History of Election Day has roots in agriculture
Why do we vote on a Tuesday?
Before 1845, we were more of an agricultural society and November was considered a good time for elections because the busy harvest season was coming to a close. Many country folks had to travel quite a long way to get to a polling station, so it made sense to hold elections on a Tuesday. This avoided religious holidays as well.
ELECTION DAY HISTORY
To-day, alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known;
My palace is the people’s hall,
The ballot-box, my throne!
–John Greenleaf Whittier, American poet (1807–92)
On January 7, 1789, the electors were chosen for the first U.S. presidential election. (George Washington was elected president on February 4.)
By an act of Congress on January 23, 1845, the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November was designated Election Day for future presidential elections.
The first such election took place on November 7, 1848. Whig Party candidate Zachary Taylor won out over Democrat Lewis Cass and Free-Soil candidate (and former president) Martin Van Buren. Taylor’s running mate was Millard Fillmore, who became the nation’s 13th president on July 10, 1850, upon Taylor’s untimely death.
The freeman, casting with unpurchased hand
The vote that shakes the turrets of the land.
–Oliver Wendell Holmes, American poet (1809–94)
November 7, 1893: The state of Colorado granted women residents the right to vote.
October 23, 1915: 25,000 women marched in NYC demanding the right to vote.
August 26, 1920: The Nineteenth Amendment was adopted, granting women the right to vote. It was nicknamed the “Anthony” amendment in recognition of the lobbying efforts of suffragette Susan B. Anthony.
July 2, 1946: As a result of two decisions handed down by the Supreme Court in 1944, both upholding the right of Blacks to vote in primary elections, blacks in Mississippi vote for the first time in that state’s Democratic primary.
March 29, 1961: Ratification of the 23rd amendment to the Constitution gave residents of Washington, D.C., right to vote in presidential elections.
May 20, 1993: The “motor-voter” bill was signed by President Bill Clinton, allowing citizens to register to vote when applying for a driver’s license.
August 26: Women’s Equality Day
Formerly known as Woman Suffrage Day, this day marks the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1920), granting women the right to vote. Ratification came in Tennessee, where suffragist (Anitia) Lili Pollitzer, age 25, persuaded Tennessee state legislator Harry T. Burn, age 24, to cast the deciding vote. “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow,” he said, “and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.” The country’s 26 million voting-age women were enfranchised by this change in the Constitution. Longtime suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt summed up her experiences in the battle this way: “Never in the history of politics has there been such a nefarious lobby as labored to block the ratification.” Upon ratification, Catt founded the League of Women Voters, an organization now dedicated to providing impartial, in-depth information about candidates, platforms, and ballot issues.
– Information from The Old Farmer’s Almanac: https://www.almanac.com/content/when-election-day
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