Women’s Suffrage Movement

It is the turn of the century and more and more women in the United States and Great Britain were beginning to express their desires for the right to voice their opinions and cast their votes for who should govern and be in charge of their government. Switzerland had granted suffrage to women in 1971, while France, Germany, and Italy enfranchised women decades earlier (Abrams and Settle 292), and now it was time for the American and British women to join the suffrage movement as well.
Thousands of women petitioned, lobbied, protested, demonstrated, and engaged in civil disobedience in order to gain their right to vote. Although the right to vote was referred to with different names (“suffrage” and “enfranchisement”), the movement had the same aims. Women in these countries were not being paid the same as men although they were doing the same work, there were laws discriminating against the female race, and women wanted to be heard. All of these reasons led to the notion of women to feel the need to have their voices heard in the government.
The effectiveness of the movement and the success of the aims as a result of the women’s suffrage movement in America and Great Britain varied and will be discussed in this paper. The fight for the right to vote in America was referred to as the women’s suffrage movement, and it was led and organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and other “radical” female leaders. This movement was started in 1848 when the Convention of Seneca Falls was held in New York as the first women’s rights convention.
At the Convention of Seneca Falls, Lucretia wrote a line in the Declaration of Sentiments calling for “the right [of women] to the elective franchise” (Winslow “Sisters”). The Civil War got in the way of the women’s suffrage movement for a couple years after it was initiated, but from 1976 to the turn of the century, women’s rights movements continued with campaigns, referendums, lobbying, etc. Because of this continuous, but delayed process, states such as Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado did grant women the right to vote, but it was a very gradual change.
Also during this time, the National Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) pressed its claim for state and federal women’s suffrage amendments (Winslow “Sisters”). After 72 years of protest, lobbying, and fighting the women of the United States of America finally got the chance to vote by August 20 when 13 out of the 16 western states had already granted women full suffrage (McCammon and Campbell 55). Because the movement took so long to come into effect, some may argue that the movement was not as effective as the one in Great Britain, but it is true that it was definitely effective in the end.
Of course it all worked out, because women finally got the chance to vote, and the 19th amendment only exists because of the women’s suffrage movement leaders and participants, but the aims of the movement were probably not achieved in the time frame desired. In Great Britain, the movement to gain women’s rights to vote was referred to as the enfranchisement movement. This movement began around 1866 when a group of leaders and reformers gathered around 1,500 women to sign a petition to send to Parliament asking for women’s rights to vote, it very similar to the Seneca Falls Convention (Winslow “Sisters”).
There was a break in the movement from around 1807 to 1905, which is similar to the way the women’s suffrage movement in America had a break during the Civil War as well. During this time, nothing significant occured, and no one did anything extreme to gain the vote. The year of 1905 was when the enfranchisement movement started to actually make big gains. During this year, suffragettes made a break from sitting aside, and started using “militancy” and other violent techniques.
The actions of British suffragettes involved blowing up mailboxes of government leaders, breaking windows, picketing, and harassment of anti-suffragist legislators. At first, the movement was not very effective because the suffragettes were seen as wild, uncontrollable women, and they were treated very roughly by the British patrol, but after the movement calmed down a little bit, and tactics used were less violent, public opinion was changed, and the government started to pay more attention to the suffragettes (“British”).
The English women won limited suffrage in 1918, and in 1928, the majority of English women won the right to vote (Winslow “Sisters”). The women of the United States and of Great Britain used the many of the same tactics to gain the vote, but the women of Great Britain were much more radical. Even though the women of both countries had the same aim to gain suffrage and both countries had radical leaders of the movement that pushed the fight for the right to vote, their tactics varied in different ways. In both the U. S. nd in Great Britain suffragists used tactics such as boycotting, lobbying, protesting, and sending proposals and petitions to government leaders, but there are differences in the severity of each of the country’s groups’ tactics that led to a difference in the effectiveness of the movement. The women suffragists in America utilized civil disobedience, which was something not seen as much in Great Britain. Whereas the American suffragists were being civil and asking for suffrage in a somewhat polite manner, the suffragettes in Great Britain were utilizing mass militancy and violence.
The actions of the women in Great Britain paralleled the tactics of those in America, but were extremely dangerous. The suffrage movement in America did take ten years longer than in Great Britain, so it can be said that the suffrage movement and tactics used in Great Britain were more effective than in the United States of America. Ultimately, both the suffrage movement in the United States and in Great Britain were successful, because without these movements, the women in the United States and Great Britain could possibly not have the right to vote to this day. The effectiveness of the suffrage movement in the U.
S. and in Great Britain can be analyzed using their end result and the time it took for the aims to be succeeded. Although both movements were successful in achieving their aims, it took an extremely long time to do so. The United States had to withstand 72 years of protesting and campaigning in order to achieve their aims, while Great Britain had to go through around 62 years of even more extreme tactics. In conclusion, both movements were effective, but it can be said that these movements could have been even more so if they did not take so long to achieve their goals. Works Cited Print
Abrams, Burton, and Russell Settle. “Women’s Suffrage and the Growth of the Welfare State. ” Public Choice 100. 3/4 (1999): 289-300. Print. McCammon, Holly, and Karen Campbell. “Winning the Vote in the West: The Political Successes of the Women’s Suffrage Movements, 1866-1919. ” Gender and Society 15. 1 (2001): 55-82. Print. Online Winslow, Barbara. “Sisters of Suffrage: British and American Women Fight for the Vote. ” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. . “British Suffrage Movement. ” Edenbridge Town Ethics. N. p. , n. d. Web. 27 Sept. 2012. .

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