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woman suffrage,the right of women to vote. Throughout the latter part of the 19th cent. the issue of women's voting rights was an important phase of feminismfeminism,
movement for the political, social, and educational equality of women with men; the movement has occurred mainly in Europe and the United States. It has its roots in the humanism of the 18th cent. and in the Industrial Revolution.
..... Click the link for more information. .
In the United States
It was first seriously proposed in the United States at Seneca Falls, N.Y., July 19, 1848, in a general declaration of the rights of women prepared by Elizabeth Cady StantonStanton, Elizabeth Cady,
1815–1902, American reformer, a leader of the woman-suffrage movement, b. Johnstown, N.Y. She was educated at the Troy Female Seminary (now Emma Willard School) in Troy, N.Y.
..... Click the link for more information. , Lucretia MottMott, Lucretia Coffin,
1793–1880, American feminist and reformer, b. Nantucket, Mass. She moved (1804) with her family to Boston and later (1809) to Philadelphia. A Quaker, she studied and taught at a Friends school near Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
..... Click the link for more information. , and several others. The early leaders of the movement in the United States—Susan B. AnthonyAnthony, Susan Brownell,
1820–1906, American reformer and leader of the woman-suffrage movement, b. Adams, Mass.; daughter of Daniel Anthony, Quaker abolitionist. From the age of 17, when she was a teacher in rural New York state, she agitated for equal pay for women
..... Click the link for more information. , Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Lucy StoneStone, Lucy,
1818–93, reformer and leader in the women's rights movement, b. near West Brookfield, Mass., grad. Oberlin, 1847. In 1847 she gave her first lecture on women's rights, and the following year she was engaged by the Anti-Slavery Society as one of their regular
..... Click the link for more information. , Abby Kelley FosterFoster, Abigail Kelley,
1810–87, American abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, b. near Amherst, Mass. Abby Kelley, as she was known to her contemporaries, began her crusade against slavery in 1837 after teaching in several Quaker schools.
..... Click the link for more information. , Angelina GrimkéGrimké, Angelina Emily
, 1805–79, American abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, b. Charleston, S.C. Converted to the Quaker faith by her elder sister Sarah Moore Grimké, she became an abolitionist in 1835, wrote
..... Click the link for more information. , Sarah GrimkéGrimké, Sarah Moore,
1792–1873, American abolitionist and advocate of women's rights, b. Charleston, S.C. She came from a distinguished Southern family. On a visit to Philadelphia, Sarah joined the Society of Friends.
..... Click the link for more information. , and others—were usually also advocates of temperance and of the abolition of slavery. When, however, after the close of the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) gave the franchise to newly emancipated African-American men but not to the women who had helped win it for them, the suffragists for the most part confined their efforts to the struggle for the vote.
The National Woman Suffrage Association, led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was formed in 1869 to agitate for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, was organized the same year to work through the state legislatures. These differing approaches—i.e., whether to seek a federal amendment or to work for state amendments—kept the woman-suffrage movement divided until 1890, when the two societies were united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Later leaders included Anna Howard ShawShaw, Anna Howard,
1847–1919, American woman-suffrage leader, b. England. She emigrated (1851) to the United States in early childhood and grew up on a farm in Michigan. She received a degree in theology (1878) and one in medicine (1885) from Boston Univ.
..... Click the link for more information. and Carrie Chapman CattCatt, Carrie Chapman,
1859–1947, American suffragist and peace advocate, b. Carrie Lane, Ripon, Wis., grad. Iowa State College (now Iowa State Univ.), 1880. She was superintendent of schools (1883–84) in Mason City, Iowa.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Several of the states and territories (with Wyoming first, 1869) granted suffrage to the women within their borders; when in 1913 there were 12 of these, the National Woman's party, under the leadership of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and others, resolved to use the voting power of the enfranchised women to force a suffrage resolution through Congress and secure ratification from the state legislatures. In 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution granted nation-wide suffrage to women.
