04
Jun
09

On This Day, June 4: The 19th Amendment

June 4, 1919

Congress passes the 19th Amendment

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.

The women’s suffrage movement was founded in the mid-19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 240 woman suffragists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to assert the right of women to vote. Female enfranchisement was still largely opposed by most Americans, and the distraction of the North-South conflict and subsequent Civil War precluded further discussion. During the Reconstruction Era, the 15th Amendment was adopted, granting African American men the right to vote, but the Republican-dominated Congress failed to expand its progressive radicalism into the sphere of gender.

In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association, led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was formed to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, was organized in the same year to work through the state legislatures. In 1890, these two societies were united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. That year, Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women in American society was changing drastically; women were working more, receiving a better education, bearing fewer children, and several states had authorized female suffrage. In 1913, the National Woman’s party organized the voting power of these enfranchised women to elect congressional representatives who supported woman suffrage, and by 1916 both the Democratic and Republican parties openly endorsed female enfranchisement. In 1919, the 19th Amendment, which stated that “the rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land. Eight days later, the 19th Amendment took effect.

“Congress passes the 19th Amendment,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5064 [accessed Jun 4, 2009]

On This Day

1717 – The Freemasons were founded in London.

1784 – Marie Thible became the first woman to fly in a hot-air balloon. The flight was 45 minutes long and reached a height of 8,500 feet.

1892 – The Sierra Club was incorporated in San Francisco.

1918 – French and American troops halted Germany’s offensive at Chateau-Thierry, France.

1939 – The first shopping cart was introduced by Sylvan Goldman in Oklahoma City, OK. It was actually a folding chair that had been mounted on wheels.

1940 – The British completed the evacuation of 300,000 troops at Dunkirk, France.

1942 – The Battle of Midway began. It was the first major victory for America over Japan during World War II. The battle ended on June 6 and ended Japanese expansion in the Pacific.

1943 – In Argentina, Juan Peron took part in the military coup that overthrew Ramon S. Castillo.

1947 – The House of Representatives approved the Taft-Hartley Act. The legislation allowed the President of the United States to intervene in labor disputes.

1960 – The Taiwan island of Quemoy was hit by 500 artillery shells fired from the coast of Communist China.

1985 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling striking down an Alabama law that provided for a daily minute of silence in public schools.

June 4, 1989

Tiananmen Square massacre takes place

Chinese troops storm through Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing, killing and arresting thousands of pro-democracy protesters. The brutal Chinese government assault on the protesters shocked the West and brought denunciations and sanctions from the United States.

In May 1989, nearly a million Chinese, mostly young students, crowded into central Beijing to protest for greater democracy and call for the resignations of Chinese Communist Party leaders deemed too repressive. For nearly three weeks, the protesters kept up daily vigils, and marched and chanted. Western reporters captured much of the drama for television and newspaper audiences in the United States and Europe. On June 4, 1989, however, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Turmoil ensued, as tens of thousands of the young students tried to escape the rampaging Chinese forces. Other protesters fought back, stoning the attacking troops and overturning and setting fire to military vehicles. Reporters and Western diplomats on the scene estimated that at least 300, and perhaps thousands, of the protesters had been killed and as many as 10,000 were arrested.

The savagery of the Chinese government’s attack shocked both its allies and Cold War enemies. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev declared that he was saddened by the events in China. He said he hoped that the government would adopt his own domestic reform program and begin to democratize the Chinese political system. In the United States, editorialists and members of Congress denounced the Tiananmen Square massacre and pressed for President George Bush to punish the Chinese government. A little more than three weeks later, the U.S. Congress voted to impose economic sanctions against the People’s Republic of China in response to the brutal violation of human rights.

“Tiananmen Square massacre takes place,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2688 [accessed Jun 4, 2009]

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