Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Women Get the Vote!

The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (certified 26 August 1920)

Those darn women! Always wanting things. Like the right to vote. Here's the text of the amendment that finally extended the franchise to women:*
  1. 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.
  2. Congress shall have power to enforce this Article by appropriate legislation.
Passed by the House of Representatives on 21 May 1919 and by the Senate on 4 June 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified on 18 August 1920, when Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to approve it. 

Alice Paul, 1920,
raising a glass (of juice) in victory
The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified on 26 August 1920.

Just over two months later, on 8 November 1920, some eight million American women voted in the first national elections for which they were eligible to vote. 

(It took more than sixty years for the rest of the states to pass the Nineteenth Amendment--Mississippi didn't get around to ratifying that pesky amendment until 22 March 1984. Go, Mississippi!)

Of course extending the franchise to women by amending the constitution did not go unchallenged--for the Supreme Court case Leser v. Garnett (1922), unanimously upholding the constitutionality of the Nineteenth Amendment, click here.

And here's a bonus note for the day: on the fiftieth anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, on 26 August 1970, women across America conducted a Women's Strike for Equality. Here are a few images from the march in New York City, headed by Betty Friedan:

Betty Friedan at the march

I hope somebody's planning a kick-ass celebration for 26 August 2020!!

*If you consider the Seneca Falls convention of 1848 as the start of the women's suffrage movement, it took more than seventy years for women to achieve this goal. If you missed them, here are posts for the first and second days of the Convention. And if you ever wondered what happened to the Equal Rights Amendment, click here.

Update, August 2019: And the centennial begins! Check out Jennifer Schluesser's "The Complex History of the Women's Suffrage Movement." The New York Times piece notes three exhibitions on the subject of women's suffrage that complicate and expand the discussion of the movement. Schluesser's piece contains links to exhibitions opening at the National Portrait Gallery, the Library of Congress and the National Archives (all in Washington, D.C.).

Update, 26 August 2020: Well, because of the pandemic there were no kick-ass celebrations. At least there was a PBS documentary.  And a postage stamp. For more, click here.