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Women Get the Right to Vote
By Kate Tuohy

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Susan B. Anthony (left) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton sit on the porch of the Anthony house in Rochester, New York.
(Photo: Susan B. Anthony House/AP Wide World)
In 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed. After years of fighting for equality, women were guaranteed the right to vote.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucy Stone were important figures in the women's rights movement.

Suffragettes, or women who campaigned for the right to vote, including Lucy Stone, fought to be protected under the 15th Amendment. Ratified in 1870, the 15th Amendment states that, "The right of citizens to vote shall not be denied on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

"There are two great oceans; in one is the black man and in the other is the woman ... I will be thankful in my soul if anybody can get out of the terrible pit," Stone said.

In the end, a woman's right to vote was not part of the 15th Amendment. They would have to wait another 50 years for this right.

The leaders of the movement were not discouraged. They continued to fight for the right to vote. Suffragettes participated in large, organized marches in cities such as Washington, D.C., and New York. These marches drew a lot of attention to the women's rights movement.
march
Suffragists participate in a march in New York City in 1915.
(Photo: AP Wide World)
Before 1920, few politicians paid any attention to the issues affecting women, but all of that changed when the 19th Amendment was passed. The 19th Amendment guaranteed that women could influence government decisions by voting. Their voices would finally be heard.

The efforts of the women's rights leaders impacted the way women were treated in all areas of American society. Women were being admitted to colleges and universities at an ever-increasing rate, and were no longer limited in their professional choices.

Another wave of feminist action took place in the 1960s. Inspired by the leaders before them, a new generation of women fought for their rights by organizing marches and protests in the nation's capital.

They fought for many things, including equality in the workplace, since men were routinely paid more than women for the same job.

The Equal Pay Act was a victory for the women who fought for equality. Signed in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, the Equal Pay Act required private employers to give men and women equal pay for equal work.

Every year in March, which is Women's History Month, Americans honor the women who fought—and continue to fight—for freedom and gender equality.

For more information about Constitution Day, visit the National Constitution Center's Web site at www.constitutioncenter.org.