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19th Amendment: A Timeline of the Fight for All Women's Right to Vote

August 13, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

From Seneca Falls to the civil rights movement, see what events led to the ratification of the 19th amendment and later acts supporting Black and Native American women’s right to vote.

By the time the final battle over ratification of the 19th Amendment went down in Nashville, Tennessee in the summer of 1920, 72 years had passed since the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. More than 20 nations around the world had granted women the right to vote, along with 15 states, more than half of them in the West. Suffragists had marched en masse, been arrested for illegally voting and picketing outside the White House, gone on hunger strikes and endured brutal beatings in prison—all in the name of the American woman’s right to vote.

WATCH: Susan B. Anthony: Rebel for the Cause on HISTORY Vault

1848 – Seneca Falls

Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other participants at the inaugural women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls adopt the Declaration of Sentiments, which calls for equality for women and includes a resolution that women should seek the right to vote. The suffrage resolution passes by a narrow margin, helped along by the support of the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass, an early ally of women’s rights activists.

The Seneca Falls Convention (TV-PG; 4:18)

READ MORE: The Women’s Suffrage Movement Began with a Tea Party

1869 – Wyoming Passes Women’s Suffrage Law

Tensions erupt within the women’s rights movement over the recently ratified 14th Amendment and the proposed 15th Amendment, which would give the vote to Black men, but not women. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Woman Suffrage Association to focus on fighting for a women’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution, while Lucy Stone and other more conservative suffragists favor lobbying for voting rights on a state-by-state basis.

Despite the longtime association between the abolitionist and women’s rights movements, Stanton and Anthony’s refusal to support ratification of the 15th Amendment leads to a public break with Douglass, and alienates many Black suffragists.

READ MORE: How Early Suffragists Sold Out Black Women

In December, the legislature of Wyoming territory passes the nation’s first women’s suffrage law. Admitted to the Union in 1890, Wyoming will become the first state to grant women the right to vote.

The women’s suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to …read more


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How Political Conventions Began—And Changed

August 13, 2020 in History

By Becky Little

In the 19th century there were no primaries—candidates were selected during each party’s convention.

that it was actually an attempt to replace Vice President John C. Calhoun with Martin Van Buren on the ticket. (Jackson succeeded and won reelection.)

Since then, every major party, with the exception of the Whigs in 1836, has held a national convention to nominate its presidential candidate. Still, nominating conventions in the 19th century were very different from the versions Americans watch on TV today. Back then, the winning candidate didn’t give an acceptance speech or even necessarily attend the convention—an unofficial practice that ended with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.

“Throughout most of the 19th century, campaigning was kind of considered uncouth,” says Stan M. Haynes, a lawyer in Baltimore and author of two books on the history of U.S. nominating conventions.

“Candidates would write letters and do things behind the scenes, but to do anything publicly to show that you were running for president was kind of considered to be tacky,” he continues. “The party should come to you, you should not come to the party.”

One of the other big differences between modern conventions and 19th-century ones is that there were no presidential primary elections. The convention was when candidates were selected. As with the caucus before it, party members eventually came to see this as an undemocratic system in need of reform.

A Rough Start for Presidential Primaries

A meeting of the Progressive Party in Chicago supporting the candidate Theodore Roosevelt for the 1912 election.

Early 20th-century politicians advocated for primaries by saying they’d make the nominating process more democratic, even if that wasn’t always politicians’ main reason for supporting them. In 1912, former president Theodore Roosevelt—who’d previously opposed primaries—publicly supported them when he realized it might be the only way to wrest the Republican Party nomination from the sitting president (and his former VP) William Howard Taft.

Only 13 of the 48 states held Republican primaries in the 1912 election, so although Roosevelt won most of the races, he didn’t secure enough delegates to win the nomination. He responded by breaking from the Republicans and starting the Progressive Party or “Bull Moose Party” so he could run for president on its ticket. The new party’s nominating process, however, was deeply undemocratic: the Progressive convention refused to seat Black delegates, including those …read more