JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In honor of the 100th anniversary of Missouri ratifying the 19th Amendment, ultimately giving women the right to vote, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft presented a proclamation in the Capitol Rotunda Monday.
The proclamation, signed by Republican Gov. Mike Parson on June 10, was presented to members of the League of Women Voters of Missouri and others who traveled to the event from all across the state. It was in honor of the League of Women Voters of Missouri “which arose from the Missouri Suffrage Association [and] has worked to educate and empower voters since its founding in October 1919,” the proclamation stated.
On July 3, 1919, then-Gov. Frederick Gardner, a Democrat, signed a bill making Missouri the 11th state to ratify the 19th Amendment.
“What we’re celebrating here today occured because people like you, quite a while ago, didn’t listen when they were told that it couldn’t happen, when they were probably told to mind their own business or quit causing trouble,” Ashcroft told the group of mostly women gathered in the Capitol Monday. “Maybe that’s the greatest thing about this: It’s not just what they accomplished, but to celebrate the character, the integrity, the fortitude of individuals who saw what was right, although it had not yet happened. And they worked to make it happen.”
Ashcroft told The Missouri Times the work suffragettes did more than 100 years ago to push for the right to vote was “beneficial to our country and our society.”
“It’s helpful to understand the work that people did in history for us to be able to have the life and government that we have,” he said.
Evelyn Maddox, president of the League of Women Voters of Missouri, said Missourians should be proud it was one of the earlier states to ratify women’s suffrage.
“This event is important in that it inspires our members statewide to keep on working to ensure that elections stay free, fair, and accessible. We are inspired by the work of the suffragettes,” Maddox told The Missouri Times, noting many of the members in attendance wore white to the event.
Next, the organization — which is also nearly 100 years old — is focused on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing rights cannot be denied on the basis of sex. It needs 38 states (three-fourths of those in the nation) to ratify the measure, and Maddox hopes Missouri will be that final state.
Earlier this year, the state celebrated the 100th anniversary of Missouri women gaining the right to vote in the state. Before the 19th Amendment was officially adopted, the Missouri General Assembly passed legislation allowing women to vote for president and vice president in the 1920 election. That bill was signed by Gardner on April 5, 1919.
The bill was the first introduced in the new state Capitol and was largely championed by the League of Women Voters, then the Missouri Women Suffrage Association.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in March 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City. Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S. and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa. She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.