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 approved 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. This process is called ratification. In August of 1920, 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment, ensuring that in every state, the right of citizens of the United States to vote could not be denied based on sex.
The 19th Amendment impacted women differently based on where they lived.The Northern Mariana Islands became a territory of the United States in 1947 through the treaty with Japan that ended World War II. In 1978, the Northern Mariana Islands became a Commonwealth and people born there since the establishment of the Commonwealth are citizens of the United States. Residents cannot vote for President and are represented by a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. Federal law has extended the several sections of the U.S. Constitution to the Northern Mariana Islands, including the 19th Amendment.
Last updated: September 5, 2019