Photo of suffragists on the picket line in front of the White House, 1917.
The more than 70 year struggle for a woman's right to vote formally began with Woman's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. At the convention early suffrage leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott stated that "that all men and women are created equal" and resolved that "it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise." Suffragists lobbied Congress and state political leaders for the right to vote over the next few decades with little success.
In 1869 two major organizations were founded: the National Woman's Suffrage Association founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton which focused on creating a constitutional amendment that would extend the franchise to women and the American Woman's Suffrage Association which focused on state level voting rights. The two organizations merged in 1890 to create the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Towards the end of the 19th and early part of the 20th century, progress slowly was made towards equal voting rights. Five western states granted equal voting rights to women: Wyoming (1890), Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), Idaho (1896), and Washington (1910). By 1917 an additional twelve states granted women the right to vote.
In 1919 the Suffrage Bill, first introduced in 1878, passed both houses of Congress and states began the ratification process that culminated with the passage of the 19th Amendment in the summer of 1920 which stated "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
For more background information on the suffrage movement see: