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Social Movements and Constitutional Change: Women's Suffrage In this activity, you will analyze documents to arrange events on a timeline of women's suffrage. The timeline and documents will help you understand the intersection of social movements and constitutional change.
Objectives Students will construct a timeline of the women's suffrage movement. 2. Students will analyze primary sources in order to determine the significance of social movements in creating constitutional change. 3. Students will be able to describe the goals and tactics of the women's suffrage movement. 1.
Instructions Step 1: Divide into small groups of 3-5 and put your desks together to create a table and to clear it completely. All you will need for the activity is a writing utensil, but you will need lots of space to arrange your timelines. 2. Step 2: Let’s quickly review the process for ratifying an amendment -- think about the role of activists and social movements in pressuring Congressional and state leaders to pass and ratify amendments. 3. Step 3: Please locate, on the board, the four steps of social movements and change (in random order): ACHIEVE the goal ORGANIZE a movement DEMAND a change PERSUADE the public/officials o What is the correct order for achieving a social change?. o Why do you think some things have to happen before others? 4. Step 4: Each group will get a set of event cards. You are to put them in the order you think they go, based on your prior knowledge or the logic of the DEMAND-ORGANIZE-PERSUADE-ACHIEVE rubric as discussed above. After you have arranged your timelines, you will use primary sources to determine the correct order of events. 1.
Step 5: Let’s now analyze the documents. Your directions are as follows: For each document, the group should read the document together, and then answer the questions on the "document understanding check" worksheet. When the group has answered the questions, you should send a "runner" to the teacher. The teacher should check the answers and give them a "date card" to add to the event card if you are correct. (If you are incorrect, you should try again.) When you retrieve the date card, you should also pick
up a new document and worksheet. You will pick which document you would like to work on next, though you will complete all documents by the end of the activity. 6. Step 6: As groups finish, you will work independently to answer the following synthesis question: a. Review the four steps of social movements and change: DEMAND a change, ORGANIZE a movement, PERSUADE the public/officials, ACHIEVE the goal. Write 1-2 paragraphs describing how the women's suffrage movement resulted in the 19th Amendment. Cite at least FOUR of the documents in the activity. b. Any students who don't complete the synthesis question in class should complete it for homework.
Historical Context In the early republic, despite a few scattered pleas and a short period of suffrage in New Jersey, women were excluded from the franchise and from civic life generally. In the antebellum period, though, women significantly participated in many reform movements, testing the boundaries of socially and politically acceptable behavior for their gender. In 1848, a small group of women and men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York to call for full civic rights for women. After the Civil War, when the national discourse centered around constitutional change and expanding voting and civil rights to former slaves, suffragists were hopeful that their enfranchisement might also be accomplished. Republican leaders, as well as some suffrage activists who had previously been active in the abolition movement, however, worried that including "sex" as a provision of the 15th Amendment would weaken its chances of passage, scuttled the proposal. Although the first call for a women's suffrage amendment was introduced into Congress in 1878, it would not be until 1920 that the nation ratified the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women's right to vote. Throughout this long period, suffrage activists adopted many different tactics, including circulating petitions, holding parades, and acts of civil disobedience. They made their case in the courts, in newspapers and magazines, and in the public sphere. They organized supporters at the local and state levels to put pressure on politicians to enfranchise women locally and to ratify an amendment should the opportunity arise. They also maintained a headquarters in Washington, D.C. to pressure Congressional leaders, as well as to demonstrate in front of the White House for their basic civic rights.
Note: This activity requires some preparation of materials ahead of time. The teacher should print out and cut apart the event cards and date cards, making enough sets for each group. The teacher should keep the date and event cards separate, so that the date cards can be passed out as "rewards" when the students finish analyzing each document. It is recommended to print cards on cardstock and laminate them, if possible, to improve sturdiness. In a professional development workshop for teachers, ASHP used sentence strips to create timelines and affixed the cards with velcro to the timelines.
The attached Smartboard Notebook file contains slides for each of the steps in the activity, as well as a completed timeline for reference. The Tic-Tac-Toe board numbered 1-9 allows students to pick at random a document to analyze, if the teacher wishes to introduce a more game-like element to the activity.
