Essay About The 19th Amendment In The 1920S

The 19th amendment is a very important amendment to the constitution as it gave women the right to vote in 1920.  You may remember that the 15th amendment made it illegal for the federal or state government to deny any US citizen the right to vote.  For some reason, this did not apply to women.  The 19th amendment changed this by making it illegal for any citizen, regardless of gender, to be denied the right to vote.

The movement to allow women the right to vote through the 19th amendment was the Suffrage movement.  You may have heard of women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who were key figures in the Suffrage movement.  The Suffrage movement has been going on since the Civil War, but the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments did not cover the rights of women to vote.  These women were the original authors of the 19th amendment although it took forty-one years before the government would even consider ratifying the 19th amendment.  Many lawmakers feared that women would vote in large groups, which would affect the outcome of elections.

The 19th amendment unified suffrage laws across the United States.  Before the 19h amendment, there were many states where women had full suffrage, including New York and most Western states.  Other states had limited suffrage, only allowing women to vote in select elections.  During this time, there were a number of efforts to get Congress to consider the 19th amendment, mostly successful, until 1919.  Wisconsin was the first state to approve the amendment and the 36th and final approval needed to have the amendment passed was in Tennessee in 1920, by a slim margin.  With that ratification complete the 19th amendment became part of the constitution on August 18, 1920.

The Supreme Court would later defend the right of women to vote under the 19th amendment in Maryland, where one concerned citizen sued to stop women from voting.  This man, Oscar Leser, believed that the 19th amendment interfered with the state’s electorate.  The Supreme Court disagreed.

All states, even states that rejected the 19th amendment at first have ratified the amendment.  The last state was Mississippi.  This is a symbolic measure, since the 19th amendment became was with the 36th state ratifying it.  Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states and therefore, cannot ratify the amendment.

What is the text of the 19th Amendment?

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged…

(the US government may not stop a citizen from voting)

 by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

(neither the federal or state government can prevent the right to vote based on sex)

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

(Congress is empowered to pass laws to protect the right of women to vote in the United States)

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19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The 19th Amendment (PDF, 33KB) to the Constitution granted women the right to vote and was ratified by the states on August 18, 1920. A women's suffrage amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878. Forty-one years late, on June 4, 1919, Congress approved the women’s suffrage amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification (PDF, 74KB) on August 26, 1920.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Clara Barton Papers

Correspondence, diaries, reports, legal and financial papers, organizational records, lectures, writings, scrapbooks, printed matter, memorabilia, and other papers relating to Clara Barton's work, including materials related to the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

  • Clara Barton Papers: Subject File, 1861-1952; National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1879-1906, undated, Upton, Harriet Taylor.
  • Clara Barton Papers: General Correspondence, 1838-1912; Upton, Harriet Taylor, 1902-1908, National American Woman Suffrage Association.

The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

The Songs of America presentation allows you to explore American history as documented in the work of some of our country's greatest composers, poets, scholars, and performers. From popular and traditional songs, to poetic art songs and sacred music, the relationship of song to historical events from the nation's founding to the present is highlighted through more than 80,000 online items. The collection includes an essay on Songs of Women's Suffrage.

Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911

Between 1897 and 1911 Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter, Anne Fitzhugh Miller, filled seven large scrapbooks with ephemera and memorabilia related to their work with women's suffrage. The Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller scrapbooks are a part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) Collection in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

A selection of highlights includes:

National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) is a library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign. They were collected between 1890 and 1938 by members of NAWSA and donated to the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress on November 1, 1938. The bulk of the collection is derived from the library of Carrie Chapman Catt, president of NAWSA from 1900-1904, and again from 1915-1920. Additional materials were donated to the NAWSA Collection from the libraries of other members and officers, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Alice Stone Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Smith Miller, and Mary A. Livermore.

A selection of highlights includes:

  • Congressional reports in favor of an amendment to the national constitution prohibiting the disfranchisement of United States citizens on account of sex.
  • The first convention ever called to discuss the civil and political rights of women, Seneca Falls, N.Y., July 19, 20, 1848. Woman's rights convention.
  • Hearing before the Committee on Woman Suffrage, February 21, 1894.
  • Woman suffrage by federal constitutional amendment
  • Woman suffrage: hearing before the Select Committee on Woman Suffrage, United States Senate, on the joint resolution (S. R. 53) proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, extending the right of suffrage to women. [February 18, 1902].
  • Woman suffrage in the U.S. Senate, 1879 : argument for a sixteenth amendment.

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

There are more than 28,000 items in the collection, including a number of items related to the women's suffrage movement.

