Nineteenth Century Woman's Rights Movement: Black and White

By Kolmer, Elizabeth | Negro History Bulletin, January-September 1996 | Go to article overview

Nineteenth Century Woman's Rights Movement: Black and White


Kolmer, Elizabeth, Negro History Bulletin


The nineteenth century movement for women's rights began, almost without a doubt, as a white middle-class movement centered in the North. Its leaders were largely from the North, more accurately from the Northeast, with a scattering towards the West, and were women who had been educated somewhat better than the ordinary woman, with some means of livelihood to enable them to enter the ranks of the suffragettes. (1) Membership in the women's organizations was largely the same, although the National Woman Suffrage Association spent some of its efforts in reaching the lower class-working woman, as well as the black woman. (2) Because some questions have been raised concerning the place of the black race in this movement, this article proposes to examine the attitudes of the white women, particularly the leaders, towards the black race in general, and toward the black woman in particular.

The most important early leaders of the women's movement were Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. Examining their attitudes does not necessarily indicate that the general membership believed and acted as they did. Yet, these three women were strong leaders and exerted great influence on the movement, at least until the 1890s. By 1890 a new generation of suffragettes came to the fore, and although all three of these women were still alive, the movement took directions different from theirs. (3) An inquiry into the attitudes toward the Negro race as a whole, in contrast to the post-1890 period when the black woman formed organizations of her own.

Prior to its small beginnings in 1848, many of those who spear-headed the women's movement had been active in the abolitionist movement of the pre-Civil War period, and continued to be so after the Seneca Falls meeting in the summer of that year. Frederick Douglass, black leader, was one of very few males who publicly supported this early movement. Immediately after the War, the American Equal Rights Association was formed to "secure Equal Rights to all American citizens, especially the Right of Suffrage, irrespective of race, color and sex." (4) It was within this organization that the first signs of a split in the forces of woman's rights movement made itself evident, and this precisely

over the franchise for the Negro in the proposed fourteenth amendment. The presence of the word "male" in this proposed amendment, mentioned not only once, but three times, was the point of contention. The government was on the verge of giving the black man the vote and at the same time to persist in excluding the woman, white and black, from the franchise. Women leaders worked hard to achieve the exclusion of this word "male" hoping to make the amendment applicable to both the Negro and to women.

Forces divided on the issue. There were those, men and women, who thought of this as the "Negro's hour" that rather than jeopardize the chances of the black man, the women should wait. There were others who opposed the wording of the amendment, such as Lucy Stone, but should a change of this be impossible to achieve, they favored passage of the amendment for the black man. (5) Another group were die-hard irreconcilables among whom were Anthony and Stanton who could countenance nothing that excluded women from the suffrage. Strangely, these two women, who, in so many instances in their correspondence, show a real interest in the betterment of the blacks, and who were in turn much respected by the black people, felt so strongly about the rights of women at this point that their indignation was uncontrollable. Both of them articulate this strong feeling in statements that seem derogatory, (6) and therefore, have been quoted as being prejudiced towards the Negro. It is important to evaluate their remarks in their total context. These women who had worked many years with the anti-slavery cause, who had been active in the Equal Rights Association established for the rights of blacks and of women, who refused to cater to those who barred the Negro from their premises, (7) and who would in the future work many more years for the black race, (8) can scarcely be labeled (sic)" prejudiced" without careful consideration. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Nineteenth Century Woman's Rights Movement: Black and White
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.