July 1, 1913 : The campaign to win a woman suffrage referendum in the Empire State two years from now was kicked off today in Revolutionary style. A wagon, built in 1776 by Ebenezer Conklin, and appropriately named the "Spirit of 1776" left the Manhattan headquarters of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association this afternoon amid great applause, loaded with suffrage literature, and bound for a month-long tour of Long Island. It is driven by Edna Kearns and Irene Davison, with eight-year-old Serena Kearns, Edna's daughter, along as well. On this day, Serena was dressed as "Little Liberty" to symbolize the "little liberty" women have 137 years after "taxation without representation" was denounced as tyranny during the American Revolution.
Drawn by a horse appropriately named "Suffrage," the wagon and its passengers got an enthusiastic welcome in Jamaica, the first stop on their tour. But they won't be staying there or anywhere else for long. Tomorrow they expect to stop and speak in Springfield, Rosedale, Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, and Oceanside.
They'll spend the Fourth of July at a suffrage festival in Long Beach, and then meet up with "General" Rosalie Jones in Ronkonkoma the next day. Jones is a local suffragist who distributed literature from her own horse-drawn cart last Spring on Long Island, then did the same in Ohio in the Summer to help with the referendum campaign there. She has now become nationally known as a result of leading suffrage hikes from New York City to Albany from December 16-28, 1912, and from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C., between February 12th and 28th of this year.
Though full and equal suffrage for women has never been won in any State East of the Mississippi River, the launching of a campaign here is a well-justified manifestation of the growing - and some say unstoppable - momentum the "Votes for Women" movement has been enjoying recently.
Just three years ago the movement had gone 14 years without a single victory of any kind, and women could vote in only 4 of the 46 States. But on November 8, 1910, the male voters of Washington State approved a suffrage referendum by almost two to one. The next year brought the biggest victory so far, when on October 10, 1911, California's male voters approved a suffrage amendment that doubled the number of female voters in the U.S. overnight. Kansas, Oregon and the newly-admitted State of Arizona followed suit in 1912, and starting today, women in Illinois are eligible to vote for President, as well as local offices, though not for State offices.
But the surge in support for suffrage has become visible in far more places than newspaper reports of election returns, and it's events such as the "Spirit of 1776" tour that keep the movement in the public eye. Until just a little over five years ago, no one had ever marched for suffrage. But two dozen women defied custom - and New York City police - to do exactly that on February 16, 1908. In 1910 a second march had 400 participants. The next year 4,000 turned out. Last year's parade brought out between 15,000 and 20,000, and this year's annual pageant drew about 30,000 marchers and a quarter-million spectators to Fifth Avenue. A parade and pageant in Washington, D.C., on March 3rd made nationwide headlines and garnered great sympathy for the cause when the participants forged ahead despite riotous conditions and a disgraceful lack of police protection.
Though there have certainly been a lot of exciting moments in the 65-year history of the suffrage struggle, there has never been more reason for optimism than today. The stagnation of 1896 through 1910 has been forgotten, and no year ends without toasting a victory in at least one State. Massive public spectacles are now routinely pulled off with great success and favorable press coverage. Both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms for 1912 endorsed putting woman suffrage referenda on State ballots, with the new Progressive ("Bull Moose") Party going even farther and giving unqualified support to woman suffrage.
The Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, also called the Bristow-Mondell Amendment after its sponsors, is steadily gaining support in Congress thanks to the efforts of young militants like Alice Paul, who know this has to be the ultimate goal. On June 13th, the Senate Woman Suffrage Committee issued a favorable report, marking the first time since 1896 that any Congressional Committee has acted on suffrage. The committee members gave their endorsement less than 10 weeks after suffragists representing every State in the Union and all 435 Congressional Districts marched on the Capitol demanding action.
If New York becomes a suffrage State, its Congressional delegation, the largest in the nation, would suddenly become accountable to women, and therefore be strongly motivated to add its prestige and support to the cause. This would speed the day when the Anthony Amendment is approved by 2/3 of Congress and sent to the States for ratification. Once 36 of the 48 States ratify, women in all States will be Constitutionally entitled to vote for all offices, never again to be ignored by those who now need to win only a majority of men's votes at the polls.
Of course, despite all the encouraging signs, the anti-suffrage movement and its liquor industry benefactors are still formidable foes. At best, this will be a grueling, two-year campaign with no guarantee of success in this first attempt to win over a majority of men in the nation's most populous State. But the campaign has been well-launched, and the first steps toward equal suffrage in New York have now been taken. The final steps will be in a victory parade, regardless of when that may happen to be.
UPDATE : Though the New York Suffrage Referendum of 1915 would go down to defeat by a vote of 748,332 to 553,348, suffragists never gave up. They built upon the half-million favorable votes they got in 1915 and just two years later women would win full suffrage on November 6, 1917, by a vote of 703,129 to 600,776. Less than three years after that, the Susan B. Anthony Amendment would become part of the Constitution on August 26, 1920, and victory would be complete ! The efforts of those who took part in this campaign were never forgotten, and July 1, 2013 has been proclaimed by the New York State Legislature to be " 'Spirit of 1776' Wagon Day."
July 1, 1953 : Thirty years after its introduction into Congress, the Equal Rights Amendment may finally be about to get Congressional approval and sent to the States for ratification. Following a unanimous reaffirmation of support for the measure by their board of directors, leaders of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs said today that the E.R.A. has a better chance to become part of the U.S. Constitution now than at any time in its history. There is plenty of evidence to support their claim.
Sixty-four votes are pledged in the Senate, exactly enough to give it the 2/3 majority it needs. There are at least 255 House members in support, putting it within striking distance of the 290 needed to constitute 2/3 of that 435-member body. Twenty national women's organizations have endorsed it, and the 124,000-member American Association of University Women has now halted its active opposition. Both major parties have an E.R.A. plank in their platforms, the Republicans since 1940 and Democrats since 1944. The principal reason Democrats didn't endorse in 1940 was the strong opposition of Eleanor Roosevelt and organized labor, who feared its effects on "protective" legislation for women. But like the A.A.U.W., Eleanor Roosevelt has now stopped actively opposing it.
Why is it needed ? Because, as B.P.W.'s Carol Marx explained today, there are presently 1,004 separate pieces of discriminatory legislation on the books in the states. Laws that "protect" women from doing night work - and therefore make it harder for them to compete in the workplace - are examples of laws that the E.R.A. needs to invalidate.
But even with all this optimism there is still one obstacle remaining. When the Senate voted 63 to 19 for the E.R.A. on January 25, 1950, it contained the "Hayden Rider," which states : "The provisions of this article shall not be construed to impair any rights, benefits, or exemptions, now or hereafter conferred by law upon persons of the female sex." This is unacceptable to Alice Paul, the amendment’s author, as well as to the National Woman's Party, its principal organizational advocate, and most other E.R.A. supporters. With Senator Carl Hayden's (D- Arizona) language added it would no longer be an "equal rights" amendment if legislators are free to pass laws that benefit only one sex. Not only that, in the case of workplace regulations, it's highly debatable whether a "protective" law is a benefit or a barrier for women.
The battle to pass a "pure" E.R.A., and then for its ratification by 36 out of the 48 States will go on. Proponents continue to gain optimism thanks to its steady progress from the days when the National Woman’s Party was its only supporter, but are totally committed to working another 30 years or more in the unlikely event that it has not become the 23rd Amendment long before then. The original E.R.A. text from 1923 (“Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction”) was reworded in 1943, and now states : "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
July 2, 1937 : "Where is Amelia Earhart ?" The question which may have first been asked this morning by Chief Radioman Leo Bellarts aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca, is being asked worldwide tonight after Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan failed to arrive at Howland Island on schedule and have unquestionably exhausted their fuel by now.
Earhart and Noonan had been spending time in Lae, New Guinea, anxiously waiting to depart, originally hoping to make it back to the U.S. by Independence Day. As Earhart put it in her latest dispatch, filed just before takeoff :
" 'Denmark's a prison' and Lae, as attractive an unusual as it is, appears to two flyers as just as confining. The Lockheed Electra is poised for our longest hop. It is weighted with gasoline and oil to capacity. There is only one runway and a parallel wind is needed to take off. However, the wind is blowing the wrong way and threatening clouds conspired to keep her on the ground today. In addition, Frederick Noonan, my navigator, has been unable, because of radio difficulties, to set his chronometers. Any lack of knowledge of their fastness or slowness would defeat the accuracy of celestial navigation. Howland is such a small spot in the mid-Pacific that every aid to locating it must be available ...
"Fred Noonan and I have worked very hard in the last two days repacking the plane and eliminating everything unessential. I have retained only one brief case in which are my papers as well as my extra clothing and toothbrush. All Fred Noonan has is a small tin case, which he picked up in Africa. I notice it still rattles, so it cannot be packed very full ... We shall try to get off today, although we cannot be home by the Fourth of July, as we had hoped."
Handling a big plane packed with every possible drop of fuel is a major challenge for any pilot, and was certainly a major factor contributing to her runway crash in Hawaii on her attempt to fly to Howland during her initial attempt to circle the world in March. But yesterday's 10 A.M. takeoff went smoothly, and was accompanied by enthusiastic applause from those assembled to watch her departure. Though she and Noonan expected favorable weather, one of her transmissions early this morning noted it was "cloudy," which would have made it impossible for Noonan to use the stars to fix their position during the night unless they could get above the clouds.
Later came the first hint of real trouble. She told the Itasca, anchored just off Howland : "We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet." They must have been very close, because the transmission was so powerful that Chief Bellarts, who stayed on duty after his watch ended to help guide Earhart and Noonan in, ran up on deck to see if he could spot them. An hour later Earhart tried again : "We are on the line 157 / 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6,210 kilocycles. Wait." Two minutes later she said : "We are running on a line North and South."
The Itasca did everything it could, even sending up thick black smoke that might be seen by the flyers, but what's happened to them remains a mystery tonight. According to a message sent by the Itasca : "Earhart unreported at Howland ... Believed down ... Am searching probable area and will continue."
There is much speculation about the flyers' fate. Though not a seaplane, experts believe their Lockheed Electra would certainly have the ability to float. In 1932, Stanislaus Felix Hausner floated in a plane for eight days before being rescued, and a year earlier two other pilots floated off Newfoundland for a week. There's also a rubber lifeboat aboard, flares, and a large signal kite, so if they're at sea, there is a reasonable chance of rescue. There is also the possibility that they landed on an island. If so, they will be able to keep transmitting by radio if there's enough gas left in the tanks to keep the propellers turning to generate power. In any case, a thorough search has begun.
In a letter to her husband, George Palmer Putnam, just before the flight, Earhart acknowledged the risks, and explained that she was motivated to take on this arduous journey as both an aviator and a feminist. The long-time member of the National Woman's Party and strong advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment said :
""Please know that I am aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be a challenge to others."
Though it now appears Earhart & Noonan will not be able to complete the final three stops of their unprecedented attempt to circle the world as near as possible to the Equator, Earhart has already accomplished a great deal for both women and aviation in her 39 years. Whether she will be able to continue her quests for adventure and equality is unknown at this time, but there is no doubt that many other women are pursuing similar goals, and inspired by her courage, will continue to do so.
July 3, 1919 : In keeping with the spirit of liberty and equality to be celebrated at tomorrow's Independence Day holiday, the pace of ratifications of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment has once again returned to a high level. Yesterday it was Iowa, and today Missouri, making a total of eleven approvals in less than a month, with only twenty-five more to go. That ratification is being accomplished so quickly seems even more amazing in light of the fact that on June 4th, when the proposed 19th Amendment got final approval from Congress, only seven of the forty-eight State Legislatures were in session.
That low number of available legislatures wasn't just "bad luck." In the final days of the campaign in Congress, opponents knew the Anthony Amendment would eventually be approved, but their last-ditch strategy was to delay Congressional passage until most State Legislatures had adjourned their regular sessions, and would not be able to reconvene anytime soon - some not until 1921 - unless their governors called a "special session" to vote on suffrage. Since some governors would be opposed to suffrage in general, and never call such a session, those States could be counted out until their next regular session, regardless of how many legislators might be pro-ratification. Even some pro-suffrage governors might be reluctant to call a session that would require taxpayers to foot the bill for the legislators' extra salaries during the time it was in session.
The strategy of suffragists putting the same intense pressures on State Governors that used to be applied to members of Congress seems to be paying off, however. President Wilson can also be counted among those lobbying State Governors of his party, and so the efforts made by the National Woman's Party to get him to first support, then work hard, for suffrage are still paying dividends.
The States that have approved thus far are : Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan (June 10th) ; Kansas, New York and Ohio (June 16th), Pennsylvania (June 24th) ; Massachusetts (June 25th) ; Texas (June 28th) ; Iowa (July 2nd) and Missouri today.