In Great Britain
The movement in Great Britain began with ChartismChartism,
workingmen's political reform movement in Great Britain, 1838–48. It derived its name from the People's Charter, a document published in May, 1838, that called for voting by ballot, universal male suffrage, annual Parliaments, equal electoral districts, no
..... Click the link for more information. , but it was not until 1851 that a resolution in favor of female suffrage was presented in the House of Lords by the earl of Carlyle. John Stuart Mill was the most influential of the British advocates; his Subjection of Women (1869) is one of the earliest, as well as most famous, arguments for the right of women to vote. Among the leaders in the early British suffrage movement were Lydia Becker, Barbara Bodichon, Emily DaviesDavies, Emily
(Sarah Emily Davies) , 1830–1921, British feminist, co-founder of Girton College, Cambridge. Educated at home, she became (1862) secretary of a committee to obtain the admission of women to university examinations.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Dr. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson; Jacob Bright presented a bill for woman suffrage in the House of Commons in 1870. In 1881 the Isle of Man granted the vote to women who owned property. Local British societies united in 1897 into the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, of which Millicent Garrett Fawcett was president until 1919.
In 1903 a militant suffrage movement emerged under the leadership of Emmeline PankhurstPankhurst, Emmeline Goulden
, 1858–1928, British woman suffragist. Disappointed in the disinterest in women's suffrage shown by the Liberal party, the Fabian Society, and the Independent Labour party, she founded (1903) her own movement, the Women's Social and Political
..... Click the link for more information. and her daughters; their organization was the Women's Social and Political Union. The militant suffragists were determined to keep their objective prominent in the minds of both legislators and the public, which they did by heckling political speakers, by street meetings, and in many other ways. The leaders were frequently imprisoned for inciting riot; many of them used the hunger strikehunger strike,
refusal to eat as a protest against existing conditions. Although most often used by prisoners, others have also employed it. For example, Mohandas Gandhi in India and César Chávez in California fasted as religious penance during otherwise political
..... Click the link for more information. . When World War I broke out, the suffragists ceased all militant activity and devoted their powerful organization to the service of the government. After the war a limited suffrage was granted; in 1928 voting rights for men and women were equalized.
In Other Countries
On the European mainland, Finland (1906) and Norway (1913) were the first to grant woman suffrage; in France, women voted in the first election (1945) after World War II. Belgium granted suffrage to women in 1946. In Switzerland, however, women were denied the vote in federal elections until 1971. Among the Commonwealth nations, New Zealand granted suffrage in 1893, Australia in 1902, Canada in 1917 (except in Quebec, where it was postponed until 1940). In Latin American countries, woman suffrage was granted in Brazil (1934), Salvador (1939), the Dominican Republic (1942), Guatemala (1945), and Argentina and Mexico (1946). In the Philippines women have voted since 1937, in Japan since 1945, in mainland China since 1947, and in the Soviet Union and Russia since 1917. Women have been enfranchised in most of the countries of the Middle East where men can vote, with the exception of Saudi Arabia. In Africa, women were often enfranchised at the same time as men—e.g., in Liberia (1947), in Uganda (1958), and in Nigeria (1960). One of the first aims of the United Nations was to extend suffrage rights to the women of member nations, and in 1952 the General Assembly adopted a resolution urging such action; by the 1970s, most member nations were in compliance with it.
See The History of Woman's Suffrage (ed. by E. C. Stanton et al., 6 vol., 1881–1922); E. Pankhurst, My Own Story (1914, repr. 1970); M. Fawcett, What I Remember (1925); A. Kraditor, The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890–1920 (1965, repr. 1971); W. Severn, Free but Not Equal (1967); D. Morgan, Suffragists and Democrats (1972); B. Beeton, The Woman Suffrage Movement, 1869–1896 (1986); R. Darcy et al., Women, Elections and Representation (1987); L. Scharf and J. M. Jensen, ed., Decades of Discontent: The Women's Movement, 1920–40 (1987).