Social Change in the Nineteenth Century Questions and Answers

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Why did some feminists support passage of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution while others opposed it?

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The passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 caused a lasting rift within the movement for women's suffrage in the United States. The cause of securing a woman's right to vote was linked to the cause of abolitionism since long before the Civil War. Many of the women's rights leaders were also fervent abolitionists. They saw the two causes as being linked. The right to vote for one group, they felt, would lead to universal suffrage.

Many women in the movement, such as Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone, saw the inclusion of blacks in the voter rolls as a step in the right direction for their cause, even though it did not include women. If black men were given the vote, they reasoned, women were surely about to get their rights soon. They felt the two movements were connected and that what was good for one was also beneficial for the other.

However, other leaders in the movement for women's suffrage, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, saw the Fifteenth Amendment as a blow...

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