On this day 100 years ago, women in the United States would have just earned the right to vote a mere ten days prior. The Suffrage Movement spanned decades, and most of the original suffragists who began their campaign in the mid 1800s would not live to see their efforts come to fruition in 1920. In order to push forward the 19th amendment after decades of struggle, members of the Suffrage Movement had to employ many political tactics to achieve their goal.
This image is from 1917, just three years after the end of the first World War. During the war, the United States under President Wilson fought against Germany in the name of freedom. Suffragists began calling President Wilson “Kaiser” to point out the hypocrisy in his support of freedom abroad before granting his female citizens full freedom at home. The word “Kaiser” would have had a deeply un-American connotation to the public at this time, and the suffragists intentionally made these comparisons to make their argument that not guaranteeing women the right to vote went against America’s democratic ideals.
This flag was the symbol of the National Woman’s Party. If the image was in color, one would see the flag in purple, white, and yellow – the colors of the Suffrage Movement. The NWP was the last major suffrage organization to be formed, just four years prior to the passing of the nineteenth amendment. They used visual demonstrations like their flag, a “ratification banner” on which they sewed a star for every state that had already granted woman suffrage, and a variety of protests and parades to draw attention to their cause.
While women’s right to vote was not granted on a national scale until 1920, many states passed their own suffrage amendments prior to that. The four states represented above were some of the earliest states to grant the right to vote to women in the late 1800s. Suffragists often pointed to the states that had already passed suffrage amendments as examples and the more states that passed their own, the more the pressure increased for a constitutional amendment to be passed.