Two political entities transcend into each other is what started the fight for the suffrage of women. According to “Signatures of Citizenship: Debating Women’s Antislavery Petitions” by Susan Zaeske, the realization of making women become aware of one of their natural rights that was being denied by their own Congress and Country, was by securing the right to petition. The first steps toward the Nineteenth Amendment began with petitioning for the Thirteenth.
With their political status undergoing constant threat, pre-sufferage movement women had to push forward their political views and opinions on the public and their representatives through the act of Petitioning. The nature of the right of a petition at its core is being able to petition a request for a redress of grievances sent from an individual or a group to a ruler or representative as a means of political communication in which a representative must receive and respond to (Zaeske 214). Women had to defend their right to petition and advocated that they possessed a natural and constitutional right of petition and were endowed with equal responsibilities and therefore equal right with man ( Zaeske 216-217). Even going as far as arguing the fact that being denied the ability to vote there is no reason to deny them the right to petition (Zaeske 217). Assuring the right of petitioning, women were also able to employ the right of lobbying their representatives and agitate the public opinion to promote their causes. This common right was soon defined and modified a form of citizenship for women.
The interaction and gathering of signatures are what brought forth the evolution toward suffrage. When women signed the petition, they would mark it as “statements of their opinions” and “asserted their own existence as political individuals” instead of the opinions of their husbands and fathers. By dropping the Mrs. off of their signatures they became individual beings with their own political statements. Those gathering signatures also gain experience in practicing oral arguments and persuasion to inform; leading to a confidence and assertiveness toward their political cause.
The building upon suffrage began with the building of petitioning. Understanding that even though women were citizens, they were below the standard of men who thought that they would be taken out of their domestic roles if they continued their habits of putting forth their political opinions. By arguing and protecting their natural right to partition allowed for the forward movement toward suffrage. By this sudden transformation of women and their political identities, they became citizens with a cause.
Kerber, Linda; Zaeske, Susan, et.al. Women’s America. 8th edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016