19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on August 26, 1920. The main section states, “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.”
Early national-level efforts for women’s rights were seen at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York in 1848. Though women began achieving voting rights on local and state levels over the following decades, there was no national legislation guaranteeing the right.
A proposed women’s suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution was introduced to Congress beginning in 1878. However, it didn’t come to a vote until 1887 and was rejected by the U.S. Senate.
Conflict within the Movement
The fight for women’s suffrage saw the creation, evolution, and merging of a host of local, state, and national organizations, which sometimes disagreed on policies, practices, and philosophies. One major disagreement was whether women’s suffrage should be achieved with amendments to individual state constitutions or with a single, national-level amendment.
Friction was also caused by the racism and nativism of some of the white suffragists. Suffragists of color were frequently sidelined and not always welcomed into suffrage organizations, and some white suffragists wanted voting rights extended only to white women.
Approaches to achieving women’s suffrage changed as the decades progressed, with the “suffragists” of the 19th century giving way in the 20th century to the more militant “suffragettes,” who organized marches and protests.
Women’s contributions during World War I helped make the case for giving them full voting rights, which was now endorsed by President Woodrow Wilson. Though a 1918 attempt to pass the 19th Amendment narrowly failed in the Senate, the amendment cleared both houses of Congress by June 1919, after which it was sent to the state legislatures for ratification.
Some state legislatures quickly ratified the 19th Amendment, but it faced heated debate or rejection in others. Though Southern states typically opposed the amendment, Tennessee became the deciding 36th state to ratify it–on August 18, 1920. It was adopted into the Constitution on August 26.
Though no restrictions based on race were included in the amendment text, in practice it mainly enfranchised white women. Poll taxes, literacy tests, intimidation, violence, and other discriminatory practices effectively prevented many women of color from voting until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and beyond.
Learn more about the 19th Amendment through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.
Articles and Clippings about the 19th Amendment
Correspondent discusses state versus national amendment approaches to women's suffrage in 1878 Thu, Jan 24, 1878 – 1 · The Jackson Standard (Jackson, Ohio) · Newspapers.comSusan B. Anthony gives update on efforts to pass a national women's suffrage amendment in 1878 Fri, Nov 1, 1878 – 7 · Woman's Exponent (Salt Lake City, Utah) · Newspapers.comU.S. Senate rejects proposed federal women's suffrage amendment in 1887 Wed, Jan 26, 1887 – 4 · The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from Mary Church Terrell's address "The Justice of Woman Suffrage" Thu, Feb 15, 1900 – 2 · Wyandotte Chief (Kansas City, Kansas) · Newspapers.comMaria de Lopez and others hold bilingual women's suffrage meetings from a car in California, 1911 Mon, Oct 9, 1911 – 8 · The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Newspapers.comMabel Ping-Hua Lee voices plans to participate in 1912 New York suffrage parade Sat, Apr 13, 1912 – 3 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comIda B. Wells is photographed marching in a suffrage parade in Washington DC Wed, Mar 5, 1913 – 5 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.comSummary of state-level women's suffrage status as of 1914 Sun, Aug 23, 1914 – 6 · The Journal and Tribune (Knoxville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.comSeveral states consider state suffrage amendments after federal amendment fails to pass in 1915 Sun, Feb 14, 1915 – 2 · The Austin American (Austin, Texas) · Newspapers.comDisagreement about a women's suffrage constitutional amendment evident at Woman Voters' convention Fri, Sep 17, 1915 – 12 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comSuffragists meet with President Wilson to ask his support for a national women's suffrage amendment Tue, Dec 7, 1915 – Page 3 · The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) · Newspapers.comTennessee judge says "the South for self-preservation must oppose" federal woman suffrage amendment Tue, Dec 18, 1917 – 11 · Nashville Banner (Nashville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.comEditorial excerpt says the "soundness" of women's suffrage amendment has "been crystallized" by WW1 Wed, Sep 11, 1918 – Page 4 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.comU.S. Senate votes against women's suffrage amendment in 1918 despite support from President Wilson Tue, Oct 1, 1918 – Page 1 · The Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.comOpinion that proposed "compromises" on 19th Amendment would deny suffrage to Black women Sat, Mar 1, 1919 – Page 4 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comSome women of NWSA oppose 19th Amendment because it would grant suffrage to Black women Sat, Mar 29, 1919 – Page 1 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comU.S. Senate passes the 19th Amendment; Amendment will now go to states for ratification, 1919 Thu, Jun 5, 1919 – 1 · Evening Times-Republican (Marshalltown, Iowa) · Newspapers.comSuffragists ask states to call special legislative sessions to ratify 19th Amendment Fri, Jun 6, 1919 – Page 7 · The St. Louis Star and Times (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.comWisconsin and Illinois legislatures ratify the 19th Amendment in June 1919 Tue, Jun 10, 1919 – Page 1 · The Taylor Daily Press (Taylor, Texas) · Newspapers.comArticle says enfranchisement of Black women is one reason Mississippi rejected 19th Amendment Sat, Jan 31, 1920 – Page 2 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comNorth Carolina governor says he will encourage ratifying 19th amendment because it is "inevitable" Tue, Jun 29, 1920 – Page 1 · The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, North Carolina) · Newspapers.comPhoto of suffrage workers in Tennessee leading up to the state's ratification vote in August 1920 Wed, Aug 18, 1920 – Page 1 · Lawrence Daily Journal-World (Lawrence, Kansas) · Newspapers.comExcerpt from article describing Tennessee House of Representatives' ratification of 19th Amendment Thu, Aug 19, 1920 – Page 1 · The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.comIllinois newspaper front page announcing ratification of 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920 Wed, Aug 18, 1920 – 1 · The Rock Island Argus (Rock Island, Illinois) · Newspapers.comTimeline of 19th Amendment and women's suffrage published upon ratification in 1920 Wed, Aug 18, 1920 – 1 · Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) · Newspapers.comAlice Paul, suffrage leader, toasts suffrage victory after ratification of 19th Amendment Thu, Aug 26, 1920 – Page 3 · The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland, Oregon) · Newspapers.comNational "Equal Rights League Urges Suffragists to Stand Against Color Line" in voting Sat, Sep 18, 1920 – Page 1 · The Dallas Express (Dallas, Texas) · Newspapers.comU.S. Supreme Court unanimously supports legality of 19th Amendment, 1922 Tue, Feb 28, 1922 – 1 · The Billings Gazette (Billings, Montana) · Newspapers.com