In the years immediately preceding the Civil War, the abolition movement took center stage and was the main focus of reform work. Leaders in both the temperance and women’s rights movements consciously stepped aside while anti-slavery work took precedence.
After the war concluded the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed citizenship for black men, and prohibited denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Many abolitionists now saw their work as completed and moved on to focus on other reform needs. Some women’s rights activists who had been abolitionists felt that it was unfair that restrictions on voting and other rights for African-American men had been removed, while remaining in place for women. They turned their attention to gaining suffrage for women and fighting other legal and social restrictions on women’s lives.