Disagreements over the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1868 (Episode 21) splintered the suffrage movement into two main groups: the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA: Stanton/Anthony) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA Stone/Blackwell/Howe). Knowing that there was more power in a united group, Alice Stone Blackwell, Lucy Stone’s daughter, helped merge the two groups in 1890 in order to become the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).
Conventions were held on local, state, and national levels to coordinate strategies and pool resources. One of the most important things that this new group did was to take all other issues off the table and concentrate solely on getting the vote. They felt that getting the vote was foundational to changing everything else that women were fighting for, such as fair labor laws, property rights, and access to education. The NAWSA also decided to pursue a state-by-state campaign rather than go for a federal amendment. It had a total of four presidents: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1890-1892), Susan B. Anthony (1892-1900), Carrie Chapman Catt (1900-1904), and Anna Howard Shaw (1915-1920) and was responsible for completing the “History of Woman Suffrage” six volume account. (Episode 32)
Although at the national level the NAWSA included all women, local and state groups were allowed to set their own rules and some chose to exclude women of color. (More on this in a later post.) Some groups even argued that because native-born white women outnumbered immigrants and African Americans, granting suffrage (to white women) would help keep minority and immigrant groups from having too much power. William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) Dubois, a famous African-American sociologist, writer, and teacher who supported suffrage, argued that no group truly has civil rights if they deny those same rights to others.
Also in 1890, Wyoming becomes the 44th state admitted to the Union. Women had the right to vote there since 1870 (Episode 23) but that was under territorial laws. Becoming a state would mean a new constitution. There was pressure to repeal suffrage in order to be allowed to become a state, but Wyoming’s legislature held firm and stated, “We will remain out of the Union one hundred years rather than come in without the women.”
This week’s song pick:
Sister by K. FLay https://youtu.be/7ZN5kYvuY6M
Episode 38 Sources:https://travelwyoming.com/wyoming-womens-suffrage