Millions of women had one goal Tuesday: To crack the country's highest glass ceiling once and for all.
But elation led to panic by evening, as GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump took key swing states from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, including North Carolina, Florida and Ohio.
It was a far cry from when polls opened, when the possibility of ending the night with two words – Madam President – proved electric, and emotions ran the gamut from euphoria to tears.
As Clinton supporters hit the polls, some women (and men) voters wore white, a nod to the suffrage movement that afforded women the right to vote in 1920. In Rochester, N.Y., thousands of people, a large majority of them women and girls, queued up to visit the grave of women's rights crusader Susan B. Anthony, who famously cast a ballot in 1872 knowing it was illegal, and was subsequently arrested.
Born before she had the right to cast a ballot, “I’d like to vote twice but that’s not possible,” said 100-year old Florence Thaler, a resident of Pequannock Township, N.J.
At poll stations, women arrived with their mothers, daughters and sisters. Many wore pantsuits as a nod to Clinton's signature look.
"Just high fived a #pantsuit wearing wearing stranger. This is a weird day," tweeted Lucy Arnold, whose bio identifies her as a teacher and writer.
In Columbia, S.C., consultant Elizabeth Wilson set a soundtrack to her day, playing Beyoncé's Run the World (Girls) and Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop on her Instagram Story-documented morning walk to her polling station. "The country has been ready, for a few decades, for a woman president," she said.
But by Tuesday night, Twitter became a current of worry due to the razor-thin voting margins. "I'm so anxious and stressed. My stomach is in knots," wrote user @MichelleF0918.
"This election and Trump's language has brought up so many traumas for women and this is half the nation telling us, "Oh well," tweeted user @AlySemigran.
PHOTOS: Hillary Clinton's Election Night event
In Iowa, Ruline Steininger, 103, began her night watching CNN's early return, offering a stern “Good!” after each state was called for Clinton.
Steininger cast her first vote for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. Starting with her annual Christmas letter last year, she willed herself to live, writing to her friends and family she "decided to stay alive to vote for Hillary.”
“I thought it was great that a black man got elected for president," she said Tuesday. "I didn’t think that would happen in my lifetime, but it did. Now, it is high time for a woman, and this time we have a woman who is really capable of being president of the United States.”
But when the network reported that Trump was leading in Florida, she set her tea down with emphasis.
“Don’t tell me that,” she all but yelled at the TV.
Earlier, at dawn in Rochester, the mood had been jubilant and reflective. Supporters continued the tradition of decorating suffragette Susan B. Anthony’s headstone at Mount Hope Cemetery with their 'I Voted' stickers.
"I never cried when I filled out my ballot before. But I realized my daughters — and I have three of them — have the right to vote for a woman. It made me cry," said Jodi Atkin of Irondequoit, N.Y., who trekked to the grave site with daughter Jessie. Both were clad in white.
PHOTOS: Hillary Clinton on Election Day 2016
In Greenville, S.C., InezTenenbaum maintained America was long overdue to have a woman at the helm. “Other women, such as Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir have led countries for decades,” said Tenenbaum, an attorney who was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009 to chair the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
It's taken 96 years since the 19th Amendment was ratified for a woman's name to appear as a major party candidate on an general election ballot.
“The march for women’s equality has been a long and slow one, but ever since 1920 when women got the right to vote there always has been a back burner hope that we’d have a first female president. And Hillary Clinton has worked assiduously to be that person,” says Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University.
Jerry Emmett, a 102-year-old from Prescott, Ariz., whose political idol is Hillary Clinton, retired to her bed before the race for the presidency was decided.
For Emmett, who helped report Arizona’s delegates for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, the night wasn’t all she had hoped it would be.
“She’s a little bit antsy about what’s going to happen,” her son Jim Emmett, 69, said. “She was pretty excited about this election going in, but then as it got closer and closer, she said, ‘I just didn’t believe it was going to be quite this close.’”
PHOTOS: Election Day in America 2016