Most women were not allowed to vote or exercise the same civil rights as men during this time, based on the idea that "a married woman's legal existence was incorporated into that of her husband”. Puritans also held the character of women in little interest (Gale). At the time, they believed that intelligence and understanding had been given by God to men only. After women married, a lot was expected from them. They were expected to have many children. They also had to take care of the house and they were expected to be obedient to their husband’s commands. Very few women worked outside the home during the early decades of American history. Those who did, even as nurses or teachers, were looked down on. Their employment was a result of the industrial conditions that created a need for lower-paid factory workers, including women, children, and immigrants. Marriage at that time was more about marrying into a wealthy family and not about love. Women began to see how poorly they were being treated and realized that it was time to take a stand on these issues. The call for more legal rights and social freedoms for women grew initially out of the Abolitionist Movement prior to the Civil War. Female abolitionists found that their work on behalf of freeing the slaves was hindered by the absence of women’s own freedom. For many years, the two causes were closely tied.
Over the many years of protest, a large number of women became involved in the struggle for women's rights. Susan B. Anthony played a major role in the 19th century women’s rights movement to introduce women’s suffrage in the U.S. She is also the co-founder of the first Women’s Temperance Movement and helped the administration of President Abraham Lincoln by starting the Women's Loyal League. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American social activist, abolitionist and leading figure during that time. She created the Declaration of Sediment proposed at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York in 1848. Lucretia Mott was a very direct leader of the antislavery and women’s rights movements in America. Her book, Discourse on Women, published in 1850, discussed the educational, economic and political restrictions on women in Western Europe and America. In 1869, Anthony and Stanton formed a new organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). The organization disapproved the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments as obvious injustices to women. The NWSA also supported easier divorce and an end to discrimination in employment and pay. Anthony toured the country making speeches on women's rights. In one year, she travelled 13,000 miles and made over 170 speeches. In 1872, Anthony attempted to vote in an election in Rochester and was arrested, charged and found guilty of violating voting rights (Gale).
In 1848, the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. After two days of discussion and debate 68 women and 32 men signed a Declaration of Sentiments which described and set agendas for the women’s rights movement. A set of 12 resolutions was suggested, calling for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women (ABC-CLIO). By 1896, women in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah