The Women’s Suffrage Movement was organized in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York State called by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Stanton. Frederick Douglass was a featured speaker. Over the next 72 years, many women dedicated their very lives to the cause, one of whom was Susan B. Anthony, who became its organizer in May 1883.
Stanton and Anthony could take pride in the role their organization originally played in realizing enfranchisement and the lessons they learned were more valuable as they continued to move again toward women’s suffrage. Carrie Chapman Catt became the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in December 1915.
On June 4th, 1919, the Congress of the United State of America passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United State on the basis of sex, and submitted it to the States for ratification.
By Midsummer 1920, 45 states had ratified the 19th amendment, eight had rejected and three were refusing to consider. North Carolina and Tennessee were still up in the air but North Carolina was sure to reject so this left only Tennessee as a possible 36 state.
Carrie Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Josephine Pearson, president of the Tennessee State Association Opposed to Women Suffrage and Sue White, a young activist for the National Woman’s Party, converged on Nashville for this last battle for women’s suffrage.
The 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote was ratified by Tennessee on August 18,1920 and was officially adopted on August 26,1920. Read an article from Cathy Duchovic, one our members, published in the Journal Gazette on the struggle for suffrage.
After the adoption of the 19th Amendment, Carrie Catt wrote the following:
“The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty. That vote of yours has cost millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of women. Women have suffered agony of soul which you never can comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it!”
“That vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully. Progress is calling to you to make no pause. Act!”
As part of the 2020 Taste of the Arts Festival, a virtual event, we collaborated with the Allen County Public Library to create with video of our history. We hope you enjoy it.