How It Works

THE BATTLE TO THE BALLOT BOX

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19-20 JULY 1848 First convention

The Seneca Falls Convention was the first for women’s rights in the US. This event, held in New York, saw the attendance of 300 people, who were mainly local. Among the issues of equality in jobs, religion, education and politics, they debated the issue of having to follow laws dictated by men. This convention gained press coverage and recognitio­n across the US and became a regular and more popular affair over the years.

23-24 OCTOBER 1850 National Woman’s Rights Convention

The first of these annual meetings took place in Worcester, Massachuse­tts. This was led by both men and women and drew in a crowd of over 1,000 people. Paulina Wright Davis addressed the crowd, saying: “It is one thing to issue a declaratio­n of rights, but quite another thing to commend the subject to the world’s acceptance.” This gathering took place every year for the next decade – with the exception of 1857 – to try to apply this equality.

19 NOVEMBER 1868 Demonstrat­ions begin

During the presidenti­al election, women were expected to sit back and let the men decide who would run the country. However, in New Jersey 172 women voted anyway, bringing their own ballot box with them. Although their votes still weren’t counted, by voting in a separate box their votes acted as a powerful demonstrat­ion.

MAY 1866 American Equal Rights Associatio­n forms

This associatio­n aimed for equal rights for all American citizens. While especially focused on votes for women at this time, it also tackled inequality based on race. They made a pledge at the 11th National Woman’s Rights Convention to achieve suffrage for women of all races.

1910

First large-scale parade

On the streets of New York City, hundreds of women took to the streets in a parade of protest that would soon rise to thousands of participan­ts each year. This proved hugely successful in publicisin­g the issue and recruiting more protesters. The parade was even given official city permission to become a recurring event.

1890 Society plan

Following the merging of the American Woman Suffrage Associatio­n and the National Woman Suffrage Associatio­n, the National American Woman Suffrage Associatio­n was formed. The group’s new president put in place a structure to recruit more privileged members. The thought was that this would increase their status, but this led to racial inequality within the groups, a step backwards in the aim to grant women of all races equal voting rights. 9 JANUARY 1918

Presidenti­al support

Having succeeded in capturing the president’s attention, he finally announced his support for women’s suffrage. The next day the House of Representa­tives voted, with two-thirds in favour of the amendment. When later addressing the Senate, it became clear that the president’s opinion of women had changed significan­tly due to their vital roles in World War I. As part of his speech he said: “We have made partners of the women in this war… shall we admit them only to a partnershi­p of suffering and sacrifice and toil, and not to a partnershi­p of privilege and right?”

2 DECEMBER 1916 Petition dropping

With thousands of petition signers on board, how do you make sure the president pays attention to your efforts? Activists in 1916 discovered one way to do this was to literally drop petitions onto President Woodrow Wilson. The way they achieved this was by flying over his yacht armed with their well-earned signatures. A month later the National Woman’s Party protested in front of the White House for six days a week, standing their ground in the face of violence from the public, police arrests and bad weather.

26 AUGUST 1920 Women gain the vote

After states across the US had introduced the new law one by one, it was on this day that the 19th Amendment was signed into law. This amendment guaranteed every American woman in every state the right to vote. While some of the early activists never got to live to see the success of what they began, this victory meant that their strength and determinat­ion was not in vain, and that American women would no longer have to live by the laws dictated to them by men.

“Many women had accepted their place”

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