100 Years Ago Today
Congress ratified the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
A look back in U.S. history at WHO got the right & WHEN
1776: America’s Beginnings
- On July 4, 1776, the American colonies declared independence from Great Britain, but the first presidential election wasn’t held until in 1789.
- In most states, the right to vote was limited initially to land owners (mostly white men).
- For many years voting rights were dictated largely by the Constitution and state laws until Congress first began to weigh in via federal legislation in 1957.
1870: Post Civil War
- The 15th Amendment granted all citizens the right to vote regardless of race or prior enslavement.
- At the time, the term “citizens” was expanded to include African American men – NOT Native American men.
- However, for the next nearly 100 years, states used other ways to limit voting, like literacy tests & requiring voters to pay to vote (poll taxes).
- Nearly 80 years after the women’s voting movement unofficially began in 1840, the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote in 1920.
- Due to existing state laws at the time, the right was initially limited to mostly white women.
- The U.S. wasn’t the first. New Zealand became the first country to grant all women the right to vote in 1893.
1924: Native Americans
- The Indian Citizenship Act granted Native Americans citizenship, and thus, the right to vote.
- However, states were still free to impose limits on the right to vote for many years.
- In 1962, New Mexico became the last state to grant Native Americans voting rights.
1950s and 1960s:
Civil Rights Movement
- The movement led to federal action securing the right to vote for African Americans & others by outlawing state-imposed barriers restricting voting.
- In 1964, Congress passed the 24th Amendment, prohibiting poll taxes.
- In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, banning literacy tests. Most African Americans in the South were not registered to vote until this time.
DID YOU KNOW? It wasn’t until the passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961 that DC residents were allowed to vote in presidential elections. Ten years later, during the wake of the Vietnam War in 1971, Congress passed the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age to 18. Traditionally the voting age was 21.
by Jenna Lee,