The term “suffragist” is applied to anyone who fights for the right to vote, whether conservative or radical, male or female. The term “suffragette” is usually associated with women in England who used more radical means to get their point across.
Women in the US were able to vote in western states as early as 1869 (Wyoming), but finally won the right to vote in national elections with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in time for the 1920 presidential election. Women in England were allowed to vote in 1918 if they were over 30 and property owners. All women over 21 won the right to vote in 1928.
The Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention – 1848 – Even though women had already begun to speak out about women’s rights, or the lack thereof, this convention marks a beginning for the campaign to give women the right to vote in the United States.
Fanny Wright – “or a goose that deserves to be hissed” – (1795 – 1851) Although suffrage was not a focus of Fanny’s work, she laid the ground work for women coming after her, especially in becoming one of the first women to speak to “promiscuous assemblies”, audiences with both men and women. She was ridiculed for it as well.
Mary Ann Shadd Cary – Blazing the Trail for Women – (1823 – 1893) Although primarily known as an abolitionist, Mary Ann Shadd Cary worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee and speaking and writing for equal rights for women.
Elizabeth Piper Ensley – Organizing African-American Women for Suffrage (1848-1919) – Elizabeth Piper Ensley organized the African-American women in Colorado to help bring about suffrage for women in that state in 1873.
Frances Willard – Forgotten Feminist (1839 – 1898) – Although Frances Willard is primarily known as the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, she was also a supporters of women’s rights and suffrage.
Alice Paul – The Final Stretch for Women’s Suffrage (1885 – 1977) – Alice Paul led the final push to see the Nineteenth Amendment for women’s suffrage passed in Congress. She used tactics learned from British suffragettes and suffered imprisonment and force feeding at the hands of the police.
Not all women supported suffrage.
Helen Kendrick Johnson – Author and Anti-Suffrage Activist (1844 – 1917) – Helen Kendrick Johnson was an editor and author, but she also wrote Woman and the Republic, a refutation of many of the prevailing arguments of the time in favor of suffrage.
Anti-suffragist Cartoons – for a little fun!