Social conflicts happen in a society with favoritism or discrimination to some groups of people. A conflict occurs when the ideologies of two people differ. History is full of injustices, which led to uprisings from the people who felt oppressed as it happened in the United Sates, leading to Women Suffrage Movement. In brief, the suffragist women’s movement began with the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. Women, at the time, questioned their role in political and economic situation, in a society that claimed to be democratic. Therefore, through this movement, women struggled to achieve their rights. Firstly, it is important to understand the Women’s Suffrage Movement before analyzing it wholly.
The Beginning of Women Suffrage Movement
Historically, women in the United States could not vote as their male counterparts. Before the exclusion of women from voting in 1807, women could vote with restrictions of possessing a minimum of fifty dollars in cash or a property of approximately $ 7, 800. A wealthy woman, by the name Lydia Taft, remains the only woman who was allowed to vote in the colonial era. Thereafter, a law was passed banning women from voting. During the early stages, the denial to vote agitated few individuals. For example, Scottish and Polish women differently carried out campaigns against discrimination of women from voting.
Abolitionist and the suffragists
As indicated earlier, women campaign for the right to vote began before the Civil War. The period between 1820s and 1830s in the United States marked a revolutionary time. During this time, most states had extended the license to trade products to virtually all white men, irrespective of their financial and wealth status. Different reform groups emerged too in a wave of reform that was sweeping across the United States. Women played different roles in the groups that came up. There were religious groups and moral-reform associations that sought justice in the society. Since women felt that they played a significant role in the society, they began developing hatred towards men who underestimated them (Adams, 2003). Most people at the time believed that women character could only be pious, submissive and confined to home and family chores. All these events significantly changed the minds of many women and a new way of thinking began.
In 1848, a collective group of anti-slavery/abolitionist activists gathered in Seneca Falls, New York. The activists were mostly women though some men also attended. The meeting, organized by Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott, focused mainly on the women’s problems. During the meeting, there was a proposal for women’s right to vote, which became the major topic. Most delegates who attended the meeting agreed that women were able to make decisions as free as independent individuals. The convention, therefore, adopted “Declaration of Sentiments”, which proclaimed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by the creator with certain rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (Rife & Smith, 2002) The statement that women deserved the right to vote became clear at this time.
By the 1850s, women rights movement had gained ground and was spreading in the United States. However, the Civil War affected the proliferation of the movement in a considerable way. Therefore, not many events took place, and the momentum of the campaign flew into thin air. Almost immediately after Civil War, an opportunity presented itself for the questioning of suffrage and citizenship. This was because of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. The 14th amendment, ratified in the year 1868, allowed Constitution to protect all citizens, defined as male. The 15th amendment of 1870, on the other hand, allowed black men to vote.
Since there were discussions about these amendments and their effects, a section of advocate women, including Stanton and Susan Anthony, seized the opportunity to push lawmakers to adopt universal suffrage. In order to ensure attention to their grievances, these women refused to back up the 15th Amendment. They also received support from racist Southerners who argued for the voting of the white women to neutralize the votes of African-Americans. Subsequently, the faction led to the formation of National Women Suffrage Association fighting for universal suffrage amendment to the Constitution. A different section of citizens argued that it was unfair to put into jeopardy the trade of blacks by conjoining it with quite unpopular campaign for female suffrage. This section came after 15th Amendment and formed a group called American Woman Suffrage Association. Amongst its campaign was licensing of trade on a state-to-state basis. Animosity developed between the two associations.
Progressive Campaign for Suffrage
The animosity between the two associations above finally faded away around the year 1890. In fact, the two groups joined hands and formed an umbrella body called the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The famous activist Elizabeth Stanton became the first president of the organization. During the joining, the suffrage activists changed their approach. Instead of arguing the need for equality from creation, they adopted an approach that women deserved to vote because they were not the same with men. The activists also believed that, through their domesticity and accommodativeness of ideas, they could change the system of trading into a pure and moral (fair) trade (Adams, 2003).
The arguments of the women campaigning for suffrage received different reactions from the politicians. Firstly, temperance advocates thought that by allowing women to vote it was going to be easy to expand voting bloc and make it enormous. Secondly, many middle-class white citizens fell for the idea that white women voters would change the economy. Arguable, the entrenchment of white women and, subsequently, it would result in enhancement of durable supremacy of the white in the United States.
Winning the vote
The beginning of 1910 marked the period when some states in the US started to allow women to vote. These successful actions began in the west. The Southern and Eastern states were still adamant. However, Chapman Carrie Catt, the then president of NAWSA, unveiled a strategy she called the “Winning Plan” in 1916. The plan's sole aim was to get the vote in all states. Different campaigns were organized through mobilization of the local people and organizations targeted from recalcitrant regions. During the same time, different sections of society, with their group called National Women’s Party, focused on militants trying to make radical steps. The party’s aim was to make voting terms the same for both sexes. In other places, hunger strikes took place. In order to ensure that the campaign gained publicity, the women went to White House with pickets.
Suffrage movements dwindled with the onset of World War I. Though it slowed the campaigns, the war significantly advanced the arguments further. The National Women’s Party, with the leadership of Alice Paul, picketed outside the White House. The announcement by Wilson that World War II was for democracy also enhanced the campaigns because women felt that it was not true. Even though Wilson ignored the protests, the women pressed on and never gave up. During a series of protests that took place at this time, many women were arrested but later released. Finally, on 26 August 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified allowing women to vote (Cooney, 2005).
Analysis Basing on Five Concerns
Appreciation is the understanding and acknowledgement of the other person's or parties' views. Conflict emanates from the difference in the views that people hold (Fisher & Shapiro, 2006). The Women Suffrage Movements that arisen in United States was a culminating of failure by the leaders to appreciate the women’s views. Women played a vital role in the society, and they felt that they should be involved in political decisions. Hence, they argued that, given a chance, they could promote revolutionary leaders. However, blinded by the chauvinism, men did not pay attention to the women’s rights.
The 19th century marked many revolutions as discussed earlier. Since women played major roles in reforming religions and morality, they felt affiliated to their male counterparts. The association in the decision making of leaders through voting, according to these women, would enhance the feeling of belonging. The connectedness to similar goals enabled different women’s associations join hands, and that is why they succeeded.
Voting is a process of choosing leader who leads every citizen, even those who vote against him or her. Women deprivation to vote amounted to infringement on their rights to make decisions.
The change of the approach used by NAWSA to equality basing on the difference of women and men showed the significance of status. The understanding of a person or groups position forms the basis of appreciation, and this is the point that women stood for.
Women felt that just as they play an essential role in domestic affairs, they also required the same position in the political arena. A section of women argued the effects of voting on the economy, and this shows their significance in the society. Hence, they campaigned for equal rights to vote.
The Women Suffrage Movement in United States aimed at winning the right to vote by women. Women believed that freedom meant liberation of the mind, and subsequent opening of opportunities took a significant role in creating of better society.