Big gratitude to the 348 women working at AMS! You are the heart of our AMS culture and we thank you! It’s Women’s Equality Day today, August 26, and we want to give you a salute.
We can thank Representative Bella Abzug who championed a bill in the U.S. Congress in 1971 to designate August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” This day commemorates the 1920 adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The 19th Amendment prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.
It’s interesting to contemplate the dedication, strength and spirit of the women who fought this fight for us. They faced great challenges. The time period was the early 1900s, so that would mean around 1825-30. Women couldn’t inherit property, they got paid half of a man’s wages and they had no right to vote. In some countries (Finland, New Zealand and the UK) they had legalized voting for women. Those victories inspired the movement in the US.
In the U.S., it wasn’t until 1878 that the 19th Amendment was first introduced. At that time it failed to gain any traction. After WWI, when women’s contribution could no longer be ignored, the right to vote gained enough support for the 19th Amendment to be passed. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates its passage, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.
The Tennessee Story
For the Amendment to become law, it had to be ratified by 36 States. Tennessee became the state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920. Here’s an interesting story about that time, from ConstitutionCenter.org.
“By the middle of 1920, 35 states had voted to ratify the amendment, but four other states—Connecticut, Vermont, North Carolina and Florida—refused to consider the resolution for various reasons, while the remaining states had rejected the amendment altogether.
“So, Tennessee became the battleground to obtain the three-fourths of states needed to ratify the amendment. Harry T. Burn, a 24-year-old legislator, was set to vote against the amendment, but switched his vote on the Tennessee state house floor at the urging of his mother, assuring the 19th amendment’s ratification.
“Yet, even after Burn’s deciding vote, anti-suffrage legislators tried desperately to nullify the previous vote.”
Join us in thanking Harry for listening to his Mother.
Back in 1920, Secretary Colby’s attorney reviewed the documents that arrived from Tennessee. Section 106(b) of the United States Code spells out the finality of the process:
“The Archivist of the United States shall forthwith cause the amendment to be published, with his certificate, specifying the States by which the same may have been adopted, and that the same has become valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the Constitution of the United States.”
As a footnote, there is some interesting info that not too many people realize… it has yet to be published. More information on the ongoing efforts can be found at the League of Women Voters website HERE.