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New Tactics for a New Generation, 1890–1915

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Before the end of the nineteenth century, suffragists achieved victories in four western states and partnered with new organizations, including the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), which expanded the reach of their message. Challenging the status quo, suffragists worked to persuade women across the nation that they deserved the same rights that men took for granted, while also appealing to male political leaders to support their cause. They used a variety of tactics, including traditional approaches like petitioning and lobbying, but also innovative techniques such as parades and public demonstrations, political art, and the use of planes, automobiles, motion pictures, and other emerging technologies to spread their message. These creative strategies and tools helped garner media attention, raise money, apply political pressure, and attract new recruits, including more working-class and college women. A flurry of activity led to more suffrage wins in the West, while leaders of the newly formed Congressional Union, later the National Woman’s Party (NWP), focused on Washington, D.C. The first national suffrage parade occurred on March 3, 1913, to coincide with President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. The parade put the president-elect and Congress on notice that suffragists would hold the Democratic Party responsible if it failed to pass a women’s suffrage amendment.