19th Amendment

US Constitution of 1787

19th Amendment

US Constitution Amendment
Proposal Date
Enacted Date
Establishes women's suffrage - Signers: Speaker of the House Frederick Gillett (R-MA) & Vice President Thomas R. Marshall (D - IN)
June 4, 1919
August 18, 1920

The US Constitution of 1787 allowed the states to determine the qualifications for voting, and until the 1910s most states and territories disenfranchised women. In 1896 women had full suffrage in only three states, all of them in the West. Wyoming was the first to give women the vote in 1869, when  the twenty-member Territorial Legislature approved a revolutionary measure stating: "That every woman of the age of twenty-one years, residing in this Territory, may at every election to be holden under the law thereof, cast her vote."  Women in Colorado won suffrage in an 1893 referendum, backed by a Populist administration and the Republicans. Utah adopted the measure in the 1870s, but it was struck down in the 1880s by Congress in an alleged effort to combat Mormon polygamy by blocking women's right to vote in the majority-Mormon territory. In January 1896, Utah was admitted as a state and its new constitution permitted woman to vote. Utah women were thus able to vote in the William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan Presidential Election.

In 1878, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted the amendment and proposed it to Congress. 

US House of Representatives

19th Amendment Vote
May 21, 1919
2/3rds required for passage

% For
% Against

On January 10, 1918, in the midst of World War I, the House passed a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote by a count of 274 to 136. On October 1, 1918, after five days of debate, the U.S. Senate, failed to pass the amendment by a vote of 62 to 34 (64.5% of the vote).  

Seven months later, the amendment was reintroduced in the House in the 66th Congress (1919–1921), which convened on March 4, 1919. House Suffrage Committee Chairman,  James R. Mann,  managed to get the Amendment through committee and to the house floor  on May 21st and after two hours of debate it was passed by a vote of 304 ayes to 89 nays. With 91% of Republicans voting for the measure, the 2/3 rds was bested by 42 votes.   

US Senate
19th Amendment Vote in Detail
2/3rds required for passage

% For
% Against

The US Senate roll call on the amendment is as follows: 

For Adoption - 56
Republicans – 36
Capper, Cummins, Curtis, Edge, Elkins, Fall, Fernald, France, Frelinghuysen, Gronna, Hale, Harding, Johnson, (Cal.,) Jones, (Wash.,) Kellogg, Kenyon, Kayes, La Follette, Lenroot, McCormick, McCumber, McNaty, Nelson, New, Newberry, Norris, Page, Phipps, Poindexter, Sherman, Smoot, Spencer, Sterling, Sutherland, Warren, Watson.

Democrats - 20
Ashurst, Chamberlain, Culberson, Harris, Henderson, Jones, (New Mexico) Kenrick, Kirby, McKellar, Myers, Nugent, Phelan, Pittman, Ransdell, Shepard, Smith, (Arizona) Stanley, Thomas, Walsh, (Massachusetts) Walsh, (Montana)

Against Adoption - 25

Republicans – 8
Borah, Brandegee, Dillingham, Knox, Lodge, McLean, Moses, Wadsworth. 

Democrats – 17
Bankhead, Beckham, Dial, Fletcher, Gay, Harrison, Hitchcock, Overman, Reed, Simmons, Smith, (Md.,) Smith, (S. C.,) Swanson, Trammell, Underwood, Williams, Wolcott.


Ball and King, for, with Shields, against: Calder and Townsend, for, with Penrose, against; Gerry and Johnson of South Dakota, for, with Martin, against; Gore and Colt, for, with Pomerone, against.

Absent and Not Paired
Owen, Robinson, and Smith of Georgia. The vote came after four hours of debate, during which Democratic Senators opposed to the amendment filibustered to prevent a roll call until their absent Senators could be protected by pairs. They gave up the effort finally as futile.

Changes Defeated
Before the final vote was taken Senator Underwood of Alabama, called for a vote on his amendment to submit the suffrage amendment to Constitutional conventions of the various States, instead of to the Legislatures, for ratification. This was defeated by a vote of 45 against to 28 in favor.
Senator Gay of Louisiana offered an amendment proposing enforcement of the suffrage amendment by the States, instead of by the Federal Government. Senator Gay said that from a survey of the States he could predict that thirteen States would not ratify the amendment, enough to block it. His amendment was defeated, 62 to 19.

During debate, Senator Wadsworth of New York, who has been an uncompromising opponent of woman suffrage, explained his attitude as being actuated by the motive of preserving to the States the right to determine the question, each State for itself.

"No vote of mine cast upon this amendment would deprive any of the electors of my State of any privilege they now enjoy," said the Senator. "I feel so strongly that the people of the several States should be permitted to decide for themselves, that am frank to say that, if this amendment, instead of being drafted to extend woman suffrage all over the country, were drafted to forbid the extension of the franchise to women in the States, I would vote against it. Even though one might be opposed on general principles to the extension of the franchise to women, one cannot logically object to the people of a State settling that question for themselves.
"It seems to me that it is incumbent upon a Senator in considering his attitude on this matter to regard the nation as a whole and to give consideration to the wishes of the people of the various States which have expressed themselves from time to time."

