Since the making of the United States, women have not had the chance to vote or be elected into office. Only men have voted since 1789. This is all about to change. It is June 4, 1919 and the United States Congress has passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. This Amendment allows all American women the right to vote and to hold elective office.
The Constitution was adopted in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Since then there have been 18 Amendments. The first 10 Amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. It is hard to believe that a country built on the idea of freedom has not allowed its women the right to run for office, or even to vote for the men running for office. Many women have fought very hard for the right to vote, and I am very thankful for them. Some men have fought too, like President Woodrow Wilson. Last year, he gave a speech in support of women having the right to vote. Some men think that women should have the right to vote and some don’t, which is hard to believe.
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To help illustrate the struggle, let’s talk about Minnesota just a few years ago. One lawmaker declared that all male voting was designed by our forefathers. Representative Thomas Girling argued that women should not be dragged into the dirty pool of politics. He also said that allowing women to vote would cause irreparable damage at great expense to the state. When the Minnesota Senate considered the matter, one member said that disaster and ruin would overtake the nation, and that suffrage would lead to government by females because men could never resist the blandishments of women. Instead, he recommended that women attach themselves to some man who will represent them in public affairs.
I find this type of thinking to be offensive to not just women, but men too. How can the leaders of a free country think this way? How can we believe in democracy, and fight for democracy and freedom in other parts of the world, and treat our people this way at home?
There are pros and cons with most anything, and I believe the 19th Amendment is no exception. An obvious pro to me is that more people can now vote and possibly hold elected office. By expanding the vote, we help make our country move closer to our principles of democracy. How can allowing more people to participate in governing the country be a bad thing? It may not be such a good idea for those that want to hold all the power and make all the decisions, but I think that’s what our forefathers fought so hard to overcome. Passage of the 19th Amendment means more justice for the American system.
If there is a con to all this, I think it’s not with the result of the 19th Amendment, but maybe with some of the things leading up to it. Suffragists have been pretty radical. They have said and done things in order to bring attention to the cause. They have brought media attention, and also brought to light the irony of the United States fighting for democracy in Europe, but not at home. Some of the protests were a bit unseemly and perhaps made America a less polite society.
Another con is the fact that the suffragist movement was not very inclusive as far as race and social class. Most of the well-known members of the movement were middle-class white women. For example, Sojourner Truth was the only black woman to take part in the Seneca Falls Conference of 1948.
I just worry about how the 19th Amendment is going to affect our society. Not everyone is happy about it. Will women now suffer even more discrimination? Will we be allowed to truly exercise our right to vote and hold office, or do we need to be looking out for the next new political or social hurdle as punishment? Will there be riots? Will we lose the few jobs we have? How will the world view our country? These are all good questions and serious issues, but suffragists (and some men too) have fought hard for the 19th Amendment, and we need to continue fighting for what’s right. That’s what America stands for. In the meantime, I’ll just be thankful for Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Margaret Fuller, and many others.
EDSITEment!. 13 November 2009. National Endowment for the Humanities. 14 October 2018.
Enotes. 14 October 2018.
History. 9 October 2018. A&E Television Networks. 18 October 2018.
National Archives. 25 September 2018. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
15 October 2018.
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