The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Nineteenth Amendment was enacted in 1920, after a 70-year struggle led by the women's suffrage movement.
The groundwork for the suffrage movement was laid in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, now considered the birthplace of the women's movement. Here elizabeth cady stanton drafted the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments, which demanded voting rights, property rights, educational opportunities, and economic equity for women.
Rather than face the difficult task of obtaining approval of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution from an all-male Congress preoccupied with the question of slavery, the suffragists decided to focus their attention on the separate states and seek state constitutional amendments. The state-by-state effort began in 1867 in Kansas with a referendum to enfranchise women. The referendum was defeated, but that same year the western territories of Wyoming and Utah provided the first victories for the suffragists.
The movement then suffered a series of setbacks beginning in January 1878 when the voting rights amendment was first introduced in Congress. The full Senate did not consider the amendment until 1887 and voted to defeat the bill. The suffragists continued their state-by-state strategy and won a referendum ballot in Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896.
The suffragists mounted a final and decisive drive in the second decade of the 1900s with victories in Washington in 1910 and California in 1911. The following year Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon gave women the right to vote, and in 1913 Illinois also passed measures supporting suffrage as did Montana and Nevada in 1914. Women in eleven states voted in the 1916 presidential election. By this time the United States was also involved in world war i, which brought national attention to the suffrage movement as well as to the important role women played in the war effort. During the war,
an unprecedented number of women joined the depleted industrial and public service workforce. Women became an active and visible population of the labor sector that benefited the national economy. By the end of 1918 four more states—Michigan, Oklahoma, New York, and South Dakota—had approved women's suffrage.
With the requisite two-thirds majority, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the amendment in January 1918. The vote was initially postponed, and the amendment was later defeated in October 1918 and again in February 1919. On June 4, 1919, almost 17 months after its introduction by the House of Representatives, the amendment was finally passed by the Senate. Having already considered and debated the voting rights issue for several years, the states ratified the amendment quickly. In August 1920 Tennessee became the thirty-sixth and last state necessary to ratify the enactment. With ratification complete, the Nineteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution on August 18, 1920.
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Clift, Eleanor. 2003. Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.
Hillyard, Carrie. 1996. "The History of Suffrage and Equal Rights Provisions in State Constitutions." BYU Journal of Public Law 10 (winter).
Lind, Joellen. 1994. "Dominance and Democracy: The Legacy of Woman Suffrage for the Voting Right." UCLA Women's Law Journal 5 (fall).
"Nineteenth Amendment." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nineteenth-amendment
"Nineteenth Amendment." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nineteenth-amendment
Proposed in Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified by the states August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives women the right to vote. After four decades of struggle, the women's movement in the United States had finally secured the vote.
The woman's suffrage movement had its roots in the 1840s, when women who sought social reforms, including abolition of slavery, instituting a national policy of temperance (abstinence from alcoholic beverages), and securing better work opportunities and better pay, organized. These reformers soon realized that in order to effect change, they needed the power of the vote. An early leader of the suffragist movement was feminist and reformer Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902). She joined anti-slavery activist Lucretia Mott (1793–1880) to establish the first women's-rights convention in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York. In 1869 Stanton teamed with Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) to organize the National Woman Suffrage Association. That same year, another group was formed—the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by women's rights and anti-slavery activist Lucy Stone (1818–1893) and her husband Henry Brown Blackwell (1825–1909). In 1870 the common cause of the two groups was strengthened by the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave all men—regardless of race—the right to vote. When the two organizations joined forces in 1890, they formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The suffragists appealed to middle class and working class women alike, as well as to students and radicals. They waged campaigns at the state level, distributed literature, organized meetings, made speeches, marched in parades, picketed, lobbied in Washington, DC, and even chained themselves to the White House fence. If jailed, many resorted to hunger strikes.
From 1878 to 1917, woman suffrage amendments were introduced during every session of Congress; all failed. In 1918, the required support for the amendment was finally mustered in the House of Representatives—the result of years of activism and of the role women played during World War I (1914–1918). Having demonstrated their position as involved and intelligent citizens, members of the House passed the proposal in 1918. It then went to the Senate where it was defeated. Voting again the next year, the amendment passed in the Senate and was duly sent to the states, which ratified it in 1920. The amendment states that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
See also: Henry Brown Blackwell, Women's Movement
"Nineteenth Amendment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nineteenth-amendment
"Nineteenth Amendment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/nineteenth-amendment