U.S. Constitution - 19th Amendment

When Congress passed a resolution giving African-American men the right to vote, via the 15th Amendment, suffragists were extremely upset that the word "gender" was not included in the Amendment's language.

Since that word was not included, when the 15th Amendment was ratified by the States, it did not give American women the right to vote in national elections.

Many additional decades passed:

  • They marched at about the time President Wilson had his inaugural parade.
  • They were arrested and went on hunger strikes.
  • Then they were forced-fed, while imprisoned, with horrendous results.

American women, everywhere, were getting fed-up with the lack of progress.

Congress finally passed a Resolution for female suffrage on the 4th of June 1919. If the States ratified that proposal, it would become the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Hereafter is the language which the States considered:

Amendment XIX

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

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

When Tennessee voted to ratify, the amendment became law.  But there is an interesting story about Tennessee's vote.  Here's what the National Archives' website, on the amendment, has to say about it:

On August 18, 1920, it appeared that Tennessee had ratified the amendment - the result of a change of vote by 24 year-old legislator Harry Burn at the insistence of his elderly mother - but those against the amendment managed to delay official ratification.

Anti-suffrage legislators fled the state to avoid a quorum and their associates held massive anti-suffrage rallies and attempted to convince pro-suffrage legislators to oppose ratification. However, Tennessee reaffirmed its vote and delivered the crucial 36th ratification necessary for final adoption.

The image, at the top of this page, depicts the Resolution which led to the 19th Amendment.

Media Credits

Quoted passage from the National Archives web site on "Our Documents."



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