Though there is no time limit on how long the States have to ratify, it is the goal of every suffragist to get the necessary 36 of 48 State ratifications in time for women to vote in the 1920 General Election. This, of course, is precisely what the anti-suffragists are determined to prevent by getting at least one House in 13 State Legislatures to either vote against suffrage or not vote on it at all, and thus keep the total number of ratifications at 35 or less. But if the overwhelming margins of approval by the State Legislatures who have voted on it, and the willingness of so many governors to quickly call special sessions are any indication, the Anthony Amendment is well on its way to becoming simply the "19th Amendment."
July 4, 1876 : An eloquent and timely reminder that the American Revolution has brought liberty and equality only to some citizens over the past century became an unauthorized part of the nation's Centennial celebration here at Independence Square in Philadelphia today. Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Sara Andrews Spencer, Lillie Devereux Blake and Phoebe W. Couzins presented a "Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States" - written by Anthony, Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton on behalf of the National Woman Suffrage Association - to a rather startled Senator Thomas Ferry. As president pro-tempore of the Senate, he was the official representative of the United States Government at the ceremony due to President Grant's inability to attend, and the vacancy in the office of Vice-President.
Having accomplished their goal, the five protesters departed, and made their way to an empty platform where Susan B. Anthony read the entire four-page document to a crowd that quickly gathered to hear her. She began her presentation by saying :
"While the nation is buoyant with patriotism, and all hearts are attuned to praise, it is with sorrow we come to strike the one discordant note, on this one-hundredth anniversary of our country's birth.
"When subjects of kings, emperors and czars from the old world join in our national jubilee, shall the women of the republic refuse to lay their hands with benedictions on the nation's head ? Surveying America's exposition, surpassing in magnificence those of London, Paris, and Vienna, shall we not rejoice at the success of the youngest rival among the nations of the earth ?
"May not our hearts, in unison with all, swell with pride at her great achievements as a people ; our free speech, free press, free schools, free church, and the rapid progress we have made in material wealth, trade, commerce, and the inventive arts ?
"And we do rejoice in the success, thus far, of our experiment of self-government. Our faith is firm and unwavering in the broad principles of human rights proclaimed in 1776, not only as abstract truths, but as the cornerstones of a republic.
"Yet we cannot forget, even in this glad hour, that while all men of every race, and clime, and condition have been invested with the full rights of citizenship under our hospitable flag, all women still suffer the degradation of disenfranchisement."
Anthony then gave a comprehensive list of grievances which women have against a government which practices taxation without representation, denies women the right to be tried by a jury of their peers, and has passed numerous unequal codes and laws. She ended her presentation by saying :
"And now, at the close of a hundred years, as the hour hand of the great clock that marks the centuries points to 1876, we declare our faith in the principles of self-government ; our full equality with man in natural rights ; that woman was made first for her own happiness, with the absolute right to herself - to all the opportunities and advantages life affords for her complete development ; and we deny that dogma of centuries, incorporated into the codes of nations - that woman was made for man - her best interests, in all cases, to be sacrificed to his will. We ask of our rulers, at this hour, no special favors, no special privileges, no special legislation. We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever."
The protesters had originally hoped that their Declaration could be presented as an official part of the ceremony. The woman suffrage movement has now gained sufficient support and prestige that five of its advocates had been given platform passes to observe the proceedings, and they thought that a brief presentation would be at least a symbolic acknowledgement of women's contributions to the nation over the past century. So, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote to General Joseph Hawley, president of the United States Centennial Commission, saying : "We do not ask to read our declaration, only to present it to the President of the United States, that it may become an historical part of the proceedings."
The General admitted that "Undoubtedly we have not lived up to our own original Declaration of Independence in many respects." But after making the excuse that the program had already been set and could not be changed, he finally admitted the real reason for his refusal : "I understand the full significance of your very slight request. If granted, it would be the event of the day - the topic of discussion to the exclusion of all others. I am sorry to refuse so slight a demand ; we cannot grant it."
Following this rebuff, officers of the National Woman Suffrage Association held an indignation meeting. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott chose to protest this latest insult to women indirectly, by boycotting the ceremony and spending that time opening the association's national convention at a local church. But five others decided to make their protest directly, in a style that the original revolutionaries might have approved.
Their platform passes - allowing them to witness, but not take part in the ceremonies - got them within striking distance of the official representative of the Government. Then, as Richard Henry Lee finished reading the Declaration of Independence, and those in charge were momentarily distracted while preparing for the next speaker, the women quickly - and with an air of authority - marched to the front of the platform, and gave their Declaration to a surprised Senator Ferry. They then left the platform with great dignity, giving out numerous copies of their Declaration to many on the stage, and in the crowd, who eagerly sought to read it.
So, as befits a work-in-progress, there were two competing ceremonies earlier today to mark our nation's Centennial. Men stood on one side of Independence Hall praising the nation's accomplishments and looking back to 1776, while on the other side, Susan B. Anthony reminded us of how much still needs to be done if we are to be a true democracy at the next such celebration in 1976.
July 5, 1943 : The crucial role of women in America's war effort was illustrated today in developments regarding their work in the air, in war plants, and potentially at sea.
Jacqueline Cochran has been named to a newly-created post of Director of Women Pilots in the Army Air Forces, and given an office in the Pentagon. This is a clear indication that women will be doing even more than at present, and, as the War Department put it, is a "recognition of the achievement and growing importance of women pilots in the war effort."
Cochran was so eager to join the fight against the Axis that in March of last year she and 25 women went to Britain to fly for the British Air Transport Authority while the U.S. Army was still deciding what role women would play in their Air Forces. After returning to the U.S. in September, she became Director of the Army Air Force Women's Flying Training Detachment. A hundred and fifty women pilots have already graduated from the training course she directed and hundreds more are in training now. The training originally consisted of 115 hours of flying time over 23 weeks, but has increased to 210 hours over 30 weeks.
Also today, Nancy Harkness Love, organizer and head of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS), has been transferred to Air Transport Command headquarters, in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she will serve as an executive on the staff of Col. William H. Tunner, commanding officer of the entire ferrying division of the Air Transport Command. The duties of the WAFS are expected to be expanded, and there is even speculation that they might eventually become part of the Regular Army, though other possibilities are being considered.
America's sixteen million women doing war work were saluted today by Labor Secretary Frances Perkins. In a message to twelve women's organizations on the Advisory Committee of the Women's Bureau, she said : "The scope of womanpower in American industry and commerce today is shown in the variety of jobs held for the first time by women. We have women who scrape the carbon from pipes in oil refineries, women who seal ton rolls of paper in the pulp mills, women who wash down locomotives, drive buses, operate foundry cranes and pilot tugboats." This is much different from 25 years ago when women did not replace men in significant numbers until after the second draft, and then only gradually in industries which had not employed women before.
And last, but by no means least, women of the U.S. Merchant Marine are asking that they be allowed to return to their ships. They were removed from their vessels and prohibited from sea duty - "beached" as they put it - immediately after Pearl Harbor by orders of the War Shipping Authority. But though many have found work in defense industries, they love the sea as much as any male sailor does, and are now in New York to lobby the National Maritime Union at their convention for an official statement approving their goal of having the ban lifted. They have formed an American Seafaring Women's Committee, but have been unsuccessful at trying to get the Navy and Coast Guard to change their policies.
Women at sea in wartime would not be without precedent. England's "Wrens" (as those in the Women's Royal Naval Service are known) have recently begun crossing the Atlantic on troop transports, doing everything from coding to standing regular watches.
July 6, 1917 : Three days in jail was the sentence Judge Mullowney reluctantly imposed today in Washington, D.C.'s Police Court on eleven of the suffragists who took part in a "Silent Sentinel" picketing of the White House on July 4th. They were given a choice of paying fines or jail, and all chose prison. The jurist first offered to release them on personal bond if they would agree to stay away from the White House for about six months and "not bother the President" during these "abnormal times" which began with our entry into the war three months ago.
But none of those convicted on trumped-up charges of "blocking pedestrian traffic" on the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk thought they were guilty of anything, nor were they willing to surrender their right of free speech. So after acknowledging that "I know it's not going to make you quit marching in front of the White House," and even volunteering to personally advance the money to any of the women who couldn't afford to pay their fines, the judge said : "Well, it's no use to ask you to make any promises. I know you won't do it. So I'll have to give you the same as I gave the others last week - $25 fine each or three days in jail." Then off to the District Jail they went.
Those serving time tonight for exercising their Constitutional right to peacefully protest outside the White House gates are : Lucy Burns, Dora Lewis, Gladys Greiner, Margaret F. Whittemore, Vida Milholland, Helena Hill Weed (daughter of Rep. Hill of Connecticut, and a former vice-president of the Daughters of the American Revolution), Iris R. Calderhead (daughter of the former Member of Congress from Kansas), Frances B. Green, Elizabeth Stuyvesant, Joy Young, and Lucille Shields.
Hazel Hunkins, who was not carrying a banner, but snatched one back from a member of the crowd who stole it, and returned it to the picket who had been carrying it, will get a separate trial. Kitty Marion, who was distributing copies of a suffrage publication to the crowd when assaulted by Charles Morgan will be tried along with him tomorrow, both being charged with "disorderly conduct."
The July 4th protest began about noon, when the first six demonstrators - followed by a crowd of about 2,000 spectators - marched out of National Woman’s Party headquarters toward the White House. Helena Hill Weed carried a banner that said : "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." Since it was already public knowledge that the pickets would be there to defy a police ban on picketing along the White House fence, another large crowd had already gathered to watch the confrontation.
Upon nearing the White House gates, a struggle between picketers and police ensued, and one by one, the National Woman's Party’s purple, white and gold standards, and the "offensive" banner quoting the Declaration of Independence, came down amid the cheers of the crowd as arrests were made. A second assault on the objective was made outside the West Gate shortly afterward by another contingent, with Joy Young holding up a banner which asked : "Mr. President, what will you do for woman suffrage ?" The earlier scene was repeated again.
Regardless of the consequences, National Woman's Party pickets are determined to come back as often as necessary to bring President Wilson’s hypocrisy to public attention. He has vigorously and repeatedly spoken out in favor of democracy around the world, but refuses to support the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, which would bring democracy to tens of millions of voteless American women. As the highest-ranking member of the Democratic Party, which controls Congress, Wilson could certainly use his considerable influence to gain a few more Democratic votes, and achieve the two-thirds majority of both Houses needed to send the Anthony Amendment to the States, for ratification by the three-fourths (36 of 48) required.
Of course, more conservative methods of achieving "Votes for Women" are endorsed by suffragists like Carrie Chapman Catt, and groups such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Their efforts clearly help the cause of equal suffrage as well, but militant action is also vital to victory. So the courage and determination of Alice Paul's "Silent Sentinels" - which are now beginning to be tested - should be praised, and their efforts supported until the Anthony Amendment is safely and permanently in the Constitution.
July 7, 1920 : To the surprise of many long-time suffragists and political observers, it’s starting to look as if it may be Democrats, not Republicans, who will provide the final step needed to put woman suffrage into the Constitution.
Governor James Cox of Ohio, who officially became the Democratic nominee for President last night, today sent a telegram to the head of the Democratic State Committee of Louisiana urging reconsideration of that State’s recent rejection of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. He said that : “… the Legislature owes it as a duty to the Democratic Party to ratify at once.”
Alice Paul was quite pleased, and noted that : "By taking action on the day following his nomination to secure ratification by a Southern State, Mr. Cox is making an excellent beginning. He is evidently striving to make the suffrage plank of his platform an actuality. If his efforts continue with sufficient vigor there is little doubt of ratification by at least one of three possible Democratic States - Louisiana, Tennessee and North Carolina."
Of course, the entire ticket needs to be working for the cause, and the National Woman’s Party intends to meet with the Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York. Though not well-known nationally – or even to Governor Cox – Secretary Roosevelt was described by his running mate today as a “vigorous, upstanding, courageous and progressive Democrat.”
Suffragists are not giving up on Senator Harding and the Republicans, however. It was announced this evening that Harding will meet with a delegation of National Woman’s Party officers on July 22nd, the day he is given formal notification of his Presidential nomination. He has been somewhat non-committal on the issue of suffrage over the years, but did vote in favor of the Anthony Amendment on October 1, 1918 when it was before the Senate. However, he has not been active in its support, something the Woman’s Party hopes to change.
In other encouraging news about ratification, Governor Bickett of North Carolina announced that he will call a special session of the legislature for August 10th, and that he has telegraphed President Wilson that he will urge a favorable vote.
As might be expected, the “antis” are becoming ever more desperate as they see their chances to stop ratification slipping away. Today Charles S. Fairchild filed suit in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia on behalf of the American Constitutional League, seeking an injunction to restrain Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby from signing the proclamation of ratification if a 36th State approves, and to keep Attorney General Palmer from immediately enforcing what would then become the 19th Amendment. Fairchild contends that West Virginia and Missouri ratified illegally, and that there are only 33 valid ratifications, with three more needed, not just one. But according to the National Woman’s Party :
"The filing of this suit for an injunction at a time when the thirty-sixth suffrage State is in sight indicates the bitterness of the opposition to suffrage and the determination of its opponents to defeat the obvious will of States which have signified their approval of the enfranchisement of the women of the nation.
