100 Years of the Women's Vote

Paths to Voting Rights

Conflict over the Fifteen Amendment, which granted voting rights to all men regardless of their race, caused a rift in the suffragist movement, with its effects still felt today. Suffragists such as Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe were happy that at least one disenfranchised group would now have the right to vote, hoping it would pave the way for women's suffrage. These suffragists, who went on to form the American Woman Suffrage Association, believed in a state-by-state approach to gaining the women's vote. Others, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, were against the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment because they did not explicitly include women. They formed the National Woman Suffrage Association and pushed for a constitutional amendment that would grant all women the right to vote. 

These groups would combine to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890, favoring a state-by-state initiative for women’s suffrage until there was enough momentum and support for a constitutional amendment. Eventually the National Woman’s Party, led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, leaders of the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, would splinter from the NAWSA, arguing for more radical approaches such as political marches and organizing the “Silent Sentinels” to demonstrate outside the White House for a constitutional amendment.

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