Years of Hope, Years of Struggle
A few important dates from the woman suffrage movement
New Jersey grants women the vote in its state
Kentucky widows with children in school are granted
"school suffrage," the right to vote in school board
July 13, 1848
Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and Mary Ann McClintock are invited to tea at the home
of Jane Hunt in Waterloo, NY. They decide to call a
two-day meeting at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in
Seneca Falls for the purpose of discussing woman's
July 19 and 20, 1848
Three hundred people attend the first convention held to
discuss women's rights, in Seneca Falls, New York. 68
women and 32 men sign the "Declaration of Sentiments,"
including the first formal demand made in the United
States for women's right to vote: "...it is the duty of
the women of this country to secure for themselves their
sacred right to the elective franchise."
April 19-20, 1850
In Salem, Ohio, women take complete control of their
women's rights convention, refusing men any form of
participation apart from attendance.
October 23-24, 1850
First National Woman's Rights Convention, planned by
Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott and Abby Kelley, is held in
Worcester, Massachusetts. It draws 1,000 people, and
women's movement leaders gain national attention. Annual
national conferences are held through 1860 (except
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton first meet,
on a street corner in Seneca Falls, New York.
May 28-29, 1851
Sojourner Truth's spontaneous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech
electrifies the woman's rights convention in Akron,
October 15-16, 1851
The second National Woman's Rights Convention is held in
The Una premiers in Providence, Rhode Island, edited
by Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis. With a masthead
declaring it to be "A Paper Devoted to the Elevation of
Woman," it is acknowledged as the first newspaper of the
woman's rights movement.
May 1, 1866
At the end of the Eleventh National Woman's Rights
Convention, the American Equal Rights Association is
formed, with Lucretia Mott as president. The members
pledge to work toward the achievement of suffrage for
both women and Negroes.
Suffragists present petitions bearing 10,000 signatures
directly to Congress for an amendment prohibiting
disenfranchisement on the basis of sex.
Kansas puts a woman suffrage amendment proposal on the
ballot, the first time the question goes to a direct
vote. It loses.
The Fourteenth Amendment is ratified including the word
"male" defining citizen, for the first time in the
January 8, 1868
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Parker
Pillsbury publish the first edition of The Revolution,
which becomes one of the most important radical
periodicals of the women's movement, although it
circulates for less than three years. Its motto: "Men,
their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and
November 19, 1868
In Vineland, New Jersey, 172 women cast ballots in a
separate box during the presidential election, inspiring
similar demonstrations elsewhere in following years.
The federal women's suffrage amendment is first
introduced in Congress, by Senator S.C. Pomeroy of
The National Woman Suffrage Association is founded by
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to achieve
the vote through a Congressional amendment, while also
addressing other women's rights issues.
November 18, 1869
The American Woman Suffrage Association is formed by
Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell and other more conservative
activists to work exclusively for woman suffrage,
focused on amending individual state constitutions.
January 8, 1870
The Woman's Journal debuts, edited by Lucy Stone,
Henry Blackwell, and Mary Livermore. In 1900 it is
adopted as the official paper of the National American
Woman Suffrage Association.
January 11, 1871
Victoria Woodhull addresses the House Judiciary
Committee, arguing women's right to vote under the 14th
The Anti-Suffrage Party is founded by wives of prominent
men, including many Civil War generals.
For casting a ballot with 15 other women, Susan B.
Anthony is arrested in New York, tried and fined $100,
which she refuses to pay.
Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage disrupt the
official Centennial program at Independence Hall in
Philadelphia, presenting a "Declaration of Rights for
Women" to the Vice President.
Senator A.A. Sargent (California) introduces the woman
suffrage amendment, the wording of which remains
unchanged until it is finally passed by Congress in
Both houses of Congress appoint Select Committees on
Woman Suffrage and both report the measure favorably.
January 25, 1887
The first vote on woman suffrage is taken in the Senate
where it is defeated 34 to 16, with 25 members absent.
American Federation of Labor declares support for a
woman suffrage amendment.
July 23, 1890
Wyoming is admitted to the Union, becoming the first
state since New Jersey (1776-1807) to grant women full
enfranchisement in its state constitution. Women had
been granted voting rights in the Wyoming Territory in
The American Woman Suffrage Association and the National
Woman Suffrage Association merge, becoming the National
American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), pledge to
state-by-state campaigns for suffrage.
The South Dakota campaign for woman suffrage loses.
Colorado adopts woman suffrage.
600,000 signatures are presented to the New York State
Constitutional Convention in an effort to bring a woman
suffrage amendment to the voters. The campaign fails.
