Planning a Research Paper: History of Women Suffrage in the U.S.

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Carnegie Mellon University
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The questions below will help you plan your research paper. You may have already answered some of them in your Student Guide, so refer to your Student Guide, if you wish.

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Total score: ____ of 100 points

(Score for Question 1: ___ of 15 points)

Write the thesis statement of your research paper. Be sure to write it in one or two complete sentences.


The appropriate method of understanding how the 19th amendment came to be part of the American Constitution is to analyze the development of women suffrage until women received the right to vote similarly to men.

(Score for Question 2: ___ of 70 points)

Write a formal outline for your research paper. Include topics, subtopics, and details so that the reader gains a clear idea of the contents of your paper. Use your organized note cards as a basis for your outline. Remember to begin with a title and to follow all the formatting rules. You may refer to the Making Formal Outlines page to help with the format.


History of Women Suffrage in the U.S.

The 19th amendment of the American constitution provides the female and the male American citizens the right to vote. According to the amendment, no citizen will be denied the right to vote by the U.S. or any other state on the grounds of gender (Zagarri, 2011). It 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 the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation, (The U.S. Constitution). It is important to note that the achievement of equal rights in the civic process for women and men in the U.S. was a challenging task particularly for the women who felt that they were suppressed when it came to expressing their rights (Zagarri, 2011). The 19th Amendment was enacted in 1920 on the 18th of August that provided women in the U.S. with the right to take part in the civic process or rather providing women suffrage. When U.S.A received its independence, the rights provided to men were not similar to those accorded to women including taking part in the civic process. Some women felt the need of women having the right to vote and hence in 1848, a womens rights movement was established at a national convention in New York at Seneca Falls. The convention was organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who were popular abolitionists (Zagarri, 2011). After the convention, the demand for women on their right to vote became the central focus with the number of women supporting the movement increasing by the day. Both women together with Susan B. Anthony and other female activists put up organizations that focused on raising awareness among the American civilians on womens rights in addition to lobbying the government to provide women with the legal right to vote. After seventy years of hard work, aggression, oppression, and patience, the womens movements became successful in their mission which resulted in the enactment of the 19th amendment (Zagarri, 2011). The appropriate method of understanding how the 19th amendment came to be part of the American Constitution is to analyze the development of women suffrage until women received the right to vote similarly to men.

The Development of Women Suffrage in the U.S.

As mentioned earlier, women shared no equal rights to men when the U.S. gained its independence. The women did not enjoy some of the significant rights when compared to the men particularly when it came to political issues (Davis, 2011). Women were viewed as inadequate when it came to leadership roles, were not allowed to own any property, lacked the ability to claim any fortune despite coming from their sweat and most importantly, did not have the right to engage in civic duty. The common perception was that their role was to engage in domestic chores and take care of their homes and children (Davis, 2011). Before the movements on women suffrage, several movements had taken place before concerning religion, temperance, anti-slavery and so forth by which some women were part off. Therefore, the idea of women beginning a movement that demanded fairness and equality in the society was not new.

The womens rights movement began to organize itself at a national level in 1848. The convention that was organized by Stanton and other activists had an attendance of more than three hundred individuals with the majority being women (Davis, 2011). The delegates at the convention held the views that women should be provided adequate opportunities when it comes to employment and education, and that were autonomic people who deserved their identities when it came to political issues. Still, at the convention, the delegates declared several sentiments that stated that they abided by the truth that all women and men are born equal, the creator gave both men and women specific undisputable rights, and that among the undisputable rights include the pursuit of happiness, liberty and the right to life. Therefore, women had the right to demand the basic things in the society such as the right to elect their leaders (Davis, 2011).

After the convention, the idea of women taking part in the civic process received plenty of opposition in particular through the press (Davis, 2011). The opposition made a number of the delegates to refrain from supporting the sentiments articulated in the convention. Nonetheless, Stanton and other female activists continue their struggle by which they organized several conferences concerning womens rights and were later joined by Susan B. Anthony and other advocates to continue with the fight for women suffrage (Davis, 2011).

The Establishment of National Suffrage Organizations

The beginning of the civil war in 1861 to 1865 imposed a limitation for the womens movements such that they lost their momentum. Most of the women turned their focus to assist in the war through various efforts (Foner, 2013). After the end of the war, the movements also experienced another challenge concerning the right to vote for the African American men. Stanton and other female activists highly opposed the 15th amendment that gave the men from the African American community the right to vote and leaving out the need for women from any ethnic group to take part in political issues. In other words, women from all races in the U.S. were still denied the right to vote (Foner, 2013).

In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association was formed by Anthony and Stanton with the focus being on convincing the federal government to provide women with the right to vote. The American Woman Suffrage Association was also formed in the same year and was organized by Henry Blackwell and Lucy Stone. Both Stone and Blackwell were abolitionists and supported the fifteenth amendment but held the view that the amendment would fail if it included women suffrage. The ratification of the 15th amendment occurred in 1870. The NWSA and the AWSA had divided opinions with the AWSA believing that the enfranchisement of the women would only take place when amendments in separate state constitutions are made. Nonetheless, both organization proved victorious after the state of Wyoming provided women who were twenty-one years old and above the right to vote in 1869 (Foner, 2013). In 1890, AWSA and NWSA combined forces to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The focus of the new group was to garner female support from one state to another on voting rights. After six years, states that include Utah, Colorado, and Idaho had provided women with the right to vote. The leadership of the new movement was handed to Carrie Chapman in 1900 due to the advanced age of both Anthony and Stanton (Foner, 2013).

Progress and Receiving the Vote

Under Catts leadership, NASWA was able to win more states to allow women to take part in the voting process. Some of the states included; Arkansas, California, Michigan, Oklahoma, Illinois, Nevada, New York, Nebraska, Washington, South Dakota, North Dakota, Indiana, Montana, Alaska, Oregon, and Arizona. During President Woodrows inauguration in 1913, some of the suffrages held a parade by which they got severely injured from civilians who did not support their course (Foner, 2013). The parade was organized by Alice Paul and other young women to voice out the need for women suffrage. The president was quite reluctant in granting women their right to vote. However, through the support that women provided during the First World War and the consistency of the women in demanding for their rights, he switched sides to support women suffrage. Nonetheless, the amendment failed by two votes in the senate in 1918. In 1919, the amendment was passed again by which it finally won by two votes. It was then ratified and by March 1920, at least thirty-five states had granted women the right to vote. Also, in 1920 during the general elections. About eight million women took part in the election process. Mississippi was the last state to accept women suffrage in the year 1984 (Foner, 2013).

(Score for Question 3: ___ of 15 points)

List three or more sources that you are using for your research paper. At least one should be a print source. You may refer to the Citations Guidelines page for help with the correct format to use when citing sources.Answer:

Davis, A. Y. (2011). Women, race, & class. New York: Vintage.

Foner, E. (2013). Give Me Liberty! An American History: Seagull Fourth Edition (Vol. 1). WW Norton & Company.

The U.S. Constitution. The 19th Amendment.

Zagarri, R. (2011). Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.


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