“Progress of Women” – Issued in 1948 to commemorate the 1848 women’s rights meeting in Seneca Falls, New York, which was the world’s first formal call for gender equity, including the right to vote.  Because it was a three-cent stamp, it was more commonly used than stamps of higher denominations, and thus more likely to be purchased by average women.

From left to right, the stamp included the images of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Lucretia Mott.  Susan B. Anthony, who usually is associated with the movement for the vote, was excluded because she had been honored with a stamp in the previous decade.  Their somewhat abbreviated names were beneath their portraits, and below that, the stamp explained:  “100 Years of Progress of Women – 1848-1948. 

Lucretia Coffin Mott, a Quaker minister, protested injustices against women and slaves. Mott explained that she grew up “so thoroughly imbued with women’s rights that it was the most important question” of her life. After she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were excluded from the Anti-Slavery Convention in 1840, they formed a collaboration that resulted in the 1848 Seneca Falls meeting and the proposal of the “Declaration of Sentiments.” In 1866 Mott became the first president of the American Equal Rights Association. Dedicated to all forms of human freedom, Mott argued as ardently for women’s rights as for black rights, including suffrage, education, and economic aid.

Raised in Iowa, Carrie Chapman Catt was a lecturer and newspaper editor prior to suffrage work. She married twice, but both husbands died.  George Catt’s death left her wealthy and able to devote full time to suffrage. Realizing that national stability enhanced women’s integration into political life, she devoted herself to world peace. She was the driving force behind the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, spreading the democracy of suffrage around the globe. She directed the mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to victory, and founded the League of Women Voters (1920) to bring women into the political mainstream. A brilliant political strategist, suffrage organizer and fund-raiser, she formed NAWSA’s powerful Organization Committee to direct state suffrage campaigns.

Author, lecturer, and chief philosopher of the woman’s rights movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton formulated the agenda for woman’s rights that has guided the struggle to the present. An outstanding orator with a radical mind, Cady Stanton lectured, wrote speeches and, with Matilda Gage authored the "Declaration of Rights," which Susan B. Anthony delivered at the Philadelphia Centennial celebration in 1876. She wrote three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage (1881-85) with Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage. In this work, published several decades before women won the right to vote, the authors documented the individual and local activism that built and sustained a movement for woman suffrage.

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