The world’s first women's rights
convention is held in Seneca Falls,
After 2 days of discussion and
debate, 68 women and 32 men
sign a Declaration of Sentiments,
which outlines grievances and sets
the agenda for the women's rights
A set of 12 resolutions is adopted
calling for equal treatment of
women and men under the law
and voting rights for women.
The first National Women's Rights Convention takes place in Worcester,
Mass., attracting more than 1,000 participants.
National conventions are held yearly (except for 1857) through 1860.
The primary goal of the organization is to achieve voting rights for women
by means of a Congressional amendment to the Constitution. In 1978 the
women drafted and introduced the women’s suffrage amendment; it was
forty-one years later, in 1919, when the Congress submitted the
amendment to the states for ratification.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
form the National Woman Suffrage Association
The territory of Wyoming passes the first
women's suffrage law. It was accomplished
in large part by Esther Hobart Morris who
was active in the Women’s Rights
movement. She lobbied the 22 members of
the territorial legislature, arguing that
legalized women's suffrage would "prove a
great advertisement" inducing more
women and families to settle in Wyoming.
William Bright, upon the urging of his wife,
Julia, introduced a suffrage measure to the
legislature. Passage of this landmark
suffrage law that same year helped make
Wyoming famous as the "Equality State."
Other laws that passed that year gave married women the right to own property, the
right to serve on juries, and equal pay for female teachers.
December 10, 1869
Alice Paul and Lucy Burns form the Congressional Union to work toward the
passage of a federal amendment to give women the vote. The group is later
renamed the National Women's Party.
Members picket the White House and practice other forms
of civil disobedience.
1913 Suffrage Parade
The 1913 parade, although credited to Alice Paul, was actually organized and
directed by Lucy Burns who was the organizational "brains" of many actions
and works credited to Paul.
1913: Women Beaten When They Dare Ask For The Right to Vote
"Eight thousand women with suffrage banners flying paraded along
Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, the day before
Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, to make the incoming president and
congress aware of their cause.
"It was a parade that turned into a confrontation and near riot. Police
had given a permit for it, but they did little to protect the women when
angry men began attacking the marchers.
"Women were slapped, tripped, spat upon, pelted with burning cigar
stubs, had banners torn from their hands. Their hats were pulled off, their
clothing was ripped, and some were knocked to the ground and trampled.
"Federal troops had to be called in from nearby Fort Meyer. The soldiers
cleared the streets, controlled the mob, and finally restored order, and the
somewhat disheveled women carried on with the parade that got them a lot
more front-page attention than they had expected.“
-- Excerpted from Bill Severn's “The Right To Vote,” New York: Ives Washburn, 1972.
Women were jailed for picketing the
White House and for carrying signs
asking for the vote.
Women were arrested and sent to the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia.
There were reports of bad treatment at the Workhouse.
Miss Lucy Burns visited the workhouse in August 1917 to investigate the
lack of nourishment and poor food. Burns, finding that the women were
much thinner and complaining of headaches due to poor and
insufficient food, spoke in conference with Illinois Senator J. Hamilton
Lewis. Lewis agreed to visit the workhouse to probe the charges.
Charges were filed against Whittaker by a committee of the National
Woman’s party, headed by Miss Lucy Burns, accusing Whittaker of
cruelty to prisoners. Malnutrition resulted in six women being
hospitalized. Additionally, an affidavit charged Whittaker with
permitting a prisoner to be chained to the walls in a cell of the
workhouse. Pending an inquiry, Whittaker was relieved of his duties,
but was later reinstated when he was exonerated.
“Night of Terror” -- Nov. 15, 1917
After a 1917 protest demonstration several
women were arrested and detained at the
Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. The warden
ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the
suffragists imprisoned there because they
dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White
House for the right to vote.
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to
the cell bars above her head and left her
hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping
For weeks, the women's only water came
from an open pail. Their food--all of it
colorless slop--was infested with worms.
Night of Terror
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark
cell, smashed her head against an
iron bed and knocked her out cold.
Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought
Lewis was dead and suffered a
Additional affidavits describe the
guards grabbing, dragging,
beating, choking, slamming,
pinching, twisting and kicking the
In November 1917 Lucy Burns was an
inmate at the Occoquan Workhouse, and
conditions were intolerable.
Lucy and Alice Paul led the suffragettes in
a hunger strike. The prisoners were being
fed worm-infested food and unclean
It was reported by National Women’s
Party members that:
Mrs. Lawrence Lewis…and Miss Lucy
Burns…were removed from Occoquan to
jail Tuesday, where they were forcibly
fed, Miss Burns by means of a tube
through the nose
Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn., serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying
banner, “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
(They don’t like the
Carrie Chapman Catt
Ratification at long last!
1919: On May 21, 1919, the 19th
amendment passed the House with
an extra 42 votes. On June 4, 1919,
the Senate, after a long discussion,
passed it with 56 ayes and 25 nays.
Within a few days, Illinois,
Wisconsin, and Michigan ratified the
amendment. Other states followed
suit at a regular pace, until the
amendment had been ratified by 35
of the necessary 36 state legislatures.
1920: On August 18, 1920,
Tennessee narrowly approved the
Nineteenth Amendment, with 50 of
99 members of the Tennessee House
of Representatives voting yes. This
provided the final ratification
necessary to enact the amendment.