Why are we not entitled to our birthright given to us by our creator of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Since before the Civil War women have been fighting for equality, my great grandmother marched and picketed with some of the most well know reformists and women activists for our voices to be heard. Us, women, we are human beings and just as capable as men and now as we come to the end of the greatest war on humanity we have faced thus far, we have not only proved ourselves capable but we have earned our equality.
In 1848, reformist Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the first woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. My great grandmother attended this meeting to show support for all white women. She wanted a better education for my mother then she had and she wanted my mother to be able to earn her own money and hold her own job. At that time, married women were not allowed to own property or keep any of their wages, everything belonged to their husbands. My grandmother didn’t agree with this. My mother grew up knowing and believing that us women are individuals and play just as much as a role in society as men do. We were thought of as second class citizens. We’re not just housekeepers and baby makers there are more to our lives we are capable of and we need to fight for that opportunity…but this was a turning point.
Women were gaining rights slowly throughout the United States, but Susan B. Anthony wanted voting for all women (at least white women) in the United States. In 1890 voting was still a state choice, not a federal choice she knew she needed to find a way to change the constitution to give all women a voice as a whole across the US. Susan B. Anthony and her followers were more radical than Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she would organize hunger strikes and pickets at the White House. She created the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
By 1919, World War I brought Women’s rights to the forefront. WWI was a fight for all humanity and even our President Woodrow Wilson has changed his mind about us. He is fighting alongside us for our right to vote and hold office. This would be a great accomplishment for us women. My husband, along with many men were called to fight in this Great War. Being that they were gone us women were needed to fill in the job roles plus more. The war needed weapons, and gear for our men fighting. Women had to go to work we stepped up, but we weren’t paid fairly our bosses would only pay us a quarter or what men were making. We need to work, manage our children, we’re being mom and Dad. But we fought and demanded equal pay and at least for wartime were awarded that. In numbers we can accomplish anything. But the first time Wilson brought the 19th Amendment to the table it was turned down it would be the second time that finally us women, were given our right to vote. They could no longer deny us based on our sex. Now we held some power.
The US Congress passing the 19th Amendment radically changed US history. For the first time us women had a real voice but still today many men do not see us as equal partners. There are many pros and cons to finally obtaining our right to vote. The biggest pro of the women’s suffrage movement was pushing the US into a more democratic state. Now, with women being allowed to vote as well, there is justice. Another thing, now that we have the right to vote us white people have more control in what’s going to happen, for the few black men that did gain their rights in the late 1800s we now have shifted the political vote primarily with white middle class people. Socially we are rejoicing that we now have secured our dominance. Women now are allowed to own property and hold jobs that once were thought to be men’s work. We can now sit on a jury and testify in court; we are now protected by the law where once we were at the whims of our husbands. We are not property we are human beings.
One thing that the suffrage movement did cause was a more divided line in our social classes. While middle class whites were rejoicing the 19th Amendment did not include anything about different racial classes being allowed to vote or poor people…it only said we couldn’t be denied based on sex. It divided our country even more racially while unifying our political democracy. Many people especially the lower classes were considered incompetent voters they were uneducated and couldn’t afford to vote. Groups in power kept their power by creating laws and such to keep these people from voting polls.
Our fight for equality is nowhere near the end and as my grandmother did, my mother did, and I am doing and my daughter is growing up we will continue to fight for equality among women. We show pride in our country and have proved our nationalism to our president which changed his mind on his stance about us women voting, now it’s time to push forward and fight for equality without sexual discrimination. We are grateful that justice has prevailed and we now undoubtedly, have our right to vote but this was just a tip of the iceberg and we are just showing the nation how strong and powerful us women really are.
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