Join the Final Drive To Suffrage

On June four, 1919, the Susan B. Anthony Amendment got here earlier than the Senate. It was the fifth time that the proposal — first launched in 1878, and already authorized by the House of Representatives — had been put to senators; 4 months earlier, it had fallen quick by only one vote. But on today, the federal lawmakers voted 56 to 25, to cross the regulation, amend the structure and set up ladies’s proper to vote in the United States.

The passage of the 19th Amendment was an enormous victory for the suffrage motion, the fruits of activism spanning almost a century as ladies fought for a voice in the political system. But their work was unfinished. After Congress, the modification moved to the 48 state legislatures, three-quarters of whom needed to ratify it for it to grow to be regulation. The race to 36 was on.

A flurry of early victories kicked off the summer of 1919, starting with Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin on June 10. But on July 24, in Georgia, the amendment met its first defeat. Alabama rejected the law that September; in the early days of 1920, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Mississippi did the same. (Mississippi would eventually be the last state to ratify the amendment — in 1984.)

By the summer of 1920, 35 states had voted to approve the amendment, and six had voted no. The nation waited on tenterhooks to see who might push the law over the finish line. Delaware rejected it in June. In July, Louisiana followed suit.

The campaign for women’s suffrage had been largely stymied in the South, so Tennessee was a somewhat unlikely contender to provide the amendment with the deciding vote. But the state had passed a limited suffrage measure in 1919, and its senate had already voted for the amendment, so in August all eyes turned to Tennessee. Suffragists including the NAWSA’s president, Carrie Chapman Catt, descended on Nashville, as did anti-suffragist factions. Both groups set up camp at the Hermitage Hotel, which was thronged by people wearing roses on their lapels: yellow for pro-suffrage, red for against.

On Aug. 18, 1920, state representatives started to vote. The margin was razor-thin. Then, it was Harry T. Burn’s turn.

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