March 10, 1920: West Virginia Becomes 34th State to Allow Women the Right to Vote

Mar 10, 2017

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

On March 10, 1920, West Virginia became the 34th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Months later, the amendment became law, guaranteeing all women in the country the right to vote.

The fight for women’s suffrage was a longtime coming in West Virginia. In 1867, a Pocahontas County state senator introduced a resolution endorsing suffrage. But the legislature voted it down. Support for the issue lagged until the 1890s, when suffrage clubs became popular in northern West Virginia, especially in Wheeling and Fairmont.

By 1913, a women’s suffrage amendment to the state constitution had gained enough support to pass the House of Delegates, but it was rejected by the Senate. Two years later, the amendment passed the full legislature. However, the state’s all-male voters shot it down by a more than two-to-one margin.

In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution passed the House of Delegates but was deadlocked 14-14 in the Senate. With a touch of drama, Senator Jesse Bloch of Wheeling dashed home early from his California vacation to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of women’s suffrage.