Suffragists: Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement - FAMOUS SUFFRAGISTS

As American women advocated for their right to vote, in the 19th century, others made their opposing voices and positions clear. This 1869 lithographic print—by Currier & Ives—is entitled "The Age of Brass / Or the Triumphs of Woman's Rights." It features two female candidates for political office: "Susan Sharp-tongue the Celebrated Man-Tamer" and "Miss Hangman for Sheriff." Online via the Library of Congress and the Library of Virginia. Public Domain   


Many people who fought for women’s rights also fought to free the slaves. Although the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868, did not specifically grant former slaves the right to vote, it did constitutionally protect rights guaranteed by the 1866 Civil Rights Act. That law had extended all privileges of citizenship to African-Americans, including the right of black men to vote.

Despite the clear intent of the law, however, the 15th Amendment was still required to insure such rights. Although happy for black men, suffragists were enraged that the 15th Amendment specifically excluded women.

It would take more than 50 years before women in America (and also in the United Kingdom) had the same right.  Most of the suffragists who championed the cause never saw the end result of their efforts.

  • Susan B. Anthony is probably the most famous American suffragist. In a little-known case, she was charged, and tried, by the United States government for voting in the 1872 presidential election.

  • Beloved even now as an abolitionist and a suffragist, Sojourner Truth (who died in 1883) was born Isabella Baumfree - a slave.

  • Alice Stone Blackwell (1857 - 1950), daughter of Lucy Stone, was the editor of Woman’s Journal. Her mother was the first woman from Massachusetts to receive a college degree.
  • Lucy Stone (who did not take the last name of her husband, reformer Henry Blackwell) graduated from Oberlin - the only college which, at the time, also admitted women.

  • Mary Church Terrell (1863 - 1954) also graduated from Oberlin College. A leading advocate for women’s rights, she served as the first president (in 1896) of the National Association of Colored Women and (in 1909) she joined with Mary White Ovington to form the NAACP.  When she was 86 years old, Terrell led a successful fight to integrate eating establishments in Washington, D.C.

  • As a little girl, Harriot Stanton Blatch (Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter) was immersed into the fight for women’s rights. Later, after she was married, Harriot (1856 - 1940) was a leader herself as was her daughter, Nora Blatch.

  • Carrie Chapman Catt (1859 - 1947), San Francisco's first female newspaper reporter, played a pivotal role in the passage of the 19th Amendment.

  • Like many other suffragists who lived long lives, Julia Ward Howe (1819 - 1910) did not live long enough to see the 19th Amendment become law. The same was true of Frances Willard (1839 - 1898) who was also a leading temperance champion.

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who balanced motherhood with political activism) resided in the village of Seneca Falls, New York (where she raised seven children). She struggled most of her adult life (1815 - 1902) to gain women the right to vote.

Frustrated with her lot as a woman without political rights, Stanton felt like a “caged lioness” and expressed her “long-accumulating discontent” to a small group of Quakers and female abolitionists during a July 9, 1848 tea party held in honor of Lucretia Mott.

In the parlor of Richard and Jane Hunt's beautiful home in Waterloo, New York, Stanton reintroduced the idea for a Women’s Rights Convention.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: May 17, 2019

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"FAMOUS SUFFRAGISTS" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2004. Feb 29, 2020.
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