"We are convinced that, as in the Ohio referendum case, the validity of the action of the various State Legislatures in ratifying the suffrage amendment will finally be upheld by the courts. Anti-suffragists are evidently grasping at straws in their attempt through court proceeding to lengthen the suffrage struggle and to force the expenditure of more money and time by suffragists for the success of their cause.
"The grounds cited for the injunction petition are matters already passed upon by the Attorney General and the Legislatures of the States concerned, and in the case of Tennessee also by the Acting Attorney General of the United States. By filing certificates of ratification with the Secretary of State these have completed in the manner prescribed by the Constitution the process of ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and we believe that the court will uphold the validity of their action."
So, with the Louisiana Legislature in regular session now, and about to re-vote on suffrage, and the legislatures of Tennessee and North Carolina to meet in special sessions this Summer, that final, 36th State ratification, and the end of a 72-year struggle may be anywhere from just a few days to a few weeks away.
July 7, 1946 : If it seems like there's a "war against women" going on as government and industry now try to drive them out of the workforce as hard as they tried to get them to enter it just four years ago, it's not your imagination. That's the view of Margaret Hickey, president of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs.
Hickey gave the opening address to B.P.W.'s eighth biennial convention today, and warned her 3,000 listeners that women's rights to jobs and education were under attack, and only direct action and constant vigilance could protect these hard-won rights. "There are too many women content to talk, talk, talk about their rights, but who do too little about living up to them." She noted that "Industry's courtship of women is definitely over. Perhaps the intentions were never entirely honorable. Newspaper headlines tell the story - 'Industry Is Replacing Women.' " Using a "campaign of undercover methods and trumped up excuses," even Civil Service, which claims to be non-discriminatory, now seems to be reserving all the "upper bracket" jobs for men.
The number of women in the workforce increased from 12 million to 18.6 million between 1940 and 1945, and their share of the workforce from 26% to 36%. In a survey taken by the Women's Bureau near the end of the war, three fourths of women workers said that they wanted to continue their employment in peacetime, and the figure for those who had been employed before Pearl Harbor was 80%.
Not only are women being displaced in offices and factories, but in colleges as well, as returning veterans flood the nation's campuses using G.I. Bill benefits for tuition and living expenses. "The majority of colleges and universities are taking the simple way out - the defeatist attitude of solving their problem by excluding women entirely from their fall enrollment." While no one could object to reinstating drafted veterans to the jobs they held before the war, or be opposed to those who earned the benefits of the G.I. Bill fully utilizing them, using these things as excuses to roll back all the gains that women have made in education and employment are policies that should be fought. "Surely, we must meet this educational emergency as we did in wartime. Then we threw up hastily constructed buildings, drafted teachers and technicians and trained millions for war and home-front jobs. Universities and colleges must not be allowed to close their doors to women."
As to how to become more effective at protecting their rights, she thinks women's groups should be more assertive. "The indirect approach - study classes, forums, discussion groups, letter writing to Congress - as practiced by women's organizations today is totally inadequate. The time has come for women to clean up "smelly kitchen politics."
Though the past year has seen many setbacks to women's wartime gains, if Hickey's advice is taken, there's no reason why a revitalized feminist movement can't stop, and even reverse, this recent trend and make the postwar decade one of unprecedented progress toward equality of opportunity and rights for women.
July 8, 1916 : Alice Paul is back in Washington, D.C., following a meeting with Republican Presidential nominee Charles Evans Hughes at the Hotel Astor in New York. She said today that she made it clear to him that despite her dissatisfaction with Democrats, his party must work to earn her support and women's votes in the eleven full-suffrage States of the West, as well as in Illinois, where women have Presidential suffrage :
"If the Republican Party continues to dream it has nothing to do but sit tight and profit by the Democratic mistakes in regard to the Susan B. Anthony Amendment it is destined to a sad awakening," is the way she put it this morning at Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage headquarters.
Her forces are already organized in the Western States, and they will try to influence those 4 million women voters to support whichever party will do the most to help win nationwide woman suffrage :
"Voting women will not accept a mere endorsement of the principle of suffrage. They are solely interested in the best method of protecting their own political rights and of emancipating the rest of their sex. The Republican Party wants the women's votes. They are essential to the success of the party next Fall. But it will not receive them by default."
Though both the Republicans and Democrats passed pro-suffrage planks at their conventions this year, they endorsed only the State-by-State method, something totally unacceptable to Alice Paul and her Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and newly-formed National Woman's Party of Western Women Voters. Organizing of the women voters of the West began in April, when the Congressional Union sent speakers on a tour of Western States in a "Suffrage Special" railroad car. A second campaign tour to unite and energize those millions of women voters seems likely, and may be even more extensive and intense then the first.
Getting the active support of Charles Evans Hughes for the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment would give it quite a boost. The former Governor of New York and recent Supreme Court Justice, who resigned his position on the High Court on June 10th when he won the Republican nomination for President, is well-known and respected by most Americans. But regardless of whether he actively works for suffrage, or becomes President, just the fact that he considers Alice Paul to be enough of a political force in this country that a meeting was arranged between them shows the power of the suffrage movement in general, and particularly the growing influence of its militant branch.
July 9, 1978 : In the largest march for women's rights in the nation's history - nearly three times the size of the largest suffrage parade, and at least twice as big as the landmark August 26, 1970, march in New York - a hundred thousand took to the streets of Washington, D.C., today to call for an extension of the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
The spectacle was as colorful as it was powerful, with over 325 delegations, representing a wide coalition of groups, displaying their names on purple, white and gold banners. Those were the colors of the National Woman's Party, which in February, 1921, just six months after having played a major role in winning the struggle for the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment on August 26, 1920, began turning its efforts toward an Equal Rights Amendment.
Appropriately, the first banner in today's march paid tribute to that party's founder, and the author of the E.R.A. : "Alice Paul, 1885-1977." This was followed by an antique trolley car carrying several veterans of the battle for "Votes for Women" which ended successfully 58 years ago after a 72-year effort. Numerous participants saluted the suffragists by dressing in white, as many suffrage marchers had done in parades and other events, such as the "Silent Sentinel" picketing of President Wilson outside the White House gates.
The unexpectedly large turnout overwhelmed everyone, from organizers who had to delay the start for 90 minutes, to police who suddenly had to close all of Constitution Avenue instead of just half. It was more than three hours after the start of the march that the last delegation finally made its way from the Mall to the rally on the West Steps of the Capitol. There the crowd heard 35 nationally known speakers tell why the E.R.A. is needed and that the battle can be won.
"This is just the beginning" said Eleanor Cutri Smeal, president of the National Organization for Women, sponsor of the rally. "We are here because our hearts are here, our souls are here and our spirits long for liberty and justice. And we will not - we will not ever - accept a country in which we remain second-class citizens ! The E.R.A. - liberty for women - is not an idea. it is not just a hope. it is a spirit that lives in each one of us, and it can't go away. We can't go home to the 19th Century because we are going to march into the 21st ! So we will march, we will demonstrate, we will petition, we will write letters, we will work this summer like we have never worked before, and we will march into history. We will finish and complete the American dream. We will make real the promise of equality for all."
Other speakers and marchers expressed similar feelings. Actress Esther Rolle said : "Congress better wake up. There will be political consequences if E.R.A. doesn't get the support it should." Patsy Mink of Americans for Democratic Action agreed. "If they dare to turn us down, we will turn them out on the next election day." Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, sponsor of H.J. Res. 638, which would extend E.R.A.'s present deadline of March 22, 1979, said : "Time is on our side and we will win !"
Eleanor Holmes Norton, of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asked : "How will people look at us 50 years from now if Congress doesn't even give us more time ? We look back on history and we wonder what all the fuss was about over an issue. The point of E.R.A. is to get people to recognize that change is already here. You see a 22-year-old girl with a cop's hat and you know that 20 years ago, a girl the same age would have been a secretary in the police station."
N.O.W.'s first president, Betty Friedan, marched along on this hot and humid day, and said : "It's an incredible turnout. I don't see how anybody could say there wasn't support for E.R.A. with this crowd showing up in this weather." (Eleanor Smeal had also noted the huge numbers for this event and the lack of anything comparable by "Stop E.R.A." forces, when she said, to the audience's delight : "Phyllis Schlafly - wherever you are - eat your heart out !")
Former N.O.W. presidents Wilma Scott Heide and Karen DeCrow were there to participate in N.O.W.'s largest event ever, ably coordinated by Jane Wells-Schooley, who had only weeks - not several months - to turn a N.O.W. Board Resolution into a march and rally of historic proportions.
The Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to Congress on December 10, 1923, and approved by the required two-thirds majority of both Houses on March 22, 1972. A seven year deadline was set at that time, but as was first noted by law students and N.O.W. members Catherine Timlin and Alice Bennett, the deadline is not part of the text of the Amendment, so it can be altered or deleted by a simple majority of Congress.
Thirty five of the required 38 States have ratified, and votes in several State Legislatures have been extremely close. Public support for the E.R.A. stands at 64% according to a recent CBS/New York Times poll, and at 58% according to Gallup. The E.R.A.'s full text is : "Section 1 : Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Section 2 : The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3 : This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification."
The extension resolution is currently being considered by the House Judiciary Committee, and a vote is expected soon. As many as 5,000 of today's marchers are expected to stay overnight and participate in Monday's "Lobby Day" on Capitol Hill to keep up the momentum generated by today's mass march.
Though time is short, and just 256 days remain until the original deadline expires, today's turnout has caused justifiable optimism here. There's a universal consensus among the marchers that E.R.A. ratification is only a question of "when" or "how," and not "if," because as in the struggle for suffrage, there is no time limit on seeking equality, or on how long feminists are willing to work for that goal.
July 10, 1908 : Harriot Stanton Blatch and six young suffragists invaded Manhattan's financial district earlier today, and had much better success with its inhabitants than with the police. Before even arriving at their first stop, the one-car procession down Broadway attracted a good deal of attention as a small crowd of newsboys, messenger boys and brokers' clerks followed along behind the suffrage-yellow "Equality League of Self-Supporting Women" banner, held up by two of the machine's passengers, attorneys Madeleine Zabriskie Doty and Helen Hoy.
When they reached Bowling Green Park, Blatch decided this was the perfect place to begin looking for converts. Telling the chauffeur to park along the curb, then standing up in her seat, she said : "You will not come to our meetings, so we have decided to come to you. All we ask is your attention while we tell you what it is we want, and why we should have it."
But at this point a police officer rode up on his horse and asked for Blatch’s permit to hold a meeting. She didn't think she needed one, as she had a right to free speech. The officer disagreed. Since her missionary zeal compelled a thorough exploration of this previously unpreached territory anyway, she agreed to move on, still accompanied by the newsboys, messengers, clerks and now a number of adults from the crowd.
Going even farther South, she eventually stopped in an alley near State and Pearl Streets, which was soon packed with listeners. This time it was 26-year-old union organizer Rose Schneiderman - in a pink dress, which the crowd definitely liked - who was chosen to do the speaking. Blatch kept an eye out for the law, and Florence Bradley distributed literature while Adelma Burd held up banners saying "Come, Let Us Reason Together" and "Votes for Women."
After receiving a number of good-natured greetings, such as "Hello, Pinkie !," Schneiderman addressed the crowd, as well as the hundreds of brokers in neighboring buildings who poked their heads out of windows to hear :
"You say that men are far above women ..... (shouts of "Hurrah ! Hurrah !") ... but we say that one is just as bad - I mean good - as the other, and therefore they should have equal rights in everything. Are the laws enforced in this country ? No ! You men have made a pretty bad job of it." (The crowd actually seemed to agree with these arguments and shouted its approval.)
Mary Coleman went next and put the case for suffrage in a historical perspective, but just as she said "In this free, or supposedly free, Republic ...." a man in one of the upper floors got out the megaphone he uses to call orders down to curb runners, and tried to drown her out with hoots and catcalls. This made the crowd get noisier too. But after a while, Coleman was able to be heard above the din and said :
"Listen to me ! You can hear hoots anywhere. Are things as they should be in this country ? If they were, would we have [William Jennings] Bryan out in Denver declaring against all sorts of things ? Would we have the Socialists shouting against our social order?" She finished by saying : "All we women want you men to do is to take us out of our swaddling clothes and free our minds."
Blatch then spoke, and asked "why we have the poorest city governments in this country of any civilized nation in the world ?" Intuitively knowing the correct response by now, the crowd shouted along with her : "Because we don't let women vote !"
The success of this rally, and absence of police, encouraged the invaders to press on, this time to the Northeast. But they had apparently used up their supply of luck for the day, as attempted gatherings in front of the New York World (Pulitzer) Building, and at City Hall Park were immediately broken up by police. Still, it was quite an adventure, especially for the younger - but now a bit more experienced - members of the group. Though there are few "sure things" in the financial district, it's a good bet that they'll be back, with or without permits.
