Alabama and the 19th Amendment

Picture of state of Alabama in gray – indicating it was not one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment. Courtesy Megan Springate.
Alabama depicted in gray – indicating that it was not one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment.

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Women first organized and collectively fought for suffrage at the national level in July of 1848. Suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott convened a meeting of over 300 people in Seneca Falls, New York. In the following decades, women marched, protested, lobbied, and even went to jail. By the 1870s, women pressured Congress to vote on an amendment that would recognize their suffrage rights. This amendment became known as the 19th Amendment.

In the 1890s, women in Alabama began forming their own organizations to advocate for the rights of women and children. By the 1910s, groups such as the Alabama Equal Suffrage Association (AESA) formed with the specific goal of securing women’s suffrage. But many of these groups only advocated for white women’s suffrage.

After decades of arguments for and against women's suffrage, the US Congress finally voted in favor of the 19th Amendment in 1919. After Congress passed the 19th Amendment, at least 36 states needed to vote in favor of it for it to become law.

Mrs. Pattie Jacobs, President of Alabama Suffrage Association. Library of Congress.
Mrs. Pattie Jacobs, President of Alabama Equal Suffrage Association.
Library of Congress, Records of the National Woman's Party Collection. https://www.loc.gov/item/mnwp000407/

Despite the many organizations pushing for Alabama to ratify the 19th Amendment, the state rejected the amendment on September 22, 1919. Many women in Alabama supported suffrage, but the Women’s Anti-Ratification League did not. Women belonging to this group thought Alabama women should be more concerned about raising families than civic life.

But by August of 1920, 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment, making women’s suffrage legal all across the country – even in Alabama.

On September 8, 1953, Alabama showed its support for women’s suffrage by officially ratifying the 19th Amendment.

Last updated: February 13, 2019