Women’s rights activists, hoping to capitalize on the momentum of the passage of the 19th Amendment, proposed the first iteration of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. Drafted by Alice Paul, the Mott Amendment—named for Lucretia Mott, an acclaimed women’s rights activist and social reformer—guaranteed, in plain language, that men and women should have equal rights under the law. Originally introduced by Representative Daniel Read Anthony, Jr.
, as H.J. Res. 75, the amendment languished for nearly 50 years, despite variations being considered in almost every Congress following its introduction. Opposition to the measure came primarily from the labor movement, which feared that its hard-fought protections of women in the workplace would be overturned by the amendment. A slightly re-worded version of the amendment eventually cleared both chambers in 1972, but was defeated when it failed to achieve the constitutionally mandated ratification by three-fourths of the states before the 1982 deadline.