Wednesday, August 18, 2010

90th Anniversary of The Nineteenth Amendment

Today marks the 90th Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment. This amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each state and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote because of the citizen's sex, specifically guaranteeing all American women the right to vote. It was ratified on August 18, 1920.

The amendment was over 70 years in the making. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the initial women's rights convention, the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention, in July 1848, launching the woman suffrage movement.

President Woodrow Wilson announced his support on January 9, 1918 and the next day the House of Representatives passed the Amendment, sending it to the Senate for approval. The Senate did not act quickly, to say the least. They tabled the vote until October, and then failed to pass the amendment by three votes.

The National Woman's Party responded quickly to this Senate block and encouraged citizens to vote against the anti-suffrage Senators who were up for reelection. Following the midterm elections of 1918, most members of Congress were pro-suffrage, marking a real turning point for the woman suffrage movement.

The House passed the amendment again by a vote of 304 to 89, sending it back to the Senate. Two weeks later, on June 4, 1919, the Senate passed the Nineteenth Amendment by a vote of 56-25. The Tennessee General Assembly became the thirty-sixth state legislature to ratify the proposed amendment on August 18, 1920, meeting the constitutional requirement.

The remaining twelve states took over sixty years to add their ratifications of the 19th amendment. Mississippi was the last state to ratify the amendment, waiting until March 22, 1984!

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