Little Bits of History

Women Can Vote

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 14, 2014
League of Women Voters

League of Women Voters

February 14, 1920: The League of Women Voters is founded. The National American Woman Suffrage Association was founded in May 1890 as the merging of previous smaller suffrage groups. It was at the last meeting of this group that the League was formed. Women were close to getting the vote in the US. The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920. This amendment had been drafted by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cody Stanton and was first considered by the Senate in 1878. There it sat in committee until a vote could be taken and it was rejected 16 to 34.

It wasn’t until 1914 that the amendment was again given consideration but the Senate once again rejected the idea. In 1915, the proposal for women’s suffrage was brought before the House and they, too, voted it down. On January 10, 1918 the proposal was once again before the House, the day after President Wilson made a widely publicized appeal. It needed a two-thirds vote to pass and made it with one extra vote. However, the Senate was also required to vote on it and they did not pass it, being two votes short. A second vote was held in February 1919 and it failed, this time by one vote. President Wilson worked tirelessly and on May 21, 1919 the proposal passed the House with 42 more votes than needed and on June 4, 1919, the Senate finally passed with a vote of 56 to 42.

Wisconsin was the first to ratify the Amendment on June 10, 1919. Tennessee was the last needed to ratify the Amendment for it to pass and they did so on August 18, 1920. Mississippi finally ratified the Amendment, the last and 48th state to do so, on March 22, 1984 (Alaska and Hawaii were not states at the time of the proposal). Women were poised and ready to begin casting their votes. The League of Women Voters and all the predecessor associations had finally persuaded the men in power to allow all adult citizens affected by the outcomes of elections to actually cast votes. The League still exists today as a nonpartisan group of about 150,000 members working to get voters to the polls. Today, Elisabeth MacNamara is the President.

The League was founded by Cassie Chapman Catt who had served as the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association as well. Her efforts to persuade Congress helped bring Amendment XIX into being. Catt also ran as a US Presidential candidate in 1920. She did not just believe that women in America should be given a voice in their government, but thought women around the world should be granted the same right. She helped to found the International Woman Suffrage Alliance in 1902 and served it its president from 1904 to 1923. It, too, remains active to this day.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. – Winston Churchill

The vote is a trust more delicate than any other, for it involves not just the interests of the voter, but his life, honor and future as well. – Jose Marti

Your every voter, as surely as your chief magistrate, exercises a public trust. – Grover Cleveland

Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Also on this day: Opening Night – In 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London.
Smooch – In 270, St. Valentine was executed.
Scarface vs. Bugs – In 1929, the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre took place in Chicago.
Apostles – In 1835, The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were first named.

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