HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage

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The perception of women in the past was that their role was primarily to marry men and support them economically, focusing on bearing children and staying at home rather than pursuing work outside the household. During this period, state laws limited women’s rights, including owning and inheriting property, signing contracts, serving on juries, and voting in elections. Job opportunities for women who had to work were scarce and low-paying. 

However, in 1848, at the Seneca Falls Convention, suffragists advocated for women’s rights beyond marriage and motherhood. They fought for women to have societal value, financial independence, and political power (Williamson, 2014). Women believed that their contributions could enhance the nation, and they were determined to make that vision a reality. Nevertheless, achieving the passage of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, would prove to be a long and challenging battle.

HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage

The movement for women’s right to vote, also known as women’s suffrage, gained momentum on a national level with the Seneca Falls Convention. Organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, this convention brought together women activists, including Susan B. Anthony, who played a significant role in raising awareness about women’s suffrage and lobbying the government for women’s voting rights (History.com Editors, 2020). Despite making considerable progress, the Civil War interrupted the efforts to secure women’s voting rights. 

However, the role of women in society began to change during the war. With many men fighting, their wives and daughters had to assume new responsibilities such as running family farms, working in factories, and taking on jobs traditionally done by men (Constitutional Rights Foundation, n.d.). After the war, women, along with ex-slaves, believed they were entitled to the right to vote. However, men held opposing views. Although the 15th Amendment prohibited the denial of voting rights based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude, it did not grant women the right to vote. Undeterred, women continued their fight for suffrage (US Constitution, n.d.).

HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage

In 1869, the all-male legislature of the Wyoming Territory passed a law granting every adult woman the right to vote and hold office. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony conspired with sympathetic male voting registrars, allowing her and other women to cast ballots in the presidential election (Constitutional Rights Foundation, n.d.). While progress was evident in the western states, such as Colorado, Utah, and Idaho, which passed women’s suffrage laws in the late 1800s, attempts to grant women the right to vote in most other states failed.

A new perception of women emerged in the 1900s, portraying them as independent and educated. By 1910, the term “feminist” was used to describe the “new woman” who aimed to liberate herself from the traditional notion of separate spheres (Constitutional Rights Foundation, n.d.). The momentum for feminism continued to grow in the western states, with Washington granting women the right to vote in 1910, followed by California in 1911. 

HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage

Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon passed similar laws the following year (Constitutional Rights Foundation, n.d.). In the 1912 election, both Republicans and Democrats opposed women’s suffrage, but the Progressive Party under Theodore Roosevelt supported it (Flexner, 1959). The Suffragist newspaper reported that in 1914, twelve states allowed women to vote in presidential elections (Flexner, 1959). The tide was turning in favor of women’s suffrage.

By 1916, the suffrage movement had gained significant national attention. In 1917, New York State granted women the right to vote, which was considered a turning point in the movement (Flexner, 1959). Finally, on June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. It was ratified on August 18, 1920, after Tennessee became the 36th state to approve it, ensuring that women in the United States had the right to vote (National Park Service, n.d.). The passage of the 19th Amendment marked a significant milestone in the women’s suffrage movement, symbolizing the triumph of decades of struggle and advocacy.

HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage LGBTQIA+ Rights

The history of LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States is marked by discrimination, prejudice, and a long and difficult struggle for acceptance and equality. Until recent decades, same-sex relationships were widely stigmatized and criminalized, often considered immoral and deviant. However, over time, LGBTQIA+ individuals and their allies have organized and fought for their rights, leading to significant progress.

In the mid-20th century, Alfred Kinsey’s research on human sexuality challenged traditional notions and shed light on the diversity of sexual orientations. His groundbreaking studies, published in the 1940s and 1950s, revealed that same-sex attraction and behaviors were more common than previously believed (History.com Editors, 2019). Kinsey’s work played a pivotal role in changing societal attitudes toward homosexuality and laid the foundation for future advancements in LGBTQIA+ rights.

HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage

Despite these early breakthroughs, LGBTQIA+ individuals faced continued discrimination and legal persecution. The 1950s and 1960s were marked by the “Lavender Scare,” a period of intense anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment fueled by the government’s efforts to identify and dismiss gay and lesbian individuals from federal employment (Adams, 2017). This era also saw the rise of gay and lesbian rights organizations, such as the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, which advocated for LGBTQIA+ rights and provided support and community for individuals facing societal rejection.

The turning point for the modern LGBTQIA+ rights movement came in 1969 with the Stonewall riots. On June 28, 1969, patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York City, resisted a police raid, leading to several days of protests and clashes with law enforcement. The Stonewall riots sparked a new era of activism and marked the birth of the gay liberation movement (National Park Service, n.d.). Activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie became prominent figures in the movement, advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights and demanding an end to discrimination and police harassment.

HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage

In the following decades, LGBTQIA+ activists organized protests, marches, and pride parades, raising awareness about the challenges faced by the community. Harvey Milk, an openly gay politician elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, became a symbol of LGBTQIA+ representation and fought for equal rights until his assassination in 1978 (San Francisco Bay Times, 2019). Despite setbacks, such as the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, which disproportionately affected the LGBTQIA+ community and highlighted existing social and healthcare disparities, progress continued.

The 21st century brought significant advancements in LGBTQIA+ rights. In 2003, the Supreme Court struck down sodomy laws in the landmark case Lawrence v. Texas, decriminalizing same-sex sexual activity in the United States (Oyez, n.d.). In 2010, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which barred openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the military, was repealed, allowing LGBTQIA+ individuals to serve openly (CNN Library, 2020). In 2013, the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), leading to federal recognition of same-sex marriages (Oyez, n.d.). Finally, in 2015, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, granting LGBTQIA+ couples the right to marry (Oyez, n.d.).

HIST 2050C Week 4 Women’s Suffrage

While significant progress has been made in LGBTQIA+ rights, challenges and discrimination persist. Transgender rights, in particular, remain a key focus of advocacy and activism. Efforts to secure legal protections, healthcare access, and social acceptance for transgender individuals are ongoing, highlighting the continued fight for equality within the LGBTQIA+ community.

In conclusion, both the women’s suffrage movement and the struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States have been marked by resilience, activism, and a commitment to equality. Women fought for decades to secure the right to vote, culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Similarly, LGBTQIA+ individuals and their allies have organized and advocated for their rights, leading to significant advancements in recent decades. While challenges remain, these movements have brought about profound social change and continue to inspire future generations in the pursuit of equality and justice.


Adams, H. (2017). The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government. University of Chicago Press. CNN Library. (2020). Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Fast Facts. CNN. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2013/06/19/us/dont-ask-dont-tell-fast-facts/index.html

Flexner, E. (1959). Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States. Harvard University Press. History.com Editors. (2019). Alfred Kinsey. History. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/kinsey-report National Park Service. (n.d.). Stonewall. National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior. Retrieved from https://www.nps.gov/ston/index.htm

Oyez. (n.d.). Lawrence v. Texas. Oyez. Retrieved from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2002/02-102

Oyez. (n.d.). United States v. Windsor. Oyez. Retrieved from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2012/12-307

Oyez. (n.d.). Obergefell v. Hodges. Oyez. Retrieved from https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556

San Francisco Bay Times. (2019). Harvey Milk: A Life in Pictures. San Francisco Bay Times. Retrieved from https://sfbaytimes.com/harvey-milk-a-life-in-pictures/