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Republicans Served As The Catalysts For the 19th Amendment

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Washington, August 26, 2020 | comments

I hear repeatedly from my constituents that students are not learning the history of our country, and it is truly unfortunate. Where we are as a country today is a direct result of our past. The significant events that shaped the United States are not being taught, or explained, in a fashion that is reflective of the facts. As a direct result, modern opinions that have been formed are mired in inaccuracies. It is high time that the record is corrected, and the conversation is set straight.

A century ago, a monumental shift occurred within the Constitution that undeniably changed the course of our democracy: the passage of the 19th Amendment. Today, students across the United States flip through pages of textbooks and read about how this change came to fruition. However, when it comes to learning about the pivotal role that Republican suffragists played – in particular, Republicans within Congress who helped usher in this change – the ink runs dry. While the campaign for a woman’s right to vote is commonly referred to as a “progressive movement”, it is often misconstrued as a movement that was spurred by the platform of today’s Democrat Party. The simple truth is that history tells a different story.

On May 21, 1919, an Illinois Republican by the name of James Mann reintroduced the 19th Amendment in the House of Representatives and it passed by a vote of 304 to 89. It was a decisive victory, and the split among Democrats and Republicans was staggering. In all, over 200 Republicans voted in favor of the 19th Amendment, while only 102 Democrats voted alongside them. Subsequently, on June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 56 to 25. Once again, the split among Democrats and Republicans was notable: eighty-two percent of Republicans voted in favor of the amendment while only forty-one percent of their Democrat colleagues concurred.

The very next year in March of 1920, 36 states ratified the 19th Amendment, and the infighting within state legislatures was steadily approaching a crescendo. Many Democrat-controlled legislatures opposed ratification, and out of those 36 states that ratified, 26 were Republican. Following ratification, over eight million women voted in the November presidential election that same year. What was the result? A 26.2 percentage-point victory for Warren G. Harding, a proud Ohio Republican who was a staunch advocate for women’s suffrage. This is not a mere coincidence; it was a direct reflection of how Republicans helped lead the charge for women’s rights.

It’s fitting that we have this conversation, but more importantly, it’s paramount that the record is clear on where both parties stood during this saga in our nation’s history. We owe it to the men and women who fought to safeguard women’s rights, and we would be doing them a tremendous disservice if we let their work – and the stories of their victories – become deviated from the truth. One of the indispensable tools that I turn to quite often for perspective is the Library of Congress. With so many resources that are readily available to the public, you can view our nation’s history through a purely objective lens. History is the ultimate arbiter of who deserves credit for resolving the significant events that have helped shape our country.

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