Washington State and the 19th Amendment

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

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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.

On March 22, 1920, Washington voted to ratify the 19th Amendment. By August of 1920, 36 states (including Washington) ratified the amendment, ensuring that the right to vote could not be denied based on sex.

Washington State Flag
Washington state flag. CC0

Washington Places of Women's Suffrage: William H. Seward Statue in Volunteer Park

In 1909, the city of Seattle hosted the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, which featured hundreds of educational exhibits. The exposition also featured a women’s suffrage day. State and national suffrage organizations set up booths promoting women’s suffrage. One of the enduring icons of the exposition can be found in Volunteer Park. The statue of Secretary of State William H. Seward, unveiled at the exposition in 1909, is now located in the park. It serves as a reminder of the importance of the exposition in Washington history, including its connection to the women's suffrage movement. Volunteer Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Image of large stature and pedestal in garden area.

Discover More Places of Ratification

Volunteer Park 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), and National Register nominations from the National Park Service.

Last updated: August 22, 2019