Congress submitted the amendment “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. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation” to the states for ratification. 

Ratification Timeline

  1. Wisconsin (June 10, 1919)
  2. Illinois (June 10 & 17, 1919)
  3. Michigan (June 10, 1919)
  4. Kansas (June 16, 1919)
  5. New York (June 16, 1919)
  6. Ohio (June 16, 1919)
  7. Pennsylvania (June 24, 1919)
  8. Massachusetts (June 25, 1919)
  9. Texas (June 28, 1919)
  10. Iowa (July 2, 1919)
  11. Missouri (July 3, 1919)
  12. Arkansas (July 28, 1919)
  13. Montana (August 2, 1919)
  14. Nebraska (August 2, 1919)
  15. Minnesota (September 8, 1919)
  16. New Hampshire (September 10, 1919)
  17. Utah (October 2, 1919)
  18. California (November 1, 1919)
  19. Maine (November 5, 1919)
  20. North Dakota (December 1, 1919)
  21. South Dakota (December 4, 1919)
  22. Colorado (December 15, 1919)
  23. Kentucky (January 6, 1920)
  24. Rhode Island (January 6, 1920)
  25. Oregon (January 13, 1920)
  26. Indiana (January 16, 1920)
  27. Wyoming (January 27, 1920)
  28. Nevada (February 7, 1920)
  29. New Jersey (February 9, 1920)
  30. Idaho (February 11, 1920)
  31. Arizona (February 12, 1920)
  32. New Mexico (February 21, 1920)
  33. Oklahoma (February 28, 1920)
  34. West Virginia (March 10, 1920)
  35. Washington (March 22, 1920)
  36. Tennessee (August 18, 1920)
  37. Connecticut (September 14 & 21, 1920)
  38. Vermont (February 8, 1921)
  39. Delaware (Rejected on June 2, 1920 & ratified March 6, 1923)
  40. Maryland (Rejected on February 24, 1920 & ratified March 29, 1941)
  41. Virginia (Rejected on February 21, 1952 & ratified February 12, 1920)
  42. Alabama (Rejected on & ratified September 8, 1953, after being rejected on September 22, 1919)
  43. Florida (May 13, 1969)
  44. South Carolina (Rejected on January 28, 1920 & ratified July 1, 1969)
  45. Georgia (Rejected on July 24, 1919 & ratified February 20, 1970)
  46. Louisiana (Rejected on July 1, 1920 & ratified June 11, 1970)
  47. North Carolina (May 6, 1971)
  48. Mississippi (Rejected on March 29, 1920 & ratified March 22, 1984)

It was Tennessee's ratification, on August 18, 1920, that was the final vote needed to add the amendment to the Constitution.  Alaska and Hawaii were territories, and  not states when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified.

This Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. It was ratified on August 18, 1920. The Amendment overruled Minor v. Happersett, in which a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment did not give women the right to vote.  In Leser v. Garnett (1922), the Supreme Court rejected claims that the amendment was unconstitutionally adopted. 

Exhibited are:

Mary A. Livermore Suffragist, reformer, and editor of The Agitator and the Woman’s Journal (1820–1905). ALS, six pages on three sheets, two of which are adjoining, 5 x 8, Chautauqua, August 19, 1891. In this letter Livermore thanks a friend for hospitality during a visit. In part: “When Harriet Martineau came to America, she was invited to meet the rare group of anti-slavery men and women then living in Boston—Mrs. Garrison, Ms. Wendell Phillips, Lydia Maria Child, Maria Weston Chapman, and others…When describing the visit afterwards, she said, ‘The moment I entered the room, and looked around the company, I loved them every one with all my heart.’ My experience at Wyoming was very much like hers, in Boston.”   

Speaker of the House, Frederick Gillett (R-MA) signs the bill that would become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787

Speaker of the House, Frederick Gillett (R-MA) autographed 19th Amendment, which is signed as Fred H Gillet,   June 1919, on House of Representatives paper. Frederick Huntington Gillett (18511935) was an American politician who served in the Massachusetts state government and both houses of the U.S. Congress between 1879 and 1931, including six years as Speaker of the House.  He was a framer and signer of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of 1787.

Baltimore News, dated August 19, 1920, containing a prominent front page headline: "North Carolina Defeats (Women's) Suffrage; Tennessee Delays."  There is also a prominent political cartoon labeled: "Southern Chivalry - GOP Welcomes Woman Suffrage" which shows the state of Tennessee handing the vote to women in the form of the Suffrage Amendment. On that same day, the 18th, Tennessee would become the 36th State to ratify and thus enact the 19th Amendment with the narrow vote of 50 yes to 49 No. The previous month, Louisiana voted not to ratify the amendment, thus passing on the opportunity to enact the 19th Amendment.

[1] A senator or representative who expects to be absent during a recorded vote (in which a member's name will be listed as voting yea or nay) can arrange to be paired with another member who plans to vote the opposite way and is also going to be absent. With this voluntary agreement the two absent members show how they would have voted and that their votes would not have changed the final result. If one of the pair is present for the vote, it is called a “live pair.” In a live pair the member votes “present” and announces how the pair of them would have voted on that issue. Paired votes appear in the Congressional Record at the end of the recorded vote tally.

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