The Split


The Split


The 19th c. suffrage movement split resulted from a painful failure. AERA fought to have “sex” included in the 15th Amendment, which barred states from discrimination in voting on the basis of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
They failed.

The 15th Amdt meant suffrage for Black men only. (Though a decade later suffragists would argue that it implied that voting was an inherent right of all citizens.) Worse, the 14th Amendment specified voting by “male citizens” - adding sex to the Constitution for the first time.

AERA had to decide whether to support half a loaf. At first there seemed to be consensus that Black male suffrage was important, and women should be patient. White abolitionist Wendell Phillips said “This hour belongs to the Negro.” (man)

Then Stanton & Anthony rebelled. They felt betrayed. The movement for suffrage was a shared commitment. They thought everyone was in it together. And the door was closing politically - there might not be another chance.

To them, for white women to wait in line behind men who weren’t white or educated or English-speaking felt outrageous. And they said so in blisteringly racist language. Brace yourself.

Stanton: “Think of Patrick and Sambo and Hans and Yung Tung, who do not know the difference between a monarchy and a republic, who cannot read the Declaration of Independence or Webster’s spelling book, making law for Lucretia Mott . . . [or] Susan B. Anthony.”

Anthony: “If you will not give the whole loaf of justice to the entire people, if you are determined to give it, piece by piece, then give it first to women, to the most intelligent & capable of the women at least.” She meant white women.

Tomorrow: Black women respond. 


Daily Suffragist






Daily Suffragist, “The Split,” Daily Suffragist, accessed April 15, 2024,

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