Women's Suffrage Movement | History In A Nutshell

The question of women's suffrage in the U.S. had been debated long before the movement's humble beginnings at the Seneca Falls convention of 1848. Part 1 of this edition on the Women's Suffrage Movement outlines the movement's early years, with the first generation of suffragists getting their start in the abolition movement. After the Civil War, suffrage groups would become divided due to opposing ideas on strategies, resulting in the formation of two rival groups: the American Woman Suffrage Association, and the National Woman Suffrage Association. Although progress in the western states would influence states in the east to pursue women's suffrage, results in the early years were mixed. 

The second generation of suffragists came to prominence alongside the "New Woman" movement in the early 1900's. The American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association merged in 1890 to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Alice Paul formed the National Woman's Party in 1916, however, the NWP was viewed as more vocal and radical, compared to the NAWSA. When the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, suffragists felt they could use the war as an opportunity to show that women indeed deserved the right to vote. Women's service in The Great War, along with the suffering Alice Paul and her followers suffered, changed President Woodrow Wilson's stances on women's suffrage. After numerous attempts, the 19th Amendment finally became ratified on August 18, 1920. However the fight for full suffrage to include African Americans, who were widely excluded, raged on. It would not be until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 when all citizens, regardless of race or gender, could vote in U.S. elections.