American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA)

American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA)

The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) was formed in November 1869 in response to a split in the American Equal Rights Association over the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Its founders, who supported the Fifteenth Amendment, included Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe. The AWSA founders were staunch abolitionists, and strongly supported securing the right to vote for the Negro. They believed that the Fifteenth Amendment would be in danger of failing to pass in Congress if it included the vote for women. On the other side of the split in the American Equal Rights Association, opposing the Fifteenth Amendment, were "irreconcilables" Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) to secure women's enfranchisement through a federal constitutional amendment. AWSA believed success could be more easily achieved through state-by-state campaigns. [Eleanor Flexner, "Century of Struggle", pp. 136-148.]

Origins

In 1869 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed a new organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). The organization condemned the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments as blatant injustices to women. As well as advocating votes for women, the NWSA also advocated easier divorce and an end to discrimination in employment and pay.

Some suffragists thought it was a mistake to become involved in other controversial issues. Later that year Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe and Josephine Ruffin formed the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) in Boston. Less militant than the National Woman Suffrage Association, the AWSA was only concerned with obtaining the vote and did not campaign on other issues.

A supporter of the American Woman Suffrage Association was Fanny Baker Ames, and her husband, the Unitarian activist Reverend Charles Gordon Ames. Mr. and Mrs. Ames were not only devoted to the suffragist movement, but also dedicated abolitionists and social reformers. Mrs. Ames worked especially to invoke a new approach to philanthropy in the late nineteenth century. In her speech "The Care of Dependent Children" before feminists at the National Council of Women, Fanny Baker Ames advocated society to deal with poor people as individuals, instead of "helpless masses". When there was conflict between the American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association, Mr. and Mrs. Ames quietly withdrew their support from the AWSA.

In 1870 the AWSA founded its own magazine, the Woman's Journal. Edited by Lucy Stone, it featured articles by members of the organizations and cartoons by Blanche Ames, Lou Rogers, Mary Sigsbee, Fredrikke Palmer and Rollin Kirby. Some of the regional groups also produced journals, most notably, the Women Voter (New York City), Maryland Suffrage News (Baltimore) and the Western Woman Voter (Seattle).

In the 1880s it became clear that it was not a good idea to have two rival groups campaigning for votes for women. After several years of negotiations, the AWSA and the NWSA merged in 1890 to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The leaders of this new organization include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Frances Willard, Mary Church Terrell, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Anna Howard Shaw.

Notes

References

*Eleanor Flexner, "Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States", Enlarged Edition (1959; Harvard University Press, 1996). ISBN 0-674-10653-9
* [http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/nawstime.html One Hundred Years toward Suffrage: An Overview]
* [http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAWawsa.htm Suffrage website]

ee also

*Timeline of women's colleges in the United States


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