Women’s Voting Rights From Economic Perspective


Whereas it may appear as something normal for one to be allowed to vote, women were denied the right to do that, in addition to other forms of discrimination such as owning land or traveling. The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, passed on the 4th of June, 1919, granted all American females the permission to participate in the electoral process of the country. The Amendment was, however, incomplete as it almost entirely benefitted those from the White community as there existed at that time many hindrances to earning citizenship for women of color. This paper explains how women in the United States managed to obtain their voting right.


In 1848, a group of visionaries began a movement with the aim of securing equal rights for females in the U.S. However, they had to wait seventy years before being able to vote. The first woman’s rights convention was called after male organizers refused females a chance to attend the anti-slavery conference. Held by its founders, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, for multiple days in the month of July that year, the event witnessed an attendance of around three hundred women and forty men. One of them was a nineteen-year-old girl named Charlotte Woodward who desired to venture into printing, something known to be a male niche.

By the meeting’s end, the delegates had accepted a message that was designed after the Declaration of Independence. According to How Women Won the Right to Vote (1), it claimed that men had caused tyranny over females. This includes forcing them to adhere to laws that they were not a party to their enactment. Additionally, making women in marriage institutions seem dead in the eyes of the Constitution as they lacked the right to own property, earn a salary, or have custody of a child after a divorce. According to them, females were as well denied an opportunity for college education or profitable employment. The event voted on a resolution that prompted a great debate as it claimed that it was the women’s duty to secure the right to vote. Despite all the emotions it provoked, it was able to pass.

In the 1850s, the majority of Americans accepted the notion of isolated spheres for females and males. The latter worked as well in running the government while the former remained at home and catered to the needs of the households, such as raring kids and doing house chores. This idea was according to the widely held assumption that females were delicate, emotional, psychologically inferior, and childlike by nature. In the U.S. and in other nations practicing democracy, the voting right was exclusively reserved for males only. It was not until 1919 that females in various states could elect someone into a political position.

Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Susan Anthony was among the key leaders of the women’s suffrage group. Historians describe her as someone who grew up as both independent and able to think for herself. She chose to enter the abolitionist movement, whose goal was to stop slavery. Through her efforts, while being a member, in 1851, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Although she had not participated in the convention held in Seneca Falls, she joined Elizabeth to be the leader in the struggle for women’s suffrage in the country. The Civil War disrupted actions to secure the voting right for females. Nevertheless, due to the fight, the role of a woman in society started to change.

Due to many males participating in the war, their daughters and wives usually had to run the family farms, work in the factories, and assume job positions held traditionally by men. After the battle was over, Susan and Elizabeth, alongside others, hoped that since females had contributed to the economy, they would be allowed the right to vote (Sandhu 2). This did not happen as the majority of the men did not embrace the idea. The Republicans with high numbers in Congress wrote three new amendments. The first one was the 13th Amendment, which banned slavery in the United States. Next was the 14th Amendment, which accepted as citizens every individual that is born within the border of the United States in addition to giving them equal protection by the law.

The third written Amendment was the 15th Amendment, which was concerned with voting matters. It claimed that the right of a citizen of the country to participate in the electoral process should not be denied by the nation or any state based on their color, race, or prior circumstance of servitude. According to How Women Won the Right to Vote (1), despite all this, women still could not vote. In 1869, both Elizabeth and Susan organized the NWSA, which represented the National Woman Suffrage Association, with the intention of working for a federal constitutional amendment ensuring every American woman gets the right to vote. Some of the activists did not appreciate this method as they believed that the ideal way is persuading the legislators of every state to grant women suffrage.

In 1869, the all-male legislature of the Territory of Wyoming passed a bill that allowed all adult women to vote and vie for a position. In the West, pioneer females usually worked close to men on ranches and farms and, therefore, proved their capability. In Rochester, Susan B. Anthony collaborated with some registrars who permitted her and others to vote in the presidential election held in 1872. In 1873, she was placed on trial for illegally participating in the electoral process, which was deemed a crime. The judge held that since she is a woman, she had no capacity to testify (Moehling and Melissa 5). She was found guilty by the jury and ordered to pay one hundred dollars as a fine, something she declined to do. In 1875 in a case involving Minor and Happersett, the Supreme Court ruled that females were citizens according to the provisions of the 14th Amendment. However, it cautioned that this did not mean that they could automatically cast a ballot.

The Anthony Amendment

In 1878, the National Woman Suffrage Association succeeded in forcing a constitutional amendment introduced in Congress. It dictated that the right of a citizen to cast a ballot shall not be denied by the federal government or any state based on gender, and it was soon named the Anthony Amendment. While the association fought for this, another group focused on lobbying for the right to participate in the electoral process in territories and states. Prior to the twentieth century, only a portion of the efforts prevailed in the Western areas. In 1889, when the Territory of Wyoming applied for statehood, Congress threatened to refuse entrance since its legislations permitted women to vote. The territorial lawmakers responded by stating that they would remain out of the Union for a whole century instead of joining without females.

