From Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, pp 132-141
Republicans proposed women’s suffrage as early as 1878, but it was voted down by a Democrat-controlled Congress. Republicans re-introduced the issue each year, but for many years the Democrats tied it up in committees. It only got to the floor in 1887 when the Democrats again defeated it.
Frustrated, the suffragettes—who were mostly Republican—took the issue to the states. By 1900 several Republican-dominated states granted women the right to vote. In 1916, Montana Republican Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress.
Congress, however, only took up the issue again in 1914, when it was again rejected by Senate Democrats. Only when the GOP won landslide majorities in both houses in 1918 did the Nineteenth Amendment finally have the necessary two-thirds majority to pass.
President Woodrow Wilson, who had led his party’s opposition to women’s suffrage, gave in when he saw its inevitability. The Democrats, however, took their opposition to the states, and eight of the nine “no” votes on the Nineteenth Amendment came from Democrat-controlled state legislatures. So the GOP is responsible for women having the right to vote. 11
The inclusion of women in the 1964 Civil Rights Act was, oddly enough, the work of a group of racist, chauvinist Democrats. Led by Democratic Congressman Howard Smith of Virginia, this group was looking to defeat the Civil Rights Act. Smith proposed to amend the legislation and add “sex” to “race” as a category protected against discrimination.
Smith’s Democratic buddies roared with laughter when he offered his one-word amendment. They thought it would make the whole civil rights thing so ridiculous that no sane person would go along with it. One scholar noted that Smith’s amendment “stimulated several hours of humorous debate” among racist, chauvinist Democrats. But to their amazement, the amended version of the bill passed. 12 It bears repeating that Republicans provided the margin of victory that extended civil rights protection both to minorities and to women.
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