100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

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August 26 is Women’s Equality Day!  The holiday was designated as such in 1971 to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote.  The Amendment was pass by Congress on June 4,1919 and was ratified on August 18, 1920.  Despite our fixation on the Covid-19 pandemic and 2020 Presidential election, this year has been filled with numerous celebrations, commemorating the 100th anniversary.   Just this past Sunday, the wonderful CBS Morning Program aired a piece about the grand celebration in Nashville, noting Tennessee’s role as the final state to ratifying the Amendment.

According to the Library of Congress, beginning in the 1800’s women organized, petitioned and picketed to win the right to vote.  The Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878 and took more than 30 years to finally pass.  By 1912, nine western states had adopted the legislation.   

Some four years later, nearly all of the primary suffrage organizations were united behind the Constitutional Amendment.  “When New York State adopted women’s suffrage in 1917 and President Woodrow Wilson changed his position to support women in 1918, the political balance began to changed.”

The following is the list of states that ratified the Amendment:  Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Utah, California, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Oregon, Indiana, Wyoming, Nevada, New Jersey, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Washington…and Finally Tennessee (which had a 48-48 tie until Representative Harry Burn’s Mother wrote to him telling him to help Mrs. [Carrie Chapman] Catt to put the rate in ratification!). It is hard for me to believe that my own home state of Oklahoma, admitted to statehood in 1907, would pass the Amendment just 13 years later.    It’s always good to learn more about our history.

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