A selection of highlights includes:

Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film

Consisting of 104 motion pictures and four sound recordings, the majority of the motion pictures (87) are from the Theodore Roosevelt Association Collection in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division at the Library of Congress.

Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party

This collection includes 448 digitized photographs selected from approximately 2,650 print photographs in the Records of the National Woman's Party, a collection of more than 438,000 items, housed in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.  The photographs document the National Woman's Party's push for ratification of the 19th Amendment as well as its later efforts for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. This site includes the essay "Tactics and Techniques of the National Woman's Party Suffrage Campaign."

A selection of photographs includes:

This site is designed for elementary and middle school students.

  • Meet Amazing Americans: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
  • Lucretia Coffin Mott Was Born, January 3, 1793.
  • Carrie Burnham Argued for the Right to Vote, April 4, 1873 .
  • Susan B. Anthony Supports Women's Suffrage Amendment, March 8, 1884.
  • Alice Paul Was Born, January 11, 1885.
  • Ten Suffragists Arrested While Picketing at the White House, August 28, 1917.
  • Nineteenth Amendment Granting Women's Suffrage Was Sent to the States, June 4, 1919.

Chronicling America

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1789-1924. Search this collection to find newspaper articles about the women's suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment.

A selection of articles on the 19th Amendment includes:

  • "Suffrage Bill Passes House," The Chattanooga News. (Chattanooga, Tennessee), May 21, 1919.
  • "Woman Suffrage Victorious in Senate," The Washington Herald. (Washington, D.C.), June 5, 1919.
  • "Women Win Forty Year National Fight for Ballot," Bisbee Daily Review. (Bisbee, Arizona), June 5, 1919.
  • "Women of the Nation Get the Ballot. Secretary of State Colby Proclaims Suffrage Today," The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer. (Bridgeport, Connecticut), August 26, 1920.
  • "Women Voters Early to Polls and Stand in Lines for Hours," New-York Tribune. (New York, N.Y.), November 3, 1920.
In addition, the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room has created a series of topics guides to the newspapers in Chronicling America, including guides on the 19th Amendment, Susan B. Anthony, and the Golden Flyer Suffragettes.

Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation

The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (popularly known as the Constitution Annotated) contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution, based primarily on Supreme Court case law. This regularly updated resource is especially useful when researching the constitutional implications of a specific issue or topic. It includes a chapter on the 19th Amendment.

American Treasures of the Library of Congress

This exhibition provides unique insight into various aspects of American history and culture. Objects displayed are organized according to the three categories that Thomas Jefferson used for his library: memory, reason, and imagination.

Votes for Women: The Struggle for Women's Suffrage: Selected Images from the Collections of the Library of Congress

These images were selected to meet requests regularly received by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. They include portraits of women who campaigned for women's rights, particularly voting rights, and suffrage campaign scenes, cartoons, and ephemera. An accompanying women's suffrage timeline features many of the images.

Search the Library's collections of prints and photographs to find additional images related to women's suffrage and the 19th Amendment.

A selection of images includes:

American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States

Designed as a first stop for Library of Congress researchers working in the field of American women's history, this site contains an expanded and fully searchable version of an award-winning research guide redesigned for online use, with added illustrations and links to existing and newly digitized material located throughout the Library of Congress Web site. Search this research guide to find information about the Library's collections related to women's suffrage, as well as links to digitized materials.

American Memory Timeline: Women's Suffrage in the Progressive Era

This site discusses the women's suffrage movement and links to related documents.

Lesson Plans: Women's History

This page contains teacher-created, classroom-tested lesson plans related to women's suffrage using primary sources from the Library of Congress.

Primary Source Set: Women's Suffrage

This Primary Source Set includes images, documents, maps, sound files and analysis tools to help teach about the women's suffrage movement.

Student Discovery Sets: Women's Suffrage

The Student Discovery Sets bring together historical artifacts and one-of-a-kind documents on a wide range of topics, including women's suffrage. Interactive tools let students zoom in, draw to highlight details, and conduct open-ended primary source analysis. Full teaching resources are available for each set.

Themed Resources: Women's History

Examine print materials, photographs, and webcasts presenting women’s sometimes-overlooked contributions to history. This site includes links to classroom materials and lesson plans.

January 3, 1793

Political and social reformer Lucretia Coffin Mott was born on January 3, 1793 in Nantucket, Massachusetts to a Quaker family. In 1848, Mott, Stanton, and three other women launched the woman’s rights movement in the United States by calling the Seneca Falls Convention. Following the Civil War and the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, Mott joined the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), formed in 1869.

