On August 18, 1920, something remarkable occurred in American politics: the Constitution was amended for the nineteenth time, but this time women were given a voice in American politics. Throughout the history of the United States, the Constitution has been amended to deal with unanswered questions from the Founding Era. One of those questions included the role of women in American political society.
Prior to 1920, women did not have the right to vote in American elections. Without this right, women felt voiceless in their own society, unable to vote for the people who would represent them in Congress. Strong suffragettes, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott propelled the fight for women’s suffrage. Their work culminated in the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, in which women met to develop a platform to fight for their involvement in politics.
But the fight for women’s rights was replaced by a greater threat to the Union at the time: slavery. Unthinkable to many American women at the time was the idea that African American slaves would receive the right to vote prior to literate Caucasian women. Women at this time were already active members of their societies, yet they would have to wait another fifty-five years until their voices would be heard.
Entering into the 20th century, the American suffragette movement received a boost when England granted women’s suffrage in 1906. The American suffragettes would continue their fight for the next fourteen years, garnering the support of many prominent politicians, including President Woodrow Wilson.
Two years after the conclusion of World War I, Congress finally ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, guaranteeing the right to vote to all American citizens, regardless of sex. Finally, women across the nation would have an equal voice in the laws and politics that would govern them.
While many women today cherish their right to vote, many do not realize how miraculous it is. It took women over a century to gain the right to vote in 1920; now looking back almost a century later, women in America are some of the most active members of the political sphere.
The Nineteenth Amendment empowered women to have their voices heard in politics. No longer were they to submit to laws passed by men whom they never consented to represent them. This empowered women to invest in American politics more than ever before.
Since 1920, women have colored American politics and have shaped the development of the U.S. coming into the 21st century. Women have served throughout the sectors of government and have impacted the nation’s policies in favor of legislation that empowers women to take advantage of all opportunities presented. Never before have women had this great of opportunity to impact their nation.
As a proud, patriotic American woman, I greatly value my right to vote, as it enables me to have a voice in how my government is to operate. I utilize that voice to strive to limit the government to further empower women and increase their ability to better their lives. I value the right to vote, not only because it allows me to impact American politics in pursuit of the great principles of the American Founding, but because it opened the door to women everywhere to be seen as equals and be the definers of their fates.
Perhaps the greatest reason Americans should cherish the Nineteenth Amendment is that women around the world continue to be oppressed and silenced by their governments. These women are unable to follow their dreams and determine their futures. It is vital for Americans, especially American women, to fight for their counterparts throughout the globe in their pursuit of the right to vote and be seen as equal in their societies.
As we approach the anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, take time to be thankful for what we American women enjoy and remember how unique it is to women around the world. Women a century ago fought for our right to vote; let us not take it for granted.