Women’s Rights Movement History 1800s-Early 1900s

Please take the time to read this.

In the 1800s and before women were treated inferior to men and as lesser beings. They were unable to vote, hold property, and have as good a higher education as males.

It was also frowned upon them to speak aloud in public and hold many professions that were considered a men only thing.

It may seem like women were satisfied with this and that they did not mind until some people came and stirred them up in the 1800s but that is not true, just look at this example:

Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors….Remember all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to format a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

~Abigail Adams to John Adams

See, this is not as “new” a movement as we seem to think. This injustice was bothering and angering women long before the suffragettes. We see that Abigail Adams is urging her husband to “Remember the Ladies,” and seems to be very frustrated that women had no voice in hardly any political matters.

To me it seems hypocritical that America, which is a country built upon the idea of freedom and liberty, was so against the idea of equality between the genders.

There seemed to be absolutely no reason for women to not have the same rights as their husbands, brothers, fathers and sons.


The Women’s Rights Movement started with murmurings in the early 1800s. It would not become an organized movement until much later.

Several influential women’s rights leaders of the 1800s were:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone and many others.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American suffragist, social activist, and leading figure in the early women’s rights movements.

She was born November 12, 1815 and died on October 26, 1902, unfortunately not being able to see women winning the right to vote in 1920.

Her work the Declaration of Sentiments often credited with initiating the first organized women’s rights and women’s suffrage movements in the United States of America.

She was the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association from 1892-1900. She was married to Henry Brewster Stanton from 1840 to the year he died, 1887, and they had 7 children together.


Susan B. Anthony was another influential women’s rights advocate of the 1800s and early 1900s.

This American social reformer and women’s rights activist was born on February 15, 1820 and died at the age of 86, on March 13, 1906.

She founded many organizations in her lifetime. She founded the National American Woman Suffrage Association with Elizabeth Stanton, her great friend and fellow activist. She also founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, American Equal Rights Association, International Council of Women, and League of Women Voters.

She was arrested in 1872 for voting in her hometown of Rochester, New York without actually having the right to vote. This daring move got a lot of public attention and a widely publicized trial. Anthony refused to pay the fine but the authorities decided not to take further action against her.

In 1878 Anthony and Stanton arranged for Congress to be presented with an amendment that would give women the right to vote. It was popularly known as the Anthony Amendment and eventually became the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, in 1920.


Lucretia Mott was an American Quaker, abolitionist and women’s rights activist as well as a social reformer.

She was born the year 1793 on January 3, and died 87 years later on November 11, 1880. She had the idea of reforming the position of women is society when she and other women were excluded from the World Anti-Slavery Convention.

She helped write the Declaration of Sentiments during the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848.


Lucy Stone was an American orator, abolitionist and suffragist. She was born August 13, 1818, and died at the age of 75 on October 19, 1893.

She influenced the early development of this movement through writing and giving speeches, writing articles for the journal she founded called the Woman’s Journal, and assisting inn many other ways.

She helped found the Woman’s National Loyal League that helped pass the Thirteenth Amendment and abolish slavery.

She is part of what has been called the 19th-century triumvirate of women’s suffrage and feminism, along with Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.


Sojourner Truth was an African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was born Isabella Baumfree in the year 1797, the exact date unknown, and died on November 26, 1883.

She escaped slavery with her infant daughter in 1826 from Swartekill, Ulster County, New York.

When she went to court in 1828 to recover her son, she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

She renamed herself Sojourner Truth in 1843 and began traveling through the countryside, giving speeches. Her most well-known speech was given in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, it was titled Ain’t I a Woman? Which became widely known during the Civil War after someone rewrote it using stereotypical southern dialect, although Sojurner was from New York and had grown up speaking Dutch as her first language.

During the Civil War she helped recruit black troops for the Union Army.

These four are only four of many, and I couldn’t possibly mention all, or even half, and still have space for anything else so if you are interested in learning more on influential women’s rights activists I encourage you to read up on it.


The first women’s rights convention was the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. It advertised itself as “a convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of women.”

It was held in Seneca Falls, New York and spanned two days, July 19- 20 1848.

It was organized by Female Quakers as well as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was also the keynote speaker, and featured many speakers, one of which was Lucretia Mott.

This was where the Declaration of Sentiments was revealed. It was modeled after the Declaration of Independence, so as to be taken more seriously.

It consisted of social, political and economic rights.

