President's Page by Jennifer Lorenz
With the dawn of the 1920s came significant change in the United States. The Roaring 20s was an era of economic and cultural recovery, and growth following years of devastation from the Great War.
The Roaring 20s gave women a voice. On August 18, 1920 women were finally awarded the right to vote in the United States. The 19th Amendment was passed by Congress in June 2019 but ratified over a year later.
Many states and territories had already granted women suffrage before 1920. In 1869 the Wyoming Territory was the first to give women the vote. Wyoming’s lead was quickly followed by the Utah Territory in 1870 and the Washington Territory in 1883.
In 1902 women from 10 nations met in the Nation’s capital to plan an international suffrage rally. Clara Barton was among the speakers. Her speech, a plea for equal rights and human rights, can be found by clicking here. Ms. Barton is known for her incredible efforts as a nurse during the Civil War and as the founder of the American Red Cross, but she was also a trailblazer for women’s rights. In 1846 she was the first female to work at the U.S. Patent Office where she demanded and was awarded equal pay with her male counterparts.
On January 12, 1915, a suffrage bill was brought before the United States House of Representatives, and the bill was defeated.
Numerous suffrage organizations emerged across the United States. The National American Woman Suffrage Association, closely associated with Susan B. Anthony, was at the forefront of the suffrage movement. Some women were militant in their plea to vote and would not remain silent. On November 14, 1917,the "Night of Terror," 33 suffragists from the National Women's Party, were arrested for protesting outside of the White House. These women were beaten and tortured at the Occoquan Workhouse, a prison in northern Virginia. Many women went on hunger strikes while in prison and, in response, were further beaten and force fed. Their stories outraged the Nation and garnered support for the 19th Amendment.
In January 1918 another suffrage bill was brought before the House and President Woodrow Wilson made an impassioned and publicized appeal in support. The amendment barely passed. The vote was then carried into the Senate. Again, President Wilson made a plea to the Senate, but on September 30, 1918, the amendment failed, two votes short. On February 10, 1919, it was again voted upon, and it was again lost, this time by only 1 vote. On May 21, 1919 President Wilson called a special session of Congress, and a bill, introducing the 19th Amendment, was brought before the House, again. It passed. On June 4, 1919, the amendment was brought before the Senate, and it passed. After languishing in Washington for months, on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was finally ratified and passed into law, Nationwide. Women were allowed to vote for the first time in the 1920 Presidential election, Warren Harding v. James Cox.
Shortly after gaining the right to vote, in March 1923 women were allowed to join the legal profession following the passage of the Women's Legal Practitioners Act 7 of 1923.
1920 was the dawn of a new progressive decade that finally gave women a voice and the right to vote. Here’s to the dawn of the 2020s and all the wonderful new things to come.