July 11, 1973 : Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs met today, but not on a tennis court. They held a joint press conference to announce that they'll play a $100,000 winner-take-all match this Fall. Though the exact format has not been set, it is certain to be a major nationwide event, because it's being staged by Jerry Perenchio, president of Tandem Productions. Two years ago Perenchio promoted the Muhammad Ali / Joe Frazier battle for the heavyweight boxing crown, which turned out to be the greatest revenue-producing event in the history of sports. Tandem Productions was founded by Bud Yorkin and Norman Lear, and has produced a string of extremely successful TV shows, "All in the Family" the best known.
Riggs has spent several months making anti-feminist and male supremacist statements, and bragging that men are so superior to women in athletic ability that even he - a 55-year-old male - could beat the best of the women's champions. As he put it in one of the milder examples of his attitude toward women tennis players :
"They're fun to watch. They hit the ball back and forth, have a lot of nice volleys. You can see some pretty legs. But compare the caliber of tennis to men and it's night and day. I'm out to prove that a guy 55 years old, with one foot in the grave, can play the best woman in the world and maybe beat her. It'll be a big boost for men's superiority."
His initial challenge was issued early this year, and though the 29-year-old King ignored him, 30-year-old Margaret Court accepted. On May 13th – Mother’s Day - Court went down to a humiliating 6-2, 6-1 defeat in a $10,000 challenge match at the San Vicente Country Club in Ramona (near San Diego), California, putting in one of her worst performances ever. This was viewed as a major defeat for women’s sports as well as feminism, so obviously things could not end there. Three days ago, after winning her fifth Wimbledon singles title, ninth women’s doubles crown and third mixed doubles victory, King said : "That's three more Wimbledon titles .... and now for Bobby Riggs."
Though Riggs is known as a hustler, who'll say or do anything for publicity or money, the issues of equal rights for women and of equal recognition and prizes for women athletes are serious matters. The King / Riggs match, for better or worse, will have a major impact on the public's views for many years to come, so good luck, Billie Jean !
July 12, 1971 : The birth of a new and potentially powerful women's political organization was announced today at a press conference. The National Women's Political Caucus, formed by 300 women from 26 States and the District of Columbia at a meeting July 10th and 11th, intends to increase the proportion of officeholders who are women to 50%. That's quite an ambitious goal. There are now only 12 women (9 Democrats and 3 Republicans) in the 435-member House, which works out to 2.8 % of the membership. There is only one woman, Margaret Chase Smith, Republican of Maine, in the 100-member Senate. The more immediate goal is to triple those numbers in next year’s General Election.
But equalizing raw numbers is only the means to an end, and not the goal itself. "Our aim would be to humanize society by bringing the values of women's culture into it, not simply to put individual women into men's politics" was the way Gloria Steinem put it. Rep. Bella Abzug reinforced that view by declaring : "It is certainly not our purpose to replace or supplement a white male middle class elite with a white female middle class elite."
The Caucus will not support a woman solely on account of her gender, and has passed a resolution specifically excluding any racist candidates from support. The policy council is a prestigious group of women. In addition to Gloria Steinem and Rep. Abzug there are : Rep. Shirley Chisholm, author Betty Friedan, Shana Alexander, editor in chief, McCall's magazine ; Virginia Allen, who chairs President Nixon's Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities ; Nikki Beare, president, Dade County (Fla.) National Organization for Women ; Joan Cashin, National Democratic Party of Alabama ; Mary Clarke, California Women's Strike for Peace ; Myrlie Evers, California civil rights leader ; Jo Ann Evans Gardner, Republican nominee for the Pittsburgh City Council ; Elinor Guggenheimer, chair of the New York City Democratic Advisory Council ; Fannie Lou Hamer, candidate for Mississippi State Senate ; La Donna Harris, Indian rights leader ; Wilma Scott Heide, head of the National Organization for Women ; Dorothy Height, president, National Council of Negro Women ; Olga Madar, vice president, United Automobile Workers ; Vivian Carter Mason, Second National President, National Council of Negro Women ; Midge Miller, Wisconsin State Representative and Beulah Sanders, vice president, National Welfare Rights Organization.
Among their worthy goals are to rally national support for women candidates who declare themselves ready to fight for the needs of women and all under-represented groups as well. They will confront existing party structures and, when necessary, cross party lines or work outside formal political parties for such candidates. They demand that each state delegation to the two national political conventions in 1972 be no less than 50% women. They want the Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress and ratified, and the repeal of all laws that affect a woman's right to decide her own reproductive and sexual life. They will work to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so that it will eliminate discrimination against women in public education, public accommodations, public facilities and all federally assisted programs.
They also want an end to both the war in Indochina and the arms race. The use of physical violence as a "traditional masculine way" of resolving conflicts was also denounced. Comprehensive and preventive health care for all Americans is also on the agenda, as is preservation of our natural environment, and fair treatment of working women regardless of marital status.
There's no doubt that a long struggle lies ahead. As Shirley Chisholm said : "No one gives away political power. It must be taken. If women and minorities ever got together on issues and on their own tragic under-representation in the places of power this country would never be the same. I believe we have taken a step in that direction. We understand the problem of overcoming the false standards that have long been used to divide us for so long - race, age, political party, economic class and even physical. But we are all second class, and now we are united."
July 13, 1920 : As Alice Paul steps up the pressure on both political parties to deliver the final State ratification needed by the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, a potentially major roadblock was brushed aside by the District of Columbia Supreme Court today.
A suit by Charles S. Fairchild, on behalf of the American Constitutional League, challenged, among other things, the legality of one of the 35 State ratifications the proposed 19th Amendment has already received. Fairchild sought an immediate interlocutory judgment prohibiting Secretary of State Colby from signing the ratification proclamation when the 36th State ratifies, and to then stop Attorney General Palmer from doing anything to enforce the 19th Amendment until the validity of all the points raised in his challenge are settled.
Had the judge issued the order Fairchild requested, it would have put the status of the Anthony Amendment in doubt for the many years it might take this case reach the Supreme Court. Even if a 36th State ratifies the 19th Amendment in time for women to register for the the November election, officials in States where women cannot now vote could have used the judge's order as an indication that the case had merit, and therefore was a valid excuse not to register women just yet.
The action was filed six days ago by increasingly desperate "antis." Having lost the battle in Congress and 35 of the 36 States required for ratification, anti-suffrage forces now hope to use legal maneuvers to keep women out of the voting booth as long as possible, even as special sessions of the Tennessee and North Carolina legislatures are preparing to convene to vote on the amendment.
Suffrage leaders had little time to celebrate today's victory, however, because even though there is now no legal obstacle to the Secretary of State proclaiming the proposed 19th Amendment to be ratified, the approval of a 36th State is still needed before he can do so. Next month's battle will be the fiercest ever fought, because if successful, it will be the final one in the 72-year suffrage campaign, so both sides are already quite busy preparing for this all out effort.
In other developments today, Ohio Governor James Cox, the Democratic nominee for President, announced that he would receive a National Woman's Party delegation in Columbus three days from now. After that he will go to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Wilson, who is already actively involved in lobbying Democratic State legislators in Tennessee and North Carolina to approve the Anthony Amendment.
As for Ohio's Senator Harding, the Republican Presidential nominee, Alice Paul is planning to stage a demonstration in front of his home in Marion on the 22nd when he receives the official notification of his nomination at a special ceremony. Though both major parties and their Presidential candidates have now officially endorsed nationwide woman suffrage, the Woman's Party recently described Harding's record as "varied, evasive and non-committal" while Cox has "shown a favorable attitude from the first."
If picketing of Harding is initiated, it could be kept up until a 36th ratification is achieved, regardless of how long that may take. (And if by some chance Harding doesn’t take the threat of picketing by the National Woman’s Party seriously, he should ask President Wilson about his experience with the “Silent Sentinels” three years ago, when Wilson was evasive, noncommittal, and then insufficiently supportive, before finally being prodded by Alice Paul into becoming a strong advocate of nationwide woman suffrage. )
July 14, 1920 : Any remaining doubts that the National Woman's Party has major political clout must certainly have been dispelled today. Just four days after they issued a press release detailing Senator Warren G. Harding's "varied, evasive and non-committal" record on the issue of woman suffrage over the years, and after discussing plans to demonstrate outside one of his campaign events next week, the Republican Presidential nominee has suddenly "seen the light" and become a zealous advocate of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment.
Today he appealed directly to legislators in both Tennessee and North Carolina, where the proposed 19th Amendment will be voted upon next month, to vote in favor of suffrage when they’re called into special session. Either State could provide the 36th and final ratification needed to fulfill the Constitutional requirement that an amendment be approved by 2/3 of both houses of Congress, then a ¾ majority of the 48 States. Harding’s action is quite a change from his previous position of sympathy for the cause, but unwillingness to overtly lobby for it.
Suffrage is certainly a major campaign issue now, with both parties eager to win the votes of women who live in States where they can presently vote, and those in all States if the 19th Amendment is ratified before November. Democrats are hoping that a Democratic State (Tennessee or North Carolina) will be the one that puts the Amendment over the top. Republicans are hoping that voters will remember that it was a Republican, Senator Aaron Sargent of California, who originally introduced the Anthony Amendment to Congress in 1878, that their party has provided the bulk of support for woman suffrage over the years, and that it was the fierce opposition of Southern Democrats that delayed the amendment’s passage by the Senate.
In his statement today, Harding reminded voters of his party's substantial contributions to the cause : "A Republican Senate and a Republican House submitted the constitutional amendment for equal suffrage. A Democratic Senate had previously refused to submit it. Twenty-nine Republican and six Democratic States have ratified it. Six Democratic States have rejected the ratification resolution and another, Louisiana, has just refused to give it consideration." Though overlooking the fact that the Republican Governors of Vermont and Connecticut have refused to call special sessions of their legislatures to vote on suffrage, he noted that : "One Republican State - just one, Delaware - has rejected it. The first eight States to ratify were Republican States. When, in 1919, the Republican Senate finally mustered the necessary majority to submit the amendment, there were thirty-six Republican and only twenty Democratic Senators voting for it. But there were seventeen Democratic and only eight Republican Senators voting against it."
He then entered the battle with the following statement : "For myself and the Republican Party I earnestly desire that ratification may be accomplished in time to give the whole body of American women the ballot next November. I am wearied with efforts to make partisan advantage out of the situation. I hope there will be ratification, and I don't care a fig whether it is secured through a Republican or Democratic State. I will rejoice if North Carolina will do it or if Tennessee will do it, just as I would rejoice if a Republican State did it. There will be glory enough for the Republican Party, no matter whether the thirty-sixth State is Republican or not. If any word of mine could possibly be influential with any Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature, or in the Tennessee Legislature, that word would be : 'Vote for ratification and don't worry about who gets the credit for putting it over.' Even if a Democratic State now shall finish the business, the record will still show that twenty-nine Republican and seven Democratic States made up the roll of honor. That is good enough for us."
This isn't the first time the Woman's Party has prodded a powerful politician into action. President Wilson took a similarly "supportive, but passive" stance until they (at that time still called the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage) began picketing the White House on January 10, 1917, to point out Wilson's hypocrisy in vigorously campaigning for democracy around the world while doing nothing to help enfranchise the female half of his own country's citizens. Eventually - after hundreds of arrests, and jail sentences for the picketers - Wilson became an ardent lobbyist for suffrage. He even went so far as to speak in person before the Senate on September 30, 1918, urging the amendment's approval as a "war measure," and has recently been lobbying Democratic State legislators in Tennessee and North Carolina to approve the proposed 19th Amendment. Ohio Governor Cox, the Democratic Presidential nominee, has been a strong and outspoken supporter of suffrage "from the beginning" according to the Woman's Party. Alice Paul has just left for Columbus, Ohio, to meet with him on the 16th, and will then go to meet with Senator Harding at his home in Marion, Ohio, on the 22nd.
Though the 72-year fight for "Votes for Women" seems to be in its final stage, there will certainly be other battles for equality in the future, and the fact that Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party are being formally received and consulted by the next President - whichever candidate that may be - bodes well for feminism's post-suffrage era.
July 15, 1940 : Despite a valiant effort by the National Woman's Party and the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, the Democratic Party is not yet ready to do what the Republicans did last month : endorse the Equal Rights Amendment. It was fear that the law would eliminate so-called "protective" labor laws for women that caused it to become controversial, though it was Eleanor Roosevelt's opposition that sealed its fate, at least until the next convention.
The battle was intense, and had been anticipated ever since June 26th, when Republicans made it a campaign issue by putting an Equal Rights Amendment plank in their platform. The clash here in Chicago began when the Women's Advisory Committee, which advises the Resolutions Committee on women's issues, ignored the proposal in its 15-point program. The portion of their proposal that dealt with labor read : "The Democratic Party will continue its efforts to achieve equality for men and women, without impairing the social legislation which protects true equality by safeguarding the health, safety and economic welfare of women workers. The right to work for compensation in both public and private employment is an innate privilege belonging to women as well as to men, without distinction as to marital status." Though the second sentence, which attacks the practice of firing or refusing to hire wives whose husbands are also employed, had universal support here at the convention, the first sentence did not.
