The Struggle for Women's Suffrage
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|Digital History ID 3202|
New Jersey was the only one of the original states to allow any women to vote. Its first constitution granted single and widowed women property holders the right to vote from 1776 to 1807. In 1838, Kentucky authorized women to vote in school elections, and many other states followed suit. In 1848, at the first Women's Rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., some 68 women and 32 men signed the first formal demand that women receive the right to vote.
The first Women's Rights convention based its demand for women's suffrage on natural rights. The Declaration of Sentiments, which the convention issued, enumerated women's lack of economic and educational opportunities, inequalities in pay and property rights, as well as their lack of representation in government.
When Elizabeth Cady Stanton urged participants at the convention to include voting rights among their demands, many balked. "This will make us appear ridiculous," one participant cautioned. The suffrage resolution passed, but it was the only one not to receive unanimous approval. Indeed, the resolution would have been defeated if Frederick Douglass had not rallied support for it.