19th Amendment – Suffrage

The Nineteenth Amendment was a change made to the United States Constitution. This Amendment was related to the women’s suffrage in USA.

What is suffrage?

Suffrage refers to the right of someone to be able to vote in elections and express their political opinion. In USA, women didn’t have the right to vote all the way until 1920.

Background

When United States of America came into being, the question of women’s right to vote was left unanswered. So it was essentially up to individual states whether or not they allowed the women to vote. Initially, none of the states gave women this right. Many organizations asked the federal government as well as individual states to grant this right to women but until the Civil War they had little or no success.

Then the Civil War broke out in 1861 and continued until 1865. One of the most important issues of the war was slavery and other issues such as human rights and the rights of the women were also considered. When the Union won the Civil War and abolished slavery all over USA, women’s suffrage movement gained a lot of momentum. This movement wanted to get women the right to vote and express their opinion during the elections.

Women Suffrage Begins

Republican Senator Aaron A. Sargent was one of the famous political figures who led the demand for women’s suffrage in USA. He began his efforts towards this goal as early as the 1870s. In January 1878, he proposed a constitutional amendment to grant women the right to vote. His proposal was rejected by the Senate.

The first successes for the suffrage movement came in the 1910s. In 1910, Washington granted women to right to vote. In 1911, California followed suit and ended voting discrimination on the basis of sex. In 1917, the state of New York granted suffrage rights to the women.

Role of Women in World War I

During the World War I, women organizations played a very important role. They supported the government and military efforts in many different ways. This made the nation realize that women were as patriotic and as effective as men. At the time, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson was leading the American government. He was in favor of the women suffrage and made many appeals to the Congress to approve nation-wide voting rights for women.

The Nineteenth Amendment

Finally, a proposal was presented in 1918 to the U.S. Congress for women suffrage. The U.S. House of Representatives approved it but the proposal failed in the Senate. In May, 1919, the proposal was again presented to the Congress. This time, it was passed by the House of Representatives on May 21 and later by the Senate on June 4, 1919.

After passage in the Congress, the proposal needed to be ratified by sufficient number of states. This number was reached in August 18, 1920 when Tennessee ratified the proposal. So the proposal became a part of US Constitution. It prohibited any American state from denying anyone the right to vote on the basis of sex.

Learn More about The Nineteenth Amendment at Wikipedia