Provided by Prince William County Office of Communication
The 19th amendment of the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote on Aug. 18, 1920, but the amendment did not officially go into effect until it was certified by the correct government functionary. In 1920, the certified official was U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby, who signed the amendment at his home in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 26, 1920.
That is why Aug. 26 is recognized today as National Women’s Equality Day, according to constitutioncenter.org.
The fight for women’s right to vote began on July 19, 1848, when more than 200 women gathered at the Seneca Falls Convention, in Seneca Falls, New York to discuss the gender discrimination women faced. The women believed they deserved equal treatment to men legally, economically and socially and that they deserved equal representation in government.
Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 to fight for women’s rights. In 1886, the suffragettes persuaded Congress to look over the amendment to give women the right to vote, but they were denied.
In 1870, the 15th amendment gave all men the right to vote regardless of their color, race or whether they were a former slave, but women were still denied the right to vote.
The suffragettes got the amendment before Congress again 34 years later and were successful thanks to new states joining the union. Some of those states had equal rights for women written into their constitutions.
New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a resolution to designate Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day in 1971. Congress officially approved the resolution in 1973. The resolution required presidents issue an annual proclamation to designate Aug. 26 as Women’s Equality Day. Every president since Richard Nixon has issued the proclamation recognizing the day women won the right to vote.