Document Understanding Check: THE SUPREME COURT DECLARES THAT THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT PROTECT WOMEN’S RIGHT TO VOTE
1. Who was Virginia Minor and what did she do?
2. According to this Supreme Court decision, do all citizens have the right to vote? Why or why not?
3. What part of the government has the power to change the law?
Document Understanding Check: WOMEN APPEAL FOR A SUFFRAGE AMENDMENT
1. Why did some suffrage activists oppose the 15
2. What was the goal of the N.W.S.A.’s petition drive? th a. To express anger about the 15 Amendment b. To build support for a women’s suffrage amendment c. To celebrate the nation’s centennial 3. Circle the reasons that the N.W.S.A. gives for why women should be able to vote: Women have to serve in the military Women are half the population Women cannot be corrupted Women help teach the nation’s children Women have to pay taxes Women are morally superior to men
Document Understanding Check: ALICE PAUL HANGS THE RATIFICATION BANNER AT SUFFRAGE HEADQUARTERS
1. What event are the people in the photograph celebrating?
2. What do the stars on the flag represent?
3. Congress passed the 19 Amendment in 1919. What had to happen before it could be ratified?
4. Read the original caption to the photograph. Why did the author call the stars on the flag “victory stars”?
5. Look closely at the photograph. How would you describe the mood of the photograph? What details help you decide?
Document Understanding Check: PETITION FROM THE CITIZENS OF MASSACHUSETTS IN SUPPORT OF WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE
1. This petition is asking [Congress / the President] to support an amendment for women’s suffrage. 2. The signers of the petition wanted women to be able to ___________. 3. This petition was signed by residents of ________________________,
Massachusetts in [1879 / 1889]. 4. The signatures on this petition were gathered by [ Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton / local activists in Massachusetts ].
5. How many men signed the petition? _____________ How many women signed the petition? ______________ How many people total signed the petition? ______________
Document Understanding Check: “VOTES FOR WOMEN”
1. Draw a line matching the drawing to the profession depicted in the cartoon:
2. What is the best definition of “to unsex a woman”? a) to make women behave like men b) to make women less attractive 3. This cartoon (supports / opposes) the right of women to vote.
Document Understanding Check: MAP OF WOMEN’S VOTING RIGHTS, 1880 AND 1910
1. Use the map to complete the chart with the number of states and territories that permitted women to vote in each year: 1880
FULL VOTING RIGHTS
PARTIAL VOTING RIGHTS
2. List at least TWO methods activists used to gain suffrage at the local and state levels between 1880 and 1910.
3. In general, between 1880 and 1910, [ more / fewer ] women were able to vote.
Document Understanding Check: THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S PARTY PICKETS THE WHITE HOUSE
1. What is the best meaning of the word “to picket”? a. To threaten to go to war unless one’s demands are satisfied b. To protest in front of a building c. To break the law on purpose in order to change government policy
2. How many picketers are there in front of the White House? 3. Do they look like they are blocking traffic?
4. “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed” means: a. governments are only legitimate if their citizens support them b. governments can do whatever they want, no matter what citizens think 5. List two of the three ways women became more militant in the late 1910s:
Document Understanding Check: THE DECLARATION OF SENTIMENTS (EDITED)
1. Read the quote and answer the question below: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” — Declaration of Independence, 1776
How has the opening statement in this document been changed? Explain the reason for the change. _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________ 2. What do the authors of the Declaration of Sentiments insist should be given to women? 3. According to the last sentence, why should women receive all the rights and privileges?
4. The Declaration of Sentiments gives several examples of how women are treated unfairly. Match the original phrases to the meanings below:
Document Understanding Check: TEN THOUSAND WOMEN MARCH FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE
1. Where does this photograph take place?
2. What details in the photograph suggest the growing strength of the suffrage movement?
3. What event did women protest in Washington, D.C.?
4. Why did suffragists begin holding parades?
The National Women’s Party Pickets the White House A new militant suffrage group, the National Women’s Party (NWP), formed in 1916. Led by Alice Paul, the NWP began picketing the White House. The militants criticized President Woodrow Wilson for going to war “to make the world safe for democracy” in World War I, while in the United States women were denied the right to vote. Police arrested the picketers for blocking traffic and a judge sentenced them to seven months in prison. Paul and other prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest the harsh treatment they received there. The willingness of the picketers to be arrested, their campaign for recognition as political prisoners rather than as criminals, and their acts of civil disobedience in jail shocked the nation and brought attention and support to their cause.
Helena Hill Weed serving a 3 day sentence in prison for carrying a banner reading “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”
Militant: strongly active and aggressive in support of a cause
Civil disobedience: refusing to obey certain laws in order to change a law or government policy
Photograph of fourteen suffragists picketing in front of the White House in 1917. The banner reads “Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty”
Source: “Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk, Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, ‘Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.’” 1917, photograph, Library of Congress, Records of the National Woman's Party collection, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mnwp.275034. Harris & Ewing, Washington D.C., “Photograph of fourteen suffragists in overcoats on picket line, holding suffrage banners in front of the White House. One banner reads: ‘Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty’. White House visible in background.” 1917, photograph, Library of Congress, Records of the National Woman's Party collection, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mnwp.160022.
