“The 19th amendment forbids the states or the federal government from denying a person the right to vote on the basis of sex. This momentous act opened the door for women to vote for all offices,” stated Wehrli in a news release. “HR 96 commemorates granting women the right to vote with special attention to Illinois’ proud place in the effort. Illinois is home to storied women’s right advocates and suffragists like Jane Addams, Frances Willard, and Ruth Hanna McCormick.”
In 1913, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi to grant women the right to vote. When Congress proposed the 19th Amendment in 1919, it was sponsored by Illinois Republican Congressman James Mann. Thanks to the efforts of Ruth Hanna McCormick and Grace Wilbour Trout, Illinois was ready when it was sent to the states on June 4 and on June 10 Illinois became the first state to ratify it. With the help of activists, such as Addams and Trout, and political figures, such as McCormick, the 19th Amendment was ratified nationwide in less than eighteen months.
After the approval of HR 96 earlier this year, copies of the resolution were presented to the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives in Evanston, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation/Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
House Resolution 96 / Note Prairie State leadership in women’s suffrage
WHEREAS, Illinois is a proud leader in the story of women’s suffrage in the United States of America; and
WHEREAS, The efforts of millions of American women, starting in the nineteenth century, played a decisive role in winning the right to vote; many of these women lived and fought for suffrage in Illinois, making the Prairie State a nationwide leader in the successful effort; and
WHEREAS, Illinois women’s rights advocates included Jane Addams, Frances Willard, and Ruth Hanna McCormick; and
WHEREAS, Jane Addams’s fight for the rights of all people helped her win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931; and
WHEREAS, After founding the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), Frances Willard was honored by her fellow Illinoisans and by members of Congress by having a statue placed in the national Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.; when the statue was erected in 1905, it made her the first woman honored among America’s Capitol in Washington, D.C.;
WHEREAS, After fighting successfully for women’s suffrage in Illinois and nationwide, Ruth Hanna McCormick herself ran for an at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and, in 1928, became a Republican congresswoman from Illinois, before becoming the first woman nominated by a major party for the U.S. Senate in 1930; and
WHEREAS, Women like Addams, Willard, and McCormick faced many opponents but fought hard and recruited other fighters to help carry the torch, and, in 1913, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi to grant women the right to vote; and
WHEREAS, Starting in 1914, Illinois women were extended the right to vote for local and countywide offices, creating a strange halfway point as Prairie State election officials handed short-sheet ballots to female voters that only listed the races for which they were allowed to vote; and
WHEREAS, Organizations led by the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association, headed by Chicago’s Grace Wilbur Trout, demanded an equal ballot for women; and
WHEREAS, With the entry of the United States into World War I, women workers became an essential part of the war effort, and many men in Illinois and nationwide recognized there was not a moral case for denying women the right to an equal vote; and
WHEREAS, In May 1919, Illinois Republican Congressman James Mann sponsored the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Woman’s Suffrage Amendment, and persuaded his colleagues in the U.S. House and Senate to send it to the states for ratification; and
WHEREAS, Outsider-activists, such as Grace Wilbur Trout,and political insiders, such as Ruth Hanna McCormick, had already prepared the Illinois General Assembly for receipt of this pioneering constitutional document; and
WHEREAS, On June 10, 1919, Illinois lawmakers in Springfield made the Land of Lincoln the first state in the nation to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S.Constitution, the constitutional amendment that granted the right to vote to women in all elections nationwide, including federal elections for offices such as U.S. President; and
WHEREAS, With the help of political efforts and publicity organized in press centers, such as Chicago, by activists, such as Addams and Trout, and political figures, such as McCormick,the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified nationwide in less than eighteen months; this made it possible for American women to vote for President in the election of 1920 and, again, in every election since; and
WHEREAS, Illinois remembers the work carried out by fighters for women’s votes one hundred years ago; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we commemorate the approaching l00th anniversary on June 10, 2019, of the ratification by the State of Illinois of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we remember in this commemoration the hopes and dreams of the hundreds of thousands of Illinois women of all political parties who organized themselves, from the 1870s into the 1910s, into the half-century-long effort to win the right to vote in America; and be it further
RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be presented to the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, to the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives in Evanston, and to the Robert R. McCormick Foundation/Cantigny Park in Wheaton in commemoration and observance of the differences between, and the united desires of, the pioneer fighters for women’s suffrage in Illinois.
—from the Illinois General Assembly Website
Editor’s Note / We are grateful that during our childhood, local issues, economics and empathy were predominant around-the-dinner-table family conversations every evening. Those conversations also emphasized education, freedom and the importance of the right to vote. A story called “I, Pencil,” written in 1958 by Leonard E. Read also found its way into our discussions. When time permits, “I, Pencil” also is worth a read for a little economic education. —PN