In America, the fight for women’s suffrage began in 1848 at Seneca Falls, New York. There, 100 women signed the “Declaration of Sentiments,” which demanded they be given the right to vote by the federal government. But only one signer survived to see them get that right — Charlotte Woodward Pierce.
Pierce was in her late teens when she signed the Declaration of Sentiments. An independent seamstress at the time, she went to the convention out of a need to agitate for more opportunities for women, later saying, “I do not believe there was any community anywhere in which the souls of some women were not beating their wings in rebellion.”
Throughout her life she was active in multiple women’s rights societies, including the American Woman Suffrage Association. Although she recognized that different organizations had different techniques, she believed they were working towards the same goal.
The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, wasn’t ratified until August 18th, 1920. It took 78 years of continuous advocacy, but it finally paid off. As far as we know, Pierce was the only person present at Seneca Falls to live to see that goal achieved, and the only witness to the entire official struggle for women’s suffrage. She died at age 92 in 1921.
Image: Library of Congress.