August 26 will mark 94 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting American women the right to vote.
It almost seems silly now that it was even an issue to discuss, but 100 plus years ago women had very few rights. Our history tells us that women began organizing and petitioning to gain the right to vote in the 1880s, but it took decades for their purpose to be realized. Suffragists worked tirelessly against the odds, marching, lobbying, and even participating in civil disobedience – often against radical opposition – to change the Constitution.
At the time, the New York Times reported, “The half-century struggle for woman suffrage in the United States reached its climax at 8 o’clock this morning, when Bainbridge Colby, as secretary of state, issued his proclamation announcing that the 19th Amendment had become a part of the Constitution of the United States.”
The monumental change was a significant cause for celebration, but it had been a long time coming. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the society of American women began to see drastic transformations. They were becoming more educated and working more as a result of that, they were bearing fewer children, and starting organizations for the things they felt strongly about.
With World War I, barriers began to break down when women aided the war effort in a variety of ways starting in 1917. By 1918, women had acquired equal suffrage with men in 15 states, and Republican and Democratic parties began to endorse female enfranchisement.
From that point it was just a matter of time until the 19th Amendment became the law of the land, forever changing the face of American culture. On Nov. 2, 1920, more than eight million women across the United States voted in elections for the very first time.