The official acknowledgement that gave women the right to vote came to a successful resolution 100 years ago this month. After the state of Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920, the two-thirds requirement to make it law was satisfied. Eight days later, the Constitution was formally modified to reflect the change.
Historical documentation shows that the suffrage movement started in 1848 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized a meeting of 200 suffragists in Seneca Falls, NY, and adopted a resolution: “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.”
However, there is strong evidence that the notion of voting rights for women might have begun even earlier, before America’s independence. In a March 31, 1776 letter written by Abigail Adams to her husband, John Adams, the nation’s future second president, she wrote “If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebelion and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends One Half the People: The Fight for Woman Suffrage by Anne Firor Scott and Andrew MacKay Scott.
This is the third part of a continuing series of blog posts with author David Bruce Smith about Abigail and John Adams.
On August 21, 1959, another star was added to the American flag. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a proclamation, which admitted Hawaii into the union as the 50th state.
According to The Washington Historical Quarterly, traders from Boston were probably the first Americans to visit the Islands in 1789; during the succeeding centuries, commerce between the American colonists, planters and missionaries proliferated, and throngs of people made the Islands their home; by 1894, the newly formed Republic of Hawaii was turned into an American protectorate.
For more information about the Aloha State, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Unsustainable Empire: Alternative Histories of Hawai‘i Statehood by Dean Itsuji Saranillio.
On August 28, 1963 America’s most prominent civil rights leader — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – delivered the words that have gone down in history—perhaps—as the most stirring call for the end of racial segregation and discrimination: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’.”
The event took place in front of the Lincoln Memorial, surrounded by 250,000 persons–the largest audience in the history of the civil rights movement. Later, The New York Times said the speech played an important role in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborne Carson.
History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.