On August 26, 1920, the 19thAmendment granting women the right to vote, became law.
“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.”
When American women were first trying to get the vote, men believed it was inappropriate for women to vote and provided a variety of “reasons”. In 1915, writer Alice Duer Miller countered the ridiculous arguments of anti-suffrage men with humor:
Why We Don’t Want Men to Vote
- Because man’s place is in the army.
- Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
- Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
- Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums.
- Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.
The true ridiculousness of the fight is clear in the view of hindsight — during World War I, when able-bodied men were fighting in Europe, it was women who took their place in factories and kept this country moving, providing support and arms to our fighting men. Yet still, these brave, hard-working women could not vote. President Woodrow Wilson recognized the disparity, and in a speech on September 18, 1918, he said,
“We have made partners of the women in this war. Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of right?”
According to the website AmericanCivilWar.com, “the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s (NAWSA) Congressional Committee and the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU) worked together to try to get women in America the vote. In 1917, the CU formed the National Woman’s Party (NWP).
Photograph of Alison Turnbull Hopkins with banner, “Mr. President How long must women wait for liberty,” picketing for suffrage outside White House gate. Photograph published in The Suffragist, 5, no. 56 (Feb. 7, 1917): 4. Caption reads: “New Jersey Day: Mrs. J.A.H. Hopkins heading the line”. Photograph illustration in story “Fourth Week of the White House Guard.”
In January 1917 the CU and NWP began to picket the White House. The government’s initial tolerance gave way after the United States entered World War I. Beginning in June 1917, suffrage protesters were arrested, imprisoned, and often force-fed when they went on hunger strikes to protest being denied political prisoner status.
The National Woman’s Party militant tactics and steadfast lobbying, coupled with public support for imprisoned suffragists, forced President Woodrow Wilson to endorse a federal woman suffrage amendment in 1918. Congress passed the measure in 1919, and the NWP began campaigning for state ratification. Shortly after Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify women’s suffrage, the 19th Amendment was signed into law on August 26, 1920.”
I am bringing this up today not only to celebrate the 94th Anniversary of this wonderful Amendment, but also to make a point to every woman out there in the United States:
A mid-term election is coming up in November. I don’t know who you support in the election, or what party you are involved with, or if you have ever voted before, and it really doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is this:
A lot of women worked very hard for a long time to give you the right to vote this November.
You owe it to them, as well as to you, your generation, and the next generation to come, to exercise that right. Vote for your granddaughters and your great-granddaughters, and they will one day have what we have yet to win: True Equality.