100 Years Ago

Credit MotherWitDesign.com

On August 18, 1920, Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Women’s suffrage is a major event in American history and a milestone in the national aspiration of the equal right of every individual to participate in their government.

To commemorate this historic event, the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the National Organization for Women has produced “One Hundred Years Ago,” 11 two-minute radio segments to highlight the decades of struggle in this movement. Three of these segments describe West Virginia’s dramatic role in the struggle.

The production was based on extensive research conducted by Renate Pore (Ph.D. History, West Virginia University). Author, singer, songwriter, and graphic artist Colleen Anderson narrates the segments. The theme music “Possum Rag” was written by Geraldine Dobyns in 1907.

Listen Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning at 6:42 a.m. and in the afternoon at 4:49 p.m. in February and March.

The series is made possible by a grant from The West Virginia Humanities Council.

For more information about the West Virginia Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment, including a growing list of events planned throughout the state, visit https://sos.wv.gov/about/Pages/WV19Amend.aspx. Read about Kanawha Valley NOW activities on Facebook.

West Virginia Ratifies 19th Amendment

18 hours ago
Senator Jesse Bloch cast the deciding vote on West Virginia's ratification of the 19th Amendment
E-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

In West Virginia, ratification came down to one vote. In February, 1920, when Governor Cornwall called a special session of the legislature to ratify suffrage, two state senators were missing. One had resigned the previous year and one was playing golf in California. The House of Delegates passed the amendment, but it failed in the Senate.

Alice Paul Organizes National Women's Party

Mar 5, 2020

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

In her twenties, Alice Paul learned about the struggle for women’s voting rights while studying in England.  Back home in 1910, she joined the American movement.  Unlike her peers, Paul took a more radical approach.  She organized 5,000 women to parade Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, the day before President Wilson’s inauguration.  Onlookers attacked them with obscenities and physical violence.  The police simply watched but national headlines made suffrage a hot topic.  

Lenna Lowe Yost rallied the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association to success in 1920
E-WV/The Humanities Council

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.  

The activists who led West Virginia’s suffrage movement faced more than sexism. Despite political setbacks, personal tragedies, and bad roads, they persisted.

WVEncyclopedia

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

As early as 1867, Samuel Young, a minister and state senator from Pocahontas county, introduced a resolution to give West Virginia Women the vote. It failed. In the early 1900s, West Virginia women organized suffrage clubs and, in 1916, tried to pass a state-wide referendum on the vote. When it failed miserably by a three to one margin, Julia Ruhl, president of the state suffrage association, acknowledged, “Our organization is in a demoralized condition.”

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Carrie Chapman Catt followed Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and was its leader when the women’s right to vote became the law of the land.  A determined woman and brilliant organizer, she got her start organizing women in Iowa for a state referendum on the vote, and went on to rally women in other states.

Susan B. Anthony Charged with Voting Illegally

Feb 20, 2020
visitthecapitol.gov

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Discrimination against women in the Abolition movement led to the Seneca Falls Convention with broad goals for women’s rights, including the vote
Biography.com

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Many got their start as leaders in the anti-slavery movement.  But when women delegates attended the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention, they were relegated to the gallery.   This humiliation led to the seneca falls convention with broad goals for women’s rights, including the vote.

moralheroes.org

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Part of the remarkable history of the suffrage movement is the lifelong friendship and partnership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. While Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the philosopher of the women’s movement, Susan B. Anthony became its most visible and prominent leader. Of the partnership between the two, it is said that Cady Stanton fashioned the thunderbolts and Anthony threw them. While Cady Stanton was bound to house and home with pregnancy and childbirth, Anthony traveled the country to spread the message.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the most consequential women in the battle for women’s rights.
E-WV, The Humanities Council

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Biography.com

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Abigail Adams, wife of one president and mother of another, was one of the first voices for women’s rights.

NPS.org

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

Though its first sentence begins “we the people,” the U.S. Constitution’s principles didn’t include all people. When it came to apportioning representatives, enslaved people counted as three-fifths of a person; Native Americans were excluded altogether; and it would be 143 years before the word “sex” appeared in the Constitution.  

Reenactors in period costume at the recent Suffrage Centennial event at the West Virginia Culture Center
Janet Kunicki / WVPB

On August 18, 1920, Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Women’s suffrage is a major event in American history and a milestone in the national aspiration of the equal right of every individual to participate in their government.

Reenactors in period costume at the recent Suffrage Centennial event at the West Virginia Culture Center
Janet Kunicki / WVPB

2020 marks 100 years since women in the United States earned the right to vote. The fight for the 19th Amendment followed more than 70 years of struggle that included everything from marches and protests to beatings, hunger strikes and force feeding.

Today, some advocates worry that history has been lost. To mark the ratification of the 19th Amendment, public and private organizations are teaming up to organize events to commemorate the centennial all year long and across the state.