Suffrage Surprises: Did You Know?

Travelling throughout the country is both relaxing and stimulating, and leads to curiosity about the history of woman suffrage in other states which invariably leads to interesting surprises.

We in New York are planning to celebrate our centennial in 2017, but the state of Illinois was way ahead of us. Thanks to the hard work of suffragists such as Grace Wilbur Trout, women in Illinois won the right to vote for Presidential electors in 1913 and for all local offices not specifically named in the Illinois Constitution. But they still could not cast a vote for state representatives, congressmen, or governor, and they still had to use separate ballots and ballot boxes. Still, by virtue of this law, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi to grant women the right to vote for President.

Similarly, Indiana ratified the 19th Amendment on January 20, 1920, but despite suffrage being the law of the land, women of Indiana were actually not allowed to vote at the state level until after a special election in 1921.

Surprisingly, the Assembly in our neighbor New Jersey recognized the right of women to vote in 1797 by passage of a voting law that specified voters as “he or she.” According to the Heritage Foundation, women voted in large numbers until 1807, when that right was rescinded, and voting rights were limited to “free white males.” New Jersey women had to wait with Pennsylvania and Ohio women until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 to reclaim that right.

For more information about when women won the right to vote, log onto the National Constitution Center at You might find some surprises as well!


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