A Distance to Travel August 26, 1920. It was a day that to many was the It was perhaps one of the greatest victories of the century. Now as the polls open women and men stand next to each other and cast a vote which holds the same importance. The time and effort it took to get here shall be ingrained in every persons mind as they approach the poll booth. There was a struggle to over come and that struggle was won, in the end by forty-three words. The landmark acceptance of the Nineteenth Amendment changed the way of life in American forever, from the time before, to the time of, to the time after.
We were sixteen women sitting in sixteen chairs, longing to stand. (Dubois 250) This quote given by Mary Baker before the Passing of the Nineteenth Amendment is used to show how women were wanting and desired to stand next to me in a line of equal measures. Before 1920, life being female was assumed to be a life lived in the house watching over the children and making sure that everyone was happy. If a female stepped out of this common place it would be looked upon as being a radical, one who would never marry, and one who would be forced to live her life in the shame of the town. Needless to say it was a time where the lines between the male gender and the female gender was one of great defiance.
As Mary White Rowlandson remarked in her dying words, It is a life I am no longer willing to lead. I am old so it is better for me to die without the fight, but you are young so fight and be seen. Today replaces yesterday, for as yesterday you had nothing to live for, today you have the world. It was the new life that was waiting behind the Nineteenth Amendment, and every woman knew that it must be achieved the wall between genders had to fall and i was to fall now. The only thing standing in the way of this Amendment was the barrier of man. Ever though not every man stood in this line, there were enough to hold women down for many a decades (Mackey 34).
The men who fought for the women were forced into silence due to the egos of themselves and those around them, they were as scared as the women were to stand up, even if justice was on their side (Mackey 34). Before the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment women were shunned and placed as background settings to a male dominated stage. When the time came to push a slew of women stood to take the brut of the arguments about the ratification of the Nineteenth. As Alice Paul said, We came to be heard, not to be questioned or to be turned around.
We will answer your questions and you may turn us around, but we will prove the burden of justice in our favor then you can no longer make us leave. With that we will stay. (Foner 765) As the ladies decided that this would be their place to stay, in time and in history, the male gender parted seas and allowed the females to forge their way to the next moment in time. Till the day of the passing the Nineteenth was the only argument that could force sides to be taken among families, friends, and society in general. August 20, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed allowing women the right to vote as the equals of men. 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.
The Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to enforce the provisions of this article. (Weatherford 245) These few words gave the female race in America the right to stand with their heads high and as equal to that of their men counter parts. The next election over eight million women went to the polls to vote, they out numbered the male count by almost one third. For some men this scene would be counted as the downfall to the democracy, which we live by; still for others this was the outcome of need, each women would now be one vote of equal value.
It was a dream which I could never had thought to live to see. My mother would stand in her grave in pride. (Kraditor 240) This quote by Batch gives the bases for why of all moments this one would stand in the memories of many. It was Stanton who deserved to see this moment but she would be the one who could see nothing from her view (Kraditor 247). Every woman who was alive would remember the moment when the Nineteenth passed; the pride, the joy, even the tears of sorrow for those who died in the fight.
Now, today, nearly eighty years later this one Amendment covers over one half of the American population. To those who remember the stories each vote is filled with that same pride, joy, and tears as their mothers or grandmothers felt. In the modern time we look at that Nineteenth as being something that was fought for and won, but to history it shall forever be a legacy. We came to fight, and we won.
We came to see, and we envisioned. We came to correct the unjust, and we became justices. We came to vote, and we voted. Ida Husted Harper was right in everything she said, from then to now it has been a history of failures and victories, but in the end it shall all be made equal by law.
1776 to 1920, it almost seemed as if nothing was going to change. There were times of silence and times of uproar, but in the end it was the final poll call which told the stories whole. There were those who fought and there are those who stand to vote, we in the present shall remember the past only to live our futures under the same laws of justice. To the Nineteenth Amendment there is honor, obedience, and pride, all of which will never die in this time or in those to follow. Dubois, Ellen Carol. Woman Suffrage and Womens Right.
New York University Press. New York, 1998.304 pp. Foner, Eric. Readers Companion of American History. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston, 1991.826 pp.
Kraditor, Aileen S. The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890-1920. Norton. Washington, 1980.313 pp. Mackay, Andrew. One Half of the People: The Fight for Woman Suffrage. University of Illinois.
Chicago, 1982.123 pp. Weatherford, Doris. American Womens History: A to Z of People, Organization, Issues, and Events. Prentice Hall. New York, 1994.396 pp.