There were particular women who worked tirelessly throughout their lives to obtain the right for women to vote, and they became some of the most important catalysts involved in the fight for the women’s suffrage from 1848 to 1920. Alice Paul was an American suffragist, women’s rights activist, and the main leader of the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment which was ratified in 1920. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were earlier social reformers and women’s rights activists who formed a lifelong partnership with each other in dedication to the suffrage movement.
Ida B. Wells was another leading figure of the Women’s Suffrage Movement who took part in many campaigns to raise awareness for this cause. The campaign for women’s suffrage officially started in 1848 with the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York and ended with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote. ALICE PAUL One woman specifically, Alice Paul, was an engineer of one of the most famous political achievements for women during the twentieth century. Alice Paul was born on January 11, 1885, to a Quaker family in Mt.
Laurel, New Jersey. She was raised to believe in gender equality, and the need to work for the prosperity of society. Alice’s family was relatively wealthy; however, they lived a simple life working on a farm. Alice’s parents educated her on the values of perseverance which later influenced her work in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Paul always gave credit to her farm and family for her life’s dedication to women’s rights (Carol). In 1907, Alice went to Birmingham, England, to study social work at the Woodbrooke Settlement (Women).
It was there that Alice met Christabel Pankhurst, a leader of a vigorous faction of suffragists who used visible (and sometimes violent) measures to raise public awareness for the suffrage issue (Carol). Paul joined the movement and became so dedicated to her work that she was imprisoned many times. Alice returned to America in 1910 with a belief that the English suffragists found a path to victory that should be continued in America (Carol). She returned to America to modify and rejuvenate the American campaign for women’s suffrage.
Paul then joined the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and was appointed head of the Congressional Committee where she was to work for a federal suffrage amendment (Women). In 1912, Paul, and her fellow suffragists, Lucy Burns and Crystal Eastman, went to Washington, D. C. to organize an event in hope of gaining national attention. They organized a massive parade of women suffragists to march up Pennsylvania Avenue to coincide with Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration; as a result, men began to attack the suffragists which later made headlines across the nation (Carol).
Even though Paul had the same goal as the NAWSA, she had different views and strategies in how to obtain suffrage for women. Alice left the NAWSA and created the National Women’s Party in 1916 which targeted Congress, and the White House through dramatic and nonviolent protests (Women). When World War I began, many believed that the suffrage protests during the war were unpatriotic. Alice Paul and her fellow suffragists were continually attacked, arrested, and jailed on false charges of “obstructing traffic” (Carol).
Paul refused to pay the fine given to her, and as a result, she was imprisoned in Virginia. During her imprisonment, Paul went on hunger strikes and demanded to be treated as a political prisoner (Carol). Her demands were met, but with violence. Paul was beaten, force fed, and thrown into unsanitary, cold cells. Newspaper articles published Paul’s testimonies on her force feeding experience,” Then the prison director placed a rubber tube up my nostrils and pumped liquid food into my stomach. ” (Arizona 2).
The news of how these women were being treated in prison, eventually was released to the public who then demanded their release (Women). Paul and her other suffragette’s experiences brought much support to the suffrage cause. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson announced his support for the suffrage cause, and in 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress and eventually ratified in August 26, 1920 (Carol). Alice Paul worked throughout her life to help obtain suffrage for women, and she earned the right to be know as one of the most famous instigators of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
SUSAN B. ANTHONY AND ELIZABETH CADY STANTON The suffragettes who worked in tandem, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were some of the most well-known women’s rights activists in history. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born on November 12, 1815 in Johnstown, New York. She always presented the desire to be educated; however, woman of her time were never given the opportunity to receive the same level of education as men. She was able to attend Emma Willard’s Academy in 1832 and received the best female education available during her time (Elizabeth).
Stanton would visit her cousin, Gerrit Smith, who was involved in many different social reformations, and there she became drawn to the Women’s Rights Movement (Elizabeth). In 1840, Elizabeth attended an Anti-slavery convention in London where she met Lucretia Mott, a leading female abolitionist, and after, Stanton began to study women’s rights (Women). In 1847, Stanton returned to America, and in 1851, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony crossed paths and began their lifelong partnership in the fight for women’s suffrage. Susan Brownell Anthony was born February 15, 1820 to a Quaker family in Massachusetts.
