History

A Short Timeline Of How Women Got The Right To Vote

The events, speeches, marches, and protests you should have learned in high school history.

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1848: Elizabeth Cady Stanton writes the Declaration Of Sentiments, making 11 demands for women’s equality, and presents it at the Women’s Convention at Seneca Falls. This is now seen as the start of the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S.

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1848: One of the signers of the Declaration, Quaker and social reformer Lucretia Mott, spends the summer with the Seneca Nation, a society where women have a lot of political power. Historians believe this influenced her fight for the right to vote.

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1851: Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights advocate born into slavery, speaks at the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. While this is now famous as the “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech, it’s debated whether Truth ever actually said that phrase.

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1869: Wyoming is the first American territory to allow women to vote, followed by Utah in 1870 and Nevada in 1871.

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1872: Activists including Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony try to vote in the presidential election. Anthony casts a ballot, but gets arrested; Truth is turned away from the polling station.

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1878: The bill that will become the 19th Amendment is first presented in Congress.

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1896: Journalist Ida B. Wells, intellectual Frances Harper, and academic and activist Mary Church Terrell create the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, which campaigns to give women of color equal rights to white women.

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1913: A suffrage march of thousands of people dressed in white is held in New York City. Despite attempts by organizers to segregate Black women to the back of the parade, activists like Ida B. Wells lobby for them to march with everyone else, under their state banners.

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1917: Montana’s Jeanette Rankin, the first woman ever to be elected to Congress, takes her seat in the House of Representatives. (Women had been elected to state legislatures since 1894.) She leads a debate in Congress on women’s suffrage in 1918, but her resolution is defeated.

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1917: The National Woman’s Party starts a daily vigil at the White House demanding the vote. The protesters are imprisoned, and force-fed when they attempt a hunger strike. News of their treatment in prison causes a national scandal.

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1918: President Woodrow Wilson supports the Amendment. It passes the House of Representatives, but despite Wilson’s appeal to the Senate, it fails there. Undaunted, its supporters draw up plans for another attempt.

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1919: The 19th Amendment is officially passed by the House of Representatives and by the Senate.

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1920: The 19th Amendment is ratified to the Constitution, after agreement by three-quarters of states. While all women now had the legal right to vote, women of color would face decades of voter suppression that goes on today.

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