August 26, 1920– The 19th Amendment to United States Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote
It has been less than a hundred years since women were allowed to vote. Now, my sources tell me that a woman ran for President last year, and that she received the most votes. By three million!
Beginning in the 1800s, women planned, petitioned, and picketed to win the right to vote. Champions of Women’s Voting Rights worked tirelessly, but the strategies for achieving their goal varied. Some worked to pass suffrage acts in each state; nine Western States adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. Others challenged the male-only voting laws in the courts. Nasty Women used tactics such as parades, protests, vigils, and strikes. They were met with fierce resistance. Their opponents jeered, jailed, and sometimes physically accosted them.
The 19th Amendment to United States Constitution is rather simple:
“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 19th Amendment was drafted by suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and first introduced in Congress in 1878 by Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California. 41 later, in 1919, Congress approved the amendment and submitted it to the states for ratification. It was ratified by the requisite number of states a year later, with Tennessee’s ratification being the final vote needed to add the amendment to the Constitution. In Leser v. Garnett (1922), the Supreme Court rejected claims that the amendment was unconstitutional, using that old “State’s Rights” argument.
There was a real push to get the thing done in time for the 1920 Presidential Elections. It was the first election in which women had the right to vote in all 48 states (in the 1916 presidential election, about 30 states had permitted women to vote). As a result, the total popular vote increased from 18.5 million in 1916 to 30 million in 1920.
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi all rejected the 19th Amendment before finally ratifying it after 1920. It took more than 60 years for 12 other states to ratify it.
Not all women could vote after the 19th Amendment was ratified. Black women forced to take literacy tests in the Southern states. In 1922, the Supreme Court ruled that Japanese people were ineligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens and, therefore, unable to vote. In 1924, all Asians were forbidden to be citizens. In 1952, Asian-Americans were finally able to become citizens and to vote.
In 1924, Native Americans were granted citizenship, but the states prohibited them from voting. Finally, in 1947, Native Americans were granted the right to vote, but only in New Mexico and Arizona. Until 1957, some states still barred Native Americans from voting.
In 1961, residents in Washington D.C. were granted the right to vote. This did not include African-Americans, who made up nearly half of the district’s population.
The Voting Rights Act Of 1965 prohibited racial discrimination in voting and secured voting rights for minorities including African-Americans, who still struggle to this day to vote in some Southern states.
Georgia finally ratified the 19th Amendment in 1970, and the last state to ratify the Amendment was Mississippi in 1984.