American Feminism Timeline

Courtesy of End-Hate

Feminism Timeline
1756 Lydia Chapin Taft voted in three New England town meetings, beginning in 1756, at Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
1776 Declaration of Independence. Men were not allowed to vote unless they owned property. By 1850 nearly all requirements to own property or pay taxes had been dropped. (Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (2nd ed. 2009) p 29)
1776 New Jersey gives the vote to women owning more than $250. (source) Other states and territories followed.
1800 “Suffrage: This term means the right to vote. The history of suffrage in the United States is about the removal of various limitations on voting for citizens. In the Colonial era church membership (in early New England) and property qualifications limited suffrage, and it was considered a privilege rather than a right, as it is today. Some colonies disfranchised males owning less than 50 acres in land, Jews, free blacks, Catholics, and dissenting Protestants until around 1700. It was not until after the American Revolution, however, that states began removing property qualifications on white males for voting. In 1800, five states allowed male taxpayers to vote for most offices. Still, over half the adult population was excluded from voting when the new nation moved into the nineteenth century: property-less men, women, the enslaved, most free blacks, apprentices, indentured laborers, felons, and those mentally incompetent.” (from The History of the Supreme Court)
1865 The American Civil War resulted in the deaths of an estimated 750,000 men (source) According to the 1860 Census, there were 13,849,087 white men and 13,115,843 white women in the United States and territories in 1860. (source) If the vast majority of men who fought in the Civil War were white then more than 5% of white American men died in the Civil War. In 1860 there were 733,244 more white men than white women in the United States. This suggests the entire excess of white men died in the Civil war.
1873 Founding of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the oldest feminist organization. According to the WCTU website, “The WCTU was organized by women who were concerned about the destructive power of alcohol and the problems it was causing their families and society.” “The WCTU was very interested in a number of social reform issues, including labor, prostitution … The first president of the organization, Annie Wittenmyer, believed … that it should not put efforts into woman suffrage” (wikipedia) The WCTU’s second president, Frances Willard, perhaps the most famous feminist of the 19th Century, argued that women were “the superior sex” (wikipedia). “In the U.S., leaders of the feminist movement campaigned for the abolition of slavery and Temperance [prohibition of alcohol] prior to championing women’s rights.” (wikipedia) Suffrage (voting) was not a WCTU priority because, at the state level where American political power was concentrated, many women already had the right to vote.
1910 WCTU feminists successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Mann Act, prohibiting prostitution. Naturally, this did not stop women from marrying men with money and avoiding men without money.
1913 Congress passed the Sixteenth Amendment, giving federal government the power to collect income taxes and reflecting a gradual shift of political power from state governments (many of which allowed both men and women to vote) to the federal government.
1913 Congress passed the Seventeenth Amendment, removing the power of state legislatures to elect senators and reflecting further shift of political power from state governments (many of which allowed both men and women to vote) to the federal government. Note that the ability of women to vote at the federal level became more important as political power shifted from the states to the federal government.
1919 WCTU feminists successfully lobbied Congress to pass the Eighteenth Amendment, prohibiting alcohol. It was repealed in 1933.
1920 Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote. Since women already had the right to vote in many states, the main effect of this amendment was to allow women more influence over the relatively small federal government. The federal government at the time was a tiny fraction of its current size.
1947 “the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) voted to draft and promote a bill that would embody the ideal of no-fault divorce” and “The most prominent advocate of this position was feminist law professor Herma Hill Kay” (wikipedia)
1965 Voting extended to all adult citizens (except some felons) of the United States (Voting Rights Act of 1965)
1969 California becomes the first state to enact no-fault divorce. Other states follow.
2012 More than half of marriages now end in divorce and millions of children are deprived of the opportunity to know their own fathers.