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.
Some women wanted the federal government to recognize their right to vote by passing a constitutional amendment (later known as the 19th Amendment). Other women felt they should focus on getting their state or territory to recognize their right to vote. After Colorado became a state in 1876, it held a referendum on women’s suffrage. A referendum occurs when the people directly vote on an issue. The people of Colorado narrowly voted against recognizing suffrage rights. Some voters, particularly businessmen and saloonkeepers, were afraid that if women could vote, they would ban the sale of alcohol. Known as temperance, this was a popular political issue among women at the time.
In the following decades, organizations such as the Colorado Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association sent speakers out to towns across the state. Women also wrote articles explaining the importance of a woman’s right to vote. When another referendum for women’s suffrage was held in 1893, the people of Colorado voted to recognize women’s suffrage rights. Colorado became the first state to enact women’s suffrage by popular referendum.
Even though Colorado women could now vote, they continued to push for national suffrage rights. In 1919, the US Congress finally voted in favor of the 19th Amendment. This is called ratification. After Congress ratified the 19th Amendment, at least 36 states needed to vote in favor of it for it to become law.
On December 15, 1920, Colorado ratified the 19th Amendment. By August of 1920, 35 other states ratified the 19th Amendment, recognizing women’s suffrage rights across the United States.
Colorado Places of Women’s Suffrage: Croke-Patterson-Campbell House
Owned by lawyer and newspaper publisher Thomas Patterson, the mansion was home to Thomas, his wife Katherine, and his daughter Margaret. Educated at Bryn Mawr College, Margaret was active in Denver women’s clubs, including the Women’s Press Club. She was also active in the the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and the National League for Women’s Service. The Croke-Patterson-Campbell House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently home to the Patterson Inn.
Last updated: April 11, 2019