Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The 19th Amendment's anniversary

From today's Writer's Almanac. Thank you, Garrison. (And to Maria Caterina di Perugia who made sure we saw it, just in case. She knows we are often behind with our WA listening.)

GG's editor found out that there are arguments about which darned flower is the American suffragette symbol; so here's a pretty drawing of the Welsh national flower, the daffodil. All flowers are loved at GG Central. (By the way, please remember to register to vote if you've moved to a new state recently. )

Ciao-meow, GG


It was on this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment was formally incorporated into the U.S. Constitution. It proclaimed, "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." It ended more than 70 years of struggle by the suffragist movement.

It had passed through the House and Senate. At first, it looked like the amendment was not going to make it. And then, a 24-year-old legislator from Tennessee, Harry Burn, decided to vote for the amendment at the last minute because his mother wanted him to. And Tennessee became the 36th state to approve suffrage for women.

They sent the certified record of the Tennessee vote to Washington, D.C., and it arrived on August 26, 1920. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the proclamation that morning at 8 a.m. at his home. There was no ceremony of any kind, and no photographers were there to capture the moment. And none of the leaders of the woman suffrage movement were present to see him do it. Colby just finished his cup of coffee and signed the document with a regular, steel pen. Then he said, "I turn to the women of America and say: 'You may now fire when you are ready. You have been enfranchised.'