Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders

WWI and Winning the Vote

Women in the suffrage movement contributed to the war effort in many ways, by raising funds, selling war bonds, working in factories, and serving as nurses. In 1918, under the combined pressure of the NWP’s public efforts and the NAWSA’s lobbying, President Wilson agreed to push publicly for woman suffrage. He addressed the Senate in support of the 19th Amendment to enfranchise women. In his speech he argued that woman suffrage was needed to win the war and should be supported as a war measure.

In 1919 both the House of Representatives and the Senate finally voted to approve the 19th Amendment. The Amendment then went to the states, where it required approval by three-fourths of state legislatures before it would be ratified. Suffragists in the NAWSA and the NWP undertook arduous campaigns in each state to win ratification. On August 26, 1920, Tennessee’s legislature approved the Amendment by one vote, becoming the last state required to ratify the 19th Amendment. After more than 70 years of struggle, American women had finally won the vote. Importantly, however, black women, particularly in the South, would quickly become effectively disenfranchised.

 

Victory Cartoon
Cartoon celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment, Sewall-Belmont House Collection
(National Woman's Party)
Colorado Ratification
Colorado ratifies the 19th Amendment, Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
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