The National Parks Service has a complete and very detailed timeline of the race for ratification of the 19th Amendment. Each state has its own unique story and although many suffrage history websites and books have focused on the final state of Tennessee (which will be an upcoming episode), every single state that ratified the 19th Amendment was just as important to its acceptance into the Constitution.
Here are some highlights, but click the link in the sources to learn more. The 19th Amendment passed both houses of Congress on June 4, 1919. The Amendment needed ¾ of the states to ratify it, a total of 36 states at the time. Territories were not allowed to take part but the territory of Hawaii sent a suffrage star made of bird feathers, a material used for the highest honors, to the National Woman’s Party headquarters in Washington D.C. It is still on display although the building is now called the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument.
June 10th: Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan all voted “yes” on ratification. Technically Illinois was the first ratification of the day but due to a clerical error, it had to be voted on again the following week so Wisconsin is listed as the first to ratify.
June 16th: special legislative sessions were called in Kansas, Ohio, and New York. All of them quickly ratified the amendment. During this same legislative session, Ohio passed a state law for women to have Presidential suffrage just in case the amendment failed becoming the national law.
June 24th: Pennsylvania became the 7th state to ratify. The Justice Bell was getting ready to ring!
June 25th: suffragists in Massachusetts fought back against powerful anti-suffrage groups to become the 8th state.
June 28th: Texas, the first Southern state, became the 9th.
July 2nd: Iowa became the 10th which must have pleased Iowan-born, Carrie Chapman Catt.
July 3rd: Missouri, who had granted women presidential suffrage in March of 1919, became the 11th.
July 24th: brought the first vote against the ratification. Georgia could not overcome its racial divide to unite against the strong anti-suffrage sentiment. It finally ratified the 19th Amendment in 1970 as a formality.
July 28th: Arkansas voted “yes”! The amendment was a third of the way to being law.
August 2nd: both Montana and Nebraska voted “yes”! 14 states had ratified. Only 22 more to go!
Then… a dry spell… but only for a month.
September 8th: Minnesota is the 15th to ratify. Oddly enough many women in the Scandinavian Suffrage Association of Minnesota had been able to vote in their home countries before immigrating to America.
September 10th: the New England state of New Hampshire joined the ratification list as the 16th state.
September 22th: the southern conservatives in Alabama voted down ratification bringing the second rejection. No one was surprised.
September 30th: early pioneer of suffrage rights Utah came in with a strong “yes”. 17 states for suffrage now.
November 1st: California helped suffrage cross the ½ mark coming in at state number 18.
November 5th: a special state legislative session helped tip the scales even more as Maine became number 19 on the list.
December 1st and 4th: North and South Dakota respectively joined the ratification states as numbers 20, and 21.
December 14th: just before the end of the year, Colorado put the 19th Amendment closer to the finish line as state number 22.
Holiday break… but by the end of 1919, 6 states had granted presidential suffrage to women: Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
The first month of the new year (1920) brought 5 more states: Rhode Island and Kentucky (January 6th), Oregon (January 13th), Indiana (January 16th), Wyoming (January 27th) but… on January 28th, South Carolina voted “no” despite the fact that suffragist Abbie Christensen’s son, state senator Niels Christensen, had introduced a suffrage bill during every session throughout his 40-year tenure in the state legislature.
A flurry of “yes” votes came in during February: Nevada (February 7th), New Jersey (February 9th),and Idaho (February 11th). February 12th brought both a win and a loss with Arizona voting “yes” and Virginia voting “no”. New Mexico voted “yes” on February 21, and Maryland quickly voted “no” on February 24. Oklahoma slid into position number 33 when it voted “yes” on February 28th to end the tumultuous month on a victory.
Only 3 more states were needed, and March of 1920 brought in two of them: West Virginia (March 10th), and Washington state (March 22th)
But now, SuffragetteCity100 leaves you with the knowledge that the next three states reject ratification: Mississippi (March 31th), Delaware (June 2nd) and Louisiana (July 1st), but do not despair for in an upcoming episode we will conclude the ratification with the story of the final 36th state.
This week’s song pick:
“Bulletproof” by La Roux https://youtu.be/Kk8eJh4i8Lo
The National Park Service also has individual pages detailing the suffrage fight within each state. For example, this is Oregon’s page (the home state of Abigail Scott Duniway).