Women's suffrage in states of the United States

Women's suffrage in states of the United States refers to women's right to vote in individual states of that country. Suffrage was established on a full or partial basis by various towns, counties, states and territories during the latter decades of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century. As women received the right to vote in some places, they began running for public office and gaining positions as school board members, county clerks, state legislators, judges, and, in the case of Jeannette Rankin, as a Member of Congress.

The campaign to establish women's right to vote in the states was conducted simultaneously with the campaign for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would establish that right fully in all states. That campaign succeeded with the ratification of Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

Background

The demand for women's suffrage began to gather strength in the 1840s, emerging from the broader movement for women's rights. The Seneca Falls Convention, the first women's rights convention, generated a national debate by endorsing women's suffrage in 1848. By the time of the National Women's Rights Convention of 1851, the right to vote had become a central demand of the movement.[1]

The first national suffrage organizations were established in 1869 when two competing organizations were formed, each campaigning for suffrage at both the state and national levels. The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was especially interested in national suffrage amendment. The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), led by Lucy Stone, tended to work more for suffrage at the state level.[2] They merged in 1890 as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).[3]

Prospects for a national amendment looked dim at the turn of the century, and progress at the state level had slowed.[4] In the 1910s, however, the drive for a national amendment was revitalized, and the movement achieved a series of successes at the state level. The newly formed National Woman's Party (NWP), a militant organization led by Alice Paul, focused almost exclusively on the national amendment. The larger NAWSA, under the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, also made the suffrage amendment its top priority.[5] In September 1918, President Wilson spoke before the Senate, asking for the suffrage amendment to be approved. The amendment was approved by Congress in 1919 and by the required number of states a year later.[6]