100 years ago this month, the 19th amendment to the constitution gave women the right to vote. American schools teach about the suffrage movement and the 19th amendment, but here are a few facts you might not know.
“Suffrage” doesn’t come from the word “suffering”
The word suffrage comes from the Latin word suffragium, meaning a vote or a right to vote.
The women’s suffrage movement in the US had its roots in the abolition movement
Abolitionist groups provided women with opportunities to speak, write and organize on behalf of enslaved people. In 1840, when Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, they were forced into the gallery along with all the women who attended. This spurred them to organize the first U.S. women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York.
Wyoming needed women
In 1869, Wyoming became the first state or territory to pass a women’s suffrage law after the women’s rights convention. Many legislators hoped this would attract more single women to the frontier, where men outnumbered women 6 to 1.
The right to vote wasn’t the top priority of the women’s rights movement at first
At the women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, the attendees signed a document that actually had 12 resolutions on women’s rights – only 1 of which related to voting. Other items on the document talked about women’s rights to an education and to own and inherit property. The resolution calling for the right to vote barely passed for inclusion.
The ratification of the 19th amendment passed by only 1 vote
Tennessee state representative Harry T. Burn had planned to vote against the amendment, but ultimately decided to vote yes, supposedly in response to a request from his aged mother. His vote broke the tie in favor of ratifying the amendment.
Here’s a few web pages to find out more things you might not have known.
Be sure to check out our blog post about a traveling poster exhibit from the Smithsonian called Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence that will be coming to our library in the future.