Many organizations and persons take time out to celebrate a 100th anniversary. So it is with the passing if the 19th Amendment, which, in a few words, gave women in these United States the right to vote.
Congress approved the bill to open the vote to women on June 4, 1919, sent it to President Woodrow Wilson — husband of our own Ellen Axson Wilson — to sign, and then sent it to the states to ratify.
The effort continued until finally, on Aug. 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to our Constitution became the law of the land when Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify it. Georgia became the first state to reject ratification.
The backstory began in 1848, when the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York. An American Equal Rights Association was formed in 1869. A National Women’s Suffrage Association (considered radical), formed through writings and street demonstrations in individual states, led Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to promote the desire for a national constitutional amendment. In 1872, Anthony was jailed and fined for voting — and she was not the only woman to have been treated harshly. She spoke widely of her views. She died in 1909.
In 1890, Mary McGurdy moved to Rome, Georgia, with her AME minister husband and became a nationally known suffragist, magazine editor and writer on the subject of giving women the right to vote. In 1896, African American women formed the National Association of Colored Women in order to push for the vote.
By this time, facing a new century, the Atlanta Constitution newspaper created a Woman Suffrage Department. Famous speeches were then in print. It was a hard-fought endeavors, as women who took to the streets were roughly treated, many thrown in jail.
The same treatment was given to women in the United Kingdom, who finally got the vote in 1918 through 1928. French women got the vote only in 1945. Women’s right to vote varied through the world and can be seen with research of each country.
Since several women’s suffrage groups had formed, it seemed important and logical to join together and, thus, the League of Women Voters in the United States was formed on Feb. 14, 1920. Its 100th anniversary will be celebrated by leagues in every state. The Rome-Floyd League of Women Voters meets monthly, at 6 p.m. on the fourth Thursday, at Daniel Hall, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
The central window of the Rome Area History Museum on Broad Street offers educational material during the month of January to inform tourists and residents more information about women winning the right to vote.