V. Votes for Women: A Success

An easy way to dramatize the success of the suffrage campaign and the work yet to be done, this map illustrates what had been achieved by 1914.  Almost a quarter of the states, mostly in the west (although far less than a quarter of the population), had given women full voting rights.  Another 20 permitted partial suffrage while the states of the Old South and a sprinkling of others did not permit any voting.  Montana was the last state to give women the presidential vote by the start of World War I but it was the first state, in 1916, to elect a woman to Congress, suffragist and pacifist Jeannette Rankin. During her first term in office, she voted against the U.S. going to war in April 1917 but also got the House to pass a resolution in early 1918 to support a constitutional amendment on women suffrage. She had asked her colleagues  “How shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?”  The same resolution failed in the Senate and it would not be revived until after the war was over.