In the first place, it is worth noting that the women's suffrage movement progressed at about the same pace in the United States of America as it did in other developed nations. In the United Kingdom, for instance, women over thirty achieved the franchise in 1918, but it was not...
In the first place, it is worth noting that the women's suffrage movement progressed at about the same pace in the United States of America as it did in other developed nations. In the United Kingdom, for instance, women over thirty achieved the franchise in 1918, but it was not until 1928 that women gained full parity with men in voting. Several European nations enfranchised women earlier than the United States, but only a few years earlier: 1913 in Norway, 1915 in Denmark, while France and Switzerland lagged far behind in this regard. Switzerland did not give women the vote until 1971, later than Yemen and Afghanistan. In this context, the United States cannot be said to have taken an unusually long time to enfranchise its female population.
There had, however, been a longstanding women's rights movement formally campaigning in America since the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. Opponents of the movement often argued that women were not sufficiently educated to vote, an easy case to make since there were no women's colleges in America until the foundation of Wesleyan and Mount Holyoke in the 1830s, and most institutions of higher education remained closed to women well into the twentieth century. It was also widely argued that most women did not want the right to vote. Again, this case was superficially convincing, since the proportion of any large group which campaigns for anything is always small. Most African Americans were not active members of the civil rights movement, and it is scarcely surprising that only a small minority of women were vocal suffragists.
There was no single strategy in the campaign for women to gain the franchise. Alice Paul, for instance, adopted a confrontational approach to sexism, while Lucy Burns was diplomatic and persuasive, countering arguments about the intellectual inferiority of women by demonstrating her own intelligence and thoughtfulness in debate. However, perhaps the most fruitful approach was that of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Carrie Chapman Catt. Catt, despite her pacifist beliefs, supported the war effort when America entered the First World War and subsequently argued that the patriotic efforts of women had been vital in gaining victory, conclusively proving that women should have equal voting rights. It was this argument that finally prevailed, persuading Congress to pass the Nineteenth Amendment, which had first been introduced more than four decades earlier, in 1878.