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The sometimes-fractious suffrage movement that grew out of the Seneca Falls meeting proceeded in successive waves. Initially, women reformers addressed social and institutional barriers that limited women’s rights, including family responsibilities, a lack of educational and economic opportunities, and the absence of a voice in political debates. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a Massachusetts teacher, met in 1850 and forged a lifetime alliance as women’s rights activists. Like many other women reformers of the era, they both had been active in the abolitionist movement. For much of the 1850s they agitated against the denial of basic economic freedoms to women. Later they unsuccessfully lobbied Congress to include women in the provisions of the 14th and 15th Amendments (extending citizenship rights and granting voting rights to African-American men, respectively).
For the next two decades the NAWSA worked as a nonpartisan organization focused on gaining the vote in states, although managerial problems and a lack of coordination initially limited its success. The first state to grant women complete voting rights was Wyoming in 1869. Three other western states—Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), and Idaho (1896)—followed shortly after NAWSA was founded. But before 1910 only these four states allowed women to vote. “Why the West first?” remains a contested question. Some scholars suggest that the West proved to be more progressive in extending the vote to women, in part, because there were so few of them on the frontier. Granting women political rights was intended to bring more women westward and to boost the population. Others suggest that women had long 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. They do, however, agree that western women also organized themselves effectively to win the right.7
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Between 1910 and 1914, the NAWSA intensified its lobbying efforts and additional states extended the franchise to women: Washington, California, Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon. In Illinois, future Congresswoman of Illinois helped lead the fight for suffrage as a lobbyist in Springfield when the state legislature granted women the right to vote in 1913. This marked the first such victory for women in a state east of the Mississippi River. A year later Montana granted women the right to vote, thanks in part to the efforts of another future Congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin.
In 1915 Carrie Chapman Catt, a veteran suffragist since the mid-1880s and a former president of the NAWSA, again secured the organization’s top leadership post. Catt proved to be an adept administrator and organizer whose “Winning Plan” strategy called for disciplined and relentless efforts to achieve state referenda on the vote, especially in nonwestern states.9 Key victories—the first in the South and East—followed in 1917, when Arkansas and New York granted partial and full voting rights, respectively. Beginning in 1917, President Wilson (a convert to the suffrage cause) urged Congress to pass a voting rights amendment. Another crowning achievement also was reached that year when Montana’s Jeannette Rankin was sworn into the 65th Congress (1917–1919) on April 2. Elected two years after her state enfranchised women, Rankin became the first woman to serve in the national legislature.
Women's Suffrage: Why the West First? | EDSITEment
The beginning of the fight for women’s suffrage in the United States, which predates entry into Congress by nearly 70 years, grew out of a larger women’s rights movement. That reform effort evolved during the 19th century, initially emphasizing a broad spectrum of goals before focusing solely on securing the franchise for women. Women’s suffrage leaders, moreover, often disagreed about the tactics and whether to prioritize federal or state reforms. Ultimately, the suffrage movement provided political training for some of the early women pioneers in Congress, but its internal divisions foreshadowed the persistent disagreements among women in Congress and among women’s rights activists after the passage of the 19th Amendment.
Women were denied the right to any political participation, including even taking political science courses, and married women lost some of the legal rights they had held during the Shogunate.
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Women's Suffrage: Why the West First
Condorcet’s essay is an early defence of the right of women to particpate in politcs. It was written during the first years of the French Revolution.
The essay The History of the Suffrage ..
Certain of these violations (of natural right) have escaped the notice of philosophers and legislators, even while concerning themselves zealously to establish the common rights of individuals of the human race, and in this way to lay the foundation of political institutions. For example, have they not all violated the principle of the equality of rights in tranquilly depriving one-half of the human race of the right of taking part in the formation of laws by the exclusion of women from the rights of citizenship? Could there be a stronger proof of the power of habit, even among enlightened men, than to hear invoked the principle of equal rights in favour of perhaps some 300 or 400 men, who had been deprived of it by an absurd prejudice, and forget it when it concerns some 12,000,000 women?
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I am not aware of any previous translation of the foregoing essay, and do not remember to have seen anywhere any allusion to this first publication on the subject of woman’s emancipation, yet I have been struck by the close similarity of the arguments used by J. S. Mill and by those who have succeeded him in the advocacy of women’s electoral freedom to those used by the Marquis de Condorcet in this essay. It could not, indeed, well be otherwise, since the fundamental principle of equal rights, and equal claim to protection in the exercise of these rights, must present itself in the same forcible light to any really intelligent person who is truly anxious to lay down just and fair principles of government. That it should be within the reach of every individual of the human race to attain to the power of influencing the Government under which he or she lives, follows inevitably to logical minds, and the only exceptions which can fairly be made are those of the immature and the failures.
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