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SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT: Should the Woman Suffrage Movement Adopt Militant Tactics?
In the early 20th century, woman suffragists in the United States experienced an intense conflict over political strategy. They had struggled for decades for the right to vote, and yet, as of 1913, women had full suffrage in only nine states. Some younger activists began urging more direct and confrontational actions to gain an amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. To achieve political equality, they argued, women should act like men’s equals, not restrain themselves to be demure and modest. This meant employing more militant tactics, including public demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience. Opponents, however, argued that such tactics would only alienate potential allies and harm efforts to win suffrage. The surest way to the ballot, they contended, was to remain courteous and well-mannered while working carefully and quietly to build support, state by state. The more patient and diplomatic approach, they believed, would more effectively achieve the right to vote.
Let your students get the facts and decide for themselves: Should the woman suffrage movement adopt militant tactics? Be sure to check out Issues & Controversies in American History’s clear and unbiased examination of militancy in the woman suffrage movement this month.
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