Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
For much of American history, certain groups of people, including African Americans and women, did not have the right to vote. The struggle for women’s voting rights—also known as the women’s suffrage movement—lasted through much of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Although some states permitted women to vote and to hold office prior to the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, the ratification of Amendment XIX on August 18, 1920, extended voting rights to all women. Since ratification, women’s right to vote has become commonly accepted by Americans.
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In 1776, Abigail Adams warned her husband John to “remember the ladies” in the new system of laws that America would adopt. But although women played a critical role in America’s political life, they would not achieve the vote nationwide until almost 150 years later. In 1919, Congress finally approved the Nineteenth Amendment granting women suffrage throughout America. It was ratified in 1920, with Tennessee providing the necessary approval by one vote—after a mother lobbied her son in the state legislature on the amendment’s behalf.
Linda R. Monk, J.D., is a constitutional scholar, journalist, and nationally award-winning author. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she twice received the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, its highest honor for law-related media. Her books include The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution, Ordinary Americans: U.S. History Through the Eyes of Everyday People, and The Bill of Rights: A User’s Guide. For more than 25 years, Dr. Monk has written commentary for newspapers nationwide, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, and Huffington Post. In addition, she has appeared on MSNBC, C-SPAN, and NPR.