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Organizing for Suffrage

Suffragist leaders learned activism in abolitionist circles, and they fought alongside abolitionists for equal rights for all people. This union broke after the passage of the 15th Amendment granted voting rights only to African American men.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association to fight for women’s rights. Their rhetoric, Stanton’s, in particular, became racist as the group asserted that white, educated women were more deserving of the vote than black men and immigrants.

The American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, believed that the use of racist arguments in the fight for the right to vote betrayed their values.

By 1890, neither group succeeded and eventually agreed to join together as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

In 1910, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns returned from London and began using British suffragette tactics of civil disobedience and spectacle as political tools to push for a federal amendment.

NAWSA leadership did not approve, but Paul and Burns persisted. Though not immediately successful in the fight for suffrage, women, through corollary efforts, gained other protection reforms, such as keeping their rights over their children after divorce, being able to own property in their own right after marriage, being allowed to initiate a lawsuit, and being allowed to enter into legal contracts – in some, but not all states.