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A Petition for Universal Suffrage, January 19, 1867

After the Civil War, as Congress prepared to extend voting rights to black men, suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton recognized the opportunity to include women in any constitutional changes. This petition—signed by Anthony, Stanton, and other notable suffragists—asked Congress for “universal suffrage” for all citizens, regardless of sex.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

A Petition for Universal Suffrage, January 19, 1867

Suffrage for All

After the Civil War, many suffragists who had worked to abolish slavery hoped Congress would guarantee full civil rights for all citizens, regardless of race or sex. Instead, the Fifteenth Amendment banned discrimination on the basis of race or color, but not gender. This split the ranks of those who had previously joined forces in support of civil rights. Some suffragists accepted the urgency of protecting freedmen as a step toward universal suffrage; others felt betrayed that the cause for women was not more strongly pressed.