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The Eventual Success of Women's Suffrage Rhetoric In One Half the People and Women and the American Experience, we learn th

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Introduction

Joe Bohn HIS212 Prof. Thomas Jackson The Eventual Success of Women's Suffrage Rhetoric In One Half the People and Women and the American Experience, we learn that women were outraged upon finding that the 15th amendment constitutionally enfranchised men of every race and ethnicity, but still excluded women. According to Susan B. Anthony, one-time president of the National Woman's Suffrage Association, this occurrence brought women "to the lowest depths of political degradation" (Woloch 329). Women quickly realized that the governing body of white men would more quickly give freedom to uneducated and poor foreigners than to their own mothers and wives, whom were steadily beginning to make financial contributions at home, as a result of industrialization. The analysis, herein, is meant to illustrate how the frequent lack of unity in the rhetoric of the various women's suffrage organizations postponed and often stifled women's attainment of full constitutional enfranchisement, but eventually forced the government to give into the women's plight. Women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton, of the NWSA, preached that "women must lead the way to their own enfranchisement and work out her own salvation" (Woloch 330). Women's suffrage groups like this one sought to give women a political voice of representation, such that they might eventually be recognized as full-fledged citizens, thereby earning the right to vote. Each group had their own reasons for wanting such rights, but basically, they all wanted to give women the legal ability to defend their own best interests. ...read more.

Middle

She also goes on to address the idea of women as nurturing creatures: "Motherhood has given...women a distinctive ethical development," one of "insight" (Woloch 341). These statements were probably the most appealing, since they did not impinge on the male sphere, and they simultaneously colored the women as beings fit for social responsibility. Carrie Chapman Catt took up the same strategies but combined a different element. In 1893, she stated "women could make a positive contribution by effecting beneficial reforms, purifying politics and outweighing the votes of less desirable voters" (Woloch 340). Zerelda Wallace conveyed the same ideas, but more aggressively, saying that "the vilest men...by the possession of the ballot, had more influence with the law-makers...than wives and mothers of the nation" (Scott 97). The rhetoric of both Catt and Wallace appealed to white males by trying to scare them with notions of possible negative political influence through the new lower classes of voters. Elizabeth Cady Stanton of the NWSA also embodied the popular voice of the times, stating that black men should not be elevated over "women of wealth, education, virtue and refinement" (Woloch 331). Furthermore, she urged women to not put the fate of society in the hands of the "lower orders of men" (Woloch 329). She successfully gained much support by declaring that women should join her organization "if you do not wish the lower orders...Chinese, Africans, Germans, and Irish, with their low ideals of womanhood, to make laws for you and your daughters" (331). ...read more.

Conclusion

In order to increase the membership, she allowed the discussion of a broad range of issues. She never considered that the diversity of interests within the organization might inherently postpone women's enfranchisement. In 1917, the National Women's Party, a militant organization composed of dissenting former members of the NAWSA, took Anthony's rhetoric to a more radical extreme, and-in an unexpected move-decided to picket the White House. Anthony and her fellow NAWSA members largely denounced this act of passive resistance, unaware of the positive impact that the NWP's move would actually soon prove. Alva Belmont, one of the NWP picketers, told the press that they "quietly, peacefully, lawfully and gloriously" meant to protest the "party in power" (Woloch 352). Anthony saw this move as a potential hindrance to any successes that her organization had been making, potentially alienating the sympathetic support of democrats. It had been Anthony's opinion that the immense membership of the NAWSA would ultimately be enough to persuade the government Fortunately, the NWP's militant tactics caused President Wilson-already a sympathizer to the cause-and congress, to get nervous and side with the seemingly more reasonable NAWSA, which had been patriotically supportive throughout the war effort. So, with the NAWSA's aims in mind, legislation was finally endorsed, but only as a result of the NWP's more militant tactics. In conclusion, the general disunity in rhetoric of the various women's suffrage organizations postponed and often stifled women's attainment of full constitutional enfranchisement, but eventually, this same disunity forced the government to give into the women's plight. ...read more.

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