The Republican Party pioneered the right of women to vote and was consistent in its support throughout the long campaign for acceptance. It was the first major party to advocate equal rights for women and the principle of equal pay for equal work.
The Women's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848 marked the beginning of the women's suffrage movement in the United States. Two years later there was a nationwide meeting in Worcester, Mass.
By 1870, the Massachusetts Republican State Convention had already seated two suffragettes, Lucy Stone and Mary A. Livermore, as delegates. In addition, the National Republican Convention of 1872 approved a resolution favoring the admission of women to "wider fields of usefulness" and added that "the honest demand of this class of citizens for additional rights ... should be treated with respectful consideration."
Wyoming, the state that pioneered women's suffrage, sent two women, Therese A. Jenkins and Cora G. Carleton, to the 1892 Republican Convention in Minneapolis as alternate delegates. This was the first time women were seated at a Republican National Convention.
This convention was also the first to be addressed by a woman, J. Ellen Foster, chairman of the Women's Republican Association of the United States. A strong believer in organization, Foster said her association had prepared work plans for women's involvement in national politics. Copies were given to each delegate and alternate. "We are here to help you," she declared, "and we are here to stay."
At the request of Susan B. Anthony, Sen. A.A. Sargent, a Republican from California, introduced the 19th Amendment in 1878. Sargent's amendment (also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment) was defeated four times by a Democrat-controlled Senate.
When the Republican Party regained control of Congress in 1919, the US House of Representatives finally passed the amendment with a vote of 304-89 and sent it to the Senate with a vote of 56 to 25.
When the Amendment was submitted to the states, 26 of the 36 states that ratified it had Republican legislatures. Of the nine states that voted against ratification, eight were Democratic. Twelve states, all Republican, had given women full suffrage before the federal amendment was ratified.
(Source: Office of Co-Chairman, Republican National Committee)
Tennessee was the final state to ratify the amendment in their General Assembly. The Tennessee General Assembly was tied 48-48 on the amendment until a young man, Harry Thomas Burn, changed his vote to "Yes" after his mother had requested him to approve the amendment. The U.S. Secretary of State certified the amendment on Aug. 26, 1920.
As we remember the heroic efforts of the Republican women who paved the way, we renew our commitment to exercising this right by making a difference in the November elections.
Find a way to get involved. Participate in a phone bank for a local or state candidate. Donate to a candidate you believe in. Walk precincts in your community. Talk to your friends and family about the candidates and the issues you will be supporting.
Let's continue the powerful legacy of Republican women!