Frankfort, IL…State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) passed a resolution recognizing Illinois as a proud leader in the story of women’s suffrage in the United States and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment’s ratification in Illinois.
The 19th amendment forbids the states or the federal government from denying a person the right to vote on the basis of sex, opening the door for women to vote for all offices, including president, for the first time in the United States. HR 96 commemorates granting women the right to vote with special attention to Illinois proud place in the effort. Illinois is home to storied women’s right advocates and suffragists like Jane Addams, Frances Willard, and Ruth Hanna McCormick.
“Illinois has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights since the beginning,” Rep. McDermed said. “I am where I am today because of the women who fought before me.”
Perhaps Illinois’ most famous female historical figure, Jane Addams is consistently regarded as one of the most prominent social reformers of the progressive era. She is best known for founding the Hull House, the American Civil Liberties Union, and being the first woman from the United States to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. To add weight to the suffrage movement, Addams urged women to become involved in municipal affairs as a matter of “civic housekeeping.” In 1921 she presided over the installation of the “Women’s Movement” monument in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda featuring the busts of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott.
Frances Willard was a founding member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and was a major force behind the efforts to adopt the 18th and 19th amendments to the U.S Constitution. She developed the slogan “Do Everything” to encourage members of the WCTU to engage in a broad array of social reforms through a variety of means including lobbying, petitioning, publishing, and education. After her death, in 1905 she was honored as the first woman to be included among America’s greatest leaders in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol.
Ruth Hanna McCormick was a suffragist who did more than just exercise her right to vote. In 1928 she ran for an at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and became a Republican congresswoman from Illinois. In 1930, she became the first woman nominated for the U.S Senate by a major party.
In 1913, Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi to grant women the right to vote. When Congress proposed the 19th Amendment in 1919, it was sponsored by Illinois Republican Congressman James Mann. Thanks to the efforts of Ruth Hanna McCormick and Grace Wilbour Trout, Illinois was ready when it was sent to the states on June 4th and on June 10th Illinois became the first state to ratify it. With the help of activists, such as Addams and Trout, and political figures, such as McCormick, the 19th Amendment was ratified nationwide in less than eighteen months.
“The fight for suffrage united a lot of different men and women here in Illinois for a common cause,” Rep. McDermed continued. “Illinois played a decisive role in this victory and it is a proud mark in our state’s history that deserves special commemoration.”
The resolution passed earlier in the year during the spring session. Copies of the resolution have been presented to the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, to the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives in Evanston, and to the Robert R. McCormick Foundation/Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
In addition to commemorating this historic event with a resolution, Rep. McDermed will be planting yellow roses outside her office, an idea promoted by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. She encourages her residents to do the same and share pictures of them on social media.