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When examining the suffrage movement in early 20th century America, one must first trace history and see when the cause originated. Suffragists of the early 1900s were not the first to fight for a woman’s right to vote. They were continuing a struggle that had been building for more than 60 years. This movement extended from 1848, with the first convention for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York, until 1920, when all women in the U.S. won the right to vote with the adoption of the 19th Amendment.

After successes and struggles in the decades after Seneca Falls, the movement picked up speed in the beginning of the 20th century. Many suffrage groups began to take action: The National American Woman Suffrage Association, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and – a political party – the National Woman’s Party. The members of these organizations demanded a woman suffrage amendment be added to the Constitution.

In order to accomplish this goal, they took many measures. They established headquarters in order that they might organize suffrage business. The Congressional Committee worked to establish a suffrage committee in the U.S. House of Representatives because they were fed up with the House Judiciary Committee, which routinely stalled suffrage bills. The Congressional Union sponsored conferences, mass meetings, and conventions. Also, on October 14, 1913, they founded The Suffragist, a weekly journal that recorded information about the movement. At the same time, they began aggressive picketing. They organized parades and assemblies. These actions resulted in the imprisonment of many protesters.

The National Woman’s Party moved into its headquarters on Jackson Place at Lafayette Park in 1916 and from there they staged a series of pickets in front of the White House. From this vantage point, President Woodrow Wilson could not escape their calls for the vote. As a result of the suffragists’ endurance, women in the United States were finally granted the right to vote in 1920.

The first suffrage picket line forms at the National Woman’s Party headquarters for a march to the White House gates on January 10, 1917.

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Alice Paul, with banner, and Dora Lewis emerge from the National Woman’s Party Headquarters on Lafayette Square.

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Suffragettes form a picket line in front of the White House, 1917.

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Suffragettes hold a bonfire in front of the White House in 1917.

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Florence Youmans, from Minnesota, and Annie Arniel, from Delaware, are arrested by a female police officer for refusing to give up their banners in June, 1917.

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Suffragette Lucy Burns jailed in Occoquan Workhouse. Library of Congress

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National Women’s Party members hold a watch fire at the front gates of the White House in January, 1919. They demand the right to vote in America while Wilson fights for democracy in other countries.

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Suffragettes at Lafayette’s Statue demonstrating for the U.S. Senate’s approval of the suffrage amendment, June, 1919.

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