November 6, 1917: After a referendum vote, the New York State grants women suffrage, becoming the first Eastern State to give women the legal right to vote.
New York’s successful referendum vote was substantial because at the time New York was the most populated State in the Nation. While all the Western States from Wyoming to California had already granted women the right, New York’s referendum had a dramatic effect on the national political landscape.
After an earlier vote in 1915 failed by more than 80.000 votes in New York City, Ms. Carrie Lane Chaman Catt, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) organized an aggressive door to door campaign with advertising in and around the City. The day before the election Ms. Catt was quoted in the New York Times:
“Remember that our country is fighting for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government. Vote for woman suffrage, because it is part of the struggle toward democracy.“—Carrie Lane Chaman Catt.
In the final tally, suffrage won all of New York City and managed to overcame a loss in upstate New York by 100,000 votes. While Suffrage prevailed in Auburn, Binghamton, Buffalo, Newburgh, Ossining, Oswego, Schenectady, Syracuse, and Westchester, it lost in Albany, Kingston, and Rochester.
New York’s 1917 referendum paved the way for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 giving all women the right.