Celebrate Women's Suffrage

By Claudine Zap

Today 90 years ago, American women won the right to vote.

The concept that women should have the vote was brought up at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York in 1848. Women got the idea to have their own convention for women's rights after being left out of the anti-slavery movement in England .

It only took some 70 years after that to get suffrage off the ground. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the convention, where in a stroke of ingenious marketing, they re-wrote the Declaration of Independence to reflect women's rights, including property rights and voting.


But 1848 was just the beginning: After all, ratification didn't come about till 1920. It was a hard-won fight, and not a pretty one: Activists endured harsh prison sentences that included forced-feedings, and were assaulted when picketing by outraged bystanders. Susan B. Anthony was even arrested when she voted as a protest. The political part was just as hard, with women first turning to the states after Congress passed -- the majority of states were required to ratify the 19th amendment.

The young representative Harry Burn from Tennessee switched his vote to agree to ratify after receiving a note from his mother asking him to give women the vote. He did, and now we do.

A higher percentage of women vote than men, and Nancy Pelosi -- love her or loathe her -- is majority leader, and third in line for the president. Not that women don't still have far to go. But on this day at least, it is possible to look back to thank some brave souls for giving women a vote when they didn't have a voice.