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A Group of Philadelphia Abolitionists, offset lithograph by F. Gutekunst, ca. 1851

Abolitionist Lucretia Mott (front row, second from right), an organizer of the first women’s rights convention in 1848, worked for universal suffrage and civil rights.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

A Group of Philadelphia Abolitionists

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.