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The Road to Women’s Suffrage

Remembering the long fight for a woman’s right to vote.

Road to Women's Suffrage Photo

Votes for Women article thumb"Things that seem possible, reasonable, understandable, even logical in hindsight often seem quite impossible, unrealistic, nonsensical, and illogical when we are looking ahead to them. In hindsight we can see how everything fell into place and that it was quite natural, even reasonable, that it would happen ... Inevitable in hindsight and impossible in foresight. Between impossibility and possibility, there is a door, the door of hope. And the possibility of history's transformation lies through that door."
              —Jim Wallis, The Soul of Politics


It was just 90 years ago that, with the passage of the 19th amendment, women in the United States gained the right to vote. It was a victory more than seventy years in the making (the movement for women's suffrage began in earnest at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention).

For decades, it seemed a nearly impossible struggle. Women (and some men) were beaten, jailed, and ridiculed for their protests.

Advocates of women's suffrage first began to see successes in their communities and at the state level. By the time the 19th Amendment was ratified, dozens of states, concentrated in the Western U.S., had passed some version of suffrage for women.

Still, the struggle was not over. Though the amendment was ratified by enough states to become federal law, a number of states failed to ratify it for decades more: Virgina, and Alabama in the 1950s; Florida and South Carolina in 1969; and Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina in 1970. Mississippi was the final state to formally ratify the amendment, in 1984.

In our fast-paced world, it's easy to become frustrated when progress is slow or change isn't immediately visible. The following photo essay honors the tireless stamina and patience of the suffragettes.

To view the photo essay, click here.


Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.


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