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How did the women's suffrage movement change between 1865 and 1929?

Between 1865 and 1929, the women's suffrage movement evolved from a fringe cause to a mainstream political issue, culminating in legal success.

In the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War in 1865, the women's suffrage movement was largely marginalised. The focus of the era was on the abolition of slavery and the rights of African American men, overshadowing the cause of women's suffrage. However, women's rights activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton continued to campaign for the right to vote, forming organisations such as the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869.

The turn of the century saw a shift in the movement's tactics and focus. Activists began to target individual states, resulting in some early successes in the Western states. The movement also became more militant, with groups like the Women's Social and Political Union in the UK employing direct action tactics such as hunger strikes and civil disobedience. This shift was partly due to the influence of younger activists like Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst, who were frustrated with the slow progress of the movement.

The First World War marked a significant turning point for the women's suffrage movement. Women's contributions to the war effort, particularly in roles traditionally held by men, challenged societal perceptions of women's capabilities and roles. This helped to build public and political support for women's suffrage. In the UK, the Representation of the People Act 1918 granted voting rights to certain women over the age of 30, while in the US, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, granting women the right to vote.

The period between 1920 and 1929 saw the consolidation of these gains. In the UK, the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 extended the vote to all women over the age of 21, putting them on equal terms with men. In the US, the focus shifted to ensuring the enforcement of the 19th Amendment and combating voter suppression. The women's suffrage movement also began to broaden its focus to other areas of gender inequality, laying the groundwork for the second wave of feminism in the mid-20th century.

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