SAN ANGELO, TX — As the country races towards one of the most contentious presidential elections in its history, this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment.
According to the Constitution, the 19th amendment guarantees “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.”
The amendment prohibited states from legally barring people to vote, even though they would find ways to exclude voters of color.
The fight for the right to vote began decades before the bill was ratified. Beginning in the 1800s women began to campaign and organize. They introduced the first version of the amendment in 1878, more than forty years before it was approved.
During the 19th and 20th century women used parades, silent vigils, and hunger strikes to advocate for their right to vote. The movement was not unified since its inception and suffragists had a varied approach to gaining the right to vote.
Some groups sought to pass suffrage acts in their states while others challenged male-only voting laws in the courtroom. Women were often met with opposition and could be jailed for their participation in the movement.
On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives approved the amendment and two weeks later the Senate also voted to approve. The amendment was then sent to the states to be ratified and on August 18, 1920.
Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify a change to the constitution.
Without a doubt, one of the most recognizable faces of the suffragette movement was Susan B. Anthony. Anthony spent years advocating for voting rights for women all across the country.
Anthony was arrested after she voted illegally in the 1872 presidential election in New York. She was eventually charged with “knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully" voting at a time where it was illegal for women to do so.
She would then be convicted by an all-male jury and ordered to pay a $100 fine in 1873. She would die at the age of 86 never paying the fine.
Ultimately Anthony would die in 1906 of heart failure and pneumonia. She would not live to see the culmination of the work the suffragettes would accomplish, but her name would forever be associated with the movement.
This year the anniversary is not only significant because it commemorates a century of voting rights, but it also marks the day Susan B. Anthony received a presidential pardon for her conviction back in 1873.
On Monday, President Trump announced he would be pardoning a very important person, and on Tuesday revealed it would be the acclaimed suffragette.
"Susan B. Anthony is an American icon who has inspired millions of women across the nation through her advocacy and accomplishments, and the generations of Americans who have devoted themselves to the work of perfecting our union are forever indebted to her example and legacy," said the White House in a statement.
"The decision to posthumously pardon Susan B. Anthony removes a conviction for exercising a fundamental American right and one that we as citizens will lawfully employ this November."