IBy Nancy Hayward
Women’s History Month
In the United States,S
peaceful activism has, for the large part,
been the foundation foundatio
of protest. The primary focus of protest for
almost 200 years was w
the oppression of rights for millions of people
of color held in
slavery and later denied equal rights; and the
ple secondary status allowed to women. Coverture was legal in most
states. This legal status meant that women could not vote, they
could not own property and, by law, her assets were controlled
by her husband. If divorced, the husband automatically was given
custody of her children. While many women were teachers,
other professions were closed to them until well into the 19thcentury.
In most states, for example, women could not practice law.
There was no recourse because women were disenfranchised citizens
who did not have the legal right to vote. Although women
began agitating as early as the 1770s, it was not until 1848, the
Women’s Suffrage Movement began in Seneca Falls, NY. For the
August 1920, women actively protested for suffrage.
Many of the early suffragists were also ardent abolitionists.
African American men and women were often denied the rights
guaranteed to them by law. In the late 1950s into the 1960s, the
Civil Rights movement characterized by peaceful protest and activism
addressed the long overdue enforcement of laws.
In the 1960s women activists not only marched in support of
Civil Rights, they once again fought for women’s rights as they
loudly advocated for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Across the nation farm workers protested under the guidance
of Dolores Huerta and the UFWA. Protests against the Vietnam
War were supported by both young women and men across the
cade of activism, protest, and change.
Today we see the echo of protest for change in such groups
as Black Lives Matter, #Metoo, and the struggle for LGBTQ
rights. Like activists for the last two centuries in America they
seek respect through protest.
Timeline of the Suffrage Movement – We’ve Come
A Long Way! From the www.crusadeforthevote.org
Declaration of Sentiments Created: In 1840 Lucretia Mott and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton are barred from attending the World Anti
Slavery Convention held in London. This prompts them to hold
a Women’s Convention in the US. In 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton
writes “The Declaration of Sentiments” and presents it at the Seneca
Falls, NY Women’s Rights Convention.
First National Women’s Rights Convention held in 1850 in
en’s Rights Convention. Frederick Douglass, Paulina Wright Davis,
Abby Kelley Foster, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone and Sojourner
Truth are in attendance.
A strong alliance is
formed with the Abolitionist
In 1851 Sojourner Truth,
a former slave, delivers her
memorable “Ain’t I a woman?”
speech at a women’s
rights convention in Akron,
In 1852, the issue of
women’s property rights is
presented to the Vermont
Senate by Clarina Howard
Nichols. This a major issue
for the Suffragists. At the
same time, ‘Uncle Tom’s
Cabin’ by Harriet Beecher
Stowe is published and
quickly becomes a bestseller.
During the Civil War
between 1861 and 1864, efforts
for the suffrage movement
came to a halt. Women
put their energies toward
the war effort.
By 1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the
American Equal Rights Association, an organization dedicated to
the goal of suffrage for all regardless of gender or race.
The Revolution, published by
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B.
Anthony and Parker Pillsbury,
carries the motto: “Men, their
rights and nothing more; women,
their rights and nothing less!”
During that same time, Senator
S.C. Pomeroy of Kansas introduces
the federal woman’s suffrage
amendment in Congress.
Also in 1868, Caroline Seymour
Severance establishes the
New England Woman’s Club.
The “Mother of Clubs” sparked
the club movement which became
popular by the late nineteenth
century. That same year in Vineland,
New Jersey, 172 women cast
ballots in a separate box during
the presidential election.
In 1866 Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and Susan B. Anthony form
the American Equal Rights Association,
dedicated to the goal
of suffrage for all regardless of
gender or race.