Monday, August 27, 2007

She Votes

Just rec'd from my friend Gina N., a reason to celebrate August 26th:

It was on this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was declared in effect. After the Congress passed the amendment, it had to be ratified by a majority of state legislatures. The state that tipped the balance was Tennessee, and the man who cast the deciding vote was the 24-year-old representative Harry Burn, the youngest man in the state legislature that year. Before the vote, he happened to read his mail, and one of the letters he received was from his mother. It said, "I have been watching to see how you stood but have noticed nothing yet. ... Don't forget to be a good boy and ... vote for suffrage."

At the house, supporters of suffrage sat in the balcony, wearing yellow roses. On the house floor, those who opposed suffrage wore red roses. When Burn entered the room, he wore a red rose and the anti-suffrage camp thought they had his vote. But when he was called on to say aye or nay for the ratification of the 19th Amendment, he said, "Aye," and the amendment was ratified by a vote of 49 to 47. A witness there that day said, "The women took off their yellow roses and flung them over the balcony, and yellow roses just rained down."


  1. The end of that story sends shivers of joy and emotion. Thanks.

  2. That story was taken directly from "The Writer's Almanac for August 26". Just want to give credit where credit is due! Thanks, gina

  3. Elizabeth,

    I also love the roses showering down on the TN. Legislature, (should try in PA?) -- but I particularly dig Burn's mom telling him to 'be a good boy & vote for suffrage', young leaders need moms like his...

    Gina noted that it's a bit scary how close the vote was & wondered what if it were held today...

    I find it amazing that they were able to organize & mobilize efforts as huge as suffrage in an age when there was no internet, cell phones, (not even sure landlines were available) and transportation was so slow & cumbersome. Plus most women weren't in charge of the family finances, so raising money for this effort must've been extremely difficult.