National Women's Month Timeline
Women's History Month: A Timeline for Women's Rights
1769: The American colonies adopt English Common Law. The specifics are detailed in the Blackstone commentaries: "By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in the law. The very being and legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated into that of her husband under whose wing and protection she performs everything.”
1777: Abigail Adams' pleads with her husband John to "remember the ladies" for holding down the fort, farm, and businesses while the men were away fighting the Revolutionary War, fall on deaf ears. Every state in the Union passes legislation barring women from the vote.
1848: A Tea Party attended by Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Ann McClintock, and Jane Hunt leads to the first conference to discuss the rights of women.
Three hundred people attended the gathering in Seneca Falls, New York. This event precipitated the first formal demand in the United States for women's voting rights. They drafted a document called the "Declaration of Sentiments" which stated, "...it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise."
1849: Elizabeth Blackwell, who was only admitted to medical school because the staff thought it would be great fun to watch a woman fail, becomes the first female physician in the United States.
1850: The first National Woman's Rights Convention draws a thousand attendees in Worchester, Massachusetts. After this event, the leaders of the women's rights movement begin to attract national attention.
1851: Sojourner Truth delivers her iconic "Ain't I a Woman?" speech, which dominates and defines the woman's rights convention held in Akron, Ohio.
1855: Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell tie the knot, but Lucy keeps her birth name instead of taking her new husband's. Many other women eventually follow Stone's example.
1866: The American Equal Rights Association is established at the Eleventh National Woman's Rights Convention. Members swear to obtain suffrage not only for women but also for African Americans.
1868: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Parker Pillsbury begin publishing the "The Revolution." Even though it only lasted for three years, the magazine was a huge influence on the women's movement. Its motto, "Men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less!" galvanized many to action.
1869: Wyoming Territory allows women the right to vote in all elections.
1871: Victoria Woodhull addresses a woman's right to vote in front of the House Judiciary Committee, citing the 14th Amendment as justification. The following year, Woodhull runs for president on her own ticket.
1872: Susan B. Anthony is arrested for illegally casting a ballot in New York. She is convicted in 1873 and fined a hundred dollars, which she steadfastly refused to pay.
1890: The American Federation of Labor throws its support behind a woman suffrage amendment.
1910: The Women's Political Union holds the first suffrage parade in New York City. The following year, three hundred suffragettes march in front of ten thousand spectators.
1911: More than a hundred people, mostly young women, die in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City. This prompts the largest female strike at that time and eventually led to workplace safety legislation.
1917: Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first female candidate elected to Congress, takes her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
1919: The Senate passes the 19th Amendment drafted by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It's now sent off to the states for ratification.
1921: Margaret Sanger founds the American Birth Control League.
1932: Amelia Earhart is the first woman to make a transcontinental nonstop flight.
1933: Frances Perkins is sworn in as first female U.S. cabinet member (Secretary of Labor.)
1941-1945: Women enter the workforce by the millions during World War II to take up the slack left by men enlisting in the Armed Services.
1968: Shirley Chisolm, whose campaign slogan was "Unbought and Unbossed," becomes the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives.
1973: The landmark case Roe vs. Wade overturns state legislation against abortion, giving women autonomy over their bodies and family planning choices.
1981: Sandra Day O'Connor becomes the first female judge to sit on the United States Supreme Court.
1993: Workplace sexual harassment is ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
2009: President Obama signs The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act bill. This law protects people from facing pay discrimination. The law takes its name from an Alabama woman who complained at the end of her 19-year career that she had been paid less than her male coworkers.
2019: A record number of minority women are elected to Congress. Among them is Alexandria Ocasio Cortez from the Bronx, the youngest female Congressional Representative in U.S. history.