Last updated: September 3, 2019
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."
After decades of arguments for and against women's suffrage, Congress finally passed the 19th Amendment in June 1919. 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.
Guam became a US Territory in December of 1898. But because Guam was not a state, it could not vote for or against the 19th Amendment. But on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, ensuring that in every state, the right to vote could not be denied based on sex.
Women in Guam did not have voting rights after the passage of the 19th Amendment because they were not US citizens. In 1950, President Truman signed the Guam Organic Act. This act established a government in Guam and declared those born in Guam to be United States citizens. The Act includes a Bill of Rights that is similar but not identical to those included in the U.S. Constitution. In regards to voting, it states that "[n]o qualification with respect to property, income, political opinion or any other matter apart from citizenship, civil capacity, and residence shall be imposed on any voter." Amendments to the Organic Act later applied several U.S. Constitutional amendments to Guam, including the 19th Amendment. In addition to voting for territorial offices like legislators and Governor, residents of Guam can vote for a non-voting representative in Congress and in presidential primaries, but are not able to vote for in the general presidential election. US citizens must be residents of one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia in order to vote for president. As a result, the women of Guam have some (but not full) voting rights.