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The History of The Struggle for Women's Rights in America

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What are women’s rights? Women’s rights are the human rights that were established by the United states for everybody specifically women about 70 years ago. These rights include the right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination. They also give us the right to education, ability to own our own property, voting, and to be able to earn a fair and equal wage as others. We as women have come a long way. Even though we have as much rights and are just as equal the fight still, continues in certain parts of the world outside of America that go unnoticed. We need to change that so we can all be equal and live together as one. This act is more than giving opportunities to an individual, or women but it is also changing the lifestyle for basically the world. This involves dedication, minds, strength, heart, encouragement/ empowerment for future generations and for organizations and movements worldwide.

As early as 1776 during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, the cry for addition of women began. Then the campaign for women’s suffrage began in the early 1800’s before the civil war. During the 180’s and 30’s most states had extended the franchise to all white men, regardless of how much money or property they had. However at the same time, all sorts of reform groups were increasing across the United States. Such s religious movements, moral reform societies, anti-slavery organizations, and many of these women played an important role. Abigail Adams asked her husband John and his camaraderie to “remember the ladies’’. Then however, it was not until much later in the 1920s that women gained suffrage with the Nineteenth Amendment ratification. The history of women’s suffrage lasted a century following different factions that pushed for different goals all designed for a common purpose. The following part of the essay discusses the history developments and trend of women’s fight for suffrage outlining specific examples as well as the most contributing factors towards the struggle.

In the 19th century women were not guaranteed rights. They were bound to the local circle and denied all power or rights. After the U.S gained their freedom from Britain, it was announced that all “all men are created equal”. Unfortunately, women were essentially ignored and as always denied their “certain rights”. This was not an easy fight. Society did not believe women should be granted equality. Many believed that Women should be at home. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the National Woman’s Party, and the rise of patriotism during the world war 1 played an important role in the fight for the women rights. This then led them to the ratification of the 19th century amendment of 1920.

Social activist and founders of the women’s movement in the United States, such as Elizabeth and Lucretia met in Seneca Falls, New York along with 300 men and women to discuss and eventually protest the mistreatment of women in social, economic, political, and religious life. Stanton then wrote The Declaration of Sentiments, a document in which she argued for equal rights between men and women with power, which was signed by 68 women and 32 men. In her Declaration of sentiments, Stanton announced. “He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice’’. Stanton efficiently started the fight that would last about 70 years. Women who existed before the 20th century served for only one capacity, which was to be a slave and to work without questioning the place they were confined to. Clara Barton, a nurse and founder of the Red Cross started after her experience during the civil war. “I could not carry musket nor lead men to battle. I could only serve my country by caring for comforting and sustaining the soldiers, i broke the shackles and went to the fields”.

Though women had ended up being basically just as equal a s men, society was still impossibly reasonable to allow women the same rights as men were allowed. Orestes Brownson, a catholic representative believed that the woman’s place was obviously at home, “Her role was to be homebound and family oriented to cook clean and to obedient, and silent most of the time”. He explained. For a woman who asked for her place in society was to oppose all social norms. On the other hand, women in the western states did question their place in society and proved men that they were able to work outside the same way they did. The state of Wyoming was the first state to pass the bill granting the right for women to vote in 186. According to an article written by Mary Schons, “Historians C. G. Coutants wrote, on man told me that. He thought it right and just to give women the vote. Another man said he thought it would be a good advertisement for the territory. Still another sad that he voted to place someone else’s, and so on”.

Not until World War 1 women’s equality was fully recognized by society and all other states. In 1917 Alice Paul a founder of NWP and some of its members started to protest outside of the White House, resistance develops. America had recently sent troops to battle in the war, and marching outside of the White House was seen as unpatriotic, as well as totally offensive to those battling abroad. Still, women stood noiselessly holding signs expressing, “Kieser Wilson, 20 million American women are not self- governed. Take the beam out of your own eye’’, which then resulted in the arrest of Alice Paul and Rose Winslow, a factory worker.

Miss Alice, the once Cahir of the National Woman’s party an DR. Caroline Spencer from Colorado springs were charged with attempted picketing of the White house. They were sentenced to six months in the workhouse. Others such as Baltimore’s Miss Gladys and Hinsdales MIss Gertrude Crocker were sentenced for thirty days each. The presiding Judge Mullowney further extend the sentence of for other suffragists by thirty days for protesting while out on bail.

In prison on the 5th of November, both Paul and Winslow went on a hunger strike which led to their isolation, being force-fed, and tortured. Rose recorded the time of their isolation, she wrote notes describing the horror they were going through during their time while in the prison, that were then later smuggled outside. As news of the treatment these women were going through spread, those who were disagreeing against the moment realized that brutal bullying isn’t quite a “statesmanlike” method for settling a demand for justice at home.

After the brutality these women faced the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 was a must. The 19th amendment granted all American women the right to vote. The Seneca Falls convention, World War 1, and the non-stop disobedience to society’s beliefs, were some of the main events that led to this victory. Although women faced many humiliations, mistreatments, verbal, physical, emotion and mental abuse through their lifetime. They still protested, spoke up, drowned out every form of hate to get to a better lifestyle. To help young girls grow up in a place where being a woman is nothing to be ashamed of and that they are just as equal as men. They can work hard to become doctors and lawyers and teachers whatever they so desire. Being able to feel comfortable as a lady, to say how they feel and get treated with respect. That fight, the fight that took 70 years was worth it, made a great and huge impact, and as women or girls today we wouldn’t be here without the ones from the past.  

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