In 1851, Sojourner Truth delivered an extemporaneous speech on women’s rights at the Ohio Women’s Convention. Truth, a Black abolitionist and activist after she gained freedom in 1827, took a huge risk when she asked to address the Convention and said, “I am as strong as any man that is now...Why children, if you have woman's rights, give it to her and you will feel better.”
A renowned suffragist and pacifist, Jeanette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress, representing Montana. Rankin was the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. involvement in both World Wars. When she was elected to Congress in 1916, Rankin said, “I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won’t be the last.”
In 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention launched the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. While women’s rights activists had started to advocate as early as the 1830s, Seneca Falls was a coordinated effort to advance women’s equality, as represented in the Declaration of Sentiments, which called on women to fight for their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to equality.
“The right 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.” A woman’s right to vote was hard fought and went through multiple iterations before it was finally passed, first by the U.S. House and then the Senate in 1919. In 1920, Tennessee became the pivotal 36th state to ratify the amendment, ensuring its addition to the Constitution.
Griswold v. Connecticut
Estelle Griswold and Dr. C. Lee Buxton were arrested and convicted for providing illegal contraception under an 1879 Connecticut law. They appealed to the Supreme Court. In 1965, the Court ruled in their favor, finding that the law could not be enforced against married people as it violated the “right to marital privacy.”