Tuesday, September 30, 2014



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On September 30, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson gave an address to Congress in support of the proposed 19th Amendment which would guarantee the right to vote nation-wide for women.

The 19th Amendment had been approved by the House of Representatives, but at the time of Wilson's speech had not yet been approved by the Senate.

President Wilson Speaks to Congress
Library of Congress Photo

In his first term, President Wilson had been perceived as ambivalent on the issue of woman suffrage and the White House had been besieged by pickets protesting Wilson's lack of support.  Many suffragettes were arrested and sent to jail.

New York City Suffrage Parade
October 23, 1915
Library of Congress Photo

On September 30, 1918, however, the President's support had been won.  He said to the Members of Congress...

"I regard the concurrence of the Senate in the...extension of suffrage to women as vitally essential....Both of our great national parties are equality of suffrage for the women of this country."

Mr. Wilson continued...

"We have made partners of the women in the war.   Shall we admit them only a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?"

Woodrow Wilson  linked woman suffrage to the effort to win World War I.

"The tasks of the women lie at the very heart of the war and I know how much stronger that heart will beat if you do this just thing and show our women that you trust in them as much as you...depend on them."

The President's words apparently fell on deaf ears.  The Senate did not pass the 19th Amendment in 1918 but it finally became the law of the land on August 18, 1920 when the state of TENNESSEE was the 36th and deciding state to ratify.

Tennessee State Capitol
Nashville, Tennessee
Photo by John White (2011)


President Woodrow Wilson: Address to the Senate of the 19th Amendment, September 30, 1918,