On election day in 1920 millions of American women voted for the first time. It took nearly 100 years for women to win the right to vote but on August 26th 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. It declared that women, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
During the 1920s, all kinds of reform groups, religious movements, and anti slavery organizations were starting to take shape. In many of these groups women played a prominent role and started to challenge the idea that a “true” woman was only a submissive wife and mother exclusively dedicated to her home and family. All of these movements contributed to a new way of thinking about what it actually meant to be a woman, who was a citizen of the United States.
In 1848, abolitionist activists gathered in Seneca Falls, to discuss the problems of women’s rights. They all agreed that women and men are created equal and they believed that women should have the right to vote. During the 1950s the Women’s Rights momentum lost steam when the Civil War began. Almost immediately after the war the Constitution extended the Constitution’s protection to all “citizens” and defined “citizens” as male. The 15th Amendment also guaranteed black men the right to vote. Women saw this as their chance to push lawmakers for universal suffrage.
In 1890 the National American Woman Suffrage Association was formed. This group argued that women deserved the right to vote because they were different from men and could turn their domesticity into a political virtue.
In 1910 some states in the West began to extend the vote to women for the fist time in 20 years. Idaho and Utah had given women the right to vote at the end of the 19th century. World War I slowed down the campaign but actually helped their argument. Women’s work on behalf of the war effort help activists prove that they were just as patriotic as men and deserved the same citizenship. On August 26th 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified.