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Colorado’s Ratification of the 19th Amendment on Dec. 12, 1919. Group of women from National Woman’s Party crowd desk during signing of the ratification by Gov. Oliver Henry Nelson Shoup (Photo Courtesy of National Parks Service)

In the regular meeting of the Salida City Council on Tuesday, March 3, Mayor P.T. Wood issued a proclamation in honor of the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters of the United States. Colorado became the first state to enact women’s suffrage by popular referendum in 1893.

Mayor Wood read the Proclamation out loud, followed by a congratulatory statement, “Now therefore be it resolved by the City of Salida we hereby congratulate the League of Women Voters 100th anniversary and commend the League for its significant contributions to empowering voters and making democracy work.”

In 2020, voters across the United States are partaking in local elections, Presidential Primaries, Caucuses and at the end of the year, a Presidential and State Officials election. Women are among those allowed to vote and that is all in part to the women who fought for the right to vote over 100 years ago.

The Colorado History Museum in Denver provides a brief history of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote as recognized under the United States Constitution, “Passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment granted most American women the right to vote. Colorado was one of 35 states that already recognized women’s voting rights before the passing of the 19th Amendment.”

Records of the National Woman’s Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Colorado was the first state in the nation to enact women’s suffrage by popular referendum, allowing them to lead the way with other states following suit.

The National Park Service states, ” After Colorado became a state in 1876, it held a referendum on women’s suffrage. A referendum occurs when the people directly vote on an issue. The people of Colorado narrowly voted against recognizing suffrage rights. Some voters, particularly businessmen and saloon-keepers, were afraid that if women could vote, they would ban the sale of alcohol. Known as temperance, this was a popular political issue among women at the time.”

The history presented by National Park Service continues, “In the following decades, organizations such as the Colorado Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association sent speakers out to towns across the state. Women also wrote articles explaining the importance of a woman’s right to vote. When another referendum for women’s suffrage was held in 1893, the people of Colorado voted to recognize women’s suffrage rights. Colorado became the first state to enact women’s suffrage by popular referendum.”

Those interested in reading the Proclamation in full can visit the Salida City Council page 85 of the meeting packet.

Cover Photo: (1919) Colorado’s Ratification of Suffrage Amendment. Colorado United States, 1919. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/mnwp000305/.