100 Years of the Women's Vote

The 19th Amendment

The American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association combined to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890, favoring a state-by-state initiative for women's suffrage until there was enough momentum and support for a constitutional amendment. Eventually the National Woman's Party, led by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, leaders of the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, would splinter from the NAWSA, arguing for more radical approaches such as political marches and organizing the "Silent Sentinels" to demonstrate outside the White House for a constitutional amendment.

The "Night of Terror"

The "Silent Sentinels" began to silently picket outside of the White House on January 10, 1917. Holding signs such as "Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty," various women were arrested for their protests. On November 15, 1917, the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to "teach a lesson" to the suffragists imprisoned because of their persistence in picketing outside of the White House. Lucy Burns was beaten by police and chained to her cell bars overnight, while Dora Lewis's skull was damaged when she was shoved into a dark cell. Alice Paul went on a hunger strike over the women's treatment, causing prison guards to force-feed her through her nostrils and threaten to have her institutionalized as mentally unfit. Eventually word of these abuses, referred to as the "Night of Terror," reached the general public, swaying public opinion in the suffragists' favor. 

The 19th Amendment

When the United States entered World War I, there was concern in the movement about the momentum they had been gaining. Their support and efforts during the war, however, advanced the suffragists' arguments, and proved that women were just as patriotic and deserving of the full rights of citizenship as men. While President Woodrow Wilson was initially against the women's vote, he was ultimately moved to support the cause. Finally, the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, stating: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

Although she did not live to see it pass, the 19th Amendment is often referred to as the "Susan B. Anthony Amendment" in her honor. 

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