Women’s Suffrage Prior to Nineteenth Amendment Although early suffragists were not successful in passing a federal constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote, th th activists worked hard at the local and state levels throughout the late 19 and early 20 centuries. They formed local
organizations, proposed new state laws, and campaigned for state-wide referenda that gave women the right to vote in some elections, often those relating to education (for example, school board elections). In 1869, the Wyoming territory granted women the right to vote in all elections, a right they kept when Wyoming was admitted as a state in 1890. Many other western territories and states did the same.
Map of Women’s Voting Rights in 1880
Map of Women’s Voting Rights in 1910
Referenda: A direct popular vote on a proposed law or constitutional amendment
The Declaration of Sentiments (edited) In 1848 a group of 300 women and men, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York to outline a list of demands for women’s equality. The Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, included a list of grievances directed at the male-led government. It was signed by sixty-eight women and thirty-two men, including Frederick Douglass. Women’s rights activists held annual conventions until the Civil War broke out in 1861.
. . . We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, [in order to establish] an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to [the] world.
Grievances: complaints, protests
Inalienable rights: rights that every human being should have Repeated injuries and usurpations: constant insults and attempts to take away her power Absolute tyranny: total control
He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to [vote].
He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice . . . Having deprived her of this first right of a citizen, the [vote], leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides. He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life. Now . . . we insist that [women] have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States.
Deprived: kept away on purpose
Oppressed: To keep down by unjust power Endeavored: worked Abject: hopeless and pathetic Immediate admission to: be given right away
Source: “Declaration of Sentiments,” 1848; in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, A History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 1 (Rochester, N.Y.: Fowler and Wells, 1889), pages 70-71.
Alice Paul Hangs the Ratification Banner at Suffrage Headquarters After Congress approved the 19th Amendment in June 1919, the amendment had to be ratified by three fourths of the states. Fortunately, suffragists were well organized at the local level to pressure state legislatures into approving the amendment. To keep track of the amendment’s progress, the National Women’s Party created a “ratification flag”, sewing on a star for each state that ratified the amendment. When Tennessee became the 36th state to approve the amendment—and the final of the necessary three-fourths of the states—triumphant suffragists, led by Alice Paul, hung the flag in Washington, D.C on August 18, 1920.
"Upon the word that Tennessee had ratified, Alice Paul unfurled the Woman's Party ratification banner with its thirtysix victory stars, and from the balcony of the headquarters it proclaims the triumph of the cause for which the Woman's Party was founded--the national enfranchisement of the women of America."
SOURCE | National Photo Company, When Tennessee the 36th state ratified, Aug 18, 1920, Alice Paul, National Chairman of the Woman's Party, unfurled the ratification banner from Suffrage headquarters, in The Suffragist, Vol. 8, No. 8, (September 1920); from Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. CREATOR | National Photo Company ITEM TYPE | Photograph
The Supreme Court Declares that the Constitution Does Not Protect Women’s Right to Vote th
Female suffragists were disappointed when the final language of the 15 Amendment did not specifically protect the right of women to vote. Some women activists opposed the amendment for this reason. Virginia Minor was one of those activists. Partly inspired by western territories granting universal suffrage, partly to test how well the th th 14 and 15 Amendment would protect women’s rights, Minor tried to register to vote in 1872. After she was denied, Minor and her husband sued the registrar; the case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The court delivered this unanimous decision.
The question is presented in this case, whether, since the adoption of the 14th amendment, a woman, who is a citizen of the United States…has the right of suffrage… There is no doubt that women may be citizens…sex has never been made one of the elements of citizenship in the United States. In this respect men have never had an advantage over men… The direct question is…whether all citizens are necessarily voters. It certainly is nowhere made so in express terms. …It cannot for a moment be doubted that if it had been intended to make all citizens of the United States voters, the framers of the Constitution would not have left it to implication. …[It] is now too late to contend that a government is not republican…because women are not made voters… If suffrage was intended to be included within its obligations, language better adapted to express that intent would have been employed.
Vocabulary Registrar: the person who keeps official voting records Suffrage: right to vote
Would not have left it to implication: would have spelled it out
Republican: a form of government in which people elect leaders to represent them
…If the law is wrong, it ought to be changed; but the power for that is not with us… No argument as to woman’s need of suffrage can be considered. We can only act upon her rights as they exist… Source: U.S. Supreme Court, Minor vs. Happersett, 1875; in Linda K. Kerber and Jane De Hart Matthews, Women’s America; Refocusing the Past (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982).
