Celebrating 100 years of the 19th Amendment

Lexi Wojcik-Kretchmer, News Writer

On Aug. 26, the 19th Amendment, which 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,” had been in law for 100 years.

According to the National Women’s History Museum website, the movement to demand women’s right to vote started with a woman’s rights convention in New York in 1848.

20 years later, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, while Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell and other conservative activists formed the American Woman Suffrage Association.

In 1871, Victoria Woodhull addressed the House Judiciary Committee, arguing that the 14th Amendment, which says that people who are born in the US are citizens, allowed women to vote. This was later shut down.

Susan B. Anthony and 15 other women were arrested in 1872 for casting a ballot in the election and were put on trial. In 1878, Senator Aaron Sargent of California proposed an amendment.

The AWSA and NWSA combined in 1890 to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association to focus on gaining voting rights at the state level.

In the same year, Wyoming, whose state constitution recognizes women’s suffrage, was admitted to the union.

The National Women’s History Museum describes the movement as gaining the most momentum by being one of the front issues during the Progressive Era from 1890 to 1925.

When the states adopted suffrage, which Colorado did so in 1893, Utah joined the Union with suffrage in 1897. Idaho adopted it during the same year and Washington followed suit in 1910. California followed soon after in 1911.

TDR’s Bull Moose Party supported the movement at a national level in 1912 and in the same year, Oregon, Kansas and Arizona adopted it, with Nevada and Montana following in 1914. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts didn’t, despite the many parades and signatures in the states.

In 1916, Jeanette Rankin was the first female to be elected in Montana to the House of Representatives. It was seen as wrong, and the leader of the National Woman’s Party was put into a mental institution to break her thoughts of equality.

The National Women’s History Museum stated that other members of the NWP were arrested for picketing and sentenced to jail for six months, but released earlier because of their hunger strike and public outcry.

In 1918, Rankin proposed the amendment that was worded the same as Senator Sargents from 1879, and it passed in the House but failed at the Senate. President Woodrow Wilson then announced his support for women’s right to vote and the Senate passed the movement in 1919.

On Aug. 26, 1920, 75% of state Legislatures, with Wisconsin being the first, ratified the amendment, and women were finally guaranteed the right to vote.

Despite the successes of these women, there was, and still is, room for improvement. Four years after the 19th Amendment was adopted, Native Americans were given citizenship and Native American women could vote.

In 1965, the Voters Rights Act was established to help get rid of the barriers that prevented people of color from voting and was extended in 1975 to help those whose primary language was not English.

Mississippi did not pass the 19th Amendment until 1984.

These amendments and acts do not cover all who live in the U.S.; permanent residents who are not citizens and those who live in any U.S. territory are not able to vote in some or all elections regardless of being a man or woman.

There are many things students can do to get involved. For example: voting in the Nov. 3 election, getting involved with the American Democracy project or the League of Women Voters in Winnebago County or Appleton.

Voting equality for all is important, especially for women, because their voter turnout in recent elections is almost 10 million more votes than men. This means that women do have the power to change the world, especially if they all can vote.