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  • The Not-So-Revolutionary Nineteenth Amendment

    Thursday marks the 91st anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. We often hear that the amendment gives women the right to vote. But that is not the case. Women were exercising the right to vote long before 1920.

    At the time of the Founding, women were voting in New Jersey—a first in recorded history! Wyoming, first as a territory and then as a state, has always granted women suffrage (Wyoming became a state in 1890, 30 years prior to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment).  In fact, prior to the ratification of the 19th amendment, 15 states allowed women full suffrage and another 13 states allowed women to vote in presidential elections. By 1920, only seven states entirely denied women the right to vote. Thus, while universal women’s suffrage was not guaranteed until the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, women had long since exercised the right to vote.

    The U.S. Constitution’s language is gender-neutral. It neither forbids nor requires women to vote. In fact, the Constitution grants the states—not Congress—the power to determine the qualifications of voters for federal elections. Consequently, the question of women’s suffrage was, until the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, determined on a state by state basis.

    The Nineteenth Amendment did not introduce a revolutionary practice into American politics. The Declaration of Independence did. It articulated the principles of human equality, natural rights, and the consent of the governed, that enabled the citizens of both sexes to select their political leaders. On this anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, then we should commemorate the amendment that codified women’s vote, but, more importantly, celebrate the principles that enabled it.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to The Not-So-Revolutionary Nineteenth Amendment

    1. Bobbie says:

      and to thee we commemorate! America is so cool! She thought of everything in honor of HUMAN: freedom, dignity and respect, we were brought up to believe would grow stronger!!!!! how sickened she's become by selfishness and indignations of man's free will…

    2. devildog6771 says:

      This is a very good post. I also read in the history of the Indian tribe I am descended from that Indians and Blacks also could vote in some states. It wasn't until it became inconvenient politically that those Indians lost that right around or after the Civil War. Can you go over the 3/5's rule later? It is an interesting subject. I keep hearing the socialist/communist talk about how the Constitution is an "outdated piece of literature, representative of its time!" It sickens me. The Constitution clearly spells out all our rights and freedom and that they are endowed by God by man. We have been modeled by nations all over the world. So, why would anyone want to destroy the one document in History that has had the most positive impact on imparting the rights of man [as in mankind, not gender]? I have gotten posts and emails from all over the world asking me what is wrong with Americans that they are so willingly allowing their rights and freedoms to be taken away by people who want to use a system that has never worked, has caused millions of death, and extreme poverty, and total control over its people. It has never done anything but destroy human dignity!

      An Indian Chief told a news reporter that if you want to see communism in its purest form, look at the Reservation life of nearly every Indian Tribe in North America. The Government, Bureau of Indian Affairs, provides everything, the members own nothing, as a result they have nothing. no hope, no aspirations, no quality of life, little or no dignity! Only one tribe, never granted tribal status, is very prosperous with their own banks, their own homes, well educated, and free in the real sense of the word!

      • gunnysteve says:

        Semper Fi Devil Dog, There's a really good explanation to the 3/5 rule in the Heritage Guide to the Constitution.

    3. devildog6771 says:

      This is a very good post. I also read in the history of the Indian tribe I am descended from that Indians and Blacks also could vote in some states. It wasn't until it became inconvenient politically that those Indians lost that right around or after the Civil War. Can you go over the 3/5's rule later? It is an interesting subject. I keep hearing the socialist/communist talk about how the Constitution is an "outdated piece of literature, representative of its time!" It sickens me. The Constitution clearly spells out all our rights and freedom and that they are endowed by God by man. We have been modeled by nations all over the world. So, why would anyone want to destroy the one document in History that has had the most positive impact on imparting the rights of man [as in mankind, not gender]? I have gotten posts and emails from all over the world asking me what is wrong with Americans that they are so willingly allowing their rights and freedoms to be taken away by people who want to use a system that has never worked, has caused millions of death, and extreme poverty, and total control over its people. It has never done anything but destroy human dignity!

    4. Greg L says:

      Hey, did you know that slavery was illegal in many states before the Emancipation Proclamation? So it wasn't really a big deal when Abe Lincoln freed millions of people from being enslaved, raped, abused, tortured, maimed, murdered or a husband/father have their wife or daughters be forced to have intercourse with their master and families broken apart. You have got to be kidding me with this nonsense minimizing the accomplishment or importance of the 19th amendment. Why don't you just admit that you think, like Michelle B, that women should be subservient to men?

      Don't hide – just let the American public see how illogical and disingenuous you are. Btw, it was Thomas Jefferson (who didn't believe in an "intervening, personal" deity or that Jesus was a god (see the Jefferson Bible)), who said we should revisit our nations's founding documents as the times changed to keep up as the nation matured and grew and circumstances changed. The word God does not appear in the US Constitution and the references to "Nature's God" and other God references in the Dec of Independence were not meant to refer to a particular God (whether it be Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Veda, etc. – see the Treaty of Tripoli). Jefferson, like Washington, John Adams, James Madison (who wrote the Constitution) were Deists. Deists believed that a supreme "being" created the world, but moved on immediately and had nothing whatsoever to do with our daily lives. It was merely an acknowledgement that they didn't know how the world was created, so they figured some kind of "creator" must have done it. Now, of course, with Darwin and Stephen Hawking (you know, science – which Jefferson loved) we know there was no need for a "creator" – everything is explained by the laws of Nature.

      I know I won't change your mind about anything, but those are the facts.

      • concernedlikeu says:

        did you know that America was the last country to have slavery and the first to get rid of it? Did you know it still exists in many parts of the world today? Did you know there were white people that brought black people in as family? did you know that ALL men of some abuse, kill, torture, rape women and their children? Continuing today? No one can control anyone elses behavior but their own. Freewill! Some choose their freedom of weakness, others build strength…

        Explained by the laws of nature? Nature doesn't explain where she came from and either does anybody else? Still don't know what came first the chicken or the egg? Or why women have to menstruate to conceive a birth?
        Facts are facts. Opinions are opinions. Can you separate the two in your comment?

    5. Greg L says:

      Fascinating how I tried to post a response politely disagreeing with the above comments and offering facts for my position, but the Heritage Foundation, the so-called Freedom org has chosen not to post it!

      So much for freedom of speech, polite speech. Heritage, thy name is hypocrisy!!!

      Of course, this will never be published either!

      • Randy S says:

        I see both of your posts here. Perhaps if you removed your politically and harshly partisan blinders you could see that they were not diminishing the 19th amendment. They were simply clarifying the fact that the groundwork for women's suffrage was laid long before within the states. Most of them (and I argue eventually all of them) didn't need federal government intervention to see the right decision.

    6. Nate Levin says:

      The 19th amendment, and most of the state enfranchisements that you mention, were the product of an enormous mass movement that really hit its stride only in the decade leading up to 1920. "Century of Struggle", by Eleanor Flexner, is still the indispensable book about the suffrage movement in the U.S.

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