In 1866 men and women abolitionists formed the American Equal Rights Association, with the goal of obtaining voting rights for both women and African Americans.
The group soon divided, however, over whether to back the Republican Party’s efforts to gain the vote for black men but not for women.
Sojourner Truth declared that “if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs… the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as had as it was before.”
The debate became bitter, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton saying that an educated female voter is better than an uneducated black or immigrant male voter.
Frederick Douglass, long a supporter of women’s rights, countered: “When women, because they are women, are hunted down land killed) …then they will have an urgency to obtain the ballot equal to our own.”
Frances Ellen Harper (Watkins) and Lucy Stone agreed with Douglass, while Truth, Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony insisted that voting rights for women and African American men must be secured together.