Iroquois women own the land and control the economy of the Iroquois nation. The women supervise the distribution of food, and clan mothers appoint tribal chiefs and can demand their removal. Cherokee clan mothers select male leaders, and have a strong voice in public policy.
Lady Deborah Moody leaves the Massachusetts colony and helps set up a new community based on religious tolerance in Long Island. She participates in the town council meetings and helps select the magistrates.
Maria, a slave, is burned at the stake for attempting, with two men, to burn down her masters house in Massachusetts. The court condemns her the most severely, claiming she lacks “the feare of God before her eyes.”
After leading the Cherokee people to victory over the Creek forces, Nanye-hi is given title of “Beloved Woman.” She governs the Women’s Council and sits on the Council of Chiefs. She negotiates several peace treaties with white settlers, expressing surprise that there are no white women negotiators. She later changes her mind about trusting the whites enough to negotiate.
New Jersey’s new constitution gives the vote to all property owners above a certain monetary worth, so some unmarried women are eligible. Some of the women exercise the right until it is revoked in 1807. New York in 1777 specifically denies women voting rights in its constitution. Other states soon repeat New York’s example.
The Cherokee adopt a new constitution that eliminates women’s power in decision making. Forced to resign, the last Beloved Woman, Nanye-hi, pleads with the council not to sell any more land to the white settlers. To do so, she said, “would be like destroying your mothers.”
African American women organize the Female Anti-Slavery Society of Salem. In nearby Boston, African American and white women set up the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, which annually published “Right and Wrong in Boston.”
When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo end the Mexican War, bringing Texas California, and most of the Southwest under the control of the U.S. government, married Mexican women in these areas lose their property rights and thus economic power. They can no longer operate their own businesses, enter into contracts, or sue, as before.
Two weeks after the Seneca Falls convention, another meeting is held in Rochester, New York. The demand for women’s enfranchisement, adopted by a narrow vote in Seneca Falls, now heads the list of resolutions. Attendees also demand a revision of property laws and pledge to help raise working women’s wages.
The American Equal Rights Association debates whether to push for voting rights only for Black men, or to include the push for women’s voting rights as well. Sojourner Truth argues: “There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored women; and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before.” (Frederick Douglass, considered a hero by many modern day feminists because he occassionally spoke up for women’s rights, advocated leaving women behind. He believed that inclusion of women jeopardized the vote for Black men, and argued that women didn’t need the vote as much as Black men.)
Congress passes the 15th Amendment, which guarantees that the right to vote “shall not be denied…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony had warned that if “sex” were not included in the amendment, it would take another generation to secure women the vote. In fact, it took 50 years.
Chinese feminist Xue Jinquin, a student at Berkeley, speaks in San Francisco’s Chinatown, calling for educational opportunities for women, and an end to restrictive customs like foot-binding. Her words, and those of other Chinese feminists, are reported in Chung Sai Yat Po, a Chinese-language paper in California.
After serving as city council president, Bertha Knight Landes is elected the first female mayor of a major city, Seattle.
When Eleanor Roosevelt encounters segregated seating at a conference on human welfare in Birmingham, Alabama, she moves her chair to straddle the black and white sections. She also joins the NAACP and addresses its annual meeting.
Senator Hattie Caraway becomes the first woman in Congress to sponsor the Equal Rights Amendment, which reads, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Pro-ERA groups are soon established in several states. Supporters point out that some states do not allow married women to enter into contracts, and in a few states, husbands can still claim his wife’s earnings, though she cannot claim his. About half the states still prohibit women from serving on juries. In some states, women are not allowed to run for elective office.
Rosa Parks, active in the local NAACP, helps ignite the civil rights movement when she is arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The Women’s Political Council swings into action. With the support of Montgomery’s Black women, who often walked miles rather than ride the buses, the boycott continues for more than a year, when the Supreme Court rules the segregation policy unconstitutional.
The first women’s liberation groups appear. Several women start the Westside group in Chicago after a conference of the radical left fails to take women’s issues seriously. New York Radical Women is formed.
For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court declares a law unconstitutional for discriminating against sex. The case was argued by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barbara Mikulski defeats Republican candidate Linda Chavez and becomes the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate without succeeding her husband. Her election doubles the number of women in the Senate–from one to two.
Women hold a record number of positions in state as well as federal government. They now represent 20.4% of state legislators–almost 40% in the state of Washington.
Congress passes the Violence Against Women Act.
Adelante Con Nuestra Vision is the first national leadership conference for Latina lesbians.
Women lose five seats in the House. Seven of the eight new Republican congresswomen oppose abortion rights.
In August, women across the country celebrate the 75th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
(source: Timelines of American Women’s History by Sue Heinemann)