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The demonstrators were arrested after being attacked by onlookers. Lucy Branham in Occoquan prison dress. Republicans had gained control of the Congress in the off-year election. In May the House of Representatives again passed a suffrage amendment.


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By June the Senate, now with a Republican majority, passed the amendment by a vote of 66 to 30, two more than the two-thirds required. The job was far from complete, however, as 36 states three-fourths of the 48 states were needed to ratify the amendment.

Within days of Senate passage, Wisconsin became the first state to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. When the amendment had not been ratified by 36 states at the time of the June conventions of the two political parties, the NWF sent delegations to both, lobbying states that had not yet ratified the amendment and asking the parties to insert a plank into their platforms supporting suffrage.

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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. With that single syllable he extended the vote to the women of America and ended half a century of tireless campaigning by generations of suffragists, including Susan B. The next day, Burn defended his last-minute reversal in a speech to the assembly. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! That left them with only one option: Tennessee.

Burning to get the vote

Once the battle came down to a single state, activists and lobbyists from around the country descended on Nashville, where they met old enemies, and older arguments. Amblin is developing a series, with Hillary Clinton serving as an executive producer. The book grippingly recounts the twists and reversals that took place in the weeks leading up to the suffrage victory, but it is even more thrilling in its presentation of ideas—both those of the suffragists and those of the people who opposed them.

Some argued that most women did not even want the right to vote, others that the expanded electorate would be an expensive burden on municipalities. Still others raised the paradoxical objections that women would vote the way their husbands did, thus doubling their votes, or not vote the way their husbands did, thus cancelling them out, making the whole thing a waste of time.

As state after state allowed women to vote, the suffragists acquired more anecdotes and data that they could share in order to assuage the concerns of those who were not yet decided, and even change the minds of some who were. But, while the sexist arguments that they faced often united suffragists around their cause, arguments about race divided them. Some of the very suffragists who worked to dispel ideas about their intellectual inferiority as women advanced similar ideas about the ostensibly lesser intelligence of people of color, and argued openly that only white women should be allowed to vote.

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A few, acting on grudges that had lingered for decades following the exclusion of women from the Reconstruction amendments, even posited that they deserved the right more than the black men who had already been enfranchised. Anthony had advocated for universal suffrage, and they were outraged when the Fourteenth Amendment specified that only men qualified for its protections.

Never before in the history of the world have men made former slaves the political masters of their former mistresses.

Other suffragists expressed pragmatic concerns that any federal enfranchisement would be seen by Southern states as an effort to undermine Jim Crow, the appallingly successful new strategy for preventing black men from exercising their rights. Suffs, as the women called themselves, had long disagreed about whether to pursue a national or a state-by-state strategy, in part because of the racism of some of their own white members, who opposed voting rights for African-Americans—not to mention Native Americans and, later, Asian-Americans—and so wanted individual states to determine for themselves who would, or, rather, would not, have the right to vote.

- The Washington Post

But the friction was also because, in states like Tennessee, even those who believed in racial equality were not always willing to defend it at the cost of gender equality. In Tennessee, the opposition was led by Josephine Pearson, who was drafted by her dying mother and emboldened by the certainty that her heavenly Father wanted women to focus on causes more noble than politics. More surprising, perhaps, were some of her fellow-travellers. The founder of Barnard College, Annie Nathan Meyer, a sister of the suffragist Maud Nathan, believed it was disingenuous to suggest that women could ever purify the political realm with their votes; in trying to do so, Meyer insisted, they forfeited their apolitical powers of persuasion.

Others disdained it entirely, like the anarchist Emma Goldman, who thought that all voting was a tool used by the powerful to distract the weak.

Burning to get the vote

In Tennessee, women on both sides of the debate lined the halls of the capitol building, took over suites in the nearby Hotel Hermitage, and marched across the state to hound legislators, targeting even unlikely candidates to secure their support in advance of primary elections, which could alter the composition of the legislature before the ratification vote was held. Meanwhile, the railroad, liquor, and manufacturing lobbies went from sponsoring anti-suffrage activism to paying bribes to legislators as they grew increasingly afraid that enfranchised women would vote in favor of prohibition, labor reforms, and other progressive ideas.

Arguably the only people who enjoyed the summer of in Nashville were the florists, because the Antis sported red roses while the Suffs wore yellow ones, and soon there was hardly a lapel in the city without a flower. If women did get the right to vote, both parties wanted credit—or, at least, the votes of the newly enfranchised women.

Some Republicans opposed letting a Democratic state cast the deciding vote for ratification, while many Southern Democrats worried about shifting the racial balance of the electorate with twenty-seven million new voters before the Presidential election that fall. As ever, the debate over enfranchisement was not only or even mostly philosophical; it was primarily political, as both parties tried to calculate their own potential share of the new voting pool.

Constitutional challenges and a legal campaign nearly kept Governor Roberts from summoning the legislators back to the capitol, and there was even more chaos once the chambers were called to order. The Senate finally passed the resolution on Friday the thirteenth, but the House continued to stall, hoping to allow time for more defections to the side of the Antis. That strategy backfired: on the eighth day of the session, during a vote on another motion to table, the Anti representative Banks Turner switched his vote, allowing the amendment to go to the floor, and, once it was there, the freshman member of Congress Harry Burn switched his vote, too.