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Nineteenth Amendment/ Women's Suffrage

This guide is intended for those who want to learn more about the American Women's Suffrage Movement that took place between 1848-1920. On each page you will find resources to help you find books, movies, websites, articles and news about women's suffrag

What Is The Nineteenth Amendment?

A Constitutional Amendment refers to changes made to an existing constitution. In U.S., the term constitutional amendment means any modification, deletion, or additions made to the constitution. The process of making an amendment to the constitution in the U.S. is very rigid, and the process requires special methodologies to be followed. In the U.S., Congress is empowered to amend the U.S. Constitution. Any amendment to the constitution can be presented in the form of a bill and must be passed by a two-thirds vote of both the houses namely, the House of Representatives and the Senate, and ratified by three-quarters of the states.

The 19th amendment is a Constitutional Amendment that guarantees all American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation and protest. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution. Source: OurDocuments.gov.

 

The Road to Ratification (National Archives)

When we shall have our amendment [for woman suffrage] . . . everybody will think it was always so . . . They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past. —Susan B. Anthony, speech at the National-American Convention, 1894

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  • The 19th amendment guarantees American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation and protest. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution. Few early supporters lived to see final victory in 1920.
  • Between 1878, when the amendment was first introduced in Congress, and August 18, 1920, when it was ratified, champions of voting rights for women worked tirelessly, but strategies for achieving their goal varied. Some pursued a strategy of passing suffrage acts in each state— nine western states adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. Others challenged male-only voting laws in the courts. Militant suffragists used tactics such as parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Often supporters met fierce resistance. Opponents heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused them.
  • By 1916, almost all of the major suffrage organizations were united behind the goal of a constitutional amendment. When New York adopted woman suffrage in 1917 and President Wilson changed his position to support an amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift. On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of threefourths of the states.
  • Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26, 1920, forever changing the face of the American electorate.

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19th Amendment: Original Document

Original Wording of the Amendment:

"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. 

Original document of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

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