Anthony’s family was involved in many activist traditions, and appropriately, she became an outspoken and independent woman. Throughout the 1840’s, she advocated on behalf of women for many different issues, such as temperance and the right for married women to own property (Susan). After 1851, Stanton and Anthony worked together throughout the rest of their lives, and they made a great team. In 1866, Anthony and Stanton founded the American Equal Rights Association which was dedicated to fighting for African American’s right to vote (Harper).
In 1868, Anthony started the newspaper, “The Revolution” with Stanton in Rochester with the aim of establishing equal rights for all women (Susan). In 1869, Stanton and Anthony became founders of the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) which was dedicated to the women’s suffrage cause (Elizabeth). Anthony gave speeches around the country and continued to appear before Congress to request a suffrage amendment; however, Congress declined all of her proposals (Susan). In 1872, Anthony illegally voted in the presidential election and was given a fine (which she never paid).
Anthony, in her testimony at her trial, said,”… but laws are made by man, under a government of men, interpreted by men, and for the benefits of men. The only chance women have for justice is to violate the law, as I have done, and as I shall continue to do” (Gage, 1). In 1890, two rival suffrage groups, the NWSA and American Women Suffrage Association, combined to form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA) which Anthony became president of in 1892. Anthony and Stanton both were leaders of the NAWSA for a time period, but both eventually retired by 1900.
Both Stanton and Anthony continued to support the Women’s Suffrage Movement until they passed away (Harper). On October 26, 1902, Stanton died of heart failure, and Anthony later died on March 13, 1906. Although women did not have the right to vote until years after their death, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton played pivotal roles in the suffrage movement, and they both became icons of their era. IDA B. WELLS Ida B. Wells was another outstanding leader who campaigned on behalf of the women, especially African Americans, fighting or their right to vote.
Ida B. Wells was born a slave on July 16, 1862, in Mississippi, and six months after her birth, her family was declared free by the Union. Even though African Americans were freed, Ida and her family still faced racial prejudice in the South (Ida). Wells’ parents were very involved in many social reformation movements during the Reconstruction Era, and they thought it was necessary that Ida received an education. Ida attended Shaw’s University, a school for newly freed slaves that her father helped create (Group).
In 1866, Wells moved to Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of sixteen and continued her education at Fisk University in Nashville (Altman). In May of 1884, Wells was travelling on a train from Memphis to Nashville, where she personally experienced racial discrimination. Wells had purchased a first class ticket, but the crew on the train ordered her to move to the car for African Americans. Ida refused to comply to the crew’s demands, and as a result, she was forcibly removed from the train. Wells later sued the railroad company, but her settlement was eventually overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court (Ida).
After experiencing racial discrimination, Ida began to write about the issues of race and politics in the South, and many of her articles were published in African American newspapers. Wells also began to publicize the evils of lynching after three African American men were taken from their jail cells and murdered without ever receiving a fair trial (Group). These publications won Ida many enemies in the South, and in 1892, a mob wrecked her offices that she worked in and warned her that she would be killed if she ever returned to Memphis (Altman).
Ida moved to the North, and in 1893, Wells lectured and campaigned throughout the North on behalf of civil rights causes including women’s suffrage. In March of 1913, Wells joined other courageous women in their march for women’s suffrage during President Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural celebration. Some of the white suffragists refused to march alongside of Wells because she was black; however, Ida Wells was not affected by the prejudice towards her (Group). She continued to promote women’s suffrage, and she began to work exclusively for this cause.
In 1913, Wells founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago which was the first black women’s suffrage organization (Altman). Ida B. Wells continued to pursue women’s suffrage until she died on March 25, 1931. Wells fought against prejudice with her writings, speeches, and protests regardless of the danger, and she encouraged the black community to take steps to gain political rights. She played a necessary and central role in the women’s suffrage movement.
CONCLUSION Paul, Anthony, Stanton, and Wells were extraordinary women who campaigned vigorously to obtain suffrage for women in America. Alice Paul was imprisoned countless times in order to raise awareness for the suffrage issue, and she was able to be a part of the fight that resulted in passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton became leaders of many organizations dedicated to fighting for the right of women’s suffrage, and they formed an incredible partnership that positively impacted the women’s suffrage cause. Ida B.
Wells campaigned not only on behalf of the women’s suffrage, but for the African American community to step up and fight for social rights as well, including women’s suffrage. These women worked their entire lives so that all women could finally have equality in America, and their work has led to the women who are in power today. Alice Paul, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ida B. Wells were some of the most important catalysts in the women’s suffrage movement, and they battled throughout their lives in order for women today to have the right to vote.