On This Day In History

Aug 18, 1920: Woman Suffrage Amendment Ratified

The 19th amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, received two-thirds majority of state ratification thanks to Tennessee and is now a new law. It culminates more than 70 years of struggle by women. It reads “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United State or by any State on account of sex” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

The women’s suffrage movement began in the mid 1800. Women became politically active in politics due to the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 200 women met in Seneca Fall, New York to discuss women’s rights. The convention was led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and became known as the Seneca Falls Convention. Even Frederick Douglass attended this convention! During this time, women focused on better educational and employment opportunities for women. They did also try to gain the right to vote but it was met with much opposition. Over the years, more women’s rights conventions were held. The first national women’s rights convention was in 1850 and it was held every year after. Year after year, women pushed for the right to vote. Wyoming was actually the first state to allow women to vote in 1890.

By the 20th century, the role of women in society was changing. Women worked more, received a better education, and had fewer children. Still, they did not have the right to vote. In 1917, America entered World War I. With so many men overseas fighting in the war, women stepped up to aid the war effort. By 1918, women had equal suffrage in 15 states, but not across the country yet. Finally, an amendment passed the House of Representatives in January 1918. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate for ratification. Suffragists around the country pushed for ratification and it finally happened on August 18, 1920 when Tennessee became the 36th to ratify the amendment. On August 26, 1920, it was formally adopted into the Constitution.


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