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100 Year Celebration of the 19th Amendment

There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers..” - Susan B. Anthony (American Suffragist)

The 19th Amendment was ratified 100 years ago, in 1920! This was a huge milestone in Women's History that allowed women to participate in electing policymakers, who in turn enacted policies to benefit women. The Constitution originally gave states the power to determine who was allowed to vote. In 1875, a woman named Virginia Minor attempted to register to vote in Missouri but was refused. She appealed her case to the Supreme Court in Minor v. Happersett. The Supreme Court stated that the 14th Amendment includes women as citizens but citizenship did not guarantee women the right to vote. Before 1900, the majority of states refused women the right to vote. Women’s suffrage groups focused on gaining suffrage in individual states. By the early 1910s, many states had passed laws granting women the right to vote. In 1913, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns organized the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) parade in Washington, D.C., on March 3—the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Bands, floats, and over 8,000 marchers participated. The march successfully warned the President, Congress, and the public that the United States could not ignore the women’s suffrage movement forever. By 1916, most suffrage groups supported the National Women’s Party by lobbying Congress, picketing national conventions, and protesting in front of the White House. They demanded a constitutional amendment that would give women in all states the right to vote. In 1917, the NWP became the first group to picket in front of the White House. Many people were arrested, but the group’s continued efforts during WWI helped convince President Woodrow Wilson to support the 19th Amendment.

In January 1918, President Wilson publicly supported the Women’s suffrage amendment. Congress approved the 19th Amendment on June 4, 1919. The states ratified the amendment on August 18, 1920. The 19th Amendment states that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.” This amendment overturned the Supreme Court’s decision in Minor v. Happersett and gave the right to vote to all women citizens in all states.

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