Georgia and the 19th Amendment

Georgia depicted in gray – indicating that it was not one of the original 36 states to ratify the 19th Amendment. CC0
Georgia depicted in gray – indicating that it was not 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 became known as the 19th Amendment.

In the late 1800s, regional suffrage organizations began to form in states across the US. But the suffrage movement had roots in abolitionism (the movement to end slavery). As a result, southern women's suffrage groups were slower to organize. Efforts to promote women’s suffrage lagged in Georgia until Helen Augusta Howard established the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association (GWSA) in the 1890s.

Portrait of Mary McCurdy. Photo from SPARKLING GEMS OF RACE KNOWLEDGE WORTH READING compiled by JAMES T. HALEY.
Mary McCurdy

Photo from SPARKLING GEMS OF RACE KNOWLEDGE WORTH READING compiled by JAMES T. HALEY, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/22256/22256-h/22256-h.htm#MRS_M_A_MCURDY_ROME_GA

Many Georgia suffrage organizations only granted membership to white women. But African American women like Adella Hunt Logan, Mary McCurdy, and Janie Porter Barrett were instrumental in advancing women’s suffrage on a national scale. Logan, born to a white father and African American mother, became involved in the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She also wrote articles for newspapers in favor of women’s suffrage. Mary McCurdy also used her writing skills to help the suffrage cause. She established a successful career as a journalist. McCurdy encouraged black women to speak out for their rights, even though they faced prejudiced due to their ethnicity and gender.

Other white suffrage groups were established in the 1910s, such as the Georgia Woman Equal Suffrage League. Some Georgia men also supported women’s suffrage. Local lawyer Leonard Grossman established the Georgia Men's League for Woman Suffrage. But anti-suffrage organizations such as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (founded 1895) had a strong following. Like many other states, Georgia was divided on the issue of women’s suffrage.

Janie Porter Barrett. Photo courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library.
Janie Porter Barrett, circa 1922.

Photo courtesy of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47dd-d7c7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

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.

On July 24, 1919 Georgia was the first state to reject the amendment. But by August of 1920, 36 states had ratified the 19th Amendment. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, recognizing women's suffrage rights.

While women across the county were able to vote in the 1920 presidential election, Georgia women were not able to cast their ballots. The state of Georgia cited a rule that required voters to register 6 months before an election. Most other states waived this rule, allowing women to vote in the 1920 election. But women in Georgia had to wait until 1922 to take part in a national election.

Georgia belatedly ratified the 19th Amendment on February 20, 1970.

State flag of Georgia, CC0.
State flag of Georgia, CC0.

Georgia Places of Women’s Suffrage: Lion House

Built in 1829, the Lion House was purchased by noted suffragist Emily Fitten MacDougald. She worked with Susan B Anthony and other suffragists to organize suffrage speaking tours. She also served as president of the Equal Suffrage Party of Georgia. The Lion House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is privately owned.

Exterior of large two-story house with Greek-Revival pillars. Library of Congress.

Discover More Places of Ratification

The Lion House is an important place in the story of ratification. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sources used to make these state pages include: Ida Husted Harper's History of Woman Suffrage: 1900-1920, Volume 6 (1922), the National American Woman Suffrage Association papers (Library of Congress), National Register nominations from the National Park Service, and Shirley Wilson Logan’s We Are Coming: The Persuasion of Nineteenth Century Black Women (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999).

Last updated: April 11, 2019