On this day, May 21st, in 1919, the US House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. It was the second time the House had passed this amendment. The first time, on January 10th, the Senate refused to pass the Amendment when it came to them, so it was re-introduced to the House four months later, when it was successfully passed in the Senate and officially ratified by states on August 18th, 1920.
Montana Representative, Jeanette Rankin, originally introduced the Amendment, saying “How shall we answer their challenge, gentlemen: how shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted for war to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?”
Rankin was referring to WWI, at a time when many in the United States justified the country’s entry into the first world war by saying that it was the national duty to bring democracy to Europe. Rankin would continue to hold various elected positions for the next twenty years, having served as a representative of the people even before she herself had the right to vote.
The 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification will be taking place on August 18th, 2020, so remember to celebrate this important day in history.