Lecture Description

2020 marked the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. This talk focuses on the political and legislative history of the 19th amendment to argue that we must understand women’s suffrage in the context of the Civil War and Reconstruction. First introduced in Congress in 1878 as a corrective to the 15th Amendment (which outlawed race as a reason to bar citizens from voting), what became the 19th Amendment was understood by suffrage allies and their opponents in terms of the 15th from its very inception. Similarly, when Congressmen debated the 19th Amendment in 1918-1919 the overriding objection was race—they did not want to enfranchise black women in the South or prompt the federal government to enforce the 15th Amendment. When the 19th Amendment did pass in June 1919, it was not because Congressmen and white suffrage leaders thought it would enfranchise women of color – it was because they knew it would not.


Civil War and Reconstruction Women's Rights, Activism, and Suffrage

ALL TOPICS & TITLES: Go back to all topics and titles.

More Distinguished Lectureship Program Resources