For centuries, women have wanted the same rights and powers as those traditionally held by men. Sometimes when they get those rights and power, they can be harder and more iron fisted than their male predecessors. Queen Victoria of England and First Lady Michelle Obama are prime examples of this.
When our Founding Fathers began forming our nation, a number of women also wanted to be included, but it wasn’t so for over a hundred years later.
In 1776, the Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia discussing America’s independence from Great Britain. As the men were mulling over the wording of what would become the Declaration of Independence, Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, wrote to him to ‘remember the ladies,’ John Adams responded in a typical male fashion, jokingly informing his wife that the Declaration states that ‘all men are created equal.’
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In 1821, the first endowed school for girls, the Troy Female Seminary in New York is founded by Emma Hart Willard.
In 1833, females were allowed to invade a traditionally male college for the first time when Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio became the first coed college in America.
In 1836, abolitionist Sarah Grimké began speaking in public for the causes of abolishing slavery and for women’s suffrage. She was quickly silenced by male abolitionists who believed that a female public speaker was detrimental to their cause.
In 1837, eighty-one delegates from twelve states attend the first National Female Anti-Slavery Society meeting in New York.
In 1837, the first four-year women’s college, Mt. Holyoke College, is established in Massachusetts by Mary Lyon.
In 1839, Mississippi becomes first state to pass legislation to give married women rights to their property with the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act.
In 1840, a Women’s Convention against slavery was held in the US by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who were refused admittance to the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London.
In 1841, Oberlin College awarded the first degrees to three female students.
In 1844, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association is formed by female textile workers in Massachusetts. Their first demand is 10-hour work days.
In 1848, Seneca Falls, New York hosts first women’s rights convention.
In 1851, women’s right convention held in Akron, Ohio is rocked by speech from former slave Sojourner Truth.
In 1866, the American Equal Rights Association is formed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Their goal is equal suffrage from women and blacks.
In 1868, the 14th Amendment is ratified. One of the provision is the definition of ‘citizens’ and ‘voters’ as ‘male.
In 1869, the women’s suffrage movement splits over reaction to the 14th and soon to be ratified 15th Amendments. The American Woman Suffrage Association is formed in Boston by Julia Ward Howe, Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell. The National Woman Suffrage Association, the more radical and activist organization was formed in New York by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
In 1869, the Territory of Wyoming is formed. The organization of the territory contains a women’s suffrage provision.
In 1870, blacks gain rights under the ratification of the 15th Amendment.
During the 1872 presidential election, Sojourner Truth tries to vote in Battle Creek, Michigan, but is turned away. Susan B. Anthony also tries to vote and ends up being arrested in Rochester, New York.
In 1874, Annie Wittenmyer forms the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
In 1878, an amendment giving women the right to vote is introduced into Congress, but is not acted upon.
In 1890, the American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association are merged as the National American Woman Suffrage Association with Elizabeth Cady Stanton holding the lead position.
In 1893, Colorado becomes first state to pass an amendment that enfranchises women.
In 1896, the National Association of Colored Women is formed in Washington DC. One of the founders was Harriet Tubman.
In 1911, the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is formed, mostly by a group of wealthy women and Catholic leaders including then renowned Cardinal Gibbons.
In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt is running for President on a Republican Party platform that included a woman suffrage provision for the first time in American history.
In 1913, the radical Congressional Union is formed by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns.
In 1914, the two-million-member National Federation of Women’s Clubs formally endorses the suffrage movement.
In 1916, the Congressional Union becomes the National Women’s Party.
In 1916, Jeannette Rankin becomes the first woman elected to the US House of Representatives. She represented Montana.
On June 4, 1919, Congress passes the 19th Amendment which grants women the right to vote. The amendment contains virtually the same wording as the amendment introduced in 1878.
On this day, August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote and became national law. The 19th Amendment states:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”