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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Womens Suffrage - 1078 words
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Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These women lived at the turn of the century, and fought vehemently for a cause they believed in. They knew that they were being discriminated against because of their gender, and they refused to take it. These pioneers of feminism paved the road for further reform, and changed the very fabric of our society.
Although they were fighting for a worthy cause, many did not agree with these women's radical views. These conservative thinkers caused a great road-block on the way to enfranchisement. Most of them were men, who were set in their thoughts about women's roles, who couldn't understand why a woman would deserve to vote, let alone want to vote. But there were also many women who were not concerned with their fundamental right to vote. Because some women were indifferent in regards to suffrage, they set back those who were working towards the greater good of the nation
However, the suffragettes were able to overcome these obstacles by altering their tactics, while still maintaining their objective. In 1869, two organizations for the promotion of women's suffrage were founded with different opinions on how to reach the same goal. The National Women's Suffrage Association (NWSA) was headed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. This group opposed the 15th amendment, while suggesting the passage and ratification of another, new amendment, specifically granting women the right to vote. This was considered a more radical view on the matter, and promoted a wide variety of other feminist views as well.
The other organization, called the American Women's Suffrage Association (AWSA), supported the 15th amendment, while calling for yet another amendment for women's enfranchisement. This organization was more focused on trying to make this and other feminist reforms seem less radical, and more in tune with the values of the American people. After the negative response to the proposal of a new federal amendment, both groups tried new approaches, such as challenging the constitutionality of their exclusion from the vote in the supreme court, only to be rejected again. In the case Minor VS Happersett (1874), the Supreme Court decided that the state of Missouri was acting within its constitutional limits in denying a woman the right to vote. "This decision ended the 'new departure', convincing the NWSA that woman suffrage could be won only by a new constitutional amendment" (Foner & Garraty).
In 1890, after competing for support and trying to overcome difficult opposition all around, the NWSA and the AWSA put their differences aside and converged into one group, NAWSA. But even as one unified group, they still had a hard road ahead. The anti-suffragists (antis') all had their reasons for not wanting women to be able to vote, but most of them were based on the view that men are superior over women, and that most women don't want to vote, anyways. Many antis' were under the impression that "women did not have the intellectual capacity of men because their brains were smaller and more delicate..Since women could not be trusted to behave rationally, they would be extremely dangerous in a political setting" (Mayor, 67). Antis' were also under the impression that women wanted to vote because they wanted to imitate men, and that once the traditional familial roles were tampered with the family structure would fall apart. They argued that women had a 'separate but equal' power, which was to shape their children, and if they had male children, they could shape them to vote in the way that they themselves would have, and so they indirectly have the vote anyways.
The antis' were also worried about the honesty of women voters, expressing their concerns about women being able to vote more than once by concealing extra ballots in their voluminous sleeves, and slipping them quickly into the ballot boxes (Goldstein-LaVande). The antis' were not the only ones hurting the anti-suffrage movement, though. Some of it's most prominent leaders were harming the integrity of women, without realizing that they could be costing themselves the right to vote. Suffragists like Emma Goldman, who advocated 'free love', were very detrimental to the efforts of the other suffragists. People considered that type of behavior absolutely scandalous, and of course they wouldn't want to give anything as important as the right to vote to a group of people that are advocating sexual relations without marriage, and especially not homosexual relations, as some of the feminists of that day did.
Many women who were not feminists just didn't understand why they needed to be able to vote. They were content with having their lives run by their husbands, and depending completely on him. These women were just as harmful to the suffragettes as the promiscuous lesbians! Due to their lack of support, the women of our country found it difficult to say that all women should be able to vote, since there were women sitting at home denying it and shaking their heads at those radical women. Through all of these obstacles, the brave, persistent suffragettes were able to eventually obtain the right to vote in all federal elections. Although not until 1920, when the 19th amendment to our constitution was passed. By the time that the goal had been reached, most of the original feminists were dead, and it was too bad that they never got to vote, but they made their mark, by opening the doors for the next generation to further their progress. The original feminists were pushing for equality, but the later activists had to settle for just the vote.
This was a setback for women's rights everywhere, since the only way they were able to obtain the right to vote was by admitting that they were different, and needed to be able to vote to protect themselves form the big strong men. There were many women who fought for female equality, and many who didn't care, but eventually the feminists won the vote. Women today are still fighting for equality in the home, in the workplace, and in society as a whole, which seems like it may take centuries of more slow progress to achieve. Works CitedFoner, Eric & Garraty, John A. "Minor V. Happersett" <http://www.historychannel.com/perl/print book.pl?ID=35418>[March 11, 2001]Mara Mayor. 'Fears and Fantasies of the anti-Suffragists,' Connecticut Review 7, no.
2 (April 1974), pp. 64-74. Goldstein-LaVande, Meredith "The arguments of the Anti-Suffragists" <http://www.history.rochester.edu/class/suffrag e/Anti.html> [March 11, 2001].
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