On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women across the United States the right to vote. After almost 100 years of suffrage efforts, this momentous milestone was finally achieved. Just like women across the country, the women of Redlands, CA fought passionately to win their voting rights. Women’s suffrage was accomplished through the determination of individuals who organized rallies, distributed leaflets, published local newspaper articles and national magazines, and much more.
Birth of the 19th Amendment
The 19th Amendment was first proposed to the Senate in 1878 by Aaron A. Sargent, a California Senator. This proposal, however, was continually defeated, and women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton saw a need for a more public suffrage movement to gain support for the amendment.
Many suffrage leaders focused on a nation-wide effort, while others narrowed their movements to achieve state-specific voting rights. This would result in a number of states granting the vote to women before the 19th Amendment was passed, including Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Kansas, Alaska, and California.
Suffrage in Redlands
In Redlands, suffrage was a popular topic. The city’s earliest newspaper,The Citrograph, was a supporter of the vote for women. Co-editor Mary Lynde Craig wrote a column about suffrage in Redlands in 1893. Craig was very involved in Southern California, holding suffrage meetings and presentations in Redlands and Los Angeles regarding efforts to win the vote and political education for women.
The state of California voted on women’s suffrage on October 12, 1911. In preparation, the Redlands Political Equality League sent out 6,445 letters, distributed 7,000 leaflets, and organized 5 rallies. The Redlands Daily Facts October 9, 1911 issue recommended to its readers to vote yes to women’s suffrage.
The women of California won the vote by a very narrow margin. The Redlands Daily Facts kept residents updated on the suffrage proposal reporting how close the vote was, with Redlands passing women’s suffrage by only 26 votes. By 1912, Redlands’s registered voters included 1,761 men and 1,497 women.
Nationwide, women continued the fight for voting rights. Realizing the difficulties inherent in a state-by-state approach, the National American Woman Suffrage Association and National Woman’s Party instituted a national agenda to pass a federal amendment. Their efforts were interrupted during the First World War when women across the country aided the war effort both at home and abroad. Their selfless service during the war won suffragists greater support for the amendment, including the endorsement of President Woodrow Wilson who addressed the Senate on the amendment on September 30, 1918, saying: “We have made partners of the women in this war; shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?”
The 19th Amendment passed in the House of Representatives in January 1918 and the Senate in June 1919. With passage in both houses of Congress, the work shifted toward obtaining approval from sufficient states for full ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to vote for the amendment, providing the 3/4 approval needed for certification. The 19th Amendment was certified by U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on August 26, 1920, ending the long, hard struggle for women’s suffrage.