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Legislation Concerning the Womens Movement in the United States In the 1900s state and federal laws that discriminated against women posed some of the most significant obstacles in gaining womens rights The earliest campaigns to improve womens legal status in the United States focused on gaining property rights for women Women also led legislative efforts in the 19th and 20th centuries to ensure their voting and employment rights Property Rights Beginning in the 1830s states passed laws that gradually gave married women greater control over property New York state passed the Married Womens Property Act in 1848 allowing women to acquire and retain assets independently of their husbands This was the first law that clearly established the idea that a married woman had an independent legal identity The New York law inspired nearly all other states to eventually pass similar legislation The Right to Vote American women did not gain the right to vote until 1920 after amendments were made to the Constitution The passage of the 14th Amendment in 1866 and the 15th Amendment in 1870 helped to focus the womens rights movement on suffrage The 14th Amendment provided that all citizens were guaranteed equal protection under the law and that no citizen could be denied due process of law The 15th Amendment stated that citizens could not be denied the right to vote on the basis of race color or previous status as a slave Activists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony argued that the 15th Amendment be expanded to guarantee suffrage to women With the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890 the womens rights movement zeroed in almost exclusively on attaining the right to vote In 1920 the 19th Amendment granted women this right In theory the 19th Amendment shouldve extended voting rights to all women Protective Labor Legislation Increasing numbers of women began to enter the industrial labor force in the
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