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Nineteenth Amendment

  • Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, August 18, 1920
The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution permitted women to vote in the United States.
Related documents:
  • United States Constitution
    United States Constitution, September 17, 1787
  • Thirteenth Amendment
    Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 1865
  • Seneca Falls Convention
    Report of the Seneca Falls Convention with the “Declaration of Sentiments,” July 19, 20, 1848
  • Suffrage Victory Map
    The Rights of the People–Women are People. Suffrage Victory Map, 1920
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Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, August 18, 1920

The Nineteenth Amendment forbids the federal government and state governments from prohibiting anyone from voting based on his or her sex. The first woman suffrage amendment was offered and rejected in the United States Senate in 1868. Ten years later the amendment that later became the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was introduced in Congress. It was rejected and reintroduced every year for the next 41 years. Known as the Susan B. Anthony amendment, it passed in 1919 and was ratified in August 1920, with the approval of thirty-six states. The legislatures of the midwestern states of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were the first to ratify the amendment. Tennessee, embroiled in a firestorm of opposition, was the thirty-sixth state to ratify it, making up the three-fourths of the states needed for ratification. Of the ten states to withhold their ratification nine were in the South. Virginia did not ratify the Nineteenth Amendment until 1952, although Virginia women gained the right to vote in 1920 when it was passed.

The right to vote did not promise women equal footing with men in all arenas. Many women's groups that supported woman suffrage changed their focus once the Nineteenth Amendment was passed. They educated women voters on issues affecting them, including equal pay and other work-related rights, married woman's rights, and equal education rights.

For Educators


1. When did Virginia ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution?

2. Why did Virginia ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at all?

Further Discussion

1. In their rejection of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, the Virginia legislature argued that the amendment infringed on states' rights. Is this a valid argument? Why or why not?

2. Compare the wording of the Fifteenth and the Nineteenth Amendments to the United States Constitutions. Why did lawmakers choose to exclude women when the Fifteenth Amendment was drafted?

Suggested Reading

Wheeler, Marjorie Spruill, ed. One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement. Troutdale, Ore.: NewSage Press, 1995.

Flexner, Eleanor. Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996.

No. 26.  House Bill to authorize the mayor and council of the city of Williamsburg, in the county of James City, State of Virginia, to borrow money, issue warrants and bonds therefor, for the purpose of erecting a public school building, building a concrete street from the corporate limits on York street to the corporate limits on Richmond avenue, and to complete the water and sewer systems of said city, and providing for submission of the issuance of bonds for these purposes to the qualified voters of the said city; and
 No. 7.  House bill to empower the board of supervisors of Rockingham county to purchase and provide for the payment therefor of the Rawley Springs and Harrison turnpike, and the Harrisonburg and Franklin turnpike, or either of them.
 A message was received from the House of Delegates, by MR. OZLIN, who informed the Senate that the House of Delegates had passed the following joint resolution; in which they requested the concurrence of the Senate:
 Whereas, the Congress of the United States has duly submitted to the legislatures of the several States the following proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
 "Article—, section 1. 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.
"Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”; therefore, be it
 Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of Virginia (the House and the Senate concurring), That the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States be, and hereby is, rejected as an unwarranted, unnecessary, undemocratic and dangerous interference with the rights reserved to the States or to the people in both States and Federal Constitutions; and be it further
 Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Secretary of the United States as the expressed will of the people of Virginia as registered in their Constitution and by their elected representatives in the General Assembly, to retain the fundamental rights of local self-government vested in the states or in the people; and be it further
 Resolved, That we call upon our sister States of the Union to uphold and defend the rights of each State to decide who shall vote for its own officers, and to oppose and reject any amendment to the Constitution of the United States that would transfer control of the State franchises to the Federal Congress without the consent of the people themselves as duly exercised under their several State constitutions.
 MR. MAPP moved to indefinitely postpone the foregoing resolution.
 MR. GOOLRICK moved as a substitute therefor that the resolution be referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections; which was rejected by the following vote—yeas, 13; nays, 20.