What Methods Did the Suffragists Use?

Suffragists used a variety of tactics in order to gain votes, most notably lobbying, public demonstrations and civil disobedience. In the United States, suffragists often began working at the state level since achieving voting rights in one state often made the senators and representatives from that state more amenable to national suffrage.

When suffrage activists were arrested, many of them petitioned to be declared political prisoners. When their respective governments refused, many of the activists went on a hunger strike. In some cases, this resulted in early release, while in others, prison officials began a regimen of force-feeding that had the potential to cause health and psychological issues.

While most suffrage movements have been peaceful, violence was never uncommon during the suffragists’ quest for rights. Most of the violence was directed against activists by suffrage opponents or by the state. During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, some states technically allowed African Americans to vote, but violence and intimidation at the local level effectively disenfranchised them. In such cases, simply exercising the right to vote served as a suffragist tactic. Standing up to the intimidation and drawing national attention to the situation helped turn public opinion toward universal suffrage, and several activists even sacrificed their lives for the movement.