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Historical Highlights

The Nineteenth Amendment

August 26, 1920
The Nineteenth Amendment Image courtesy of Library of Congress During his House career, Representative James R. Mann of Illinois presided as chairman of three committees. He served as House Minority Leader in the 62nd through 65th Congresses.
On this date, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified that the Nineteenth Amendment—extending the vote to women—was ratified as part of the Constitution. The State of Tennessee ratified the amendment on August 18, 1920.  More than a year earlier, the House voted to approve the amendment on May 21, 1919. Introduced by Woman Suffrage Committee Chairman James R. Mann of Illinois, the Susan B. Anthony Amendment was successfully pushed by suffrage lobbyists who tied U.S. defense of democracy abroad to the extension of democracy at home. The bill gained momentum as the U.S. mobilized to fight World War I with the help of many women. Mann declared, “The time is ripe, the people are ready and the beneficiaries of this amendment are eager, willing and able to perform the duties of citizenship.” Opposing the amendment, Representative Benjamin Focht of Pennsylvania stated, “no man from New York, Pennsylvania or Ohio, down in his heart, favors this thing.” Despite opposition, the suffrage bill passed the House by a large margin, 304 to 89. After ratification, women across the country participated in the November 1920 elections for the 67th Congress (1921–1923).

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