Congress passed the 19th Amendment, granting the right to vote to women, on this day in history, June 4, 1919 — sending the text of the amendment to the states for ratification.
The amendment read, “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.”
The Senate voted 56-25 in favor of the amendment, said the U.S. Senate’s webpage for the centennial of women’s suffrage.
Two weeks earlier, on May 21, the House of Representatives had voted 304-89 to approve the text of the amendment, notes the Library of Congress website.
The amendment was then signed by Thomas Marshall, President Woodrow Wilson‘s vice president.
Many were opposed to women having the right to vote.
“Artists created political cartoons that mocked suffragists. Religious leaders spoke out against women’s political activism from the pulpit. Articles attacked women who took part in public life,” says website Crusadeforthevote.org.
In the 1860s, opponents of woman suffrage began to organize locally.
“Massachusetts was home to leading suffrage advocates, and it was also one of the first states with an organized anti-suffrage group,” that site also says.
Following congressional approval of women’s right to vote, the amendment had to be ratified by 36 states before it could be added to the Constitution.
At the time, there were only 48 states in the United States.
The first three states to ratify the 19th Amendment moved quickly.
On June 10, less than a week after the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin had all ratified it, said the National Parks Service website.
Technically, Illinois was the first state to vote for ratification, with Wisconsin second, says the National Parks Service, but the vote in Illinois had to be redone the following week after an administrative error was discovered.
Later on June 10th, Michigan’s state legislature voted unanimously to ratify the 19th Amendment, bringing the total to three states.
Six days later, on June 16, Kansas, Ohio and New York became the next states to ratify the 19th Amendment.
By the end of July 1919, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas voted to ratify the amendment, putting the total states at 12.
By this point, only one state — Georgia — had voted down ratification.
Georgia would vote eventually to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1970 as a formality, says the National Parks Service website.
As the calendar turned to 1920, 22 of the 36 states needed to ratify the amendment had voted to do so.
By the end of January, five more states had joined their ranks, although South Carolina had “voted overwhelmingly” to reject the amendment.
On March 22, 1920, Washington became the 35th state to ratify the amendment, says the NPS.
Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi, Delaware and Louisiana all voted against ratification during this time.
Finally, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee ratified the amendment, putting the total at 36.
About one week later, on August 26, 1920, the ratification was certified by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby and the 19th Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution, says the National Archives website.
Despite the ratification of the 19th Amendment, women still faced challenges in their quest to actually vote.
In four states — Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina — women largely could not vote in the 1920 election as the ratification occurred after voter registration deadlines, notes the American Bar Association.
Eventually, each U.S. state would ratify the 19th Amendment.
The last to do so was Mississippi, who ratified the amendment in 1984.
“I do not believe that women are better than men,” prominent suffragist Jane Addams said, according to Crusadeforthevote.org.
“We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislature, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.”