Rejoice, Rejoice! As of this day, the 19th amendment becomes law, giving women the right to vote. I am James Mott, a suffragist and the president of the Seneca Falls Convention. Although I died years ago, I have watched the movement grow for years from the heavens, and today they accomplished their goal. In commemoration of this day, I would like to give you a brief history of the movement, starting in the days when suffrage was just a dream in a few women’s minds.
The women’s suffrage movement began in the year 1848, in the city of Seneca Falls, New York. This city was the location where Susan B. Anthony, Martha Wright, and a few others including my wife, Lucretia Mott, met to plan a convention for women’s rights. During the planning of the convention, they decided a man should be the president of the convention, and chose me for the position. Being the convention’s president was by far my proudest contribution to the entire movement. Although we did not know this at the time, the convention would soon bring about change that would remodel the United States forever. In the convention, we voted on a constitution of reforms for women’s rights. Even though the vote would not come for another 72 years, the Seneca Falls convention would lay the foundation for the entire suffrage movement.
After the convention, the next 40 years brought few victories for the movement. However, those years allowed the movement to grow in power and strength. By the time a major breakthrough was achieved, the movement was an important, affluent power in America. It was during this period that I fell ill with Pneumonia while visiting my daughter. I died in 1868, never to be alive for a major breakthrough in the movement. However, even as other older suffrage leaders died, younger suffragettes took up the torch. The movement’s power and status were undamaged by the passing of the leaders.
Finally, after all of those laborious years, the movement won a sudden and unexpected victory. The Wyoming legislature gave women the right to vote! Many of the suffragettes partied and relaxed, relieved that their movement was finally receiving some positive attention. But their respite did not last long. Soon, they were back at work, hoping to use this victory as a gateway into more states. After Wyoming, the states of Colorado, Idaho, and Utah allowed women to vote. Soon, 15 states had allowed suffrage. Now, the movement was only a stone’s throw away from its ultimate goal.
In 1920, this year, the nineteenth amendment was finally brought onto the congress floor. Immediately, Senators and Representatives began to take sides over this practically ticking bomb of a problem. For many of the suffragists, the fact that they had finally gotten their amendment on the congress floor was a victory on its own. After months of heated debates and literal fist fights on Congress floor, the vote began. In the final call of the vote, a Tennessee senator named Harry T. Burns changed his mind, breaking the tie. I’m sure his suffragette mom must have been very proud that her son had finally seen how important her rights and the rights of women everywhere were. This historic vote allowed the amendment to be added to the Constitution of the United States. This tremendous victory was the ultimate goal of the movement, and the cause for the celebration today. This victory will surely enhance the freedoms and rights of all women in America.
I am very proud of the suffragettes and suffragists involved in the movement. Even in times when it seemed the entire nation was against the movement, these women were determined to see it through. Even though it was never easy, we stand here, looking at their achievements. Although there will always be more battles to be won for complete women’s equality, the results have shown that there is nothing these women can’t achieve with their amazing work ethics and perseverance.
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