November 12, 1815

On November 12, 1815, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, spokesperson for the rights of women, was born in Johnstown, New York. Stanton formulated the philosophical basis of the woman suffrage movement, blazing a trail many feared to follow.

July 19, 1848

On July 19, 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention convened. Heralded as the first American women’s rights convention, the two day event was held in the Wesleyan Chapel External in Seneca Falls, New York.

December 10, 1869

On December 10, 1869, John Campbell, governor of the Wyoming Territory, approved the first law in U.S. history explicitly granting women the right to vote. Commemorated in later years as Wyoming Day, the event was one of many firsts for women achieved in the Equality State.

April 4, 1873

With this simple question, Carrie S. Burnham began her argument, made before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania on April 3 and April 4, 1873, for her right to vote. “It is not simply,” Burnham reasoned, “whether I shall be protected in the exercise of my inalienable right and duty of self-government, but whether a government, the mere agent of the people, …can deny to any portion of its intelligent, adult citizens participation therein and still hold them amenable to its laws…”

March 8, 1884

On March 8th, 1884 Susan B. Anthony appeared before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

January 11, 1885

Alice Paul, chief strategist for the militant wing of the suffrage movement and author of the Equal Rights Amendment, was born on January 11, 1885, in Moorestown, New Jersey.

August 28, 1917

Ten suffragists were arrested on August 28, 1917, as they picketed the White House. The protesters were there in an effort to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to support the proposed “Anthony amendment” to the Constitution that would guarantee women the right to vote.

June 4, 1919

On June 4, 1919, Congress, by joint resolution, approved the woman’s suffrage amendment and sent it to the states for ratification. The House of Representatives had voted 304-89 and the Senate 56-25 in favor of the amendment.

The Clauses of the Nineteenth Amendment, National Constitution Center

DocsTeach: Extending Suffrage to Women, National Archives and Records Administration

Landmark Legislation: Nineteenth Amendment, U.S. Senate

Our Documents: 19th Amendment, National Archives and Records Administration

Teaching with Documents: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment, National Archives and Records Administration

Allyn, Nancy E. The Right to Vote. Washington, D.C.: Published for the National Archives and Records Administration by the National Archives Trust Fund Board, 1987. [Catalog Record]

Baker, Jean H., ed. Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. [Catalog Record]

Bausum, Ann. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2004. [Catalog Record]

Clift, Eleanor. Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003. [Catalog Record]

Eckert, Rose Marie. How the Vote Was Won: The Story of Woman Suffrage and Beyond. Minneapolis: Mill City Press, Inc., 2013. [Catalog Record]

Fredericks, Carrie, ed. Amendment XIX: Granting Women the Right to Vote. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. [Catalog Record]

Frost-Knappman, Elizabeth. Women’s Suffrage in America. New York: Facts on File, 2005. [Catalog Record]

Gordon, Ann D. et al, eds. African American Women and the Vote, 1837-1965. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997. [Catalog Record]

Graham, Sara Hunter. Woman Suffrage and the New Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996. [Catalog Record]

Spruill Wheeler, Marjorie, ed. One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement. Troutdale, Ore.: NewSage Press, 1995. [Catalog Record]

Spruill Wheeler, Marjorie, ed. Votes for Women!: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee, the South, and the Nation. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995. [Catalog Record]

Stalcup, Brenda, ed. Women’s Suffrage. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2000. [Catalog Record]

Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn. African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998. [Catalog Record]

Vacca, Carolyn S. A Reform against Nature:  Woman Suffrage and the Rethinking of American Citizenship, 1840-1920. New York: Peter Lang, 2004. [Catalog Record]

Weatherford, Doris.  A History of the American Suffragist Movement. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1998. [Catalog Record]

Bausum, Ann. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2004. [Catalog Record]

Colman, Penny. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World. New York: Henry Hold and Co., 2011. [Catalog Record]

Connell, Kate. They Shall Be Heard: Susan B. Anthony & Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Austin, Tex.: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1993. [Catalog Record]

Fredericks, Carrie. Amendment XIX: Granting Women the Right to Vote. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. [Catalog Record]

Holihan, Kerrie Logan. Rightfully Ours: How Women Won the Vote. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2012. [Catalog Record]

McCully, Emily Arnold. The Ballot Box Battle. New York: Knopf, 1996. [Catalog Record]

Murphy, Claire Rudolf. Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage. Atlanta: Peachtree, 2011. [Catalog Record]

Stone, Tanya Lee. Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote. New York: Henry Holt and Co., 2008. [Catalog Record]

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