SPANGDHALEM AIR BASE, Germany --
In the early nineteenth century, women were considered second-class citizens whose existence was limited to the interior life of the home and care of the children.
Women did not have the right to own property, maintain their wages or sign a contract, much less vote. It was considered improper for women to speak in public. Women were considered merely objects of beauty and were looked upon as intellectually and physically inferior to men.
The Women's suffrage movement was formally set into motion in 1848 with the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Following the Seneca Falls Convention, the demand to vote became the focus of the women's rights movement.
During the Civil War, activists such as slave-born Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony lectured and petitioned the government for the emancipation of slaves with the belief that, once the war was over, women and slaves alike would be granted the same rights as the white men. At the end of the war, however, women were not granted these rights.
With the side-stepping of women's rights, women activists became enraged, and the American Equal Rights Association was established by Stanton and her colleagues in 1866. In 1868, the ratification of the 14th Amendment defined "citizenship" and "voters" as "male," and raised the question of whether women were considered citizens at all. In the 1872 presidential election, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant. Six years later, in 1878, a Woman's Suffrage Amendment was introduced to Congress. In 1890, under the leadership of Elizabeth Stanton, the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association united to create the American Woman Suffrage Association.
The 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was finally ratified in 1920, under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.
In March 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a message encouraging Americans to recognize and celebrate women's historic accomplishments during Women's History Week. In 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month.
Since 1992, every U.S. president has issued a proclamation declaring March to be Women's History Month.
Firsts in Women's Achievement
1715 - Ann Teresa Mathews was the first woman whose invention received a patent (for cleaning and curing corn) it was granted to her husband
1869 - Susan B. Anthony, co-founder of first US woman's suffrage organization
1872 - Victoria Chaflin Woodhull was the first woman to be presidential candidate
1881 - Clara Barton was the founder of the American Red Cross
1933 - Ruth Bran Owen was the first woman foreign diplomat
1978 - Mary Clarke was the first woman to be named major general in U.S. Army
1981 - Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman justice of the U. S. Supreme Court
1997 - Madeleine K. Albright was the first woman Secretary of State and highest ranking woman in the U.S. government
2005 - Condoleezza Rice was the first African-American woman to be appointed Secretary of State
(Editors note: Information from http://www.history.com/minisites/womenhist/ is contained in this article.)