These years of the early 20th century also saw the strengthening of the Woman Suffrage Movement. The movement had begun with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, and the Declaration of Sentiments demanding equal rights for women. The women's rights campaign during "first-wave feminism" was led by Mott, Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, and Julia Ward Howe, among others. By the end of the 19th century only several states had granted women full voting rights, though women had made significant legal victories, gaining rights in areas such as property and child custody. In 1875 the Supreme Court ruled women, too, were American citizens (but this did not give them the right to vote).
Around 1912 the Feminist Movement, which had grown sluggish, began to reawaken. Protests became increasingly common as suffragette Alice Paul led parades through the capital and major cities. Paul split from the large National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which favored a more moderate approach and supported the Democratic Party and Woodrow Wilson, led by Carrie Chapman Catt, and formed the more militant National Woman's Party. Suffragists were arrested during their "Silent Sentinels" pickets at the White House, the first time such a tactic was used, and were taken as political prisoners. In prison they were tortured and force-fed while on hunger strikes led by Alice Paul.
Finally, the suffragette were ordered released from prison, and Wilson addressed the Congress on woman suffrage, urging them to pass a Constitutional amendment enfranchising women, which they did in 1919. It became constitutional law on August 26, 1920, after ratification by the 36th required state. NAWSA became the League of Women Voters and the National Woman's Party began lobbying for full equality and the Equal Rights Amendment which would pass Congress during the second wave of the women's movement in 1972. Following ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, a U.S. Court ruled the arrests of the over two hundred suffragists as unconstitutional, and the amendment was upheld by the Supreme Court after a legal challenge.
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