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Women’s History Month

todayMarch 8, 2022 15

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Women’s History Month

By Hannah Dunbar


Happy Women’s History Month! The month of March is Women’s History Month and It is a great time to read about female historical figures that you may be unfamiliar with. Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on the courage of women in past generations and to celebrate how their efforts and bravery afforded women the opportunities and freedoms they have today.


The National Women’s History Project (NWHP) was founded in 1980 in Santa Rosa, California by Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett, and Bette Morgan to broadcast women’s historical achievements.


We all should recognize the women in history because they were the ones to prove that women can be whatever they want to be. Did you know that hand sanitizer was actually created by a woman? Her name is Lupe Hernandez. I did not learn about this in school and was shocked to find this information out.


Women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul all were women’s rights activists. They all shared a common goal and without them, we would not be where we are today. It is always good to look back and honor those who helped our history. They fought back against a misogynistic society in order to give women the right to do as they please and the right to vote.



Susan B. Anthony

Born on Feb. 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts, Susan B. Anthony grew up to play a pivotal role in the women’s suffrage movement. From an early age, Anthony was inspired by the Quaker belief that everyone was equal under God. That ideology of hers guided her throughout her entire life. She had seven brothers and sisters, many of whom became activists for justice and emancipation of slaves as well.


After her years of teaching, Anthony went to New York to reunite with her family. In New York, she met two of her father’s friends- William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. As she listened to what they had to say, she was moved by it and wanted to do more to help slavery. Susan became an abolition activist, even though most people thought it was improper for women to give speeches in public in those times. Anthony made many passionate speeches against slavery.


In the year of 1851, Anthony met another women’s activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two women became good friends and worked together for about 50 years fighting for women’s rights. The duo traveled the country together and Anthony gave speeches demanding that women be given the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony risked being arrested for sharing her ideas in public.

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton co-founded the American Equal Rights Association. They became editors of the Association’s newspaper, The Revolution, which helped to spread the ideas of equality and rights for women in 1868. Susan began to lecture to raise money for publishing the newspaper and to support the suffrage movement. She became famous throughout the U.S.


When the 14th and 15th Amendment (this gave voting rights to African American men) was passed by Congress, Anthony and Stanton were furious over it as it did not give women the right to vote. They thought that the amendments should also have given women the right to vote. The two formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, to push for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote.


Anthony was arrested in 1872 for voting and she was tried and fined $100 for her crime. This incident made many people angry and brought national attention to the suffrage movement. In 1876, she led a protest at the 1876 Centennial of our nation’s independence. She gave a speech called the “Declaration of Rights” written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and another activist, Matilda Joslyn Gage.


Anthony spent her entire life working and fighting for the rights of women. She helped to merge the two largest suffrage associations into one, the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1888. Anthony led the group until 1900. She traveled around the country giving speeches, gathering thousands of signatures on petitions, and lobbying Congress every year for women. Anthony sadly died in 1906- which was 14 years before women were given the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.



Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a close friend of Susan B. Anthony. She was born on Nov. 12, 1815, in Johnstown, NY. Stanton was the daughter of Margaret Livingston and Daniel Cady, Johnstown’s most prominent citizens.


In 1840, she married abolitionist lecturer Henry Stanton and she too, became an activist in the anti-slavery movement and worked alongside leading abolitionists of the day including Angelina Grimke, and William Lloyd Garrison.


During her honeymoon, Stanton met abolitionist Lucretia Mott, who, like her, was also angry about the exclusion of women at the proceedings. The two ladies became friends instantly. Eight years later, in 1848, the duo held the first Woman’s Rights convention at Seneca Falls, NY.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Stanton was the author of “The Declaration of Sentiments,” which expanded on the Declaration of Independence by adding the word “woman” or “women” throughout. This pivotal document called for social and legal changes to elevate women’s place in society. It listed 18 grievances from the inability to control their wages and property or the difficulty in gaining custody in divorce to the lack of the right to vote. That same year, Stanton went around and circled petitions throughout the state of New York to urge the New York Congress to pass the New York Married Women’s Property Act.


It was in 1851 that Stanton met Susan B. Anthony and the two hit it off. They collaborated on speeches, articles, and books.


Stanton also was involved in the Civil War in 1862, joining Anthony to advocate for the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery.


Stanton and Anthony opposed the 14th and 15th amendments to the US Constitution, which gave voting rights to black men, but did not extend the franchise to women. This is what made the two create the NWSA.


Alice Paul


Alice Paul was born on Jan. 11, 1885, in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Paul was a vocal leader of the twentieth century women’s suffrage movement. Alice Paul advocated for and helped secure passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote.


Paul attended Swarthmore College, a Quaker school which was co-founded by her grandfather, graduating with a biology degree in 1905. She also attended the New York School of Philanthropy (now known as Columbia University) and received a Master of Arts degree in sociology in 1907. Then Paul went to England to study social work, and after returning, earned a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1910.

Alice Paul

While in England, Alice Paul met a woman named Lucy Burns, and joined the women’s suffrage efforts there. When the two went back to the U.S. in 1912, Paul and Burns joined the NAWSA, with Paul leading the Washington, DC chapter. NAWSA primarily focused on state-by-state campaigns; Paul preferred to lobby Congress for a constitutional amendment. Such differences led Paul and others to split with NAWSA and form the National Woman’s Party.


On March 3, 1913, approximately eight thousand women marched with banners and floats down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. On April 7, Paul organized a demonstration and founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage to focus specifically on lobbying Congress.


In January 1917, Paul and over 1,000 “Silent Sentinels” began eighteen months of picketing the White House, standing at the gates with such signs as, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” The women endured verbal and physical attacks from spectators, which only increased more after the U.S. entered World War I. The police arrested them on the flimsy charge of obstructing traffic and Paul was sentenced to jail for seven months. While in jail, Paul organized a hunger strike in protest. This only made the doctors threaten to send her to an insane asylum and force-feed her.


After U.S. President Woodrow Wilson announced his support for suffrage in 1918, it took two more years for the Senate, House, and the required 36 states to approve the amendment.


Once this amendment was finally approved, Alice Paul and the National Women’s Party focused on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to guarantee women constitutional protection from discrimination. Paul spent her life advocating for this and other women’s issues.


There are many more amazing historical women figures to look up to. I always implore people to learn. These women sacrificed so much just for the future generation to have better lives and equality. Today, women still fight for equal rights but these women from the past are the ones who helped give those the courage to fight and speak up.

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