Angel Portillo

Why Today Matters

Why Today Matters is written by Berryville resident Angel Portillo. Portillo is an undergrad at University of Arkansas, seeking his bachelor's degree in History. His column appears in the Tuesday Midweek edition of Carroll County News. He can be reached at aporae@gmail.com.


May 15, 1869: The start of an uncertain path for U.S. women

Monday, May 14, 2012

Many rights we enjoy today can be attributed to the undying effort of certain individuals who dedicated most of their lives to attain a certain privilege.

In this case, these individuals were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and they only had one goal in mind: women's suffrage.

On May 15, 1869, they were going to form a new organization, called the National Woman Suffrage Association.

This association, formed in New York, protested the last Reconstruction Amendment, or 15th Amendment, which stated that no citizen should be denied from voting, based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." We have to remember that after the culmination of the Civil War, the U.S. government would allow the newly freed slaves to vote. The problem that the National Woman Suffrage Association saw in this amendment was that the word "women" was nowhere to be found. They believed it was their time to attain this valuable right as well. It is also important to note that the founders of this association had been in this battle for more than 20 years, which began at the Seneca Falls Convention on 1848. This amendment only galvanized them to act stronger and forcefully.

Unfortunately, the women's movement was fractured since there was another rival organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, which was a less radical group. This would be one of the many reasons women's enfranchisement would remain delayed. However, by the year 1890, these two groups would reconcile and merge, forming the new National American Suffrage Association, but the fight was far from over.

Ultimately, it would take a tumultuous war for the government to realize how much women contribute to society. After World War I, in 1920, the goal would finally be accomplished and the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, would be ratified by three-fourths of the states, officially meeting the requirements imposed by the U.S. Constitution. Anthony and Stanton were not alive to see this prized moment, but nonetheless, they sure were the nucleus of this grand success.

The foundation of the National Woman Suffrage Association on May 15, 1869 was a focal point in history for the women's suffrage movement and the society as a whole.

Nothing was solved right away, but the important part was that people organized and came together to seek a common goal. Were they sometimes radical in their procedures? Yes, but they teach us that at times there is no other alternative than to do even the impossible if needed, to receive what we as citizens deserve from this magnificent and glorious country.