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Teaching With Documents:
Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

Petition for Woman Suffrage Signed by Frederick Douglass, Jr.

Wealthy white women were not the only supporters of woman suffrage. Frederick Douglass, a former slave and leader of the abolition movement, was also an advocate. He attended the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, and in an editorial published that year in The North Star, wrote, ". . . in respect to political rights, . . . there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the elective franchise, . . ." By 1877, when he was U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia, Douglass's family was also involved in the movement. His son, Frederick Douglass, Jr., and daughter, Mrs. Nathan Sprague, and son-in-law, Nathan Sprague, all signed this petition to the U.S. Congress for woman suffrage ". . . to prohibit the several States from Disfranchising United States Citizens on account of Sex."

In addition, a growing number of black women actively supported woman's suffrage during this period. Prominent African American suffragists included Ida B. Wells-Barnett of Chicago, famous as a leading crusader against lynching; Mary Church Terrell, educator and first president of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW); and Adella Hunt Logan, Tuskegee Institute faculty member, who insisted in articles in The Crisis, that if white women needed the vote to protect their rights, then black women -- victims of racism as well as sexism -- needed the ballot even more.

The Documents

Petition for Woman Suffrage Signed by Frederick Douglass, Jr.

Record Group 233
Records of the U.S. House of Representatives
National Archives and Records Administration

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