Colorado and the 19th Amendment

State of Colorado depicted in purple, white, and gold (colors of the National Woman’s Party suffrage flag) – indicating Colorado was one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment. CC0
State of Colorado depicted in purple, white, and gold (colors of the National Woman’s Party suffrage flag) – indicating Colorado was one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment.

CC0

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 was sometimes known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment and became the 19th Amendment.

The amendment reads:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

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.

Colorado's ratification of the 19th Amendment on Dec. 12, 1919. Library of Congress.
Colorado's ratification of the 19th Amendment on Dec. 12, 1919.

Library of Congress, Records of the National Woman's Party Collection. https://www.loc.gov/item/mnwp000305/

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 June 1919, the US Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment. After Congress approved the 19th Amendment, at least 36 states needed to vote in favor of it for it to become law. This process is called ratification.

On December 15, 1919, Colorado voted to ratify the 19th Amendment. By August of 1920, 35 other states ratified the 19th Amendment, ensuring that across the country, the right to vote could not be denied based on sex.

Colorado State Capitol by Highsmith LOC
The Colorado State Capitol building in Denver. Photo by Carol Highsmith, 2016. Collections of the Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2017885374/)

Colorado Places of Women's Suffrage: State Capitol Building

Located in Denver, the State Capitol Building with its gold-leafed dome, was built between 1886 and 1901. Denver's nickname as "The Mile High City" is based on the building's elevation above sea level, as measured (and marked) on the steps to the western entrance.

It was here that Colorado ratified the 19th Amendment on December 15, 1919. The State Capitol building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 27, 1974 and designated a National Historic Landmark on October 16, 2012. The building is open to the public.
State flag of Colorado, CC0
State flag of Colorado, CC0

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.

Image of red brick Croke-Patterson-Campbell House. Photo: by Jeffrey Beall - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Discover More Places of Ratification

The Croke-Patterson-Campbell House is an important place in the story of ratification. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Pla

Last updated: January 15, 2020