Table of ContentsAll Men Are Created EqualThe Second Great AwakeningAbolition and the Early Women's Rights MovementA God-Given Right to CitizenshipAngels Don't VoteAfrican-American Men Get the VoteThe Suffrage Movement Falls ShortTexas Joins the BattleComing of AgeThe Battle Lost and WonAftermathBeginnings of the MovementHome

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Kittie King letter, 1860

In this 1860 letter young Kittie King writes, "Lizzie if you have never lived a frontier life you have no idea how it is... here the abalisionist and the indians keep this country in an uproar all the time..."

1868 Declaration

In 1868 T.H. Mundine introduced a declaration in the Constitutional Convention to give women the vote.

1868 Declaration

An 1870s pamphlet sarcastically asked, "Ought Women to Learn the Alphabet?"

W.G.T. Weaver

At the 1875 Constitutional Convention, W.G.T. Weaver of Cooke County introduced a resolution to give Texas women the vote.

Constitution of the State of Texas

Article VI of the Texas Constitution of 1876 prohibited women from voting.

 

 

Beginnings of the Movement

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African-American Men Get The Vote

The women's suffrage movement in the North gained steam as America headed into the Civil War. Many of the women believed that they would achieve the vote at war's end. For a time, the dream seemed within reach. Reconstruction brought a new definition of citizenship, breaking the white man's monopoly of the vote. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments made the former slaves citizens of the United States and extended the right to vote to African-American men.

Even in Texas, the cause of women's suffrage finally surfaced. At the Constitutional Convention of 1868, called to write a new constitution for Texas that would allow the state to rejoin the Union, delegate T.H. Mundine of Burleson County introduced a declaration stating that all persons who met age, residence, and citizenship requirements should be allowed to vote, regardless of sex. The declaration was referred to the committee on state affairs, which recommended its adoption, pointing out in its report that women bore their share of the burden of government and should have a say in enacting its laws. A majority of the full convention, however, went with the minority report that called voting "unwomanly." The declaration was defeated 52-13. At the Constitutional Convention of 1875, two woman suffrage resolutions were introduced and referred to the committee on suffrage but failed to make it out of committee.

The Suffrage Movement Falls Short

Back in the Northeast, the cause of women's suffrage was falling apart. Many abolitionists, having achieved freedom for African Americans, had no stomach for another battle. Angry suffragists showed their lack of political savvy by retaliating against their former allies, launching a campaign against the Fifteenth Amendment. Ugly racism crept into their arguments. Elizabeth Cady Stanton proclaimed that the educated and refined women of her cause surely deserved the vote more than "Sambo." The infighting and extreme rhetoric alienated the very lawmakers who could have helped the women's cause.

Prominent men and women who had joined the cause began to take up other issues, such as relaxation of divorce laws and sexual freedom (called "free love" in the language of the day). The "good gray ladies" of the movement, such as Susan B. Anthony, could only look on in horror as a life's work dissolved in several public sex scandals.

It was all over for the first generation of women's suffragists. Anthony and others soldiered on, lecturing, writing articles, and slowly making headway in gaining legal rights such as property ownership and the right of inheritance for women. But the cause of women's suffrage would have to wait for a new generation of women to discover.

Next Section: Texas Joins the Battle>>

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Page last modified: August 24, 2011