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The Struggle over the 15th Amendment continues today

Professor Sonia Jarvis told me she saw parallels between the struggle for passage of the 15th amendment in 1870 and the struggle for the Democratic nomination today. So I examined the issue. Why did Susan B. Anthony form the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 and leave the abolutionist movement? Did it have anything to do with the passage of the 15th amendment giving black men the right to vote but ignoring the demands of white women who wanted the 15th amendment to include the word, “sex” and not only “race.” Of course it did. White women who were advocating for the vote were furious that Congress would allow black men to vote before white women. The woman’s suffrage movement split over the issue - Fraces W. Harper and Lucy Stone worked for passage of the 15th amendment while Elizabeth C. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony refused. Anthony “exclaimed disparingly that two million more men were now made tyrants over an equal number of women who had formerly been their equals” (Riegel 1962). After all white women were educated. How could they be denied the vote when black men, many of whom were not educated, did get the vote? It wasn’t until 50 years later that women in 1920 with the passage of the 19th amendment succeeded in getting the vote. What parallel exists today? In the race for the Democratic nomination for President, Hillary Clinton proclaimed that Barack Obama is not experienced enough for the Presidency. How much difference is there between Hillary Clinton today and Susan B. Anthony in the 19th century? Both had a goal and that goal was more important than anything, even the right for black men to vote. There is an another interesting historical fact - decades after the 15th amendment was passed, Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass renewed their friendship. Years later Susan B. Anthony spoke glowingly of Douglas’ efforts for woman’s suffarge at Douglass’ funeral. 1)Riegel, Robert. 1962 December. The Split of the Feminist Movement in 1869.” The Mississippi Historical Review, 49/3:485-496.

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