Historic Happenings: Welcoming Women’s History Month

Historic Happenings: Welcoming Women’s History Month

March is officially here, and that means Women’s History Month is now underway. This month and every month, we owe a great deal of appreciation to the women who fought tirelessly for the rights and roles that the women of today now enjoy. From imaginative innovators to advocates, inventors, and more, there are countless women whose stories inspire us to break the glass ceiling and ascend to new heights. Throughout the month of March, we will be diving into the individuals and ideas which have moved the fight for women’s rights forward over the years. Today, let’s take a look back at New Jersey’s suffrage movement and discover how women won the right to vote here in the Capital City and all over the Garden State.

New Jersey’s history with women’s suffrage is a curious case, with the right to vote for women dating all the way back to the 1700s! In 1790, when establishing the right to vote in the fledging Garden State, the New Jersey Assembly became the very first state in the union to specifically outline “he or she” in their founding documents when detailing who was able to vote. While this initially only applied to 7 out of 13 of New Jersey’s counties, our home state played a role in codifying the right to vote for women for the very first time in the United States’ history. Just a few years later, in 1797, these rights were further enshrined with the caveat that voters no longer had to demonstrate a “clear estate”, or clear evidence of property ownership. While married women were still unable to vote, single women were afforded the ability to cast their ballots.

While offering women the right to vote was a revolutionary step at the time, this unfortunately did not last. In 1807, the New Jersey Assembly backpedaled on this progressive stance, stripping the right to vote from all except white males. This backsliding, while a deeply unfortunate scenario for women and other disenfranchised populations, was not uncommon for the times. However, these grave injustices sparked a fire in women in New Jersey and all throughout the nation, setting the stage for the fight of a lifetime.

Over the better part of the next century, women in New Jersey and all throughout the nation began laying the groundwork for what would eventually evolve into the women’s suffrage movement. Momentum and motivation continued to grow and in 1912, a referendum was officially introduced, with a woman’s right to vote once again back on the ballot. While this and a later referendum in 1915 were ultimately unsuccessful, these pushes for political and civic equality did mark a significant shift in the suffrage movement, helping the cause grow ever-closer to its eventual finish line.

Just a few short years later, on June 4, 1919, the 19th amendment was officially passed, enshrining a woman’s right to vote in the US Constitution. New Jersey was the 29th state to ratify the 19th, and on February 9, 1920, women were officially granted the right to vote in the Garden State. While the fight for equality continues to rage on in America and throughout the world, granting women civic and political equality was a meaningful first step in liberating and empowering women to reach their full potential. As we continue to learn about these fearless females throughout Women’s History Month, may we never forget those who paved the way and fought for the ability to have these conversations today.

101 years ago today, New Jersey ratified the 19th amendment - New Jersey Globe

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