© Text by Doris Weatherford

© Website MTM Publishing and Doris Weatherford


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The Fight for the Vote


The first part, taken from the 1998 original publication, traces the roots of the fight for the vote to the independent women of seventeenth-century colonial America, Weatherford chronicles the long, complex—and sometimes tortuous—campaign to secure women's right to vote. The chronological narrative covers:

  • Chapter 1: In the Beginning; 1637-1840. A prehistory that places the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the context of early pioneers such as Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer.​

  • Chapter 2: “Let Facts Be Submitted to a Candid World”; 1840-1848. The Seneca Falls Convention, as well as the influential follow-up in Rochester, two weeks later. Highlights include the growing relationships among the movement’s earliest leaders—especially Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Susan B. Anthony—and seldom supportive, frequently ridiculing, news coverage of the conventions.

  • Chapter 3: “The Spirit of a Snake” and the Spirit of Success; 1848-1860. The aftermath of the Seneca Falls Convention, including leaders that emerged from it. Highlights include Sojourner Truth’s electrifying appearance at the Ohio women’s rights convention in 1850; the increase in key media support from such progressives as Horace Greeley; and a description of “The Mob Convention” in New York at the same time as the 1858 World’s Fair.

  • Chapter 4: The Battle Cry of Freedom; 1860-1876. The development of women’s fight for political rights against the backdrop of the abolitionist movement and the Civil War, and the controversies among various factions of the suffrage movement surrounding the place of women’s rights during the national crisis and the enactment of the Reconstruction amendments. Other highlights include the increasing role of new leaders and activists such as Ernestine Rose and Unitarian pastor, Rev. Olympia Brown.

  • Chapter 5: The Hour Not Yet; 1870s-1888. The fracturing of the movement into two separate associations—the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association—as well as coalitions with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, labor organizations, political parties, and women’s rights groups outside the United States. Other highlights include coverage of mavericks Victoria Woodhull and Belva Lockwood, and women’s political campaigns in states and territories, such as the Dakotas, Arkansas, and Texas, to gain the franchise locally.

  • Chapter 6: The Century Turns, The Movement Turns; 1880s-1912. The reconciliation of the two suffrage organizations into the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the growth of the women’s club movement, the entrance of women into higher education and professions, and the wave of state-by-state suffrage successes beginning with Wyoming. Other highlights include the efforts of African American women, such as Margaret Murray Washington and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, to organize separately as they were repeatedly rebuffed by the established women's groups, and the growing strength of the anti-suffrage movement.

  • Chapter 7: The Longest Labor Ends; 1912-1920. The final push for a national amendment, with a detailed narrative of protests, marches, and lobbying, as a new generation of suffrage leaders, especially Carrie Chapman Catt who pushed forward in a shrewd political state-by-state strategy, and Alice Paul, whose Congressional Union (later the National Woman’s Party, or NWP) followed a radical British style of high-profile activism. Other highlights include NWP’s protests against President Woodrow Wilson’s re-election campaign during a speech in the House of Representatives, and the 1916 election of Jeannette Rankin to a U.S. House seat, a first by a woman, representing Montana.


Throughout, Weatherford emphasizes the connections of the women's movement, which rested on profound moral convictions, to the other great nineteenth-century reform movements of abolitionism, temperance, and more, as well as its shortcomings, such as racist sentiments and behavior typical of the times—a sad irony, given the affiliation of the movement early on with abolitionist leaders and groups. She recounts the inspiring triumphs as well as the heartbreaking setbacks of the movement and tells the human stories behind the political tug and pull that lasted over seven decades.

Progress and Challenges in the Following Century


Part Two highlights the history of women’s fight for greater equality following the 1920 ratification, connecting the suffragist movement across the following century to today’s world. Weatherford covers the time after winning the vote in topical chapters on key subjects relevant today, including:

  • Chapter 8: Carrying On: Early Ambitions and Small Victories, including legal challenges to voting rights, reforms on citizenship, and an early model for supporting maternal health.

  • Chapter 9: Reproductive Rights:  From Sex Education and Venereal Disease to Birth Control and Abortion, starting with background on the pre-1920 status of sex education for women and Mary Ware Dennett’s and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts on women’s health and birth control to the Supreme Court cases of Griswold, Eisenstadt, and Roe in the 1960s and 1970s, continuing through challenges to Roe today.

  • Chapter 10: Becoming Full Citizens: Redefining Age, Rape, and Violence, and the Connection to Jury Duty, offering an analysis of important changes in state laws, including the fact that some states barred women from juries as late as the 1960s, which had a huge impact on rape cases.

  • Chapter 11: The Equal Rights Amendment, and all it implies—including such issues as women’s legal rights in marriage and employment discrimination—from the early efforts of Alice Paul and her National Women’s Party beginning in 1920s to the current status of the ERA.

  • Chapter 12: Taking Power, including narratives on women’s gains in Congress, state houses, and the judiciary, with a nod to issues surrounding sexual harassment that are shaping our current cultural and political landscape so powerfully.  

  • Chapter 13: "We Shall Overcome," covering minority women's fight for equal participation in the women's movement, echoing back to the refusal of white suffragists to grant African-American a seat at the table during the fight for the vote and exploring the progress of black women's achievements since then. 

Across these chapters, Weatherford traces themes that are core to story of the fight for the vote to the later women’s rights movement. The tug and pull between more radical and centrist strategies and the resistance of women themselves to their own empowerment shaped the women’s movement in the century that followed 1920.  For example, Margaret Sanger’s advocacy for women’s sexual health and birth control in the 1910s, 1920s, and later often alienated less radical feminists; and a fervent antifeminism, led by Phyllis Schlafly, resulted in the ERA’s defeat in the late 1970s.


By tracing key issues following the suffrage victory, Victory for the Vote highlights the relevance of the long struggle. Weatherford shows how the fight for the vote—seven decades long, full of twists and turns, missteps and winning strategies—was only the beginning: post-suffrage leaders picked up the mantle and carried the fight for women’s empowerment into all avenues of U.S. society. In connecting the fight for suffrage to the women’s movement that followed, Winning the Vote and Beyond is a sweeping narrative celebrating the perseverance and creative struggle needed to make change.