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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Postcard Thursday: The 19th Amendment

courtesy of the Library of Congress
On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote across America.

The postcard above dates from ca. 1913, and was just one of many tools used by suffrage activists to convince the general public that women deserved a say in electoral politics. Though women were granted the right to vote in Wyoming as early as 1869, the campaign to open up the polls to all women was a long, hard battle.

A group of men -- and a few women -- gather at a women's suffrage rally at Park Row in Lower Manhattan. (They are clustered around the statue of Benjamin Franklin that still sits in front of Pace University.) Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Of course, on the other side, anti-suffrage activists had long waged a campaign to keep women from the voting booth. In this image from 1880 (below), the illustrator shows caricatures of "women dressing and interacting in society as men; drinking; voting for handsome candidates; driving ugly men from the polls; and a domestic scene showing a man taking care of children."

images courtesy of the Library of Congress

In 1915, the satirical magazine Puck took aim at men who opposed universal suffrage. If voting were opened to women, how many all-male bastions would be left?

The passage of the 19th Amendment was a major milestone, but as Slate recently pointed out, it didn't actual result in universal suffrage: poll taxes, literacy tests, and other barriers made it difficult for many women to exercise their rights.

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