Women's suffrage in states of the United States Early voting activity[ edit ] Lydia Taft — , a wealthy widow, was allowed to vote in town meetings in Uxbridge, Massachusetts in The New Jersey constitution of enfranchised all adult inhabitants who owned a specified amount of property.
Laws enacted in and referred to voters as "he or she", and women regularly voted. A law passed in , however, excluded women from voting in that state. This partial suffrage right for women was not expressed as for whites only. One barrier was strong opposition to women's involvement in public affairs, a practice that was not fully accepted even among reform activists. Only after fierce debate were women accepted as members of the American Anti-Slavery Society at its convention of , and the organization split at its next convention when women were appointed to committees.
Frances Wright , a Scottish woman, was subjected to sharp criticism for delivering public lectures in the U. A regional women's rights convention in Ohio in was disrupted by male opponents. Anthony , a leader of the suffrage movement, later said, "No advanced step taken by women has been so bitterly contested as that of speaking in public.
For nothing which they have attempted, not even to secure the suffrage, have they been so abused, condemned and antagonized. According to William Blackstone 's Commentaries on the Laws of England , an authoritative commentary on the English common law on which the American legal system is modeled, "by marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: In the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court denied a divorce to a woman whose husband had horsewhipped her, saying, "The law gives the husband power to use such a degree of force necessary to make the wife behave and know her place.
Sentiment in favor of women's rights was strong within the radical wing of the abolitionist movement. William Lloyd Garrison , the leader of the American Anti-Slavery Society , said "I doubt whether a more important movement has been launched touching the destiny of the race, than this in regard to the equality of the sexes".
In , Samuel J. May , a Unitarian minister and radical abolitionist, vigorously supported women's suffrage in a sermon that was later circulated as the first in a series of women's rights tracts. Lucretia Mott was suggested as the party's vice-presidential candidate—the first time that a woman had been proposed for federal executive office in the U. Many of its activists were aligned with the Garrisonian wing of the abolitionist movement, which believed that activists should avoid political activity and focus instead on convincing others of their views with "moral suasion".
Five women called the convention, four of whom were Quaker social activists , including the well-known Lucretia Mott. The fifth was Elizabeth Cady Stanton , who had discussed the need to organize for women's rights with Mott several years earlier. When her husband, a well-known social reformer, learned that she intended to introduce this resolution, he refused to attend the convention and accused her of acting in a way that would turn the proceedings into a farce.
Lucretia Mott, the main speaker, was also disturbed by the proposal. The resolution was adopted only after Frederick Douglass , an abolitionist leader and a former slave, gave it his strong support. It was the first women's rights convention to be chaired by a woman, a step that was considered to be radical at the time. Heralding the women's movement in the U. Her essay was reprinted as a women's rights tract in the U.
It culminated in a women's rights convention in the state capitol and a speech by Stanton before the state legislature. The constable sold her household goods at auction until enough money had been raised to pay her tax bill. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met in and soon became close friends and co-workers. Their decades-long collaboration was pivotal for the suffrage movement and contributed significantly to the broader struggle for women's rights, which Stanton called "the greatest revolution the world has ever known or ever will know.
Anthony excelled at organizing while Stanton had an aptitude for intellectual matters and writing. Stanton, who was homebound with several children during this period, wrote speeches that Anthony delivered to meetings that she herself organized. Anthony, who eventually became the person most closely associated in the public mind with women's suffrage,  later said "I wasn't ready to vote, didn't want to vote, but I did want equal pay for equal work.
Anthony Although it was not a suffrage organization, the League made it clear that it stood for political equality for women,  and it indirectly advanced that cause in several ways. Stanton reminded the public that petitioning was the only political tool available to women at a time when only men were allowed to vote. Its drive for universal suffrage , however, was resisted by some abolitionist leaders and their allies in the Republican Party , who wanted women to postpone their campaign for suffrage until it had first been achieved for male African Americans.
Horace Greeley , a prominent newspaper editor, told Anthony and Stanton, "This is a critical period for the Republican Party and the life of our Nation I conjure you to remember that this is 'the negro's hour,' and your first duty now is to go through the State and plead his claims.
Anthony and Stanton were harshly criticized by Stone and other AERA members for accepting help during the last days of the campaign from George Francis Train , a wealthy businessman who supported women's rights. Train antagonized many activists by attacking the Republican Party, which had won the loyalty of many reform activists, and openly disparaging the integrity and intelligence of African Americans. One wing, whose leading figure was Lucy Stone, was willing for black men to achieve suffrage first, if necessary, and wanted to maintain close ties with the Republican Party and the abolitionist movement.
The other, whose leading figures were Anthony and Stanton, insisted that women and black men be enfranchised at the same time and worked toward a politically independent women's movement that would no longer be dependent on abolitionists for financial and other resources. The acrimonious annual meeting of the AERA in May signaled the effective demise of the organization, in the aftermath of which two competing woman suffrage organizations were created. Despite opposition by Frederick Douglass and others, Stone convinced the meeting to approve the resolution.
The hostile rivalry between these two organizations created a partisan atmosphere that endured for decades, affecting even professional historians of the women's movement.
Constitution , a reconstruction amendment that would prohibit the denial of suffrage because of race. Stanton and Anthony opposed its passage unless it was accompanied by another amendment that would prohibit the denial of suffrage because of sex. Frederick Douglass , a strong supporter of women's suffrage, said, "The race to which I belong have not generally taken the right ground on this question.
Lucy Stone, who became the AWSA's most prominent leader, supported the amendment but said she believed that suffrage for women would be more beneficial to the country than suffrage for black men.
Stanton, for example, believed that a long process of education would be needed before what she called the "lower orders" of former slaves and immigrant workers would be able to participate meaningfully as voters. Anthony and Stanton wrote a letter to the Democratic National Convention that criticized Republican sponsorship of the Fourteenth Amendment which granted citizenship to black men but for the first time introduced the word "male" into the Constitution , saying, "While the dominant party has with one hand lifted up two million black men and crowned them with the honor and dignity of citizenship, with the other it has dethroned fifteen million white women—their own mothers and sisters, their own wives and daughters—and cast them under the heel of the lowest orders of manhood.
Although each campaigned for suffrage at both the state and national levels, the NWSA tended to work more at the national level and the AWSA more at the state level. In debate about the Fifteenth Amendment was made irrelevant when that amendment was officially ratified. In disgust with corruption in government led to a mass defection of abolitionists and other social reformers from the Republicans to the short-lived Liberal Republican Party.
New Departure[ edit ] In Francis and Virginia Minor , husband and wife suffragists from Missouri, outlined a strategy that came to be known as the New Departure, which engaged the suffrage movement for several years. Constitution implicitly enfranchised women, this strategy relied heavily on Section 1 of the recently adopted Fourteenth Amendment ,  which reads, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.