26 August 1920

The 19th amendment to United States Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote.

The 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is formally adopted into the U.S. Constitution by proclamation of Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby. The amendment was the culmination of more than 70 years of struggle by woman suffragists. Its two sections read simply: “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” and “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

America’s woman suffrage movement was founded in the mid 19th century by women who had become politically active through their work in the abolitionist and temperance movements. In July 1848, 200 woman suffragists, organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss women’s rights. After approving measures asserting the right of women to educational and employment opportunities, they passed a resolution that declared “it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise.” For proclaiming a women’s right to vote, the Seneca Falls Convention was subjected to public ridicule, and some backers of women’s rights withdrew their support. However, the resolution marked the beginning of the woman suffrage movement in America.

The first national woman’s rights convention was held in 1850 and then repeated annually, providing an important focus for the growing woman suffrage movement. In the Reconstruction era, the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, granting African American men the right to vote, but Congress declined to expand enfranchisement into the sphere of gender. In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to push for a woman suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Another organization, the American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Lucy Stone, was formed in the same year to work through the state legislatures. In 1890, these two groups were united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. That year, Wyoming became the first state to grant women the right to vote.

By the beginning of the 20th century, the role of women in American society was changing drastically: Women were working more, receiving a better education, bearing fewer children, and three more states Colorado, Utah, and Idaho had yielded to the demand for female enfranchisement. In 1916, the National Woman’s Party formed in 1913 at the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage decided to adopt a more radical approach to woman suffrage. Instead of questionnaires and lobbying, its members picketed the White House, marched, and staged acts of civil disobedience.

In 1917, America entered World War I, and women aided the war effort in various capacities that helped break down most of the remaining opposition to woman suffrage. By 1918, women had acquired equal suffrage with men in 15 states, and both the Democratic and Republican parties openly endorsed female enfranchisement.

In January 1918, the woman suffrage amendment passed the House of Representatives with the necessary two-thirds majority vote. In June 1919, it was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification. Campaigns were waged by suffragists around the country to secure ratification, and on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority of state ratification necessary to make it the law of the land.

The package containing the certified record of the action of the Tennessee legislature was sent by train to the nation’s capital, arriving in the early hours of August 26. At 8 a.m. that morning, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed it without ceremony at his residence in Washington. None of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement were present when the proclamation was signed, and no photographers or film cameras recorded the event. That afternoon, Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Suffrage Association, was received at the White House by President Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wilson, the first lady.

26 August 1978

Albino Luciani is elected as Pope John Paul I.

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Pope John Paul I who was born Albino Luciani was a devout religious man who dedicated his life to the Catholic Church almost from the first time he could. From the time he entered the Seminary in 1923 to the time he was inaugurated as the Pope in 1978, he held a great many positions within the Catholic Church. Each of these positions marked a gradual progression through the ranks of the church until he reached the ultimate calling — that of Pope.

As Pope he combined the names of his immediate two predecessors Paul VI and John XXIII, to become Pope John Paul and was the first Pope to ever take a double name. He was always cheerful and low-key in his dealing with other people so was soon named the smiling Pope. He was reportedly also a big fan of American author Mark Twain, reading his works whenever he could.

His death is surrounded in great controversy. On the eve of September 28, 1978 he apparently died form a heart attack while reading in bed. His means of death has be greatly disputed and some including David Yallop in his book “In God’s Name” allege that Pope John Paul was poisoned in order to keep him from discovering the truth about Vatican financial misdeeds. The conspiracy theory revolves around some supposed Vatican officials who feared that if Pope John Paul had lived he would have uncovered their financial misconduct within Vatican affairs.

These same Vatican Officials supposedly then decided that Pope John Paul must be eliminated in order to protect them form prosecution. The officials then secured and used a slow acting poison that when used would cause a person to appear to have died from a heart attack. The poison was the administered to Pope John Paul over the span of a couple of days until he succumbed on September 28, 1978. To this date, none of these charges or allegations has ever led to an arrest and none have ever been proven.

Pope John Paul’s reign was short and who knows what would have happened had he lived. The next “Pope John Paul II” paid tribute to him by taking on the name of his predecessor.