History in the Making

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Female suffragists in the United States at the turn of the 20th Century fought to gain more protection under the law than the laws had granted women in entire history of the nation. The suffragist movement symbolically began at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, in which the "Declaration of Sentiments" dictated women’s precise requests for equality. This early industrialism-era suffrage campaign focused mainly on the East coast of the United States, while the nation expanded into the West. Ironically, while the first generation suffragists experienced many failures in their efforts for suffrage, the second generation found many successes in the West and subsequently in the East. Western organizers effectively produced literature for segments of society that were the most receptive to giving women the ballot. Suffragists learned the best techniques, layouts, and rhetorical devices to use to and implemented these techniques with little failure, thanks to the experimentation of their predecessors. While many differences existed between the established cities in the East and the more rural areas of the West, many of the same rhetorical arguments applied in both regions, such as the use of revolutionary rhetoric, the argument for working-women and labor, and the argument that women would create a more virtuous government with the ballot.