- from Suffragists
When this country began more than 200 years ago, almost everyone thought that a white woman’s job was to take care of her home and family.
Enslaved African-American women were expected to do hard labor in the fields or work in plantation homes and take care of their own families.
Married women couldn’t own property, such as land and buildings. They couldn’t keep any money they earned, either. In rare cases of divorce, the father got to keep the children. Women couldn’t sit on juries. They couldn’t defend themselves in court. They also couldn’t run for political office. They weren’t considered smart enough to vote.
Many poor free women were recent immigrants to America. They usually had to work outside the home. Even rich women often took care of their husbands’ businesses when the men were away. In the 1800s, more and more women began to see that they were just as capable as men. Therefore, they thought that they should have the same legal rights as men. They realized that being able to vote was an important first step toward getting other rights. They also knew that they themselves would have to lead the movement that would win them suffrage—the right to vote. These women became the suffragists.