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The 19th Amendment

The demand that women be given a right to vote was the most controversial idea put forth at the First Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848. A Constitutional Amendment was needed to insure that by law.

Constitution of the
United States

“Articles in addition to and amendment of the Constitution of The States of America, proposed by States, pursuant to the fifth article of the original Constitution.”

Article XIX

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. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

It was just that simple. Two sentences and 72 years of struggle to win the right to vote were over. The Amendment was proposed on June 4, 1919 and declared in force by the Secretary Of State on August 26, 1920.

Neither Elizabeth Cady Stanton nor Susan B. Anthony would live to see its passage. Stanton died almost 18 years before its passage. Anthony would miss ratification by fourteen years.

Maneuvering the Amendment through the ratification process required some skillful political strategy by Suffragist leaders. Ratification came on August 18 with the Tennessee Legislature passing the Amendment by a single vote. It all came down to Harry Burn, who entered the house chamber that day ostensibly on the side of the suffrage opponents, but carrying a letter from his mother, Febb. “Vote for suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt,” it said. Burn voted to ratify. Seventy-two years of waiting was over. Women were able to cast their first votes in a Presidential election.