Endorsing the idea of equality for women without endorsing the legislation that would bring it about was totally unacceptable to the National Woman's Party, B.P.W. and others. Perhaps the most zealous E.R.A. advocate among the delegates is Emma Guffey Miller of Pennsylvania, who attacked the Women's Advisory Committee's validity, since it is small, met in a secret "executive session," and there was no chance for E.R.A. proponents to make their case. As she noted : "If the official Resolutions Committee feels it wise, necessary and democratic to ask what the people of the nation desire in the platform, how can a woman's advisory committee for fifteen States meeting in secret session reflect the sentiment of the Democratic women of the nation ?"
Though unsuccessful in persuading the Resolutions Committee to allow all the delegates to vote on an E.R.A. plank, advocates did at least get a chance to voice their views to the committee. George Gordon Battle, a New York attorney, was among those allowed to speak at length. But his eloquent address was interrupted when Eleanor Roosevelt's statement arrived, and was read :
"I feel about the equal rights amendment just as I have always felt, namely, that until women are unionized to a far greater extent than they are at present, an equal rights amendment will work great hardship on the industrial group, which after all is the largest group of wage-earning women. Therefore, at the present time, for us, as a party interested in the well-being and protection of workers, to put into our platform an equal rights amendment plank would be a grave mistake, and in this I think all the leaders of the workers would concur."
Battle tried to make a rebuttal to the First Lady's statement on behalf of the 17 national and 150 local organizations that have endorsed the E.R.A., but Senator Wagner, head of the Resolutions Committee, prevented him from reading statements from those groups and some prominent individuals. Battle did get to finish his own presentation, however, and noted a number of laws that clearly discriminated against women. Just to cite a few examples : in Oklahoma, women are prohibited from holding any major public office, and in Wisconsin, Minnesota and some other States, women have inferior rights in regard to making contracts, being guardians of their children, and inheriting property. As he stated :
"It seems a curious thing that there should be any objection to such a movement as this when we have progressed so far in other and minor directions toward removing from women the injustices and inequalities under which they have formerly suffered. This committee is not being asked to make a decision on the amendment. It is being requested merely to submit to the convention a plank which provides that the amendment be referred to the various States for action by the voters of those States. Surely this is nothing if not democratic action."
Immediately after Battle finished, Nan Wood Honeyman asked permission to read statements in opposition to the E.R.A. from David Dubinski of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and Rose Schneiderman of the Women's Trade Union League, and without waiting for approval, did so.
Though the E.R.A has not yet achieved bipartisan support, the fact that one major party has endorsed it and that there are many strong advocates in the other means that this should be only a temporary setback. Another attempt will be made in 1944 to convince those in opposition that labor laws applying only to women do more to "restrict" them than to "protect" them.
The E.R.A. was written by Alice Paul, and introduced in Congress on December 10, 1923, by Senator Charles Curtis and Rep. Daniel Anthony, both Republicans from Kansas (the latter a nephew of Susan B. Anthony). Its text was officially set, and the E.R.A. first endorsed, by the National Woman's Party at its convention on July 21, 1923, and states : "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and in every place subject to its jurisdiction.”
July 16, 1920 : Both factions of the suffrage movement were quite busy today. Alice Paul of the National Woman’s Party met with Democratic presidential nominee Governor James Cox of Ohio, while Carrie Chapman Catt of the National American Woman Suffrage Association left New York for Tennessee, to coordinate N.A.W.S.A.’s ratification campaign there. Both women, sensing that victory is finally within reach, are now putting maximum pressure on anyone who can help deliver the 36th and final State needed to get the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment into the Constitution in time for the November election.
Alice Paul and the other National Woman's Party members with her were quite demanding of Governor Cox at today's meeting, and got the reassurances they sought from the long-time active supporter of suffrage that he would do everything he could to help :
"I give to you without any reservation the assurance that my time, my strength and my influence will be dedicated to your cause as our combined councils might suggest, with a view to procuring a favorable result in Tennessee."
Following the meeting, Alice Paul said : "We are glad that Governor Cox appreciates the responsibility of carrying out his party platform. His statement this afternoon indicates that he realizes the unprecedented opportunity offered the Democratic Party to enfranchise the 17,000,000 women of the nation by giving the thirty-sixth suffrage State." Alice Paul is, of course, more interested in deeds than words, so she concluded by saying : "We shall look for immediate action by Governor Cox.”
Republican presidential nominee Warren G. Harding's statement day before yesterday, in which he finally got around to urging Republican legislators in Tennessee and North Carolina to vote for the suffrage amendment, isn't sufficient for the usually-diplomatic Catt. She expressed disappointment that after doing so much for the cause, the Republicans are now failing to provide the final State ratification needed. As she left for Nashville, she said :
"It is not enough for Senator Harding to make an effort to secure the 36th ratification. It is not enough to point to past performances. The Republican Party must finish the task. We now pin our faith on the Tennessee and North Carolina prospects. It is true that the Republican Party has a record of nearly five times as many ratifications as the Democratic, but without the 36th State that record is like a tail without a kite. Apparently it is the Democrats who must supply the kite." (Both Tennessee and North Carolina are Democratic States, and their legislatures will be called into special session in less than a month to vote on the proposed 19th Amendment. There has been great frustration for many months over the fact that the Republican Governors of Vermont and Connecticut have refused to call special sessions of their legislatures to vote on the measure, since it’s quite likely that it could pass in either one.)
The National Woman’s Party has previously expressed similar sentiments regarding Senator Harding’s late entry into the battle for the vote, and the value of deeds vs. words :
"There is just one answer to Senator Harding's suffrage statement this morning. What good will the fact that the Republicans have given twenty-nine States do the women of America next November if the thirty-sixth has not ratified ? Thirty-five States are worth nothing at all to us without the thirty-sixth.
"The bitter opposition we have encountered in the last few States and the delay since Washington, the thirty-fifth State, ratified on March 22, indicate clearly that political leaders also know well the difference between a ‘good record’ and ratification.
"Senator Harding says that only one Republican State has rejected the amendment. He fails to mention the Republican States of Vermont and Connecticut, where Republican officials have refused to permit any action whatever on the amendment.
"He says also that it makes no difference to him whether a Democratic or a Republican State completes ratification. It certainly makes no difference to the women of the nation, but Senator Harding cannot evade his responsibility in such a phrase."
Just over three weeks remain until special sessions of the legislature open in Tennessee (August 9th) and North Carolina (August 10th). Time is running out for women in States where they cannot vote until the 19th Amendment is passed to register for the November elections. So now is the time for the parties to prove the sincerity of their convention resolutions in favor of nationwide woman suffrage by working to assure a “yes” vote by their members next month. It will be by their success – or failure - to place a permanent guarantee of woman suffrage into our Constitution that the parties will be judged, and not by easily passed and quickly forgotten resolutions.
July 17, 1917 : Sixty days in Virginia’s infamous Occoquan Workhouse were the sentences imposed today on all 16 of the suffragists who picketed the White House on Bastille Day, and who refused to pay $ 25 fines for supposedly "obstructing pedestrian traffic" on the sidewalk. The severity of the sentences surprised everyone in the courtroom, because up until now, the "Silent Sentinels" had been subject to no more than three-day sentences to be served in the District of Columbia’s Jail.
The trial itself was the now-standard farce, with invented or trumped-up charges pressed, and calls for "order" barked by the judge and bailiffs whenever the spectators cheered the statements made in defense of those accused. In one example, Elizabeth Rogers said :
"I know very well we are going to be convicted. I know it by the attitude of the prosecuting attorney, and I can read it by the manner and bearing of the judge. In fact, we have brought our bags ready and packed for jail. Your Honor, you have the wrong party at the bar. The prosecuting attorney has spoken of the primary cause for the alleged disturbance on the avenue. The primary cause is the President of the United States, who has the power to start in motion the machinery which will give women suffrage and who does not do so."
Judge Alexander R. Mullowney responded to the immediate and enthusiastic outburst of support by saying : "If there is any more applause at all in this court I will order every person except the defendants to be removed. I will not have this for a moment."
Each woman was allowed to make a statement. Anne Martin said : "As long as women go to jail for petty offenses to secure freedom for the women of America, then we will continue to go to jail. Wherever efforts for liberty have been persecuted liberty has in the end prevailed." Doris Stevens noted the distinguished ancestry of a number of the women on trial and said that signers of the Declaration of Independence, jurists, senators and ambassadors were looking down on the trial of their descendants who were being persecuted simply for seeking a declaration of their rights.
Dudley Field Malone, though a personal friend of President Wilson, is also a dedicated suffragist and served as the defendants' legal counsel. It is said – though not confirmed – that he is considering resigning his appointive post as U.S. Collector of Customs for the Port of New York to protest the Administration’s actions against the picketers. In court today, he attacked the charges brought against his clients by saying that any American citizen has a right to peacefully petition for a redress of grievances, and that there was not a large crowd on July 14th, so a single police officer could easily have controlled the bystanders and kept traffic moving past 16 women on the spacious sidewalk if that was what the authorities had wanted. But logical arguments never prevail in a “Kangaroo Court,” and today was no exception.
Following the predictable verdict, the women were all taken to Occoquan, while Malone went to see his Presidential friend. They spoke from 5:25 until 6:10 this evening, so President Wilson is well aware of what went on in the courtroom today, and also must be knowledgeable about the atrocious conditions in the Workhouse, so we shall see if he takes any action. If the imposition of lengthy sentences is supposed to discourage picketing, the strategy has already failed. Seven New York members of the National Woman's Party announced tonight that they would be leaving immediately to augment the ranks of Washington, D.C.'s "Silent Sentinels."
The pickets are protesting President Wilson’s hypocrisy in vigorously promoting democracy around the world, while doing nothing to bring it to the female citizens of his own country. He has steadfastly refused to endorse the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, or use his considerable influence to lobby a Congress controlled by his own Democratic Party to pass it, and send it to the States for ratification. The National Woman’s Party has been picketing outside the White House gates and along the fence since January 10th, the day after an unsatisfactory meeting with the President. The N.W.P. intends to keep picketing for as long as necessary, regardless of the sentences imposed on their peaceful protesters.
July 18, 1937 : The Navy's search for Amelia Earhart, and her navigator Fred Noonan, ended at sunset today. It was the largest such operation in history, covering over 250,000 square miles, and involving 3,000 sailors and 10 ships, among them the battleship Colorado, the aircraft carrier Lexington, as well as several destroyers. The hunt began a day after Earhart and Noonan left Lae, New Guinea on the morning of July 2nd and failed to arrive at Howland Island (July 3rd New Guinea time, July 2nd on Howland and in the U.S. due to crossing the International Date Line.)
Her last transmissions indicated she thought that she was close to Howland - and their strength indicted she was probably right - but she could not find the tiny 3/4 square mile island 2,500 miles from where she took off :
"We must be on you, but we cannot see you. Fuel is running low. Been unable to reach you by radio. We are flying at 1,000 feet. We are on the line 157 / 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6,210 kilocycles. Wait. We are running on a line north and south."
Though the Coast Guard Cutter Itasca, stationed just offshore of Howland was receiving her transmissions very clearly, it was unable to establish two-way communication with her or get an exact fix on her position, and apparently she couldn't get a fix on the Itasca. The ship did everything it could, from sending up black smoke to continually broadcasting to her, but to no avail. The Itasca and the Navy minesweeper Swan then began a search, and were later joined by a massive contingent of Navy ships and aircraft.
Despite a thorough search, only one official report describes anything of interest. On July 9th, a Navy Senior Aviator flew over Gardiner Island and reported that signs of recent habitation were clearly evident. But after repeated circling and zooming, he failed to see anyone on the beach or emerging from the dense vegetation inland, so it was assumed no one was there. The island has been uninhabited since 1892 except for a brief period 8 years ago when the "Norwich City" was wrecked there, and the crew was soon rescued. Meanwhile, radio amateurs in many locations have been picking up purported messages from her, but how many are outright hoaxes, misinterpretations of faint signals, or real messages is uncertain.
Though this trip must now be considered unsuccessful, Earhart's career certainly was not. She learned to fly just 16 years ago, and less than two years later broke the women's altitude record. She was the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean as a passenger in 1928, and the first woman – as well as only the second person - to fly it by herself in 1932, on the fifth anniversary of Lindbergh's flight. She is the only woman to have flown across both the Atlantic and Pacific. Just a few months after her solo flight across the Atlantic, she became the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States.
Howland Island actually proved to be her nemesis twice on this flight. She originally left the U.S. on March 17th, intending to circle the world East to West. But after breaking the speed record from Oakland, California to Hawaii, she had a disastrous crash on takeoff when attempting to go from Hawaii to Howland Island. Three months later her plane was repaired, and she then headed off from Oakland again, flying across the country to test it out. In Miami she announced that she would continue on around the world, this time West to East due to the prevailing winds being different this time of year.
Up until Howland, the flight was extremely successful, and she came within three landings (Howland, Hawaii, and Oakland) of being the first pilot to circle the world as close to the Equator as possible. This is not only the longest way to circle the globe, but requires a good deal of flying where there are no regular airline routes, radio beam or weather services.
