The 19th Amendment by the Numbers
by Katherine Kitterman, Better Days 2020 Historical Director
September 17, 2019
This Constitution Day, Better Days presents a look at the numbers on our favorite constitutional amendment (the 19th, of course). Constitution Day commemorates the day in 1787 that the Constitutional Convention delegates in Philadelphia signed the document they had drafted that summer. When that document went into effect as the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it left the matter of voting requirements up to the individual states, but three amendments passed later that prevented states from denying voting rights for various reasons:
- The 15th Amendment (1870) made it illegal for states to deny or restrict voting rights “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”. (Many states got around this Amendment by instituting poll taxes, literacy tests, and other regulations that effectively prevented black men–and later women–from voting)
- The 19th Amendment (1920) prohibited discrimination in voting laws “on account of sex.”
- The 26th Amendment (1971) lowered the voting age to 18.
- 10,000+: The number of amendments that have been proposed since the Constitution’s ratification in 1789.
- 33: The number of constitutional amendments Congress has passed and sent to the states for ratification.
- 27: The number of constitutional amendments that have been ratified and become law.
- 1: The number of constitutional amendments that have been repealed (Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, was repealed after 14 years by the 21st Amendment in 1933).
19th Amendment Timeline
1878: First year the 19th Amendment was introduced into Congress. This amendment for women’s suffrage would have become the 16th Amendment if it had been ratified in the next 35 years. Instead, three other Amendments became law first: federal income tax (1913), direct election of Senators (1913), and Prohibition (1919).
- 1886: First year the proposed women’s suffrage amendment reached the floor of the U.S. Senate for debate. It was defeated.
- 1915: Year Utah Senator George Sutherland introduced the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” into the Senate. It didn’t pass.
- 1919: Year that both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the 19th Amendment, sending it to the states for ratification.
- 1920: Year the 19th Amendment became law: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
- 1984: Year the last state, Mississippi, ratified the 19th Amendment.
Women’s Voting Statistics
- 6: Number of presidential elections in which Utah women cast ballots before 1920 (from 1896 onward).
- 12: Number of states where women had “presidential suffrage”–the right to vote for president but nothing else–before 1920.
- 16: Number of states with full suffrage for women before 1920.
- 36: Number of states that ratified the 19th Amendment for it to become law. Utah was the 17th state to do so, and Tennessee was the 36th.
- 41: Number of years Utah women had voted before the 19th Amendment became law (1870-1886; 1896-1919).
- 168: Number of American women who were imprisoned for their suffrage activism before the 19th Amendment passed.
- 2,000: Number of women who participated in the National Woman’s Party’s protest for suffrage in front of the White House. Women from 30 states, including 2 from Utah, took turns holding banners asking President Woodrow Wilson to support a women’s suffrage amendment. They became known as the “Silent Sentinels” and many were arresting for “obstructing traffic.”
- 27 million: Number of voting-age women who were U.S. citizens in 1920. Theoretically, all of these women could have voted once the 19th Amendment became law, but racially discriminatory citizenship and voting laws prevented many women of color from accessing the ballot box for many years to come.
- 8 million: Estimated number of women who voted in the 1920 presidential election.