Ellen and Aaron Sargent

In January 1878, Senator Sargent introduced the 29 words that would later become the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, allowing women the right to vote. Sargent’s wife, Ellen Clark Sargent, was a leading voting rights advocate, and a friend of such suffrage leaders as Susan B. Anthony. The bill calling for the amendment would be introduced unsuccessfully each year for the next forty years. Sargent returned to California in 1880.

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Ellen Clark Sargent (Massachusetts, 1826 – 1911) was an active American women’s suffragette. She was influential in advocacy for the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which sought to give women the right to vote.

In 1869, Sargent founded the Nevada County Women’s Suffrage Organization.[1] She later served as president of the California Woman Suffrage Association.[2] She also co-founded the Century Club, San Francisco’s first women’s club, which still exists.[3][2]

At the national level, she was a treasurer of the National Woman Suffrage Association, which advocated for women’s suffrage through a national constitutional amendment, and a friend and correspondent of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.[4][5]

Role in 19th Amendment

Sargent’s husband, Aaron Sargent, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1872, from California. In 1878, he proposed to the Senate the language that was eventually adopted as the Nineteenth Amendment.[1]


Sargent was born in Massachusetts in 1826.[1] When she died in 1911 the city of San Francisco held its first public memorial for a woman,[2] and state flags were flown at half-mast.[1]