American Samoa and the 19th Amendment

Picture of territory of American Samoa in gray – indicating it was not one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment.
Picture of territory of American Samoa in gray – indicating 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.

After decades of arguments for and against women's suffrage, 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. In August of 1920, 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment, recognizing women’s right to vote.

The 19th Amendment impacted women differently based on where they lived. Women in American Samoa, a territory of the US, were not able to vote even after the passage of the 19th Amendment. People born in American Samoa are considered US nationals, not citizens. As a result, they are unable to participate in national elections.

Last updated: February 13, 2019