The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote, a right known as women’s suffrage, and was ratified on August 18, 1920, ending almost a century of protest. In 1848 the movement for women’s rights launched on a national level with the Seneca Falls Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Following the convention, the demand for the vote became a centerpiece of the women’s rights movement. Stanton and Mott, along with Susan B. Anthony and other activists, raised public awareness and lobbied the government to grant voting rights to women. After a lengthy battle, these groups finally emerged victorious with the passage of the 19th Amendment.
During America’s early history, women were denied some of the basic rights enjoyed by male citizens.
For example, married women couldn’t own property and had no legal claim to any money they might earn, and no female had the right to vote. Women were expected to focus on housework and motherhood, not politics.
The campaign for women’s suffrage was a small but growing movement in the decades before the Civil War. Starting in the 1820s, various reform groups proliferated across the U.S.—temperance leagues, the abolitionist movement, religious groups—and in a number of these, women played a prominent role.