Beginning in the 1800s, women organized, petitioned, and picketed to win the right to vote. Some tried to pass voting acts in each state—nine western states adopted woman suffrage legislation by 1912. Others challenged male-only voting laws in the courts. Some suffragists used more confrontational tactics such as picketing, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Often supporters met fierce resistance. Opponents heckled, jailed, and sometimes physically abused them. Some dedicated their lives to lecturing, writing, marching, lobbying, and practicing civil disobedience to see this cause through, yet only a few early supporters lived to see final victory in 1920.
By 1916, almost all of the major suffrage organizations were united behind the goal of a constitutional amendment. When New York adopted woman suffrage in 1917 and President Wilson changed his position to support an amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift.
On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26, 1920, changing the face of the American electorate forever.
The 19th amendment now legally guarantees American women the right to vote and it seems like we have come full circle 100 years later as Kamala Harris, is about to enter the White House and become America’s first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president-elect.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 7, 2020
“We did it Joe,” Harris says, while apparently out on a walk with her husband as she heard the news that former Vice-President, now President-Elect Joe Biden has surpassed the 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. “You’re going to be the next president of the United States.”
While women gained the right to vote in 1920, a new battle formed in order to protect women’s rights, which stalled until the civil rights movement in the 1960s.
Even though women could legally vote in 1920, not all could. Minority women couldn’t vote until 1965 when the Voting Rights Act came into effect.
Harris’s history-making win also represents the millions of women in the demographics — often overlooked, historically underrepresented and systematically ignored.
In a speech Saturday night in Wilmington, Delaware, before she introduced President-elect Joe Biden, Harris also thanked Black women, saying they are “too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.”
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
“And to the children of our country, regardless of your