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Celebrating the Right to Vote

Would it be fair if the boys in your class could vote for class president and the girls could not? For a long time in the United States, men could vote and women could not. That changed in 1920, when women gained the right to vote. The fight for that right began many years earlier.

The Struggle Began

In 1848, two women, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, organized a meeting of several hundred women and dozens of men in Seneca Falls, New York. The group said that women were not represented in the United States government. The group said that elected officials represented only the people who elected them, who were men.

The group wrote a declaration, or a statement of purpose, similar to the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Sentiments listed the rights of women and was signed by 68 women and 32 men. It began, “We hold these truths to be self-evident [not needing explanation]: that all men and women are created equal.” The Declaration of Independence begins in the same way except that it doesn't include the words “and women.”

Demanding to Vote

The Declaration of Sentiments set off a fight for suffrage, or the right to vote. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony tried to vote in Rochester, New York. She was arrested. By 1907, tens of thousands of women were marching in parades for women's suffrage in many communities, including Washington, D.C.

By 1920, many Americans agreed that keeping women from voting was unfair. In August 1920, enough states had approved the Nineteenth Amendment to allow it to become part of the Constitution. That amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged [limited] by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”