Suffrage Research Paper

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Women had always been known to have a set role in society in the early stages of America. They were viewed as the caretakers, the homemakers and were nothing more than an inferior counterpart to men. Everyone, from intellectuals to church leaders, believed that allowing women to have a voice was both radical and unnecessary. They argued that ever since the origins of this Earth, Eve was portrayed as a meek and submissive lady and all women fit this stereotype. However, not all women wanted to continue living a life of servitude to men. On July 19 and 20, 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York, the first public meeting on behalf of women's rights was convened. But this was only the beginning of an almost 100 year struggle towards suffrage. In 1869 Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined with others to form the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). In the same year, Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe created the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). These two groups focused on different aspects of women’s rights but both had the same goal of equality. Because the differing philosophies of these two groups nonunifed the suffrage movement, they decided to unite in 1890 and formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA); their hopes were to work together to win the vote on a state-by-state basis. Ultimately, suffragists won the voting rights that the Nineteenth Amendment embodied through perseverance and spirit. Not only had they won the right to vote, but the right to be people, which is an outstanding accomplishment that would change America for the better.
Not everyone believed that NAWSA was acting fast enough or with sufficient effectiveness, which lent itself to the creation of the National Women’s party. People questioned how much success NAWSA was actually achieving since politicians, for the most part, continued to ignore the suffragist’s efforts during the early 1900s. NAWSA reasoned that if a majority of states passed legislation supporting them, then Congress would have no choice but to consider an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But prosuffrage critics of the group believed that this was not a much-needed aggressive approach to the issue. “Forming what eventually became known as the Women’s Political Union (WPU) in 1910, she [Harriot Stanton Blatch] utilized aggressive techniques that included picketing at open-air gatherings, and a parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City” (Marsico, 27). Facing her competition, Alice Paul, a member of NAWSA, staged a parade in Washington, D.C., on March 3rd, 1913. The event attracted more than five thousand participants but also angry mobs. Woodrow Wilson then realized what a big role the suffrage movement would play in his presidency. “Though the president frequently spoke of NAWSA and its endeavors with admiration, he asked for patience regarding the passage of a constitutional amendment and expressed his opinion that the matter should be decided on a state-by-state basis” (Marsico, 29). Carrie Catt, a suffragist and former president of NAWSA, and other suffragists believed that this was a fair agreement and it was productive to stand by Wilson and his polices while supporting women’s rights. However, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns did not want to wait for Congress to come around, so they opted to form a suffrage group separate and apart from NAWSA. Paul and Burns created the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, which evolved into the National Woman’s Party (NWP) by 1916. Supporters of the NWP pushed for immediate suffrage on a nationwide scale, as opposed to gradual state-by-state approval. “The new group practiced a confrontational strategy and demanded the immediate enactment of a federal amendment” (Martin and Sullivan, galegroup.com). They picketed the White House, staged hunger strikes, and engaged in acts of civil disobedience. This new group’s enthusiasm and aggressive attitude was what the suffrage movement needed to gain…