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Memorial of the American Equal Rights Association to Congress, January 3, 1867

Proponents of abolition and suffrage were united in their initial push for universal civil rights. Frederick Douglass, Theodore Tilton, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, all officers of the American Equal Rights Association, petitioned Congress in 1867 in an appeal for equal rights for all citizens, regardless of color or sex.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Memorial of the American Equal Rights Association to Congress

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.