Women's Rights Throughout History 1848 - 1920

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Women's Rights throughout History 1848 - 1920

Women's Rights throughout History 1848 - 1920

Opening Statement

For much of American history, women were not considered equal to men and were denied equality in many areas of life. Most women had no legal identity apart from their husbands. Married women could not hold property in their own names, sue or be sued, make contracts, sit on a jury, write a will, or vote. Nor did women have the same opportunities for education and careers that men did. Yet, many women found ways to show their intelligence, courage, and leadership. Today, most people agree that women and men should have equal civil and political rights. Although these beliefs are common today, many people once considered them shocking(Baker 2005 ).

Women's Rights Conventions

The first Women's Rights Convention was held on July 19 and 20 in 1848. The convention was convened as planned, and over the two-days of discussion, the Declaration of Sentiments and 12 resolutions received agreement endorsement, one by one, with a few amendments. The only resolution that did not pass unanimously was the call for women's authorization. That women should be allowed to vote in elections was impossible to some. At the convention, debate over the woman's vote was the main concern(Norgren 2007). Women's Rights Conventions were held on a regular basis from 1850 until the start of the Civil War. Some drew such large crowds that people had to be turned away for lack of meeting space.

Seneca Falls Convention

The women's rights movement of the late 19th century went on to address the wide range of issues spelled out at the Seneca Falls Convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and women like Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth, who were pioneer theorists, traveled the country lecturing and organizing for the next forty years (Dinkin, 2007). At the convention in Seneca Falls, more than 300 men and women discussed the Declaration and debated 12 resolutions that proclaimed women's rights and equality(Wellman 2004). Over the course of the discussion, each resolution passed unanimously (meaning everyone agreed) except for the resolution that called for women's suffrage (meaning the right to vote in elections)

Even for some people who strongly supported women's rights, the idea of women voting in elections was unthinkable. Frederick Douglass, a former slave and influential abolitionist, helped persuade the convention to pass the resolution on women's suffrage. Eventually, the resolution on women's suffrage was approved, but not unanimously. Winning the right to vote was the key issue, since the vote would provide the means to accomplish the other reforms. The campaign for woman's right to vote ran across continous opposition that it took 72 years for the women and their male supporters to win (Dinkin, 2007). During the Women's Rights Movement, women faced incredible obstacles to win the American civil right to vote, which was later won in 1920(Scheeler 1977 ). Votes for women were first seriously proposed in the United States in July, 1848, at ...
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