Lucy Stone - National Organizations

National Organizations

During the Civil War, Stone joined with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Martha Coffin Wright, Amy Post, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Ernestine Rose, and Angelina Grimké Weld to form the Woman's National Loyal League in 1863. The group held a convention in New York City, and resolved to fight for full emancipation and enfranchisement of African Americans. In 1864, the organization gathered 400,000 signatures to petition the United States Congress, significantly assisting in the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. Once Reconstruction began, Stone helped form the American Equal Rights Association (AERA). AERA's main goal was to achieve equal voting rights for people of either gender and any race.

During the May, 1869 AERA conference, a division arose between the great majority of participants such as Stone who wanted to voice support for the proposed fifteenth amendment which would grant suffrage to African-American men, and a vocal minority who opposed any amendment to voting rights which would not provide universal suffrage. The conflict led to the adoption of a muted resolution in favor of the fifteenth amendment, one which expressed disappointment that Congress had not offered the same privilege to women. The AERA could not hold together from the internal strife between these two positions. Heading the minority, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the female-only National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) to focus on women gaining voting rights. In Cleveland on November 24, Stone, along with her husband and Julia Ward Howe, founded the more moderate American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), that admitted both men and women. The goals of AWSA were to get the fifteenth amendment passed after which the effort would be redoubled to win women the vote. Beyond membership and the timing of women's suffrage, the groups differed only on minor points of policy.

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