It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.

Susan B. Anthony



two women holding a nwsa banner, library of congress.

Suffragists Organize: National Woman Suffrage Association

The disagreement about whether or not to support the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted African American men the right to vote, led to a division in the women’s rights movement. In 1869, activists established two competing national organizations focused on winning woman suffrage. The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) opposed the Fifteenth Amendment, while the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) supported the new law.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the NWSA first. The pair believed that instead of supporting the Fifteenth Amendment as it was, women’s rights activists should fight for women to be included as well. They started the NWSA to lead this effort.

Stanton and Anthony established the NWSA’s headquarters in New York City. They started a newspaper, The Revolution, as the mouthpiece of their women-led organization. The Revolution’s motto was: “Justice, not Favors.—Men, their Rights and Nothing More; Women, their Rights and Nothing Less.” Their paper covered topics including a woman’s right to suffrage, education, and divorce. The NWSA was more radical and controversial than the competing American Woman Suffrage Association, which focused only on the vote. The NWSA wanted a constitutional amendment to secure the vote for women, but it also supported a variety of reforms that aimed to make women equal members of society. 

By Allison Lange, Ph.D.
Fall 2015


Essential Questions

  • What were the strategies of the suffrage organization?
  • Why did Stanton and Anthony organize NWSA?
  • How did the NWSA differ from earlier women's rights movements?

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