The Suffrage Movement in the United States
Women vote today because of the woman suffrage movement, a courageous and persistent political campaign that lasted over 72 years, involved tens of thousands of women and men, and resulted in enfranchising one-half of the citizens of the United States.Inspired by idealism and grounded in sacrifice, the suffrage campaign is of enormous political and social significance yet it is virtually unacknowledged in the chronicles of American history.
Had the suffrage movement not been so ignored by historians, women like Lucretia Mott, Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul would be as familiar to most Americans as Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt or Martin Luther King, Jr.We would know the story of how women were denied the right to vote despite the lofty words of the Constitution, how they were forced to fight for their rights against entrenched opposition with virtually no financial, legal or political power.
If the history of the suffrage movement was better known, we would understand that democracy for thefirst 150 years in American included half of the population.And we would realize that this situation changed only after the enormous efforts of American citizens in what remains one of the most remarkable and successful nonviolent efforts to change ingrained social attitudes and institutions in the modern era.
For women won the vote.They were not given it, granted it, or anything else.They won it as truly as any political campaign is ultimately won or lost.In addition, they won it, repeatedly, by the slimmest of margins, which only underscores thedifficulty and magnitude of their victories.In the successful California referendum of 1911, the margin was one vote per precinct!In the House, suffrage passed thefirst time by exactly the number needed with supporters coming in from the hospital and funeral home to cast their ballots.In the Senate, it passed by two votes. …