Just before leaving the U.S., she said : "I have a feeling that there is just about one more good flight left in my system and I hope this trip is it. Anyway, when I have finished this job, I mean to give up long-distance stunt flying." It's uncertain whether she would have actually made good on that intention, but she has never expressed any similar plans to cut back on another of her passions. She has remained an active feminist and supporter of the National Woman's Party and the Equal Rights Amendment, so her loss is a setback for both aviation and feminism. At the age of 39 there must certainly have been a lot more that she would have liked to have done and could have done for both causes. But we also know what she would have chosen if given a choice between a long and uneventful life or a short but glorious one, so we should celebrate her life and her courage.
July 19, 1917 : Freedom for the “Silent Sentinels” – at least until their next protest. Today, on the 69th anniversary of the first women's rights convention at Seneca Falls, all 16 White House suffrage pickets who had been serving 60-day sentences in the Occoquan Workhouse were pardoned by President Wilson. Though at first they hesitated to accept the pardons, since the charge of "obstructing pedestrian traffic" on the sidewalk is nonsense, they eventually decided to take them, and tonight are attending a celebration in their honor at National Woman's Party headquarters. It was stressed tonight that the pardons were in no way conditional upon stopping the picketing and that they reserved the right to continue it.
According to Mary Hall Ingham : "When Warden Whittaker brought us word this afternoon that the President had pardoned us, we voted unanimously not to accept until we could hear whether our cause had made progress through our sacrifice. We were not after a pardon, but the privilege of petition and the adoption of the suffrage amendment. When Mr. Malone and others came to the workhouse after us, the news they brought from the outside was very encouraging. We believe the President has been enlisted in our cause. We decided to accept the pardon, which was unconditional, and we came away just as quickly as possible. The experience was hard, but we trust it has shown our earnestness. We are willing to go through it and more for a principle should it become necessary."
Just hours after their sentencing and transportation to the Workhouse on July 17th, the President talked at length with the suffragists' lawyer, Dudley Field Malone. Last night he had an equally long conversation with J.A.H. Hopkins, husband of Allison Hopkins, one of the prisoners. Hopkins told Wilson that the country was outraged at the lengthy sentences given the women for peacefully picketing outside the White House gates for suffrage, and that sentiment for the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment was building nationwide and in Congress. He made it clear that the goal of the protesters is winning full voting rights for women nationwide, and that their campaign will continue until they get them.
The President seemed concerned about the ordeals of the prisoners as well as learning the true degree of support for the suffrage amendment in Congress. So, he asked Hopkins to take a poll to find out how many pro-suffrage votes there are in the Senate and House. Wilson is considering the possibility of endorsing the Anthony Amendment and asking for it as a “war measure,” which would greatly increase its chances of passage.
The departure of the suffragists from the Workhouse was not a friendly one. Superintendent Whittaker told Lucy Burns that if more members of the National Woman's Party should find themselves in his prison, he would not show them the same "consideration" given these first 16. This seemed to refer to the amount of time they were given to talk to their lawyer. Attorney Malone then pointed out to him that talking to one's lawyer was not “special treatment,” and by the tone of the conversation it appears that the two have developed an intense dislike for each other.
There is still much controversy about these "Silent Sentinels" of the National Woman's Party, who picket President Wilson at the White House to protest his vigorous advocacy of democracy abroad while doing nothing to help enfranchise the female half of his own country. Officers of the Woman Suffrage Party said today that they were still opposed to such "militant" methods, but would be happy if the President supported the Anthony amendment regardless of the reason :
"Our organization has been trying to win the vote through patriotic service and quiet educational propaganda. It now seems as if the Government wishes to show us by its present action that it rather prefers militant tactics. We prefer to win in our own way, but if the President will take a hand and force our bill through Congress we shall be very grateful. It will give the Democratic Party the great credit of taking the biggest step forward in democracy which has been made since the Civil War."
Abby Scott Baker, head of the National Woman's Party's Press Committee said in reply : "The members of the Woman Suffrage Party go to the government and, standing obsequiously, they say: 'Won't you please give us the vote ?' Then the Government officials say rudely : 'No, we don't like the way you do your hair,' and the Suffrage Party women go off to do their hair another way. Now, we shake our fists in their faces and say: 'Do you want what we have, the power of the woman voter ?' and they are glad to give us their attention."
Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association said Wilson showed "his usual astute comprehension of the psychology of the situation." In what's probably a wildly overoptimistic prediction, she went on to say : "With the clash with the pickets over he can more readily insure a quick passage of the Federal suffrage amendment, which the National American Woman Suffrage Association has declared from the first was a war measure and should be recognized as such by the Sixty-fifth Congress."
But the picketers have their supporters as well. Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and founder of the Women’s Political Union, sent a telegram to President Wilson on behalf of the pickets yesterday, and money has been pouring in to National Woman’s Party headquarters in both large and small donations.
The battle is probably far from over, but it's a good sign that so many National Woman's Party members have now proven that they will not be intimidated, nor compromise on things as basic as their right to protest or to vote, and that even the President now seems to have a growing concern for their welfare (or perhaps about their increasing notoriety, public sympathy and political influence).
July 20, 1944 : The Equal Rights Amendment will now enjoy bipartisan support ! On the ninety-sixth anniversary of the final day of the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, the Resolutions Committee has just agreed to include a demand for the E.R.A. in this year's Democratic Party Platform. Four years after Republicans first endorsed it, Democrats will now join them in calling for the measure that would assure full Constitutional equality for women and men. After first endorsing “Federal legislation assuring equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex,” the proposed platform plank says : “We recommend to Congress the submission of a Constitutional Amendment on equal rights for women.”
It was an uphill fight from the start this week, beginning with testimony before the Resolutions Subcommittee three days ago. Among the leaders of the pro-E.R.A. side were Emma Guffey Miller and Perle Mesta. Speaking in favor of the National Woman's Party's proposal were representatives of the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women, the National Association of Women Lawyers, and the Central Board of the American Medical Women's Association. Opposing endorsement were the National Consumers League, the National League of Women Voters, and the National Catholic Welfare Council. Statements of opposition from Philip Murray, president of the C.I.O., as well as from the National Board of the YWCA, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the American Association of University Women were also read into the record.
Some of the opposition testimony was rather vehement. Marvin Harrison, speaking for the National Consumers League called the E.R.A. a "lunatic proposal" and asked that the Democratic Party be "saved from endorsing, on a 'me, too' basis, this plank which the Republican Party put into its platform, I believe, without much discussion."
On the second day of testimony one major issue was Eleanor Roosevelt's opinion. Two letters from her were read into the record, the older of which was non-committal, the more recent one a reiteration of her opposition. Labor Secretary Frances Perkins testified that Roosevelt's letter of July 9th, written to the head of the opposition forces, would probably be the most accurate representation of her views. The fact that back in February both sides staged a debate for the First Lady, and she was not converted to the cause would tend to support Perkins' assertion. It was Roosevelt's statement, read to the Resolutions Committee at the convention in 1940 that doomed the E.R.A. four years ago. She believes that until women are more fully unionized, they need special legislation.
Secretary Perkins then went on to say that she personally opposed the E.R.A. because it would "tamper with" so-called "protective" labor legislation and laws that require a husband to support his wife and children. On the affirmative side, Shirley Granger, president of the St. Joan Society countered opposition testimony given the day before by Linna Bressette of the National Catholic Welfare Council, which implied that Catholic women were opposed to E.R.A. : "As an American, as a Democrat and as a Catholic, I appeal to you to put an Equal Rights Amendment plank in the platform."
E.R.A.'s prospects looked dim for a while, and there was many an anxious moment earlier today as both sides waited outside a closed door while the full Platform Committee debated inside. But when they emerged, the announcement was made that there would be an E.R.A. plank in the platform. This caused great jubilation among members of the National Woman's Party, E.R.A.'s principal sponsor since 1923. With both parties now on board, E.R.A.’s author, Alice Paul, expressed renewed confidence :
"I would say that this would make it possible to put the amendment through during this Congress and make possible ratification by 1948, which is the date we have striven to meet because it completes the century since the original Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. We have always felt that that should be our goal, to give women complete freedom and equality in a century. Therefore when we celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Seneca Falls convention in 1923 we submitted the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress and have fought for it ever since."
There are presently 52 Senators on record as favoring the E.R.A., just 12 short of the 64 out of 96 needed. It has already been reported out by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is on the Senate calendar for a vote. In the House it is now under consideration by the Judiciary Committee.
As originally introduced into Congress on December 10, 1923, by Senator Charles Curtis and Representative Daniel Anthony (nephew of Susan B.), both Republicans of Kansas, the proposal read : "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction."
Last year the wording was changed, and as approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 24, 1943, it now reads : "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
Since it is planned to give the States five years to ratify, this would be sufficient to assure its inclusion in the Constitution if the National Woman's Party meets its goal getting it approved by Congress this session, and ratified by 36 of the 48 States in time for the centennial celebration at Seneca Falls on July 19-20, 1948.
July 21, 1923 : The National Woman's Party's campaign for an Equal Rights Amendment was officially kicked off today. This was the second and final day of its convention, which has been celebrating the 75th anniversary of the first women's rights meeting here in Seneca Falls, NY, July 19-20, 1848.
The true beginning of this campaign really dates back to February 16, 1921. At the N.W.P.'s first convention since winning the vote six months earlier, Nora Blatch Barney, granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, called for "absolute equality" and the delegates enthusiastically applauded her idea of making that the group's post-suffrage goal. A committee of lawyers was quickly formed to come up with a constitutional amendment that would assure equality for women. On December 11th of the same year they submitted a first draft : "No political, civil or legal disabilities or inequalities on account of sex, or on account of marriage unless applying alike to both sexes, shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
A somewhat more streamlined text was submitted to the convention today by its author, Alice Paul, then unanimously approved : "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction." Her resolution, as she read it from the pulpit of the local Presbyterian Church to the assembled delegates said :
"Whereas, only one point in the equal rights program of 1848, that of equal suffrage, has been completely attained ; and, whereas, the National Woman's Party, as stated in its declaration of principles, is dedicated to the same equal rights program as that adopted on this spot seventy five years ago, be it resolved, that in order to bring the complete equal rights ideal to the victory that was won for suffrage we undertake the following program : The securing of an amendment to the United States Constitution stating men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction."
In speaking for the resolution, Alice Paul said : "We began the campaign for equal rights a year ago. In one State we obtained without difficulty a law establishing equal guardianship and in another State a law making women eligible for jury duty. If we keep on in this way we will be here in another seventy-five years celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the 1848 convention. I think we ought to start immediately on another campaign similar to that which won suffrage. We should demand a constitutional amendment of Congress and the President. We are not safe until we have equality guaranteed by the Federal Constitution." Paul has suggested a nickname for the E.R.A. :
"We tie up this amendment to the 1848 movement. It is easier to get support for something with tradition behind it and which has grown respectable with age than for something new-born from the brain of the Woman's Party. We are going to call this amendment the Lucretia Mott amendment, just as we called the suffrage amendment the Susan B. Anthony amendment, because to Lucretia Mott more than to anyone else the feminist movement in the United States owed its start."
In last night's opening address to the convention, Alva Belmont said : "In Seneca Falls we stand on consecrated ground, the birthplace of women's emancipation when 75 years ago women came together to tell the world that slavery could no longer hold half the race. The Woman's Party today is working for nothing more than the complete fulfillment of the demand for equality made here in 1848. In three-quarters of a century complete equality has been won only in the vote. Discriminations continue to exist in education, in industry, in the professions, in political office, in marriage, in personal freedom, in control of property, in guardianship of children, in making contracts, in the church and in the double moral standard. We have carried out only a part of the command, the fight must go on. Let every woman here consecrate herself to toil to the end that women as well as men shall be free in the United States."
The day ended with a pageant consisting of a fifty-voice choir, 300 banner-bearers, and fifty more participants costumed in the same manner as those who were here in 1848, playing the parts of the original participants in re-enacting highlights of that previous convention. It was a fitting tribute to the pioneers of 75 years ago and clearly inspirational to those who must now go out and finish the fight begun so well so long ago.
July 22, 1920 : Over a hundred members of the National Woman's Party met with Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding today, and made it clear that the N.W.P. will not settle for mere words from the Senator, but will insist on deeds. In fact, if he doesn’t do something meaningful to help the suffrage cause, Harding should probably just continue his "Front Porch Campaign," because if he leaves his home he will be followed to all events by National Woman's Party members, pointing out his lack of commitment to winning "Votes for Women."
According to Alice Paul : "Suffragists can feel only dissatisfaction with Senator Harding's refusal today in his reply to the Woman's Party delegation, and in his acceptance speech, to take a positive stand for the carrying out of the suffrage plank in the Republican platform. The suffrage plank is the only one in the platform which Senator Harding and his party have the power to carry out without waiting until elected to national office, because of the fact that their party is already in control in several Legislatures which have not yet acted on suffrage.” (Vermont and Connecticut appear to be especially ready to ratify, but their Republican governors have refused for months to call these legislatures back into special session so they can vote on ratification.)
