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Women's Emancipation Petition with circular from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, January 25, 1864

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a national advocate for women’s rights, circulated this petition in 1864, hoping to present Congress with a million signatures supporting the abolition of all slavery. President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves only in Confederate-controlled areas. Stanton reminded women that, while they could not vote, they had the constitutional right to petition.

While slavery exists ANYWHERE there can be freedom NOWHERE. THERE MUST BE A LAW ABOLISHING SLAVERY.

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

Women's Emancipation Petition with circular from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, January 25, 1864 Women's Emancipation Petition with circular from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, January 25, 1864

The Split over Sufferage

Many 19th-century woman suffragists also sought to end slavery. They flooded Congress with petitions for abolition and for voting rights for all citizens, including women and African American men. After the Civil War the movement temporarily split: some worked for the immediate goal of suffrage for black men; others pursued universal voting rights for woman suffrage. In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment secured voting rights for men regardless of race; women fought another 50 years for the right to vote.