The woman suffrage movement in the United States began in 1848 at the first woman's rights convention, which was held in Seneca Falls, New York, with the participants calling for political equality and the right to vote. As the movement gained more support throughout the country, it also brought about a great deal of public scrutiny. Many people, including some women, questioned how women would be able to continue completing their domestic duties in the private sphere while participating in the public sphere. Since women had always been seen as inferior to men, many were also concerned about the implications of women gaining the right to vote and becoming one step closer to equality.
By the late nineteenth century woman suffrage groups were split over a fundamental issue. The National Woman Suffrage Association, headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, argued for a constitutional amendment to achieve suffrage nationwide. They had seen and participated in the debates and movements that achieved the Thirteenth through Fifteenth Amendments and had witnessed the effectiveness of making change in the very foundation of United States government. Other, less radical organizers, such as the American Woman Suffrage Association, believed that change needed to be achieved state by state. Even though these two groups merged in 1890 as the National American Woman Suffrage Association, tensions between advocates of these two strategies continued almost to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.