100 years ago, the 19th Amendment was ratified, forever changing our country. Women, who’s voices had never truly been heard before, suddenly had a say in our country’s future. The constituency of voters in the United States grew exponentially. Politicians would now have to consider the female perspective on the issues they were voting for, and appeal to female voters for their seats.
The suffrage movement was led by many courageous women who picketed, protested, petitioned their city and state officials, and went door to door for support. These women suffered arrest, ostracization, and some even beaten.
As young women, we can learn a lot from the suffrage movement and the valiant women who were a part of it.
First, we should be inspired by the suffragists’ personal convictions and their willingness to stand by them. Suffrage leader Lucretia Mott famously stated, “If our principles are right, why should we be cowards?” I am inspired by this, as too often I feel timid about standing up for what I think is right. However, the suffragists did this at greater risk and personal harm than I would undergo today. I could be socially embarrassed or possibly lose a friend or two who don’t agree with me, but the suffragists were physically harmed for their principles and spent years being ostracized from much of society. If they were willing to undergo these struggles, I should be much more willing to stand up for my values, since the suffragists fought so that I could share my beliefs with much less risk than they.
Additionally, we should be inspired by the suffragists’ longevity. In 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention was held, which was the first large, official meeting of the women’s suffragette movement. Of course, there had been work to gain the vote before this, but the suffrage movement continued from 1848 to 1920, a full 72 years. Many of the key suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott, died before they got to see their labors come to fruition.
Many of these women fought for a cause they would never benefit from personally. They suffered for the cause, but maybe most importantly, they passed their cause on to others who could continue the work. I think that this is an important lesson for conservative women today. We should be sharing our values and seeking to win people over to the causes of freedom and liberty, believing in the value of our Constitution and the subsequent rights derived from it. If no new women are won over, our cause will die with us. But if we believe that conservative values are truly important, as the suffragists believed their cause was, these values will never die.
This blog was written by Hannah Lyon, NeW Summer Intern.