Today, June 4, marks an important day in the struggle for woman suffrage – the day in 1919 that the US Senate finally passed the Woman Suffrage Amendment, granting all women throughout the United States the right to vote. On January 10, 1918 the House of Representatives passed the Woman Suffrage Amendment by a count of 274 to 136, and again in May, 1919 by a count of 304 to 90. But the Senate dragged its feet, and it wasn’t until until June 4, 1919 that it voted for the Amendment as well, by a count of 56 to 25.
These triumphs in no way guaranteed success, however. It now faced the daunting task of ratification by 36 states and began its long journey around the nation, finally climaxing in Tennessee in August of 1920. After a bruising battle the State of Tennessee finally ratified, and the 19th Amendment was formally entered into the US Constitution. Even then many women of color were denied the right, and challenges still continue.
The story of the ratification of the 19th Amendment should remind us that rights we enjoy today were not always ours and can be threatened. Susan B. Anthony said it eloquently in 1894 – “We shall someday be heeded…and everybody will think it was always so, just exactly as many young people think that all the privileges, all the freedom, all the enjoyments that woman now possesses always were hers. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past.”
As true today as it was then. Happy June 4th!