History Podcasts

When Were U.S. Women Given the Right to Vote?

When Were U.S. Women Given the Right to Vote?

Although women already started to picket and petition for the right to vote in the 1800s, it literally took 70 years before Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The right to vote, also known as woman suffrage, was an important step towards equality in the U.S. and the first women voted in 1920, after the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18.

Early Activists

The first national women's rights organization was launched in 1848 during a convention that took place in Seneca Falls, New York. Key figures in the early women's suffrage movements were Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who got arrested for voting illegally.

Impact of World War I

Women played pivotal roles at the home front during WW1, in not only taking care of the families, but also by keeping businesses running and doing factory work. Women across the world earned the respect of men and were recognized for their sacrifices.

Voting for the 19th Amendment

The 19th Amendment were passed by the Senate on June 4, 1919 after being only two votes over the two-thirds majority of 56-25. All the states received the amendment for ratification, and by March 1920, 36 states had approved. They were one state short of the required two-thirds as the Southern states were very against this amendment. Seven states had already rejected it, and it was up to Tennessee to make the final decision for or against woman suffrage. State legislators of Tennessee were heavily divided with a 48-48 tie and it was up to Harry T. Burn to cast the deciding vote. He, personally was against the amendment, but his mother managed to convince him and he voted for ratification. Bainbridge Colby, the U.S. Secretary of State, certified the amendment on August 26, 1920.