the troubled women of America. They sought the right to own property, to keep their own wages, to ‘divorce, to gain custody of their children, to attend college, to vote and to serve in professions like theology, medicine and law’ (The Elizabeth Cady Station and Susan B. Antony Papers Project). However, the most noticeable demand was women’s suffrage. In fact, one can find a large number of reasons behind the struggle for suffrage. Even in the early part of the 19th century, there were a few female figures that fought for equal rights. A prominent figure was Frances Wright who came to the U.S from Scotland as early as in 1826. She conducted large number of lectures to make the society aware of the issue. Similarly, Ernestine Rose from Poland too was busy educating women about their rights. Also, there was Margaret Fuller who wrote the famous The Great Lawsuit: Man vs. Woman. However, the movement got its united form in the year 1848 when Gerrit Smith was nominated as the presidential candidate of Liberty Party. In fact, he was Elizabeth Cady’s first cousin. So, it was common for them to engage in discussion and debate over political matters. Thus, in the National Liberty Convention held at New York in the same year, Smith gave the movement a good beginning through his speech. He pointed out in his speech that women were not enfranchised in any nation of the world. He argued for the introduction of universal suffrage, and as a result of the speech, Lucretia Mott-a woman candidate- was nominated to the vice-president post for the first time in history. However, things were not so easy for women at that time because most of the male leaders and activists of anti-slavery movement disliked the presence of women in agitations. As a result, most males disliked the role of women activists who had been a vital part of the reform movements till then. However as McMillen reports, observing the evident discontent from the part of their male compatriots, people like Mott and Stanton decided to hold the Seneca Falls Convention; and the Convention was attended by important figures like Lucretia Mott, Mary Ann M’Clintock, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (12). However, what marred the suffragist movement from the very beginning were the extreme internal differences in opinion and the lack of a strong leadership. After the 1848 convention, there was the even bigger National Women’s Rights Convention in the year 1950. In fact, this was organized by Lucy Stone in collaboration with various other early activists like Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis, Wendell Philips, William Lloyd Garrison, and Abby Kelley Foster. Though there were a large number of questions that remained unanswered ranging from whether to include males in the movement, who to lead the movement, what strategy to be adopted, and what solutions are to be sought, it was decided in total that the movement would work to ensure women a position equal to men. The so-called meetings encouraged a large number of activists to join the movement. Some important figures who joined the movement in this way are Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and ex-slave Sojourner Truth. In fact, the suffrage movement was not only the result of the desire to vote but was the result of the understanding of years and years of suppression of the weaker gender by both the State and the Church. This feeling is well-documented in the work by Matilda Joslyn Gage in the year 1881 named Preceding Causes. She points out that the so-called ‘subjection to the powers that be’ resulted in the suppression of free thought, annihilation of all those who ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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