This Day in the Law
June 4

Congress Passes 19th Amendment for Women’s Right to Vote (1919)

On June 4, 1919, U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and granted women the right to vote.

Women suffrage supporters had lobbied, wrote, lectured, and just plain fought for women’s right to vote since the beginning of the 1800s. In other words, the 19th Amendment was a lengthy and difficult struggle.

The first official woman’s rights convention took place in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. Four years later, in 1852, Susan B. Anthony joined the cause to grant women the right to vote. Anthony lectured, wrote, protested, and led women and women’s suffrage supporters in an effort to grant women more rights.

Women’s suffrage activists like Anthony garnered fierce resistance, and opponents often criticized, jailed, and even physically abused them. However, Anthony and others refused to give into the threats and continued to fight for their cause. In 1878, the first proposed amendment to allow women to vote was presented to Congress. The amendment failed, but it made women’s suffrage a national issue.

In July 1890, the Territory of Wyoming was admitted as a state and became the first state to allow women to vote. By 1900, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho joined Wyoming in permitting women to vote.

In 1912, President Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party became the first national political party to support women’s suffrage. The national tide was beginning to turn in favor of allowing women the right to vote.

In June 1919, Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. A little over a year later, in August 1920, Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state legislature to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment and officially make it a part of the U.S. Constitution.

The 19th Amendment states:
Section 1. 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.

Section 2. Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to enforce the provisions of this article.
In short, the Nineteenth Amendment to U.S. Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying any citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's sex. In other words, the Nineteenth Amendment grants all men and women the right to vote. Today, women play an ever increasing role in government, including at the federal, state, and local levels across the United States.