By the President of the United States of America
On August 26, 1990, we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to our Constitution. This Amendment guaranteed for women the right to vote and, in so doing, opened the door to their full participation in our representative system of government.
The adoption of the 19th Amendment nearly three-quarters of a century ago was a great victory not only for women, but for all Americans. By recognizing previously disenfranchised members of our society and guaranteeing them an equal voice in the electoral process, the 19th Amendment affirmed the principles upon which the United States is founded. It underscored our Nation's commitment to the belief "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the woman's suffrage movement took shape. Its members and supporters realized that, as long as women lacked a voice in the democratic process, the promise of liberty and self-government so eloquently expressed in our Nation's founding documents would remain unfulfilled. One of the movement's most prominent leaders, Susan B. Anthony, articulated the concerns of many when she asked: "How can the consent of the governed be given, if the right to vote be denied?"
After years of hard work by members of the woman's suffrage movement, the 19th Amendment was passed by the Congress in June of 1919. It was finally ratified by the Tennessee legislature on August 18, 1920, and proclaimed as part of our Constitution on August 26.
The ratification of the 19th Amendment marked an important legal milestone in our Nation's efforts to ensure liberty, justice, and equality of opportunity for all. Like the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments that preceded it and other great landmarks that have followed--landmarks such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965--the 19th Amendment offers a poignant reminder that every individual is an heir to the civil and political rights enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, we also recognize the many and varied accomplishments of women--accomplishments made possible by progress in eliminating discrimination. During the past 7 decades, millions of women have earned positions of leadership and responsibility in business, government, science, education, and the arts.
On this occasion, as we celebrate the continued social and economic advancement of women--and their unique role in keeping our families, communities, and Nation strong--let us also reflect upon the importance of having and using the right to vote. As Americans, we are both heirs to and guardians of the blessings of liberty and self-government. Exercising our right to vote is one of the most important ways we can help to advance the ideals expressed in our Nation's founding documents and ensure justice and equal opportunity for all Americans.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 1990, as Women's Equality Day, a day to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifteenth.