Ratification of the 19th Amendment

The 19th Amendment states that all American women are given the right to vote.  The 19th Amendment was approved by the Senate on June 4th, 1919 and ratified in August 1920.  Years before the amendment was even brought to the government, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first women's right convention in July of 1848.  This convention overall came with a list of demands for women.  This list of demands was called the Declaration of Sentiments and it called for, broader education and professional opportunities for women and the right of married women to control their wages and property.  Women's voting rights were not discussed at this convention, but it soon became a large issue in women's rights.  A large majority of the attendees at the convention were abolitionists and their goal was the right to vote for all.  This goal was only partially recognized when the 15th amendment was passed in 1870.  This amendment gave black men who were American citizens to vote.  The amendment divided the women’s suffrage movement.  Some of the people opposed the 15th amendment and others thought it was a step in the right direction.  In 1896, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in opposition to the 15th amendment because it excluded women.  The other division of the women’s suffrage movement established the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) and they focused more on gaining the right to vote at state and local levels.  These two organizations ended up merging and creating the largest women’s suffrage organization, the National American woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).  In the 1872 election, Susan B. Anthony registered and voted, and she was arrested for “knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully voting for a representative of the Congress of the United States.” 

The suffragists began to think of different strategies to accomplish their goal.  They thought of having large and dramatic parades to get the attention of people in government and to also bring attention to their cause.  Some of the suffragists were not satisfied with the little progress that had occurred with the NAWSA, therefore; another organization was formed by Alice Paul, the National Woman’s Party (NWP).  This organization was formed to have more militant tactics.  The NWP organized the very first White House picked, in 1917, in the history of the United States.  This White House picket was named the “Silent Sentinels” because they were outside of the White House for six days a week for almost three years.  Many of the people who participated in the demonstration were arrested and jailed. 

When President Woodrow Wilson changed his view on women’s suffrage in 1918, there was a much larger support in favor of the vote for women.  In May 1920, the House of Representatives passed the 19th amendment by a vote of 304 to 90, and two weeks later, the Senate approved it 56 to 25.  Even though the amendment was put through congress, the states also had to ratify it.  This allowed those against the amendment to delay the official ratification of the 19th amendment.  Anti-suffrage legislators led anti-suffrage rallies to attempt to sway the pro-suffrage legislators.  However, this was unsuccessful, for the 19th amendment was ratified a month after it went through congress.  The large fight for women’s right to vote was ended in August of 1920, and it has forever changed American voting.  Carrie Chapman Catt stated that, “The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guarantee of your liberty.”

“19th Amendment.” History of U.S. Woman's Suffrage, http://www.crusadeforthevote.org/19-amendment.

“19th Amendment.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/19th-amendment.htm.

“Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/woman-suffrage#background.