Nineteenth Amendment

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an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is the Nineteenth Amendment?

The Nineteenth Amendment is the amendment of the US Constitution that gives a person the right to vote, no matter their sex.

The Constitution of the United States is the document that serves as the fundamental law of the country.  An amendment is a change to something. An amendment to the Constitution is any text added to the original document since its ratification in 1788. The Constitution has been amended 27 times in American history.

The Nineteenth Amendment reads:

“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.

“Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

At the time it was passed, this amendment was specifically aimed at extending the right to vote to women. Although the Nineteenth Amendment is presumed to protect the voting rights of transgender and nonbinary people as well,  it has not yet been explicitly stated in a Supreme Court case.

The Nineteenth Amendment has largely stayed outside of the courts and has enjoyed an uncontroversial existence for most of its history. Today, women vote in American elections at every level. In fact, research shows more women vote than men.

Why is Nineteenth Amendment important?

In the United States, the fight for women’s suffrage can be traced back to at least the mid-1800s. In 1848, the historic Seneca Falls Convention was organized to encourage support for women’s rights. The women who were present demanded equal rights with men but even the attendants of this convention debated if women should have the right to vote.

The issue would be delayed by the outbreak of the American Civil War. After the war, many members of the women’s suffrage movement, such as Susan B. Anthony, argued that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment had given them the right to vote. The Supreme Court, though, disagreed and ruled against suffragists who had attempted to vote.

In the early 1900s, suffragists changed their strategy, instead worked toward gathering support for a Constitutional amendment. Their efforts paid off, and the Nineteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919. After a tense ratification process, the Nineteenth Amendment achieved the three-fourths vote it needed on August 18, 1920. Women have had the right to vote ever since.

Scholars will often point out that the Nineteenth Amendment largely benefited only white women at the time it was passed. Black women (and men) would continue to be denied the right to vote by racist policies such as Jim Crow laws and segregation for many decades to come. It wouldn’t be until the 1960s, with the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that Black Americans would have their right to vote protected by law.

Did you know … ?

The statehood status of Wyoming was a contributor to ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Wyoming had guaranteed the right to vote to women as a territory and refused to become a state if Congress refused to recognize this right nationally. The Wyoming legislature told Congress, “We will remain out of the Union one hundred years rather than come in without the women.” Congress relented and Wyoming’s policy quickly influenced many other states to follow in its example.

What are real-life examples of Nineteenth Amendment?

The passing of the Nineteenth Amendment is seen as an important step in the fight for women’s rights.

What other words are related to Nineteenth Amendment?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

According to the Nineteenth Amendment, the right to own property cannot be denied based on a person’s sex.

How to use Nineteenth Amendment in a sentence