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LWV History

Various historical snippets are being collected and will be featured on this page.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

100 Years Ago…..

By Susan Haase

Abigail Smith Adams
Abigail Adams

100 years ago. In 1920, the 19th Amendment guaranteed women across the country the right to vote.

Many years before that, in 1776, Abigail Adams sent John Adams off to Boston and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence reminding him not to forget “the ladies.”  But, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson declared their independence from the British with the words “all MEN are created equal.”  They did not include women.  The new laws for the new country declared women had no independence from men.  No property rights, no right to vote, no right to enter a legal contract, and they were entirely under the control of their husbands.

In the United States, Women Could Vote in Some Areas, Until They Couldn’t

New Jersey. 144 years before the passage of the 19th Amendment

, when New Jersey became a federal state after the American Revolution, unmarried and widowed women could vote if they had $250 worth of cash or property.  But that lasted only 31 years until legislators changed the law to exclude them. In case you’re wondering why only unmarried and widowed women with money or property were initially included, it’s because married women could not own property under the common law.  Whatever they owned became their husband’s property when they married.

Wyoming. Prior to the 19th Amendment, the women in Wyoming had already been voting. Wyoming entered the U.S. as a Territory in 1869 and had given women full voting rights from the beginning.

20 years later in 1889, when Wyoming was applying for statehood, its new constitution affirmed the right of women to vote.  When Congress threatened to deny the Territory statehood unless it removed the provision allowing women to vote, Wyoming refused, and Congress gave in.

Wyoming became the first state in the nation to grant women full voting rights when it became the country’s 44th state in 1890.

Illinois. In Illinois, the legislature had given many women the right to vote seven years earlier in 1913, and in the spring of 1914 more than 150,000 Chicago women registered to vote.

Oh, my.  What must the political power brokers in Chicago have been thinking!

Then, Chicago hosted a meeting in 1920 where the National American Woman Suffrage Association formally DISBANDED and was replaced with THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS. 

The LEAGUE, of course, still exists today.  Happy 100th Birthday to the League of Women Voters.