In July 1848, the first women’s rights conference was held in Seneca Falls, New York. Elizabeth Cady Stanton along with three women opened a public meeting to discuss the “social, civil and religious condition of women,” as noted in the Report of the Women’s Rights Convention. Both men and women signed the Declaration of Sentiments calling for equality for women.
The western area of the country was generally more receptive to women’s suffrage than its eastern counterpart. Washington territory permitted women to vote in 1883, but the territorial Supreme Court rescinded the right in 1888; Washington was admitted to the Union in 1889 without giving women the right to vote. In 1890, Wyoming became the first state admitted to the Union that granted women full rights to suffrage. Other western states followed, including California in 1911.
Seventy-two years after Seneca Falls, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920, and certified on August 26. Once certified, the Amendment gave women the right to vote.
In contrast, the Equal Rights Amendment was proposed in 1923 and passed by Congress in 1972. It still has not been ratified.
Read more about the right to vote and the Nineteenth Amendment:
- Hull, N.E.H., The Woman Who Dared to Vote: The Trial of Susan B. Anthony
- Clift, Eleanor, Founding Mothers and the Nineteenth Amendment
Take the National Women’s History Museum Quiz on Women’s Equality Day!