Lucreita Mott Amendment The Equal Rights Bill

The Parting of Ways

Equal Rights Magazine, 1924

The adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment enfranchised women in the United States, but it failed to provide women the same rights and privileges under the constitution and laws that men enjoyed. In February 1921, at a meeting in Washington, the National Woman’s Party disbanded as a suffrage organization and reorganized to establish women’s equal rights. No state awarded women the same equal protection as men. There was not a state which did not in some aspect subjected women to statutes that supported either the old English Common Law or the Napoleonic Code. In many instances a woman was “still conceived to be in subjection to, and under the control of the husband, if married, or of the male members of the family, if unmarried.” In the 1920’s, after a woman married , the rights she had as a single woman with respect to the use of her property, her freedom to make contracts, her right to enter business and retain her earnings, her right to seek justice in the courts alone, her right to say where she lived and who entered her home, were changed. Following the common law rule that husband and wife were one, the husband became the head of the house with the power of sole authority. Consequently, while in most states passed statues that gave mothers and fathers equal guardianship of their children, many of these states still denied the mother equal rights to the earnings and services of the children.  

Regarding open employment positions in the state and federal government, women were still extensively barred. For example, “the United States Civil Service Commission, in announcing examinations for positions requiring technical training, not infrequently stated that although women may take the examinations, they will not be appointed, as the authorities prefer men.” (Equal Rights Magazine 1925) Furthermore, more than half the states did not permit women to serve on juries. Some legislation opposed jury service for women because of the “moral hazard” of deliberating in a room with men.   

Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott

By passing the Lucretia Mott Amendment, the Women’s Party hoped to remove all legal discrimination against women solely on account of their gender. This would allow women to possess:   

-Equal control of their children  
-Equal control of their property  
-Equal control of their earnings  
-Equal right to make contracts  
-Equal citizenship rights  
-Equal inheritance rights  
-Equal control of national, state and local government  
-Equal opportunities in government service  
-Equal opportunities in professions and industries  
-Equal pay for equal work  

To those that supported the Lucretia Mott Amendment, unless the restrictions placed upon women were removed, the door of opportunity for women would stay shut. Only an amendment to the Constitution could decree in clear-cut language that in every state women and men had equal rights under the law, guaranteeing that women would not face discrimination due to a written statue or unwritten Common Law.   

Lucreita Mott Amendment The Equal Rights Bill