We look at the Constitutional Amendment that provided voting equality to the better sex.
In 2022, seventy percent (70%) of US women were registered to vote. That’s a few percentage points more than men (68%).
This stat doesn’t surprise me since, as a man, I tend to forget a bunch of things I am supposed to do. Now, registering to vote is something I did immediately upon turning 18. Wherever I have lived since then, I have registered to vote.
But it goes to show you that women take their civic duty seriously and how much they have fought for that opportunity.
But we know women are fighters.
They had to fight for access to education, proper legal status in marriage, their own wages, and their own property. This was/is daily combat.
Add to the fact that women bear children, are better cooks, better readers, and begin to mature faster than men. You would think that, as a country, we would have allowed them to vote from the beginning because women sound pretty awesome.
But of course, this also being the United States, we didn’t.
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Outside of states like New Jersey, which in 1776 allowed everyone to vote because they didn’t mention gender, and western states like Wyoming and Utah a century later, voting rights to the child-bearing-better read-more mature-and better cooks sex was denied.
New Jersey figured out they had a problem when women voted against the wishes of men, so they corrected it and denied women at the polls in 1807. Wyoming and Utah used women’s suffrage to attract people to live there, but they eventually dropped the idea that women could vote when the rest of the country found out they allowed women to vote.
Something had to be done. That something is the Nineteenth Amendment, the second amendment that fixed limits to the state’s authority on who qualifies as a voter.
Let’s dive in.
5: Amendment XIX
Its purpose: 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.
Year proposed: 1919
Year Ratified: 1920
Okay, sure, President Richard Nixon was a Quaker, so that’s a poor example, but numerous Quaker women led the women’s suffrage movement. There’s Lucretia Mott and her younger sister, Martha Scott. Then, of course, there was Susan B. Anthony.
The Quakers were the first religious organization to come out against slavery and promoted the spiritual equality of men and women. Because last time I checked, God made them both.
Abolition, Women’s Suffrage, and God. Probably in that order. They didn’t storm the capitol; they held hunger strikes, marched, gave speeches, worked the state houses, and sat in the lobby of Senator's offices.
They were relentless, even when abolition took center stage and pushed them aside. They still worked, and in the end, they won.
Let’s not forget women won with the help of women who weren’t Quakers. Women of all beliefs had to be involved.
Go Fighting Quakers!
The Reconstruction Amendments (Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth) were hotly contested laws that, despite the purpose of uniting the country and providing protections, ended up causing a rift in the women’s suffrage movement.
There was no bigger rift than the issue of race. And Black women couldn’t or wouldn’t organize the way their white counterparts could.
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was a free woman from Maryland who was a forceful speaker and sought to unite all women towards one action. The American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone (of keeping her last name fame), welcomed women like Harper into their fold to push for suffrage at the state level.
Meanwhile, Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and didn’t turn down partnerships with white supremacists to focus more at the federal level.
The division delayed the amendment by decades. Instead of the Sixteenth Amendment being about securing women’s right to vote, it became this boring thing about income taxes. Then, two more were passed, including a terrible one that had to have ANOTHER amendment passed just to get rid of it.
We run into our old annoying friends, the Southern Democrats, who once again proved how cruel they can be to preserve their white male supremacy.
Back in 1915, many curmudgeons threw out every excuse they could think of to prevent women from voting. One Congressmansplained that God Himself was against women voting.
Yes, I seem to remember that Paul’s letter to the Philippians instructed them to spread the Gospel and keep women away from the election polls. Elections were a big thing in the first century.
When suffrage advocates pivoted from trying to win at the state level and instead launched a national campaign where they could pressure those dudes in Washington, DC, to do something, the dudes got so bent out of shape that they barked at women by calling them out for NAGGING!
If you women would only stop nagging.
Who proposed it?
The language behind the Nineteenth Amendment came from a proposed law introduced by Republican Senator Aaron Sargent from California. His wife was suffragist Ellen Clark Sargent, and both were friends with Susan B. Anthony.
The text was written by Anthony and Stanton in 1878, and it took another forty-two years to be ratified into the Constitution. The Nineteenth Amendment is the only rule in our Supreme Law written by women.
Why did I rank it here?
Women are awesome. I spent most of my adult life pursuing many of them, only to have Anonymous agree to be caught. I love my Mom and grandmothers; may the latter rest in peace. My sisters are the best, and my sisters-in-law are pretty cool as well. I even love that aunt of mine who is a little challenging.
Some of my best bosses were women. My best work colleagues are women, and I have three amazing nieces and another one who will tell you straight to your face that she isn’t my niece. My love and respect for all women knows no bounds.
Except when it comes to ranking the Amendments.
To my credit, I did rank it higher than the Fifteenth Amendment, the only Amendment to use the word “male.” Don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt myself, patting myself on the back for it.
There is a lot to be said for erasing the word “male” from the Constitution, and that alone raises the stock of the Nineteenth to a top five Amendment.
What are your thoughts on the Nineteenth Amendment? I know a few of you who voted on Monday might be a little upset that I ranked it so high.
Okay, let me know what you think of my ranking. Everyone is free to vote!
Christmas decorations are in full force this week. Anonymous and I spent a few minutes retrieving boxes from the attic on Tuesday. It is such a glorious time; the only other day that is better is when we put everything back.
We picked up our Christmas tree last evening from the local grade school. You might pick up a tree in your car, but not us! We will walk three blocks in the bitter cold and bring it back. On the way home, Anonymous gave me a house decorating schedule. I’m sure it is an excellent plan, so excellent, I didn’t need to listen to it. She’s got this. She’s a woman who reads more than I do, cooks better than me, and all of that.
Anonymous has a specific way she likes to arrange the lights on the tree. She is pretty meticulous. I’m not allowed to help. If the tree dries up and dies too early, it will be my fault. We both have roles when it comes to putting up the tree. I’m just looking forward to the numerous presents that will be under it with my name on them.
Speaking of presents, we have broken down and given Blue a recently purchased toy due to his wonderful behavior as he finishes recovering from tongue cancer surgery. We have also begun giving him regular treats that he devours, just like the good old days of September.
It’s the first week of December, which means it's championship weekend if you are a college football fan. Good luck if you have a team preparing to move on to the playoffs. Or if you are in the Army or Navy, they play this weekend, too.
I’ll be back on Monday with another Maundy Monday Newsletter. Something to look forward to if you are a fan of a college team that won’t play a game for the rest of the year, like Anonymous.
Thank you for spending time reading and supporting Okay History. I’m confident when I say that I believe most of my subscribers are women. Why? Because they read more. Even stuff that is just okay.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Oh, Happy Birthday to subscriber and BIL, PV! Hope you have a great day.