An Introduction to the Woman's Suffrage Movement

The Right to Vote: Women's Most Radical Demand

A late 19th-century photograph of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (left) and Susan B. Anthony. Their intellectual and organizational partnership dominated the suffrage movement until their deaths in the early 1900s.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the Seneca Falls convention leaders reminisced, "We were but a handful..." recalling the supporters of woman suffrage at the convention, where the right to vote was their most radical demand. Between this first convention advocating the rights of women and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women's right to vote in 1920 lay a long and arduous journey. Victory was never assured until the final moments.

Click here for the 1848 report on the Seneca Falls Convention


The Declaration of Sentiments was written on this mahogany parlor table. Signed by the women and men who attended the first Woman’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, NY, the Declaration included the first call for woman’s suffrage.


In the intervening years, the drive for women's voting rights encompassed the lives of several generations of women. Suffrage supporters survived a series of dramatic transformations in their movement that included: fifty years of educating the public to establish the legitimacy of woman suffrage; approximately twenty years of direct lobbying as well as dramatic militant action to press their claim to the vote; the division of each generation into moderate and radical camps; and the creation of a distinct female political culture and imagery to promote "votes for women."









Copyright © 2007 National Women's History Museum.