This year’s election comes on the one hundredth anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in America. One century ago, Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States; that’s when the 19th Ammendment to the Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote — finally. This cultural change required a lengthy and difficult struggle, which lasted decades. Sadly, few early supporters lived to see final victory in 1920.
Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to gain the right to vote for women. Many Americans felt that the idea of women voting was a radical change to the Constitution and to American culture.
The campaign for women’s suffrage began during the 1820s and 1830s. By then, most states had extended the right to vote to all white men, regardless of how much money or property they had.
In 1869, a group called the National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. They began to fight for a universal-suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Decades later, towards the end of the 19th century, Idaho and Utah gave women the right to vote. And, starting in 1910, some states in the West began to extend the vote to women.
World War I slowed the suffragists’ campaign, but ultimately, it helped them advance their cause: women’s work on behalf of the war effort helped their argument that women should be able to vote.
On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and two weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment was adopted. And, finally, on November 2 of that year, more than 8 million women across the United States voted in elections for the first time.