Republic stands upon the threshold of what may prove the severest
test of loyalty and endurance our country has ever had. It needs
its women; and they are ready- as fearless, as willing, as able,
as loyal as any women of the world.
leader Carrie Chapman Catt, April 10, 1917
The woman suffrage
movement began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York.
Its leaders drew on a wealth of earlier experience with the antislavery
movement in organizing petition drives, conducting electoral campaigns,
and lobbying state legislatures and Congress. After the Civil War,
the movements leaders were disappointed when women were not
included in the extension of suffrage to the former slaves. Many
turned toward gaining the vote at the state and local level, winning
suffrage in 15 states by 1918. The Progressive Eras thrust
toward expanding democracy, however, offered another chance for
a successful campaign for a constitutional amendment.
participated in many of the reform efforts associated with Progressivism,
such as child labor reform and temperance, American involvement
in World War I had the greatest impact on achieving the vote. Over
1.5 million women entered the workforce as the nation mobilized.
Citing "the marvelous heroism and splendid loyalty of our women,"
President Woodrow Wilson changed his mind and began supporting woman
suffrage in 1917. As the Versailles Peace Conference began to meet
at the wars end, Congress passed House Joint Resolution 1,
the woman suffrage amendment, and sent it on to the states.