DemDaily: On This Day

August 19th 2016

On this day in history, the states ratified the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution -- giving women the right to vote.

Although Congress passed the bill on June 4th, 1919, it was not officially ratified until fourteen months later when, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to approve the amendment, providing the three-fourths majority needed for ratification.

First-term Tennessee State Rep Harry Burns, 22, who cast the deciding vote, switched to yes

after receiving a telegram from his mother. He had to escape out a House Chamber window to avoid angry protesters.

The ratification was the culmination of a decades-long movement for women's voting rights and the brave leadership of a few extraordinary women.

Alice Paul

In 1838, Kentucky authorized women to vote in school elections and its reforms were later copied by other states. The Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 in upstate New York played a pivotal role when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott publicly engaged like-minded men and women in discussion on female inequality in social and political spheres.

In 1890, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was formed from two competing suffrage groups, led first by Susan B. Anthony and then Carrie Chapman Catt. At this point, suffrage still focused on individual states to pass laws allowing women full voting rights.

1913 Women's Suffrage Parade

In 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns led a women's suffrage parade of 5,000. With national media, it brought the issue to the attention of the country. But by 1914, just 11 states had given women voting rights.

Paul and Burns then formed the Congressional Union, later the National Woman's Party, whose goal was to convince Congress to pass a women's voting bill. They tried (and failed) during the 1916 elections, and Congress finally voted to pass the bill in 1919.

 On July 28, 2016 Hillary Clinton became the official nominee of the Democratic Party and the first woman in history to run for President from a major political party.

On November 8, 2016 she will become the first woman President in history.

Other Resources on the History of the Suffragette movement & the Women's Right to Vote:
Sewall-Belmont House - women's history museum in Washington, DC
Complete Women's Suffrage Timeline by the National Women's History Museum
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