The Suffrage Movement Essay

1612 words - 6 pages

Over the past century, Virginia and the United States have encountered a number of drastic historical changes. As both men and women had the right to cast a vote in the most recent election, a little less than a century ago women did not have to right to vote. It was not until women throughout the United States came together to spark a suffrage movement that lead to congress passing the Nineteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which provided women with the right to vote.
The suffrage movement within the state of Virginia began in the year of 1870. Despite determined efforts, the earliest movement for woman’s suffrage in Virginia was not very successful. On November 27, 1909, a small group of writers, artists, physicians, reformers, teachers, club women, business members and came together to create the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. The Equal Suffrage League (ESL) of Virginia was among one of many suffrage groups that joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSO). However, by the time Virginia’s ESL was created, NAWSO and other suffrage organizations elsewhere had already been established for ten years. In the ESL’s early years, recruitment and organization was the groups’ primary focus and happened to be one of the most difficult challenges Virginia activists encountered. In 1910, one of the group members stated that their efforts to recruit individuals who supported suffrage, had very little arousal. She also mentioned that they encountered parental opposition in which after they recruited young women to the organization, their fathers did not give them permission to attend a suffrage meeting. During the same year, NAWSO was not recruiting members, acquiring adequate finances, or building a network of local and state societies to lobby for the vote of woman suffrage; instead, they were exerting pressure of politicians. In Virginia however, the ESL was facing a problem because they did not have the finances or organizational tools to fully implement the NAWSO’s policies. Since Virginia’s ESL was not fully aligned with it parent organization from the beginning, they received very little assistance from the parent organization. Although the organization was not progressing, they never gave up on the suffrage campaign and by 1911, they established a state headquarters and increased their efforts to spread the suffrage movement throughout the commonwealth.
Virginia suffragists first supported conventional gender stereotypes that women belonged in the house rather than supporting their reform on sexual equality. The president of Virginia’s ESL chose to implement this particular strategy to avoid challenging the status quo which would provoke more opposition. However, as time progressed, suffragists of Virginia shifted from acceptance of traditional gender roles, towards supporting the need of female equality. As the group became aware of women’s legal, economic, and social disabilities, their interests and...

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