In 1890, Congress recognized Wyoming as a state with women’s suffrage. A trend was thus set for others as they passed the suffrage laws, for instance, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah. The two organizations fighting for the females’ right to vote joined with Elizabeth Stanton as their leader. Close to the 1900s, the WCTU, which stood for Women’s Christian Temperature Union, was seen as the largest group whose aim was fighting for the voting right. It led to a movement targeted at banning strong drinks due to their destructing impact on males and their homes.

The Last Push for Women’s Suffrage

A twenty-eight-year-old named Alice Paul 1913 arranged for a huge assembly in Washington, D.C. Unruly crowds of males attacked those participating in the march and needed protection from the National Guard. This could not stop Paul’s desire as he embraced demonstrations as a method of communicating faster and getting the necessary attention. During the 1916 elections, the Democratic candidate, President Wilson, had the support of Carrie Chapman Catt. His slogan suggested that he kept the United States out of war.

Paul opposed and claimed that Wilson kept the nation, especially women, out of suffrage. She then departed NAWSA and started the National Woman’s Party. She arranged daily White House picketing soon after to force the president to support the idea of the Anthony Amendment. After the country joined the First World War, Paul could not stop her efforts. The female demonstrators carried signs with words that implied the government should deal with domestic issues first before solving other people’s problems.

In the month of June 1917, the police started arresting the picketers for crowding the sidewalks. About three hundred were taken and close to one hundred imprisoned, Paul being one of them. Alongside others, she chose to refuse to eat to ensure that she was heard. The guards manning them decided to force-feed them by using tubes down their food pipes. The act caused great attention and led to a country-wide discussion after the newspapers captured the story. President Wilson became embarrassed by the matter and ordered their release. In the meantime, females replaced males by the thousands in war sectors and multiple other types of work held by them in the past. By 1920, they consisted of twenty-five percent of the whole workforce in the nation.

Wilson became disturbed that the suffrage push was leading to a division of the nation during a war. According to How Women Won the Right to Vote (1), he was greatly impressed by Catt as well. In the month of January 1918, he declared that he was supporting the Anthony Amendment. By that time, seventeen states had allowed women a right to cast a ballot. His decision aided in building momentum for the change, and in the following year’s summer season, both the Senate and the House accepted the 19th Amendment. From here, it then had to undergo ratification by three-quarters of the states. Individuals who opposed suffrage joined their forces to halt the process. The brewing companies, business owners, banks, railroads as well as political machines all were scared that women voting would result in progressive reforms. Whites from the South protested the idea of more voters from the black community. Some of them claimed that the Amendment was an invasion of the states’ rights, while others argued it would lead to disunity.

Despite the efforts by the opponents of the Amendment, state after another ratified it. With a single last state required for ratification, the lawmakers in Tennessee voted on it. The result depended on the ballot cast by the youngest individual in the state’s legislature. He supported ratification, but only after his mother propelled him to do that. Therefore, in the month of August 1920, half the adult populace of the country received voting right.


The paper explains how women in the United States managed to obtain their voting right. Voting is a simple action that can have a great impact on how a country is managed. For a long time, females in the United States could not participate in the electoral process either as candidates or voters. All this was done in addition to other forms of discrimination that aimed to undermine the female gender. For instance, they were not allowed to own a piece of land or travel freely. The paper has shown the struggles that women underwent for the sake of getting the opportunity to decide on their leaders. For example, Alice Paul, in her tactic of pressuring the administration, was jailed alongside others and served sometime before release. The desire to have a stable nation during the war led to President Wilson showing his support for suffrage. In spite of the protests by the whites living in the South, the 19th Amendment was ratified, which enabled Paul and others such as her to actively affect the outcome of an election. The Amendment, which passed in 1919, granted all of them the permission to do that.

Works Cited

Costly, Andrew. “How Women Won the Right to Vote.” Crf-Usa.org, 2019. Web.

Moehling, Carolyn M., and Melissa A. Thomasson. “Votes for Women: An Economic Perspective on Women’s Enfranchisement.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 34, no. 2, 2020, pp. 3-23. Web.

Sandhu, Simrandip. “Womens’ rights to vote and laws against gender discrimination: The makeup for gender equality and women’s empowerment.” UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, vol. 13, no. 1, 2021. Web.

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Premium Papers. "Women’s Voting Rights From Economic Perspective." April 5, 2023. https://premium-papers.com/womens-voting-rights-from-economic-perspective/.