The 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote was certified on August 26, 1920, but the fight for women’s equality started long before that day.
How did it all start?
In 1840, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott attended the World Antislavery Convention in London, but were denied entrance. This prompted the women to establish a women’s convention in the United States. In 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Fall, New York, where Elizabeth presented the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments.
Drafted by Elizabeth, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was modeled after the Declaration of Independence, and called for moral, economic and political equality for women. One hundred women and men signed the Declaration, including Frederick Douglass supported Elizabeth and argued for women’s equality at the convention.
In 1851, the first National Women’s Rights Convention was held in Worcester, Massachusetts with such people as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and William Lloyd Garrison in attendance. A strong alliance with the Abolitionist Movement was formed.
Also in 1851, Sojourner Truth delivered her Ain’t I a Woman speech at a women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio and the second annual Women’s Rights Convention was held again in Massachusetts. In 1853, Antoinette Brown and Susan B. Anthony were not allowed to speak at the The World’s Temperance Convention in New York City.
Between 1861-1865 the women’s suffrage movement came to a halt so energies could be focused on the Civil War.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the American Equal Rights Association in 1866 dedicated to the goal of suffrage for all – regardless of gender or race. After a disagreement over the 14th Amendment defining “voters” and “citizens” as exclusively male, the Association was wrecked and Elizabeth and Susan founded the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA). The NWSA was established as a more radical group with the goal of getting the vote and addressing other women’s rights through a Constitutional amendment.
40 years later…
The Woman Suffrage Amendment is introduced in 1878. Many efforts were made and women’s rights groups established until the 19th Amendment was finally passed and started through the ratification process in 1919.
August 26, 1920, three quarters of state legislatures ratify the 19th Amendment and women are granted full voting rights.
In 1973, a congressional resolution was passed declaring August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
Some fun facts
Arguments against women getting the right to vote include:
- Women don’t actually want to vote, they just think it would be fun to try.
- Women will cancel out their husband’s vote.
- Voting won’t help women cook and clean, so what’s the point?
- Pregnant women can get too excited when they vote, and that will turn their babies into ugly idiots.
- Women will abandon their husbands, cruelly leaving them alone with their own children in order to vote.
Read more arguments in The most ridiculous historical arguments denying women the right to vote at CNN.com
Sources: Women’s Equality Day, National Women’s History Museum