On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified and women got the right to vote. The fight for women’s suffrage began when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony encouraged California Senator Arlen A. Sargent to submit the amendment before the Senate. The committee rejected the bill.
After nearly forty years, suffragettes organized the first White House picket protest on January 10, 1917. Holding up signs calling out President Wilson (“Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”), they kept up this campaign six days a week for two and a half years. During the first year, more than 1,000 women joined the picket line outside the White House.
In January 1918, President Wilson was finally pressured to voice his strong support for the amendment. Many men and women continued to voice their opposition with arguments like:
“Female enfranchisement would encourage competition instead of cooperation between the sexes!”
“Giving women equal access to the ballot box would strip them of their precious femininity!”
Despite these fears, the amendment finally passed. The deciding vote came from a junior Tennessee senator Harry Burn, whose mother’s advice swayed him to vote in the affirmative. Eight days after the amendment was passed, ten million women proudly registered to vote.
Almost one hundred years after this milestone, Hillary Clinton was the first woman nominated by a major party for the United States presidency. Although Clinton did not win the 2016 election, the legacy of the women’s suffrage movement continues. A century later, almost to the date of the first picket protest, about 500,000 women (and men) participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Some even carried signs in homage to Anthony and Stanton. Their mission marches on, as Americans continue to fight for full gender equality.