Social: So that women would be able to speak their minds more freely, seek and receive higher education and just be treated equally.

Economic: So that women would be able to hold property.

Political: This one was most controversial, it wished for women to be able to vote.

This document listed all of women’s grievances of how they were treated inferiorly and it was signed at the convention by 68 women and 32 men. 100 out of approximately 300 attendees to this convention.


The biggest opposition to this movement were preachers and clergy. Elizabeth Stanton and several of her friends found this out in a hard way. They sponsored a young man through college and the first sermon he preached was on the inferiority of women. They walked out of the church.

Many men, actually a vast majority of them, and even women were opposed to this idea of equality.

The opposition was great.   Some men objected to women having the vote because they believed them to be inferior.   It was suggested that women could not think out matters coolly and calmly.   Others would not agree to women’s suffrage because they did not want change.   Women had never voted before.   Why should they start now?   A further objection involved property.   In 1900, few women were householders or lodgers.   If the vote were given to them, then it would have to be given also to men who were not householders or lodgers.   At that time political parties were not prepared to do this.

John Ray, The Place of Women ( 1971)

A school textbook from the 1970s

There were of course many people who opposed the idea of women’s suffrage.   They were known as the ‘Antis’.   Here are some of the reasons they gave:

  1. Women would be corrupted by politics and chivalry would die out
  2. If women became involved in politics, they would stop marrying, having children, and the human race would die out
    3.   Women were emotional creatures, and incapable of making a sound political decision.

These reasons may seem ludicrous to us, but at the time were taken seriously by a wide cross-section of women as well as men.

Diane Atkinson, Votes for Women (1988)

A school textbook from the 1980s

Those were some common arguments against the Suffrage movement, which may seem rather ridiculous and unsound now but were taken seriously by both men and women when the suffrage movement began winning support.


By the early 1900s women were beginning to get more serious. They began to petition for the right to vote, and it became a big movement that started gaining more and more support.

Women began marching in protests and standing in picket lines. Many were arrested for peaceful protest, and when they started a strike in prison where they wouldn’t eat they were force fed. When they were handled by police it was brutal, and sometimes bystanders who would start violence were not even noticed and certainly did not get in trouble.

It took a lot of protesting until the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920 which finally gave women the right to vote.

Seems a little overdue, right? Especially since America was founded some 150 years before.

I want to mention something quickly before I wrap this up. I was wondering what the difference between suffragist and suffragette was so I researched it.

Turns out suffragette is a more feminine term for suffragist, which included EVERYONE who supported women’s suffrage, men included.

Also suffragists were more peaceful while suffragettes believed that at times there was a need to be aggressive and violent in their way of getting the message across.

Suffragettes committed arson and smashed windows, protesting in a violent manner, while suffragists preferred to write letters and give speeches. Both worked for women’s suffrage, but they were at crossroads a lot of the time.

A quick review of what I just said:

Suffragist is a general term that includes not just women but also men who supported the cause of women’s suffrage.

Suffragette is a term used to refer to women members of the groups that were violent and aggressive and indulged in acts of violence to draw attention of people to their cause.

Suffragists behaved in a peaceful manner and sent letters to their elected representatives to raise voice in their support.


Women in the United States, as well as many other countries, have the same rights as men. They are able to vote, hold property and are paid an equal amount of money for the same work.


“Arguments against Women’s Suffrage” johndclare.net. Web. 30 January 2017. http://www.johndclare.net/Women1_ArgumentsAgainst.htm

“Before the Women’s Rights Movement” Women’s Suffrage vs Women’s Rights Movement in the 1800s. Web. 30 January 2017. http://thedevelopmentofwomensrights.weebly.com/before-the-womens-rights-movement.html

“Difference Between Suffragists and Suffragettes” Difference Between.com. 23 August 2013. Web.30 January 2017. http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-suffragists-and-vs-suffragettes/

“Elizabeth Cady Stanton” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 30 January 2017. Web. 30 January 2017.

“Lucretia Mott” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 28 January 2017. Web. 30 January 2017.

“Lucy Stone” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 29 January 2017. Web. 30 January 2017.

“Sojourner Truth” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 30 January 2017. Web. 30 January 2017.

5 thoughts on “Women’s Rights Movement History 1800s-Early 1900s

  1. women Wraps and Scarves says:

    Aw, this was a really good post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a good
    article… but what can I say… I put things off a
    whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

    Liked by 1 person

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