On August 18th, 2020, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Suffrage. We must never forget how hard so many worked and for so long to obtain this right.
Women’s rights are the fundamental human rights that were enshrined by the United Nations for every human being on the planet nearly 70 years ago. These rights include the right to live free from violence, slavery, and discrimination; to be educated; to own property; to vote; and to earn a fair and equal wage.
As the now-famous saying goes, “women’s rights are human rights.” That is to say, women are entitled to all of these rights. Yet almost everywhere around the world, women and girls are still denied them, often simply because of their gender.
Let's take a look at the beginnings of this battle in the United States, but the battle was fought in many other places around the world as well. Never doubt, it was a battle!
“Remember the Ladies” Suffrage Part 1
This year, on August 19th, 2020, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. I have always recognized that this “right” for a woman to vote, was God given, not man given, but have been curious about the beginnings of this struggle.
The word suffrage comes from Latin suffragium, which initially meant "a voting-tablet", "a ballot", "a vote", or "the right to vote”.
In 1848, about 300 activists, including 40 men, gathered for a two-day convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., to strategize how to obtain women’s suffrage nationwide. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, along with 60 other women and 32 men, sign and issue the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, which calls for equal treatment of women and men under the law and voting rights for women.
The first attempt to offer universal suffrage occurred in 1868 but quickly died. The next attempt was ten years later in 1878 and introduced by California Senator Aaron A. Sargent. Every year for the nest 41 years this bill was reintroduced! Finally the exact text of Sargent’s bill was approved by Congress and ratified by three fourth of the states in 1920.
The 19th Amendment does not directly mention “women.” It actually states that “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 the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
The Constitution is a gender neutral document and the word “male” never appeared in the document until 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. (A quick overview of the Fourteenth Amendment “ …granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves who had been emancipated after the American Civil War , including them under the umbrella phrase “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” In all, the amendment comprises five sections, four of which began in 1866 as separate proposals that stalled in legislative process and were later amalgamated, along with a fifth enforcement section, into a single amendment. Note well however, that even before this Amendment nothing in the original Constitution directly barred women from voting.