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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Ratification and Beyond

I consider myself the first woman victim after the Ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment north of the Mason & Dixon Line.

—Mary Church Terrell, 1920

Within four months of congressional passage in June 1919, seventeen states had ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, but victory required another nineteen states to approve the measure. After a wild and draining campaign in Tennessee, the thirty-sixth state was won. On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the amendment into law, enfranchising millions of American women who had not previously had the right to vote. Yet this victory was limited. The amendment did not cover Native Americans, women living in some of the U.S. territories, women of Asian descent, and others excluded from obtaining citizenship. In addition, many African American women were systematically prevented from voting, notably in the South, until the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Extending women’s rights, through educated use of their votes and efforts to pass an equal rights amendment, began immediately after ratification and continues to this day.