The legal right of women in the United States of America to vote, U.S. women’s suffrage was established nationally in 1920. An attorney and a keen advocate for social justice and women’s rights based in Denver, Colorado, Kelly Hyman takes a closer look at the subject as she reveals more about women’s suffrage in the United States.
“Established over the course of more than 50 years, women’s suffrage wasn’t recognized nationally in the United States until less than a century ago,” reveals Hyman.
More than half a century in the making, first in individual states and localities, and often on a limited basis, women’s suffrage in the U.S. was finally established nationally in 1920. Yet, in fact, according to Hyman, the same demand for women’s suffrage dates back as far as the 1840s. “Emerging from the broader women’s rights movement which was gathering pace at the time, the subject of suffrage became a key area of focus among many of those involved in the movement by the time that the inaugural National Women’s Rights Convention came around in 1850,” explains the attorney.
It was not, however, until the late 1860s that the first national suffrage organizations were established. Two competing groups, one led jointly by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and one by Lucy Stone, would later join forces, in 1890, to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
“Another organization, around during the same period and known as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, also pursued the same cause, giving a further boost to the women’s suffrage movement,” adds Kelly Hyman. “Throughout the 1870s and 1880s,” she continues, “suffragists made numerous attempts to vote, filing lawsuits when they were turned away.”
Indeed, in 1872, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who would later become the head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, succeeded in voting but was quickly arrested for the act. Found guilty in a widely publicized trial, the women’s suffrage movement gained fresh momentum as a result. “What ultimately followed was a decades-long campaign for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Hyman reveals, “which would enfranchise women, and which began in earnest working for suffrage on a largely state-by-state basis.”
Years later and more than a decade-and-a-half into the 20th century, American suffragist, feminist, and women’s rights activist Alice Paul formed the National Woman’s Party. “Established in 1916, the National Woman’s Party was focused on the passage of a national suffrage amendment,” explains Hyman.
Picketing the White House the following year, in 1917, more than 200 National Woman’s Party supporters were arrested, many of whom were sent to prison. Now boasting two million members, however, the National American Woman Suffrage Association promptly made a national suffrage amendment its number one priority. Following a hard-fought series of votes within U.S. Congress, as well as in state legislatures, the so-called Nineteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution three years later.
“Becoming part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment, to this day, states, ‘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,’” adds Hyman, wrapping up.
A graduate of UCLA and the University of Florida College of Law, Kelly Hyman is an attorney at Denver, Colorado-based Franklin D. Azar & Associates focused on class action lawsuits and mass tort litigation. A staunch advocate for social justice and women’s rights whose other interests include the law, current events, voting rights, and female empowerment, she is happily married to federal judge Paul G. Hyman, Jr.