The Women's Rights Movement
March has been designated Women's History Month.
1998, however, marks the 150th anniversery of the TRUE Spirit of the Women's Rights Movement.
Women's struggles to gain rights equivalent to those of men began in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Several factors influenced these movements. Influential thinkers began to question established political and religious authority. At the same time, they began to stress the importance of both equality and liberty. This new intellectual atmosphere, combined with the changing social conditions for women during the early 1800's, helped give justification to women's rights to full citizenship.
Women involved in the abolition movement, decided to extend their struggle for freedom to women's lives as well. Suffrage soon became the major goal of the women's rights movement. For it was believed that if women had the vote, they could utilize this right to gain other rights too. Most the who opposed suffrage movement believed that women were less intelligent then men; thus, less able to make important political decisions. It was even argued that men could represent their wives better than the wives could represent themselves. Others believed that if women were allowed to participate in politics, it would lead to the end of family life.
Two women prominent in the abolition movement--Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott--called a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848. More women's groups began to evolve. Many becoming involved in either the abolition movement or temperance activities (crusades to abolish alcoholic beverages.) Many of these groups joined forces, supporting Mott and Stanton in their efforts to win the right to vote.
It was at the Seneca Falls Convention that the Declaration of Sentiments was adopted. Based on the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Sentiments called for women to have equal rights in education, property, voting, and other matters. As the Declaration Of Independence, the Declaration of Sentiments also stated:"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal. ..."
Women's struggle for suffrage (voting rights) was a long battle. They had sought the right to vote for much of the 1800's. Activists Susan B. Anthony continued the fight for women's voting rights throughout her life. Ms. Anthony was even jailed during her struggle to gain the voting priviledge. Although her struggle was instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment, Ms. Anthony was never able to realize her dream, she died in 1906, fourteen years prior to the ratification of the amendment.
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This page last updated: March 21, 1999