N, Nineteenth Amendment.
Edited By: Kermit L. Hall, James W. Ely Jr., Joel B. Grossman
Edited By: Kermit L. Hall
A women’s suffrage amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1868. Ten years later, suffrage supporters proposed the so-called Anthony Amendment, named for Susan B. Anthony, which was modeled after the *Fifteenth Amendment. It provided that “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.” This was to become the language of section 1 of the Nineteenth Amendment, but forty-two years were to go by before it became part of the Constitution.
Unsure of the prospects of a constitutional amendment, suffragists simultaneously resorted to litigation, with no success. Anthony was prosecuted for attempting to vote when she had no “lawful right” to do so (United States v. Anthony, 1873). Virginia Minor brought a civil suit in an attempt to enforce her right to vote in national elections as a *privilege or immunity of national citizenship. The Supreme Court rejected this argument, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment did not confer the right to vote on women any more than it conferred such a right on children, the insane, or criminals (*Minor v. Happersett, 1875). This result conformed to the Court’s restrictive interpretation of the clause in the *Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873.
Impelled by women’s activism in the temperance, social work, and other reform crusades, and taking advantage of the changing social environment wrought by *World War I, the suffragist (p. 684) movement succeeded in persuading Congress to enact the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919. It was ratified on 26 August 1920.
Nancy S. Erickson