Above the titles of wife and mother, which, although dear, are transitory and accidental, there is the title human being, which precedes and out-ranks every other.

Mary Livermore



Margaret Foley distributing the Woman's Journal, library of congress.

Suffragists Organize: American Woman Suffrage Association

The second national suffrage organization established in 1869 was the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). Unlike the rival National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), AWSA supported the Fifteenth Amendment that granted African American men the right to vote.

Lucy Stone and her husband Henry Brown Blackwell teamed up with other prominent reformers—including lecturer and author of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” Julia Ward Howe, writer Mary Livermore, and famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher—to create AWSA. The organization was headquartered in Boston, a city known as a center of reform movements. In 1870, Stone established The Woman’s Journal, which quickly became a successful suffrage newspaper. The paper announced and recapped the association’s meetings, discussed suffrage issues, and detailed strategies. The Woman’s Journal lasted beyond the end of the suffrage movement, ending publication in 1931.

The AWSA quickly became the more popular organization because it was more moderate in its aims. While the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) advocated for a range of reforms to make women equal members of society, the AWSA focused solely on the vote to attract as many supporters as possible. Unlike the female-led NWSA, the AWSA also included prominent male reformers among its leaders and members. AWSA leaders also pursued a state-by-state strategy, which they thought would be more successful than NWSA’s efforts to pass an amendment to the Constitution.

By Allison Lange, Ph.D.
Fall 2015


Essential Questions

  • Why did Lucy Stone organize the AWSA rather than join the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA)?
  • How did AWSA's goals and strategies differ from that of the NWSA?

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