The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas
The Texas Ratification of the 19th Amendment
On June 28, 1919, the Texas legislature approved a resolution ratifying the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Texas was the ninth state in the U.S. and the first state in the South to ratify the amendment.
Texas Woman's University proudly celebrates the centennial of this historic event, as well as the moments in history that made it possible.
Thank you, suffrage pioneers!
TWU and the Woman Suffrage Movement
TWU also has a unique connection to the woman suffrage movement. Mary Eleanor Brackenridge, who served as one of the first regents for the College of Industrial Arts, which would eventually become Texas Woman’s University, reorganized the Texas Woman’s Suffrage Association in 1913 and served as its president. A pioneer for women’s rights, Brackenridge worked as a bank director and as a leader in the woman’s club movement in Texas. Our Student Union here on campus is named for her as well.
Two other regents—Eliza “Birdie” Johnson and Helen Stoddard—for whom Stoddard Hall is named—were also part of the woman’s club movement and helped women organize and move into the public space as advocates for bigger issues. All three women were local suffragists who championed women’s education and became instrumental in founding and governing TWU.
You can read more about Brackenridge and the suffrage movement in the book, Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas, which features an introduction and essay by TWU Professor Emerita A. Elizabeth Taylor.
The History of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas
The woman suffrage movement formally began at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York with the adoption of a Declaration of Sentiments that declared, “All men and women are created equal.” Resolutions called for the right to vote, equality under the law and educational opportunities for women.
The Texas Constitutional Convention rejected the right to vote for women, deeming it “unwomanly.”
The Texas Equal Rights Association, the first statewide woman suffrage organization, formed in Dallas with approximately 50 members, one-fifth of whom were men.
Texas suffragists failed to achieve equal suffrage planks in the Democrat, Republican and Populist Party platforms.
The woman suffrage movement declined and remained dormant until 1903 due to internal friction. The Texas Equal Rights Association ceased operation in 1896.
The Texas Woman Suffrage Association was formed, but it languished until 1912 when local suffrage groups organized in major Texas cities.
Opponents of woman suffrage formed the Texas Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. Efforts failed to gain momentum and were limited to leaflet distribution. The Texas Legislature failed to pass a resolution to “authorize females to vote.”
The Texas Woman Suffrage Association was renamed the Texas Equal Suffrage Association. It became effective in organizing local societies and suffrage campaigns.
The Texas Legislature enacted a law that permitted women to vote in primary elections.
In May, a referendum to amend the Texas Constitution to grant full suffrage to women, while disenfranchising noncitizen aliens, failed. But on June 28, the Texas Legislature ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making Texas the ninth state to do so. In October, the Texas Equal Suffrage Association held a "victory convention," where they voted to dissolve and convert the organization into the League of Women Voters of Texas. (Texas Equal Suffrage Association, The Handbook of Texas)
On August 26, the Secretary of State quietly certified ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that granted women the right to vote—72 years after the 1848 Seneca Falls resolution that women should have the right to vote.
Source: League of Women Voters of Texas
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Page last updated 11:28 AM, July 8, 2019