A SYNOPSIS HISTORY OF THE FIGHT TO GRANT OHIO WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE
The 15th amendment to the US Constitution passed in 1870 that granted the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied because of race, color or previous condition of servitude. It did not give women the right to vote and that included African American women. Women across the United States began to organize and call for the right to vote.
The first women’s right movement was held in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848 and the second was held in Salem, OH in April 1850. Their main goals were to secure economic remedies, equal legal status and the right to vote. The immediate purpose was to petition the Ohio Constitutional Convention for these equal rights. The second convention was called in Akron, OH in 1851 to encourage lawmakers to extend equal rights under the Ohio Constitution. On May 1885, the Ohio Women Suffrage Association (OWSA) was formed in Painesville, Ohio.
OSWA members focused on a campaign to change local and State laws that prohibited women from voting. They encourage African American women to participate in its efforts. On August 27, 1912 the group organized its first parade of many in Columbus until the beginning of World War I. In 1917, Ohio was a battleground State in a nationally watched election even though there was no president on the ballot. Prohibition of the sale of alcohol and women’s suffrage were the State issues. The headline on the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer on November 7, 1917 “Dry issue hangs in balance, suffrage snowed under.” Both ballot issued failed as Ohioans voted along party lines with Republican supporting the ballots issues while Democrats opposed. The Prohibition issue also pitted Protestants, who wanted to ban alcohol, against Catholics. The Ohio suffragists vote in 1917 marked their third major ballot defeat. In 1912, 57 percent of the voters denied women full suffrage and 61 percent voted down the ballot in 1914.
Ohio Suffrage supporters celebrated in June 1919 when Ohio became the 6th State to ratify the proposed 19th amendment to the US Constitution. The 19th amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920.
Written by: Mary Anne Christie, ORP Vice Chairman