Paul continued : “If Senator Harding refuses to live up to the suffrage plank, and contents himself merely with 'earnestly hoping' and 'sincerely desiring,' how can he expect the country to take seriously the other planks in his platform ? The National Woman's Party will continue to demand that Senator Harding carry out his platform by securing a unanimous vote in support of ratification from the Republican delegation in the Tennessee Legislature when it meets next month. If Senator Harding will use his full power, as a leader of his party, in behalf of the enfranchisement of women, he can secure such a Republican vote in favor of ratification in Tennessee. Only by action and not by the expression of polite interest will women be satisfied." (This last sentence may refer to a telegram Harding sent last night to Carrie Chapman Catt, in which he said he would “cordially recommend” that Republican legislators in Tennessee vote for suffrage if they asked his opinion.)
Harding was very polite to today’s large Woman’s Party delegation, which marched down the streets of Marion, Ohio, to his home dressed in white, bearing N.W.P.'s purple, white and gold banners, and wearing similarly colorful sashes. A number of the group's members spoke frankly to the Republican nominee. Louisine Havemeyer brought up a good point about the Republicans' frequent boast that they have done more for suffrage than the Democrats :
"True, the Republican Party has given us more States than the Democratic Party, but they had more States to draw upon, and I recommend your informing yourselves as to the number of Democrats who voted in those Republican States .... This has been a seventy-year struggle between the men and women of this great country. Isn't it time to end the struggle ? Is it fair that a woman should make the flag and only the men should wave it ?"
She then brought Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln into the discussion, comparing his efforts for the 13th Amendment with those of present Republicans for the proposed 19th : "Fifty-six years ago Abraham Lincoln also wished to pass an amendment .... Did he say, 'I have done enough,' or 'I will request some one,' or 'I will urge,' ....or 'ladies, don't bother me, I have done all I could.' No. He said : 'I need another State, and I am going to make one.' And he did, and his amendment was ratified."
Having now met with the Presidential nominees of both major parties, the Woman's Party will expect them to do whatever is necessary to deliver Tennessee - or North Carolina - when those legislatures meet in less than three weeks to vote on approving the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. The approval of either would be the 36th and final one needed to put woman suffrage into the U.S. Constitution as the 19th Amendment. The vote is certain to be quite close, and the result is presently unpredictable, complicated by the fact that the legislators are presently scattered around their home States at their residences, many of which are in quite remote locations, or taking extended vacations.
The General Election is less than 15 weeks away. Registration deadlines have already passed in at least two States where women cannot vote, and are rapidly approaching in many others where women will not be allowed to register unless the 19th Amendment passes. Pressure from the highest levels of each party on State legislators in Tennessee and North Carolina could make the difference between millions of women around the country voting for all offices on the ballot in November, or being barred from the polls until at least next year – and from voting for President until the 1924 election. No effort will be spared by suffrage forces to get that 36th State ratified, and an all-out drive by anti-suffragists to block it is equally inevitable. So, meaningful efforts by Republican nominee Warren G. Harding and Democratic nominee James Cox could be crucial to victory, and will be vigorously sought.
July 23, 1937 : The Equal Rights Amendment received the most prestigious organizational approval in its 14-year history today when it was endorsed at the biennial convention of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs. B.P.W.’s huge membership and nationwide influence should certainly speed up the drive for E.R.A.’s passage by Congress, and submission to the States for ratification. Just last month both the House and Senate Judiciary Subcommittees reported it favorably, and in March, NBC broadcast an E.R.A. debate nationwide, so the campaign begun and spearheaded by the National Woman’s Party in 1923 is moving along well, and clearly gaining support and attention.
B.P.W. then went on to take strong stands on other issues of vital concern to women. The Equal Rights Treaty, which would improve the status of women internationally, and is expected to be voted on in September by the League of Nations, was proposed for approval by Lena Madesin Phillips, president of the International B.P.W. It was quickly endorsed by an overwhelming vote. But the International Woman's Charter was unanimously rejected after Anita Pollitzer of the National Woman's Party spoke to the delegates about the fact that it would validate and spread so-called "protective" labor laws that actually just limit women's opportunities in regard to employment through restrictions that don't apply to men.
There was a huge celebration at the convention today when Charl Ormond Williams, B.P.W. President, announced to the delegates that Congress had given final approval last night to repealing Section 213 of the National Economy Act of 1932. This section has been fought by women's groups since its passage, because it requires government agencies to fire those whose spouses are also employed by the government when reductions in force need to be made. Since men have more job categories open to them, and get promoted faster, it’s husbands who almost always earn more than wives, so it’s the wife who winds up quitting if the couple must live on one salary. Contributing to the five-year delay in repeal was the fact that discrimination against married women in the workforce is widespread, and prejudice still remains strong. Last year “Fortune” magazine did a survey, asking a representative sample of Americans : “Do you believe that married women should have a full-time job outside the home ?” Only 15% of those polled approved, 37% approved under certain circumstances, and 48% were opposed (54% of men and 41% of women.)
Immediately upon learning of the victory, delegates printed up signs saying "Goodbye 213" and "Hurrah for McKellar and Celler" (Senator Kenneth McKellar and Rep. Emanuel Celler are the sponsors of the repeal legislation.) Then, accompanied by a trumpeter and accordionist playing "Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag," there was an impromptu march out of Haddon Hall down the Boardwalk here in Atlantic City, with delegates singing most of the way. The repeal bill now goes to President Roosevelt for his expected signature.
On a more somber note, a tribute was paid to B.P.W. member Amelia Earhart, although one group made it clear that they had not yet given up hope : "The New York delegation, to which Miss Earhart belonged, is glad to honor her but does not join in the feeling that she is lost. We deeply and sincerely hope that she will yet be rescued from the islands where her ship disappeared,” said Isabelle Henderson.
July 24, 1962 : Equal employment opportunity for women in government took a major step forward today as President Kennedy overruled an opinion issued in 1934 by Attorney General Homer S. Cummings, which gave agency chiefs the right to limit applications for any federal job to one sex only.
The 26-member President's Commission on the Status of Women and John W. Macy, head of the Civil Service Commission, recently asked Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to review the 28-year-old opinion, and he determined that the President could overturn it and ban sex bias in hiring and promotion in federal service.
Discrimination at the highest levels of government is still common. A Civil Service Commission survey showed that 94% of requests from agencies to fill top management posts specified men.
In the Memorandum issued today to all Executive Departments and Agencies, the President said :
“As I recently advised the Chairman of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, the Attorney General has rendered an opinion that will make it possible to open up greater employment opportunities for women in the federal service. He has held that the question whether positions in the federal government may be filled by men only, by women only, or by qualified members of either sex, is a matter which may be regulated by the President.
“I have previously directed the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission to review pertinent personnel policies and practices affecting the employment of women and to work with you to assure that selection for any career position is made solely on the basis of individual merit and fitness.
“I intend that the federal career service be maintained in every respect without discrimination and with equal opportunity for employment and advancement. The opinion of the Attorney General now enables me to direct you to take immediate steps so that hereafter appointment or promotion shall be made without regard to sex, except in unusual situations where such action has been found justified by the Civil Service Commission on the basis of objective non-discriminatory standards.”
The White House issued a statement that accompanied the Memorandum, saying it “hits in particular at any remaining outmoded practices and customs in the employment and advancement of women in the federal service and should open up greater employment opportunities for them.”
Though only seven months old, the President's Commission on the Status of Women has clearly made a good start on its mission to determine "what remains to be done to demolish prejudices and outmoded customs which act as barriers to the full partnership of women in our democracy." The Commission, headed by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, had its first meeting on February 12th, with President Kennedy coming by personally to assure its members of his support and interest in their work. The President has instructed them to deliver a report to him by October 1, 1963, outlining any current discriminations based on sex, with recommendations for their elimination.
July 25, 1946 : The Women's Army Corps turned out to be such a wartime success that legislation was introduced in both Houses of Congress today to make it a permanent part of America's peacetime military. Bills to assure that WACs will continue to be a part of our armed forces, and constitute 2% of our Army's total strength, were introduced by the heads of the Senate and House Military Affairs Committees at the request of the War Department, and with the backing of President Truman. This is a welcome change from recent civilian and military campaigns seeking to push women out of the same jobs they were strongly urged to take just four years ago.
The future of the Corps looked grim when recruiting was ended last August, and all training schools were shut down. Last July it had 99,388 members, but that fell to 19,592 by June 1st of this year. However, rather than being forcibly disbanded like the Women Air Service Pilots, the W.A.C. now seems about to be reinvigorated. The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was established on May 15, 1942, and then became the Women's Army Corps on July 1, 1943 with its members gaining full military status.
The strongest supporter of military women is Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers (Republican of Massachusetts) who was sponsoring legislation to permit women in the military even before Pearl Harbor. She said today : "The bill to continue the W.A.C. is a recognition of their services. I am delighted that they are going to continue. The legislation should get through easily in view of the record. They paved the way for all other women's services except the Nurse Corps."
Over 140,000 have served in the Corps, one fifth overseas, and they freed enough men for combat service to make up seven entire Divisions. Though excluded from combat assignments, sixty-two have won the Legion of Merit, three the Air Medal, ten the Soldiers' Medal, sixteen the Purple Heart, and 565 the Bronze Star.
General MacArthur has referred to WACs as "my best soldiers" and General Eisenhower has said : "During the time I have had WACs under my command they have met every test and task assigned to them .... their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit, and determination are immeasurable." Now it appears that WACs will continue to serve their country as it meets whatever challenges the postwar era may bring.
July 26, 1909 : John Dewey, eminent American educational reformer, psychologist and philosopher, today became the first speaker to be featured in a series of lectures at Columbia University on woman suffrage. His topic was : “Some Educational Aspects of Equal Suffrage.”
There are presently 2,000 Summer students here, most of them women teachers, so Katherine MacKay, president of the Equal Franchise Society, thought a suffrage lecture by this well-known public figure would be a good opportunity to recruit for the cause, as well as get those who already favor suffrage to join her group and become active.
Though advertising of the lecture was done primarily by means of printed cards passed from student to student this morning, the room in Hamilton Hall was already overcrowded with over 200 students as the speech's scheduled starting time of 4:30 p.m. began to approach. This was supposed to be just a one-time event, but while the students waited for Dewey to arrive, they began circulating a petition asking that this become a lecture series, featuring other suffrage advocates. Their request was quickly approved by a university official, and a speaker for August second was secured almost immediately.
Following an enthusiastic ovation from the students upon his arrival, Dewey said that women are just as affected by major national issues as men, and therefore had an equal interest in them and an equal right to vote for those who make the final decisions on these controversies.
He also noted that women comprise 80 - 90% of schoolteachers, and yet there is not one woman on New York City's Board of Education, a situation that would change drastically if women were able to vote. He said it was well known that school boards often paid more attention to the male janitors and others who take care of the building than to the women who teach there. That's because unhappy custodial staffs can unite, and potentially shift enough votes to opponents to vote unsympathetic board members out of office if they don't like the way things are being run.
He called attention to the fact that teachers in general are underpaid, and this by itself leads to a lack of respect for the profession. But it's even worse for women, because it's traditional to pay them less than men for exactly the same job (a custom the late Susan B. Anthony herself encountered over 60 years ago, and which is by no means unique to teaching.) He scoffed at the idea that since most teachers are women, boys are becoming "feminized," but advised those who still have this fear to support granting women the vote, as involvement in public affairs will make women even stronger and more courageous.
He stated that current prejudices about women originated in a much more primitive time and place, where conditions were unlike those of today, and concluded that if a group of people were called upon to make a new society along modern lines, anyone who suggested that the right to vote be given or withheld simply on the basis of sex would be widely and mercilessly ridiculed.
Today's lecture was a huge success, and the students are now looking forward to hearing Maud Nathan, of the Consumers' League, give her views on why women should have the vote.
July 27, 1917 : Evicted ! As if the "Silent Sentinels" of the National Woman's Party didn't already have enough trouble, their landlord has now decreed that the Party must be out of Cameron House within three months. The building on Lafayette Square, site of their 1915 convention, has been the N.W.P.'s home since January 30, 1916, when the group was known as the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage.
The president of the Fidelity Trust Company of Philadelphia left no doubt that the reason for the order was purely political. William P. Gest told Abby Scott Baker, who heads the National Woman's Party's Political Committee that it was their “unpatriotic, improper and treasonable behavior” in displaying certain statements and questions on banners while picketing President Wilson near the White House gates that caused him to take this step.
But the suffragists are unlikely to be deterred by his move. They have been picketing since January 10th, and have done so despite extreme cold, snow, rain, summer heat, criticism by more conservative suffrage groups, attacks by mobs, mass arrests and jail sentences.
Their message that President Wilson is being hypocritical by vigorously promoting democracy abroad while doing nothing to help the female half of his own country's citizens win democracy's most basic right seems to be getting through to more and more people thanks to a good deal of publicity. And the fact that just eight days ago Wilson pardoned a group of 16 pickets who were serving 60-day jail sentences shows that the protesters have gotten his attention and gained some degree of his sympathy. But until his sympathy turns to action, such as using his considerable influence on fellow Democrats to get the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment passed by Congress and sent to the States for ratification, the banner-bearers will continue to take up their daily posts along the White House fence.
