Women Reformers and the Suffragettes

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Discuss why some suffragettes, such as Elizabeth Caddy Stanton, did not support the Fifteen Amendment.

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Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) is sometimes credited with launching the American women's rights movement through the organization of the Seneca Falls Convention (1848) and the publication of her "Declaration of Sentiments." At the end of the American Civil War (1861-1865), there was an effort to link the cause of women's equality with the popular cause of black equality and voting rights. Then, in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution granted equal rights before the law to all men born in the country, including freed slaves, but not to women. Many prominent abolitionist men who supported the cause of women's rights, including Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), favored giving first priority to the cause of the emancipation of black Americans. The Fifteenth Amendment (1870), which allowed African American men the right to vote, and not women, constituted yet another defeat of women's equality for Cady Stanton and those suffragists allied with her. She had devoted her life to women's emancipation and, while she was the daughter of an abolitionist and an active supporter of abolitionism herself, the extension of suffrage to African American men emphasized the failure of the government to grant women's suffrage. Women's right to vote in the United States was not granted until much later, eighteen years after Cady Stanton's death, with the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

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