Utah joins the Union, granting women full suffrage.
Idaho adopts woman suffrage.
The first suffrage parade in New York City is organized
by the Women's Political Union.
The most elaborate campaign ever mounted for suffrage
succeeds in California by only 3,587 votes, an average
of one vote in every precinct in the state.
National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is
founded, issuing an official journal, the Woman's
20,000 suffrage supporters join a New York City parade,
with a half-million onlookers.
Oregon, Kansas and Arizona adopt woman suffrage.
The Congressional Union is formed by Alice Paul and Lucy
Burns as an auxiliary of the National American Woman
Suffrage Association, for the exclusive purpose of
securing passage of a federal amendment. Their efforts
revive the moribund issues.
The Territory of Alaska adopts woman suffrage. It is
the first bill approved by the new governor.
Illinois becomes the first state to grant presidential
suffrage by legislative enactment.
Southern States Woman Suffrage Conference is formed.
January 2, 1913
The National Woman's Party is founded by Alice Paul, et
al. to take a more "direct action" approach to gaining
public attention for the suffrage cause.
March 3, 1913
The day preceding President Wilson's inauguration,
5-8,000 suffragists parade in Washington, D.C., organized
by Alice Paul. They are mobbed by abusive crowds along
May 10, 1913
The largest suffrage parade to date marches down Fifth
Avenue, New York City. 10,000 people including perhaps
500 men, parade past 150-500,000 onlookers.
The National American Woman Suffrage Association
leadership expels the militants (Alice Paul, et al.).
Montana and Nevada adopt woman suffrage.
Mrs. Frank Leslie bequests $1,000,000 to the suffrage
A transcontinental tour by suffragists, including Mabel
Vernon and Sara Bard Field, gathers over a half-million
signatures on petitions to congress.
40,000 march in a New York City suffrage parade, the
largest parade ever held in that city.
Women suffrage measures are defeated in Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.
36 National American Woman Suffrage Association state
chapters endorse NAWSA President Carrie Chapman Catt's
"Winning Plan," a unified campaign to get the amendment
through Congress and ratified by the states.
New York adopts woman suffrage.
January 10, 1917
National Woman's Party (NWP) pickets appear in front of
the White House holding aloft two banners: "Mr.
President, What Will You Do for Woman Suffrage?" and
"How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?" Sentinels
remain stationed there permanently regardless of weather
or violent public response, with hourly changes of
April 2, 1917
Jeannette Rankin of Montana is formally seated in the
U.S. House of Representatives, the first woman elected
June 22, 1917
Arrests of the NWP pickets begin on charges of
obstructing traffic. Subsequent pickets are sentences
to up to six months in jail. Their inhumane treatment
in jail creates a cadre of martyrs for the suffrage
November 27, 28, 1917
In response to public outcry and jailer's inability to
stop the NWP pickets' hunger strikes, the government
unconditionally releases the pickets.
Michigan, South Dakota and Oklahoma adopt woman
January 9, 1918
President Wilson first states his public support of the
federal woman suffrage amendment.
September 30, 1918
President Wilson finally addresses the Senate, arguing
for woman suffrage at the war's end.
January 6, 1919
In an urn directly in line with the White House front
door, the National Woman's Party builds a perpetual
"watchfire for freedom" in which they burn the words of
every hypocritical speech President Wilson gives about
The most prominent members of the NWP who had been
imprisoned for picketing the White House tour the
country on a train called the "Prison Special." At each
stop they speak about the need for suffrage and about
their prison experiences.
May 21, 1919
The House of Representative passes the federal woman
suffrage amendment, 304 to 89, a margin of 42 votes over
the required two-thirds majority. Opponents block
action in the Senate for another two weeks, delaying
ratification as most legislatures have adjourned for the
June 4, 1919
The Senate passes the 19th Amendment with just two votes
to spare, 56 to 25. Drafted by Susan B. Anthony and
first introduced in 1878 with the same wording, it is
now sent to the states for ratification.
February 14, 1920
The League of Women Voters is founded as "a mighty
experiment" at the Victory Convention of the National
American Woman Suffrage Association in Chicago,
Illinois. By now, 33 states have ratified the
amendment, but final victory is still three states away.
August 18, 1920
Tennessee becomes the 36th state to ratify the
Amendment. A young state legislator casts the deciding
vote after being admonished to do so by his mother.
August 26, 1920
The 19th Amendment is quietly signed into law by
Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby, granting women the
right to vote.
Chronology compiled by Mary Ruthsdotter, NWHP.
Years of Hope, Year of Struggle