On August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified by Congress, declaring that “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.” Suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frances Harper, and many others fought for decades to secure the franchise for women. In effect, those female citizens called upon America to fulfill its own promise of equality under the law, as Susan B. Anthony boldly declaimed in her speech, “The Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States”.
Anthony simply articulates the “natural right” at the heart of our Constitutional regime–a right that must exist for both men and women: “The history of our country the past hundred years, has been a series of assumptions and usurpations of power over woman, in direct opposition to the principles of just government.” She and others embraced and utilized the principles of America to criticize and justly correct our nation’s laws.
As today marks the centennial of this pivotal moment in American history, two things deserve to be done. First, we ought to remember those individuals who were responsible for the ratification of this crucial amendment. Second, let us as American citizens continue to pursue the Declaration’s principle of equality under the law, working to increase greater civic virtue among all citizens.