Constitutional FAQ Answer #156 – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

Constitutional FAQ Answer #156

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Q156. “The Constitution never says that women
can’t vote. So why was the 19th Amendment necessary?”

A. The problem wasn’t that the Constitution prevented women from voting
itself. The problem was that the Constitution did not mandate that women could
vote. Since all the power in government was concentrated in men, and only men
selected those in government, there was little incentive for those in power to
call for women’s suffrage, even though any state could have granted women the
vote at any time. Wyoming, in fact, did grant universal suffrage when it was a
territory, in an attempt to attract more settlers, a right that carried over
when it became a state, long before the 19th
was passed. To get all of the states to grant the right, though
might have taken decades (some women, in fact, had called for women’s suffrage
at the same time black men were ensured of the right in the 14th Amendment). By motivating a movement for
women’s suffrage and affecting change with an amendment, all states had to
comply even if the power base was unwilling to do so on its own.

Last Modified: 16 Aug 2010

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