In 1920 women were given the right to vote in America, but that’s not really true.
Yes, that’s when the 19th Amendment was added to the Constitution, but women were not “given” anything. They fought for over 144 years including being ridiculed, ostracized, assaulted, arrested, and abused. The amendment barely made it across the finish line. However, the passage of 19th Amendment didn't actually mean that all women would be allowed to vote--just that states could not bar anyone from voting on the basis of sex. Many women of color including Indigenous women had to continue the fight for voting rights well into the 1960s.
Most people can only name one or two ladies associated with the fight for women's suffrage—Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—and believe that the word “suffrage”, sounding similar to “suffering” must be something bad. Suffrage comes from the Latin base, suffragium, commonly translated as "vote," "support," or "prayer.” The word “suffer” comes from a different Latin root, sufferre, meaning “to bear” or to “submit to.”
The fight for women’s right to vote started even before our country existed. While founding father John Addams attended the Continental Congress in 1776, Abigail Addams wrote the famous “Remember the Ladies” letter to her husband, urging him to “be more generous and favorable to [the ladies] than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands... If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
As America grew so did the fight for women’s suffrage; people of all ages, races, religions, nationalities, genders, education, and economic status were part of it. Suffragettecity100.com is an online project created to share these stories and to explore the more human side of history leading up to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Using condensed chronological essays and a thematic playlist as diverse as the women themselves, we will journey with them. There are triumphs and sorrows, heroes and villains, betrayal, unexpected twists and turns, hope, joy, and all the messiness of life. Verified sources will always be listed.
2020 will be the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let’s “Remember the Ladies” together.
This week’s song pick:
“Sisters are doing it for themselves” by the Eurhymics featuring Aretha Franklin https://youtu.be/drGx7JkFSp4
Episode 01 Sources:
Original “Remember the Ladies” letter