WHEN THE CONSTITUTION WAS WRITTEN, THE FRAMERS LEFT VOTING LAWS UP TO THE STATES, AND WOMEN AND BLACK MEN WERE NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE. BUT EVEN THOSE PEOPLE WHO COULDN’T VOTE WERE AFFECTED BY LAWS.
It was July 19th, 1848. Janine stood outside the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York. Through the window, she could see women talking together as they streamed into the chapel. Janine could feel the excitement in the air, the same excitement that she felt when she first saw the announcement for “A Convention to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women…” in the Seneca County Courier last week. This was the beginning of the fight for women’s rights, but it would be over 70 more years before the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote. Through a crack in the door, Janine was inspired by hearing Elizabeth Cady Stanton:
We are assembled to protest against a form of government, existing without the consent of the governed – to declare our right to be free as man is free, to be represented in the government which we are taxed to support, to have such disgraceful laws as give man the power to chastise and imprison his wife, to take the wages which she earns, the property which she inherits, and, in case of separation, the children of her love; laws test against such unjust laws as these that we are assembled today, and to have them, if possible, forever erased from our statute-books…
After Seneca Falls, Janine knew that she wanted to be part of the women’s suffrage movement. She spent years attending parades, marches, and protests, side-by-side with women and men who believed all citizens should be able to vote. The suffragettes were strong, even when faced with violence or anger by those who didn’t think women should vote. And on August 18, 1920, an 80-year-old Janine proudly shared her role in history as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. But while this movement was a success, it didn’t guarantee the rights of all women. There were still many struggles ahead for women of color who wanted to vote. Like the women in Seneca Falls, Black suffragists also organized to push to share the same rights as white women.
A representative democracy is a system of government where all eligible citizens vote to elect people to pass laws for them. Investigate the primary sources. What evidence from the primary sources can you find to support your argument that American women should be able to vote? Did this argument support all women’s rights? Make your case.
Have your students take this challenge and make their case! To begin, send your students to this website with this challenge’s code.
A representative democracy is a system of government where all eligible citizens vote to elect people to pass laws for them. For example, in the U.S., we elect a president and members of the Congress.