Years of Hope, Years of Struggle

A few important dates from the woman suffrage movement

New Jersey grants women the vote in its state constitution.

Kentucky widows with children in school are granted "school suffrage," the right to vote in school board elections.

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 rights.

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: " 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 1857).

March 1851
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, Ohio.

October 15-16, 1851
The second National Woman's Rights Convention is held in Worcester, Massachusetts.

February 1853
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 Constitution.

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 nothing less!"

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.

December 1868
The federal women's suffrage amendment is first introduced in Congress, by Senator S.C. Pomeroy of Kansas.

May 1869
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 Amendment.

The Anti-Suffrage Party is founded by wives of prominent men, including many Civil War generals.

November 1872
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 1920.

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 1869.

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.

November 1911
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 Protest.

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 the way.

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.

December 1913
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 cause.

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.

August 1916
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 shift.

April 2, 1917
Jeannette Rankin of Montana is formally seated in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first woman elected to Congress.

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 cause.

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 suffrage.

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 democracy.

Spring 1919
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 year.

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