Women Appeal for a Suffrage Amendment th
Suffrage activists were disappointed that the 15 Amendment did not explicitly protect women’s right to vote. Susan B. Anthony and others formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, based in Washington, D.C., to pressure Congress to pass an amendment that would guarantee women’s suffrage. The N.W.S.A. sent this appeal to hundreds of local groups, calling for a large petition drive to build support in Congress for a women’s suffrage amendment. Two years later, Senator Sargent of California, a friend of Anthony’s, introduced a women’s suffrage amendment. Within four years, both the Senate and House of Representatives had formed “special committees” on women’s suffrage.
To the Women of the United States: Vocabulary Having celebrated our Centennial birthday with a National jubilee, let us now dedicate the dawn of the Second Century to securing justice to Woman. For this purpose we ask you to circulate a petition to Congress, just issued by the “National Woman Suffrage Association,” asking an amendment to the United States Constitution, that shall prohibit the several states from disfranchising any of their citizens on account of Sex… …We urge the women of this country to make now the same united effort for their own rights, that they did for the slaves at the south, when the 13th amendment was pending… [Then] the leading statesmen who welcomed woman’s untiring efforts to secure the black man’s freedom, frowned down the same demands when made for herself. Is not liberty as sweet to her as to him? …[Making up] as we do one-half the people, bearing the burdens of one-half the National debt, equally responsible with man for the education, religion and morals of the rising generation, let us with united voice send forth a protest against the present political status of Woman…
Suffrage: right to vote Centennial: celebration of th
Jubilee: a large celebration for a special occasion
Circulate: pass around Disfranchising: preventing a person from voting Pending: being debated
Source: National Woman Suffrage Association, “Appeal for a Sixteenth Amendment,” 10 November 1876, (Washington, D.C.: National Archives).
Ten Thousand Women March for the Right to Vote Suffrage activists staged a huge parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City on May 10, 1913. Over 10,000 women and men marched, and a crowd of over half a million lined the streets to watch. New Yorkers were inspired by women who had marched in protest during Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration two months earlier in Washington, D.C. There, suffragists were spit on and attacked. By parading, women claimed a place for themselves in the public sphere. The tactic was borrowed from the labor movement and reflects the growing influence of working women in the suffrage movement.
SOURCE | H.H. Russell, [Suffrage parade marching north on Fifth Avenue at 26th Street.], circa 10 May 1913, from National American Women Suffrage Association records, Manuscripts and Archives Division, New York Public Library, http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?PS_MSS_CD22_338. CREATOR | H.H. Russell ITEM TYPE | Photograph
Petition from the Citizens of Massachusetts in Support of Women’s Suffrage During the 1870s and 1880s, hundreds of petitions bearing the signatures of thousands of people flooded Congress, asking for a suffrage amendment. Local activists went door-to-door in their communities, gathering the signatures of sympathetic women and men. These Massachusetts activists followed a template circulated by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the template provided the proper wording for a petition and suggested that there be separate places for the signatures of men (who could vote) and women (who could not). Suffrage leaders compared their methods to similar antislavery petition drives, also led by women, in the antebellum period.
Vocabulary Petitions: requests signed by many people
Suffrage: right to vote Template: example Antebellum: before the Civil War
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States. In Congress Assembled: The undersigned, citizens of the United States, Residents of the State of Massachusetts, County of Essex, City of Salem, earnestly pray your Honorable Body to submit to the several States the following Amendment to the National Constitution, now pending in Congress (Senate Resolution No. 55, House Resolution No. 175)
Vocabulary Pending: being debated
Article 16 Sec. 1. The right of suffrage in the United States shall be based on citizenship, and the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any state on account of sex, or for any reason not equally applicable to all citizens of the United States.
Sec. 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Men (List of Signatures)
Women (List of Signatures)
Source: Petition from the Citizens of Massachusetts in Support of Women’s Suffrage, circa 1879 (Washington D.C.: National Archives).
"Votes for Women" Those opposed to women’s suffrage claimed that participating in politics would expose women to the sort of immorality and corruption from which they were usually shielded in their traditional role as housewives. In time, as one anti-suffragist warned, the vote would “turn women into men,” and they would neglect their domestic duties of raising children and keeping house. Such charges conveniently ignored the many thousands of women who were part of the workforce in the early twentieth century. Women cartoonists such as Katherine Milhous and Jessie Banks pointed out that earning a living as factory workers, nurses, or domestic servants did not “unsex” women, and neither would voting.
SOURCE | Katherine Milhous, “Votes for Women,” postcard, circa 1915, Alice Marshall Collection, Penn State University Libraries, Camp Hill, PA. CREATOR | Katherine Milhous RIGHTS | Used by permission of Penn State University Libraries. ITEM TYPE | Cartoon