Women's Suffrage

The following notes will help you prepare for questions about women's suffrage on the AP U.S. History Exam.

  • The fight for women's suffrage had gone on for decades before the 19th Amendment was adopted in 1920. The movement had suffered, at times, from being pushed off center stage by other large issues, such as abolition, as well as disagreement among leaders about the proper strategy. Reasons against women's suffrage ranged from the idea that politics was no place for a woman to the notion that women would only vote for whomever their father or husband told them to vote for. Even some women were opposed to the idea of women voting, fearing a change in the social order.

  • Women who took to the streets to protest were often harassed and physically attacked. Some women who were arrested were subjected to brutal treatment, including force-feeding. President Woodrow Wilson was far from an outspoken advocate for women's suffrage but was appalled at the reports he heard from local jails. This, combined with convincing from Carrie Chapman Catt, led to Wilson coming out in favor of suffrage within a year of the White House being the target of pro-suffrage picketers.

19th Amendment : grants the right to vote, regardless of gender

hunger strikes : method of protest used by women who were arrested during suffrage protests

National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA) : established in 1890 to fight for women's right to vote

National Women's Party : militant women's rights organization formed in 1916

suffragette : woman protesting and fighting on behalf of the right for women to vote

Wyoming : first state to grant women the right to vote, in 1890


Susan B. Anthony : women's suffrage leader of the late 19th century; did not live to see the 19th Amendment

Carrie Chapman Catt : women's rights activist and leader of the NAWSA; disagreed with methods of Alice Paul and more apt to compromise; convinced Woodrow Wilson to support 19th Amendment

Alice Paul : women's rights activist; used more militant tactics, including hunger strikes; said the 19th Amendment was not enough to guarantee women equality

Related Links:
The 1970s Quiz
AP US History Quizzes
AP US History Notes
Women's Suffrage Timeline
Susan B. Anthony Facts
Amendments Timeline
Timeline: History and Biography Timelines
Eleanor Roosevelt Timeline
World War I
American Revolution