The Texas Ratification of the 19th Amendment
August 25, 2020
Last week we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which extended the right to vote to women in America. This week we'll take a closer look at Texas's role in the ratification process. Follow Texas’s journey to the ratification of the 19th Amendment with this selection of resources available online and in SLL’s collection.
Women's Suffrage in Texas: A Brief History
The campaign for women’s suffrage reached every corner of the country, and as we commemorate the journey to universal suffrage, we also celebrate the long process of state ratification that led to the 19th Amendment’s acceptance.
Before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reached the states for their ratification in 1919, Texas’s fight for women’s suffrage was already well underway. Like the national campaign, the Texas women’s suffrage movement found its roots before the Civil War but failed to gain political traction for many decades. The issue of women’s suffrage was first raised during the Constitutional Convention of 1868-1869, but the proposal was struck down by a vote of 52-13.
Texas women’s suffrage efforts first gained political traction with the support of Governor William P. Hobby, who served from 1917 to 1921. Suffrage activists pledged their support for Hobby in return for his support on a bill that would allow Texas women primary suffrage in state elections. During the 4th Called Session of the 35th Legislature in the spring of 1918, the Texas Legislature approved House Bill 105, an amendment to the Texas Constitution that allowed all Texas women the right to vote in state primary elections and nominating conventions. House Bill 107, a proposed constitutional amendment that restricted primary suffrage for Texas women to citizens of the United States, also passed during this session. Senate Joint Resolution 7 was another proposed constitutional amendment that would have extended universal suffrage to all Texas women. Proposed during the Regular Session of the 36th Legislature, the constitutional amendment was defeated in May 1919.
Just one month later, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (also known as the “Susan B. Anthony” Amendment) was passed by the U.S. Senate on June 4th, 1919, and moved on to state ratification. The legislature convened for the 2nd Called Session of the 36th Legislature on June 23rd, 1919, to discuss the amendment and passed House Joint Resolution 1 on June 28th, becoming the ninth state of the Union and first Southern state to ratify the 19th Amendment.
Here are some ways that Texans are celebrating and learning about the legacy of women's suffrage in Texas:
Texas Women and the Right to Vote The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has created an online exhibit of photographs, documents, and other primary resources that provide a closer look into Texas women’s campaign for suffrage.
Texas Women’s Foundation 19th Amendment Centennial Project The Texas Women’s Foundation is commemorating the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification with their initiative Count Her In, featuring resources, activities, and more that encourage participation from a new generation of voters.
Texas Events - Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Celebrate the centennial with these events, activities, and initiatives happening throughout Texas organized by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.
Austin Celebrates Women’s Suffrage Austinites can join in the celebration of the amendment’s anniversary with this selection of resources that highlight Austin women’s contributions to the women’s suffrage movement.
You may be interested in these resources available at SLL on suffrage in Texas:
The Weight of Their Voices: Southern Women and Political Leverage in the 1920s by Schuyler, Lorraine Gates. UNC Press. 2006. In this e-book available on HeinOnline, the author examines the effects that the 19th Amendment had on the political and social landscape of the South in the first years following the amendment’s ratification.
Check out the library’s Voting in Texas Research Guide for further information about Texas laws concerning voting. This guide offers comprehensive information on who can vote in the state of Texas.