Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Hannah. Hannah Wonders, “why did it take so long for women to earn the right to vote?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Hannah!
When was the last time you voted? Of course, if you’re under 18, you’ve never voted in a local, state, or national election. But that doesn’t mean you haven’t done so at other times. Perhaps you have voted on an issue in your classroom at school. You may have even taken part in a mock election.
And what about at home? Has your family ever voted on what to do for fun on a Sunday afternoon? Maybe you’ve even voted for your favorite song by calling a local radio station.
Many people think the right to vote—called “suffrage”—is the most important right that Americans have. What do you think?
Today, all American citizens who are 18 or older have the right to vote in elections. When people vote, they make their voices heard. They help choose the leaders who will represent them in all levels of government.
However, not all people have always had the right to vote in America. For example, women weren’t allowed to vote until 1920. The fight to change this was a long battle. Activists, including Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth, worked for nearly 100 years to win suffrage for women.
Their efforts began in the decades before the Civil War. The movement gained attention early on, but it lost steam during the Civil War. Women’s suffrage came into focus again after the 15th Amendment gave Black men the right to vote in 1870. Still, it would be another 20 years before Idaho and Utah would become the first states to give women the right to vote. They did so just before the end of the 19th century.
The women’s suffrage movement continued to move slowly, though. It encountered plenty of opposition from groups who did not want to extend the right to vote to women. Although the movement saw its progress slowed by another war—World War I—it also used women’s work on behalf of the war effort to argue in favor of women’s suffrage.
Finally, on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. It gave American women the right to vote. This was an important step in securing equal rights for all Americans.
Even after suffrage was granted to women, many still faced adversity at the ballot box. This was especially true for women of color. Black women and men continued to be denied their right to vote through racist practices like poll taxes and literacy tests. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to further secure their suffrage.
In recent national elections, as few as 51 percent of eligible voters have voted. This means that only about half of the people able to vote are choosing who will govern everyone. It’s a hard-won right of U.S. citizens. Will you do your part and vote when you have the chance?
Standards: C3.D2.Civ.12, C3.D2.Civ.14, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.4