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Inspiration Report

Guest Post by Matt O’Shea

 “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.” – 19th Amendment

90 years have come and gone since the amendment that grants women the right to vote was officially ratified by Tennessee, the 36th and last state needed to make women’s suffrage official, on August 18th, 1920. 

However, do not be fooled by the lengthy number, as the U.S. Constitution was in existence without the amendment for 132 years before women’s suffrage was granted.  It certainly was a long time coming for women’s suffrage activists;  many spent their entire lives advocating for the women’s right to vote and would not live to see it. 

Foundation of the beginning of women’s suffrage began as early as with Lydia Taft, a wealthy landowner who after her husband and eldest son passed away, was granted the right to vote in 1756.  However, few campaigns were held in support of equal suffrage until 1848, when the Seneca Falls Convention took place. That gathering birthed the Declaration of Sentiments, an equal rights document that included women’s suffrage. The Seneca Falls Convention was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, along with local Quakers–such as Lucretia Mott.

It would be followed two years later in 1850 by the beginnings of what would eventually become The National Women’s Rights Convention. Through the inclusion of 12 meetings held around the country over the course of 20 years, the National Women’s Rights Convention did wonders to spark the topic of women’s suffrage countrywide and allow for many other equal suffrage events and debates to follow in its footsteps. 

The proposal that would eventually become the 19th Amendment was first bought into Congress as early as 1878.  It was not until over 40 years later, however, that it was approved by the House of Representatives, by the Senate, and was ratified by the 36th state, Tennessee, to satisfy the three-fourths requirement necessary for amendments to become part of the Constitution.

Women were immediately able to exercise their hard-earned right because the Presidential Election of 1920 would follow a little over 2 months later. 

Since then, women have been able to exercise their right to vote and to better recognize this landmark in both women’s history and in U.S. history as well, Women’s Equality Day was established in 1971 by Congresswoman and women’s rights leader Bella Abzug.  The annual holiday takes place on August 26th of every year, which was the day in 1920 when then Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the amendment’s ratification. 

So throughout the next few days, be sure to celebrate the 19th Amendment and women’s suffrage and appreciate all hard work and commitment of our foremothers, who dedicated themselves to truly making the United States a land of equality. 

I leave you with a quote from Abigail Adams: “Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.”

Beliefnet’s Women’s History Page

Inspiring Quotes from Women in History

Quiz: Motivational Quotes from Women

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