Essays: Women's History

Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton reviewing document
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (seated) and Susan B. Anthony. Photo taken sometime between 1880 and 1902.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Public domain.

In 1848 women and men met in Seneca Falls, New York to advance the cause for women’s rights. The convention, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony, marked the beginning of the women’s suffrage movement. These women made speeches and petitioned Congress, demanding greater rights for women. Stanton, Mott, and Anthony did not live to see women get the right to vote, but they paved the way for future suffragists like Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells, and Mabel Ping-Hua Lee.

But the women’s suffrage movement was not always unified. Some suffragists thought only white women should get the right to vote. Others like Charlotte Forten Grimke, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, and Mary Church Terrell knew African American women were just as deserving.

In 1920, Congress and the states ratified the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. While many women were able to head to the polls, the amendment did not give voting rights to all women. Native American women, for example, were not considered US citizens until 1924 and could not vote.