Woman Suffrage

New York is the Battleground

From the Archive
Woman Suffrage

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On May 21, 1910, some 10,000 New Yorkers gathered in Union Square to demand that women receive the right to vote. The rally, the largest woman suffrage demonstration yet held in the country, symbolized New York City’s increasingly prominent role in the national movement for votes for women.

While upstate New Yorkers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony had been leaders of the 19th-century women’s movement in the United States, New York City played a central role in the national mobilization for woman suffrage in the 20th century.

Utilizing the city’s diverse populace and media industry, as well as its financial resources, middle-class activists like Carrie Chapman Catt partnered with working-class and elite women to introduce new strategies for organizing and publicity. As Catt declared in 1909, “New York is the battleground of the whole nation.” Black women in New York, repressed and excluded from white suffrage organizations, formed their own groups to fight for the vote.

Woman suffrage was defeated when it first appeared on the New York State ballot in 1915, and activists split over tactics. Yet in 1917, male voters granted the state’s women the right to vote.

Victory in New York helped to set the stage for the enactment of woman suffrage across the country. The 19th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1919, and, as required by the Constitution, ratified by three-fourths of states the following year.

Key Events

Global Year    Local
  1848 Declaration of Sentiments, signed at Seneca Falls, New York, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and others, calls for women’s rights
  1872 First female presidential candidate, New Yorker Victoria Woodhull, runs on the Equal Rights Party line
Suffragettes begin militant tactics in England 1905  
  1910 National American Woman Suffrage Association headquarters moves to New York City
  1912 Fifth Avenue parade of 10,000 demands votes for women
  1915 40,000 suffragists participate in New York City’s largest parade ever New York State referendum on suffrage is defeated
  1917 New York voters approve votes for women

Ratification of 19th Amendment to the Constitution gives women the vote



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