Constitution of the United States of America
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
History of the 19th Amendment
95 YEARS AGO
TENNESSEE CAST THE DECIDING VOTE TO RATIFY THE 19TH AMENDMENT – Giving Women the Right to Vote
On June 4, 1919, the 66th U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. To complete the adopton of the amendment (which would give women the right to vote), three-fourths of the states had to ratify the amendment.
In Tennessee, Governor A. H. Roberts convened the General Assembly on August 9, 1920. Among those in the legislative body was Harry T. Burn (R) of McMinn County, the youngest member of the House. He was not pledged to either side of the issue.
Ratification was a hard fought battle in Tennessee. Suffragists and Antis had been in Nashville all summer preparing for the fight. Both sides made the Hermitage Hotel their headquarters during this time.
On August 19, 1920, the amendment came up for a vote amid yellow roses worn by the suffragists and red roses worn by the antis. A motion was made to table the amendment. Had that motion passed, the 19th Amendment would have been dead in Tennessee. The motion was defeated by a tie vote.
A vote on the original motion, the ratification of the 19th Amendment, was called for. The ratificationists knew they had 48 votes, one short of a majority of 49. As the roll was called, Harry T. Burn was the member of the General Assembly who cast the much-needed 49th vote. The motion passed 49 to 47.
Why had Harry T. Burn voted to ratify the 19th Amendment? This is how Mr. Burn explained his vote to his colleagues on the House floor the day afer the vote: “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for her boy to follow, and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.”
Mrs. J. L. Burn of Niota, Tennessee, had written the following letter to her son and he had it in his pocket on August 19, 1920:
Hurrah and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt! I notice some of the speeches against.
They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt (Carrie Chapman Catt) put the “rat” in ratification.
The Yellow Rose Society
RWWC is proud to be a member of the Yellow Rose Society. Thirty-six states were required to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920 so that women could win the right to vote. The Tennessee Woman Suffrage Monument, Inc., is a statewide grassroots organization that seeks to memorialize the work done by Tennessee suffragists when they worked to secure ratification of the 19th Amendment by erecting a monument in the capital city of Nashville.
August 24, 2015 RWWC Members attended a reception at the Tennessee State Museum sponsored by the Yellow Rose Society. As donors to the TN Woman Suffrage Monument, we were able to see a miniature model of sculpture. Left to right are: Connie Cromwell, Paula Uhlir, Mary Ellen Redford, Donna Choate and Phyllis Streiff.
Alan LeQuire’s sculpture will include five women who were involved in Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. The figures are Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville, Frankie Pierce of Nashville, Carrie Chapman Catt (national suffrage leader who came to Tennessee for the final battle), Sue Shelton White of Jackson, and Abby Crawford Milton of Chattanooga.
Tuesday October 27, 2015 RWWC members attended a reception at the Alan LeQuire Gallery for the unveiling of the TN Woman Suffragist Monument honoring the 5 suffragists who changed the course of history. Left to right are: Claudia Henneberry, Mary Ellen Redford, Hollie Cummings, Grace Kroeger and Connie Cromwell.