Washington, D.C. – House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) delivered the following remarks today at a reception celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment in the House of Representatives.
Remarks are below, or watch online here.
“Good afternoon. It is an honor to be here to commemorate a defining moment in the history of representative democracy.
“And for those of you who are members of this chamber, next time you walk on that floor, think of the significance of this day. That is the same floor, where they debated and passed 100 years ago the 19th Amendment.
“While we celebrate the centennial of the House officially voting for the 19th Amendment, like most pieces of legislation the journey to passage did not begin the moment it made it through the chambers of Congress. No, it began more than 40 years before that.
“I am proud to say, Madame Speaker, that it was a Californian. It was a Republican Senator, Aaron Sargent, who in 1878 first introduced the 29 words that became the 19th Amendment. His ties to the women’s suffrage movement actually started a few years before that.
“In 1872, then Senator-elect Sargent met Susan B. Anthony in a chance encounter on a train. Anthony had recently been arrested for illegally voting and was eager to pass a federal amendment to guarantee women the right to vote. She found a strong ally in Sargent.
“Anthony and Sargent worked together on what became known as the ‘Anthony Amendment.’ The text was nearly identical to the words of the 15th Amendment, and it said that the right to vote would not be abridged by any state because of a person’s sex.
“The Anthony Amendment did not receive a vote for nine years, after Sargent had already left office. But it helped build momentum behind this important movement. With firm resolution and commitment, the amendment was introduced for 40 straight years. But the beginning of the end finally came in our very own chamber, not in the Senate.
“Republican Representative James Mann proposed the resolution that became the 19th Amendment on May 21, 1919, the day it passed.
“That is why we are here today.
“One hundred years ago today, the decades of advocacy by suffrage supporters paid off.
“One hundred years ago today, the House passed the 19th Amendment.
“But what lessons can we take away today from this historic moment?
“The suffrage succeeded because of its unwavering appeal to the principle of equality, the foundation of our common bond as Americans.
“Its supporters did not fight for special privileges. They asked that their rights as Americans no longer be denied.
“The Constitution in its preamble sets standards for our politics as an effort to form a ‘more perfect Union.’
“Nothing demonstrates a more perfect union better than the passage of the 19th Amendment.