"Leaving the Cameron House is a matter of keen personal regret, for we are all fond of the place. Our getting out will not alter our plans in the least," said Abby Scott Baker. Fortunately, they won't be homeless. According to Baker : "We have had five houses in the vicinity of the White House offered to us already."
July 28, 1920 : Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt don't agree on much - other than that women should have the right to vote - but both are now confident that nationwide woman suffrage is imminent. Today Alice Paul announced that a poll of the Tennessee Legislature by the National Woman's Party shows firm pledges by 13 Senators and 35 House members to vote to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. Though 17 of 33 Senate votes and 50 of 99 House votes are needed to make Tennessee the 36th and final State needed to ratify, the number of unpledged legislators is large enough, and those pledged to vote "no" is so small, that the gap should be filled when the roll is actually called after the legislature meets in special session beginning 12 days from now.
Three days ago, the ever-optimistic Carrie Chapman Catt announced that sufficient pledges had been made to the National American Woman Suffrage Association and other pro-suffrage groups to make ratification a certainty, though she didn't give specific numbers. Complicating matters is the fact that there will be a special election on August 5th to fill 13 vacancies, so the votes of these still-to-be-elected members of Tennessee's Legislature can't be predicted.
Of course, despite the fact that anti-suffragists are "on the ropes" in what looks like the last round of this 72-year bout, they aren't ready to throw in the towel just yet. Today the Southern Women's League for Rejection of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment asked Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox for a meeting. It's unlikely that Governor Cox, who has been a strong supporter of suffrage for many years, and has two or three of his own paid staffers assigned to helping the ratification campaign in Tennessee, will be converted at this late date, but opponents are now desperate enough to give anything a try.
The telegram they sent him seems to acknowledge the positive effects that the militant tactics of the National Woman's Party are having on the campaign. Woman's Party actions such as picketing legislators who are opposed to suffrage, and creating a unique Card Index which has collected unprecedented amounts of information about legislators, and has proven invaluable in lobbying, have clearly advanced the campaign for suffrage if opponents are complaining about these methods. The "antis" say that : " .... homeloving women of the South, who do not picket, card-index or blackmail candidates, appeal to you as the leader of the Democratic Party to grant us a hearing, not on woman suffrage, which any State can adopt for itself without changing a comma of the Federal Constitution, but on two fundamental Democratic principles, State rights and party honor."
They objected to what they see as a campaign by the national Democratic Party to "bring about the political conscription of our womanhood and the destruction of Southern civilization by using Federal patronage and party pressure to coerce the legislators of Tennessee into violating their solemn oaths of office and their State constitution." (The Tennessee constitution contains a clause that requires a Statewide general election to intervene between the time a Federal amendment is submitted to the States and ratification by the Tennessee legislature, but a recent Supreme Court ruling in June in regard to another amendment seems to invalidate all restrictions on a State Legislature's ability to ratify an amendment at any time. So, most legal scholars now believe that it isn't necessary for Tennessee to wait until after the General Election in November to vote on the suffrage amendment.)
In what appears to be another reference to the National Woman's Party, some of whose members were sent to jail for picketing President Wilson, and were awarded a small pin in the shape of a jail cell door by the party after their release, the "antis" implored Cox not affiliate himself with a small group of pickets "whose chosen symbol is a badge representing their jail terms for persecuting a Democratic President." Cox stated late today that he would give opponents a hearing "at some convenient time" in the future. He has already had lengthy and productive meetings with representatives of the National Woman's Party to plan mutual strategies for ratification.
July 29, 1915 : A suffrage victory in New York State on November 2nd now seems assured if the results of today's "Telephone Day" poll are an accurate representation of public sentiment. This new campaign innovation - calling up voters to ask their views on suffrage - found 75% support for the upcoming "Votes for Women" referendum and lifted the spirits of everyone at the headquarters of both the Empire State Campaign Committee and the New York State Woman Suffrage Party.
But the calls weren't just being placed in those two offices. All New York suffrage supporters were asked to call at least five people today. Since there are 100,000 members in the New York State Woman Suffrage Party alone, the volume of calls must have been considerable. High-ranking government officials were targeted by the more prominent suffragists. New York Mayor Mitchel assured Helen Reid that he would vote "yes," and Controller Prendergast told Vira Boarman Whitehouse that he hoped women would win - though like the Mayor, he wouldn't make a prediction as to the outcome.
Physicians were quite supportive. Dr. Frederick Peterson said : "I believe in votes for women because I believe in votes for men, and because I believe in democracy. Let the men who will vote against woman suffrage next Fall remember they are lining themselves up with the saloonkeepers, the divekeepers, the gamblers, the ward heelers, and all the dark forces of evil in civic life. These forces are arraigned against woman suffrage." Dr. Pearce Bailey, a noted neurologist, assured his caller that he did not subscribe to the theory that women’s brains were inferior to those of men, and said that those who did believe such a myth should still vote for suffrage, because increased involvement in civic affairs would give women a chance to improve their brains.
Of the twenty newspaper editors in the city, eighteen were reached. Fourteen were in favor, two uncertain, and two opposed. "Every sane editor should be for woman suffrage" said Mr. McAlarney. Ogden Mills Reid, editor of the Tribune, said : “Suffrage is bound to come throughout the country, and I hope it will be settled favorably in New York in the Fall. Social conditions will be bettered when women vote, and the conditions for the average person will be improved.” "I am for woman suffrage and I scarcely hear of any opposition," said Kenneth Lord, the Sun's City Editor.
Among the clergy who said they strongly favored woman suffrage were Dean William Grosvenor of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Rev. Dr. Thomas C. Hall of Union Theological Seminary, with other favorable responses received from many other religious leaders.
The Police Commissioner seemed to be the only man in the city afraid to talk to the suffragists. After some hesitation, the caller was told that he was "not there," then "on vacation." When the caller said she'd be glad to call him up wherever he was staying, the story changed to a "walking tour" somewhere. Though the Manhattan officers seemed cool, there was a quite warm reception to the survey at a station house in the Bronx.
Lavinia Dock, a veteran of General Rosalie Jones' suffrage hikes was on the phone as well. She called up a real estate office where local politicians were known to gather, and asked the man who answered the phone to poll the room. "Boys, what are you going to do for suffrage ?" he asked. "They say they will do everything in their power," he then told her.
On top of all the positive responses from the people of New York, telegrams came in all day from numerous Mayors, former Mayors, and Governors in the West, where women vote in 11 States, and have done so for many years in some of them. All wished the suffragists here (as well as in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey) the best of luck in the four suffrage referenda coming up this Fall. Kansas politicians were especially supportive.
W.J. Babb, mayor of Wichita from 1913-14, said : “None of the woes predicted by some as sure to follow in wake of woman suffrage, such as breaking up the home and other dire disasters, have befallen the people of Kansas, but our homes remain intact and happy, as before, and Kansas is still prosperous and progressive.”
C.W. Green, presently the Mayor of Kansas City, said : “For more than a quarter of a century Kansas women have voted at municipal elections. Municipal ownership, commission government, public improvements, and better schools resulted. In 1912 equal suffrage was made Statewide with resultant good. Prohibition and other good laws came indirectly from woman suffrage in cities.”
Governor Arthur Capper noted : “Kansas gave her women school suffrage and liked it. Afterward she gave them municipal suffrage and liked it better. Afterward she gave them full suffrage and liked it best. Suffrage in Kansas has broadened women’s views of social life. It has centered her thoughts on home and its needs, and has given a new and beneficial influence in the life of the State. It has in no way detracted from her womanliness or her character, but has strengthened both. Kansas will never go back to the rule of all the people by a part of them – the men.”
Empire State suffragists are now awaiting Election Day with vastly increased optimism and enthusiasm, and pronounced today's experiment such a success that the telephone may become a regular part of the campaign.
July 30, 1970 : Pickets from the National Organization for Women were out early and in force today in seven of the fourteen cities that were part of a closed-circuit television conference sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Industrial Council. The purpose of the conference was to give employers around the country a chance to talk with representatives of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance (O.F.C.C.) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about how those agencies will enforce guidelines barring discrimination. The reason for the protest is the refusal of the O.F.C.C. to include bias against women in its campaign to end discrimination by companies doing business with the government.
The O.F.C.C. representatives made it clear that they took racial discrimination quite seriously and intended to be very strict in regard to barring companies that were racially biased from having federal contracts. Their attitude regarding sex discrimination, however, is an open invitation to discriminate and an insult to women. Secretary of Labor Hodgson has previously said that failure to include women in affirmative action plans will not make government contracts "unawardable."
Today, things went from bad to worse when O.F.C.C. director John Wilks illustrated the group's attitude toward sex discrimination. After the topic of affirmative action guidelines regarding sex came up he said : "Guidelines for sex ? It could be a best-seller. We're looking forward to it." The overwhelmingly white male audience thought the remark was hilarious, but N.O.W.'s Shirley Bernard did not. She said :
"That's what we're protesting. They haven't really said anything pertinent about women all morning ... Effectively, what has happened is that our status as a minority group in the work force has not been reaffirmed. We've been excluded from the benefits of Order 4 [which deals with affirmative action programs] especially where it covers recruitment. Directives concerning equal employment have been watered down, wording changed from 'must' to 'should.' There seems to be a lack of interest among government agencies to alleviate the discrimination problem for women." As noted by one N.O.W. member, the fact that 109 of the 110 federal complaint officers are men might have something to do with the problem. "Perhaps the O.F.C.C. should investigate itself," she suggested.
The protest got lots of media attention, and even those who put on the conference had to take note of it : "You can be sure those television cameras aren't here because our program is big news," said Donald E. Butler, who put together the Los Angeles conference. "As the newsmen say, where there's a picket line, there's a story." The media coverage here - as usual - was mixed. A KFI radio reporter was quite supportive and even asked for some N.O.W. literature for his wife. But KABC-TV focused mostly on the marchers' legs and commented on their "muscular calves." KNBC-TV presumed the pickets were "secretaries and stenographers." Passersby gave both positive and negative comments ranging from "I go along with you" and the hope that "N.O.W. would change things for all women" to "Women should go back to their stoves."
As previously arranged by N.O.W. president Aileen Hernandez and Ted Allan of N.A.M., two members of N.O.W. were permitted to register and attend the conferences in each of the 14 cities. In San Francisco one of the two was Hernandez, and in Los Angeles, Virginia (Toni) Carabillo, president of Los Angeles N.O.W. and Danica Henninger of N.O.W.'s Employment Task Force went in to represent the feminist view.
Apparently those who were admitted were quite effective, because during the question and answer session after a coffee break, 6 of 13 questions were about sex discrimination. The answers indicated that though eliminating sex discrimination had not yet been given the same priority as banning racial bias, certain things are clearly illegal : Discrimination based on sex in want-ad advertisements ; treating a woman with children differently than a man with children, and pregnancy discrimination. It was also stated that when there was a conflict between a state's "protective" (in reality, "restrictive") law regarding women's employment and a Federal law requiring equal treatment, the Federal law has priority.
There's still a long way to go to attain total workplace equality, but the attention given the protests, as well as some substantive interactions between government officials, employers, and N.O.W. members today gives hope that the government's drive to eliminate employment discrimination will soon give gender bias the equal priority it deserves.
July 31, 1913 : A huge caravan of over 60 decorated automobiles carrying suffragists drawn from all 48 States bearing 85,000 signatures on suffrage petitions arrived at the U.S. Senate today. The suffrage supporters had been traveling around the country in various small caravans and finally converged on Hyattsville, Maryland, to begin the final procession. The town displayed its enthusiasm for the cause with a widespread showing of suffrage yellow by the local residents. (This wasn't the city's first encounter with a major suffrage event. "General" Rosalie Jones and her band of suffrage hikers were met by the mayor and given a luncheon there on February 27th while on their way from Newark, New Jersey to Washington, D.C.)
Today's procession began with a rally in a Hyattsville ball park, proceeded over Maryland's thankfully dry country roads, then down Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. It was led by Alice Paul, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association's Congressional Committee, other N.A.W.S.A. officers, and sympathetic members of the Senate's Woman Suffrage Committee.
They were welcomed at the Capitol by Senator Chamberlain, Democrat of Oregon, principal sponsor of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. The petitions were then formally presented to Congress by Senator Robert Owen, Democrat of Oklahoma, with 10 other Senators also making speeches urging the amendment's passage, as 500 suffragists packed the galleries to listen.
The day's events ended with a magnificent banquet hosted by N.A.W.S.A.'s Congressional Committee at the Brighton Apartment House. More than 20 Members of Congress were present, and Senator Charles Thomas, Democrat of Colorado, who heads the Senate's Woman Suffrage Committee, encouraged the diners by saying that "Votes for Women" in the U.S. is "as inevitable as the law of gravity." When Alice Paul asked for contributions for the suffrage campaign, $ 1,051 was pledged in just 10 minutes. She then announced that her committee was planning to publish a suffrage newspaper to further the fight and keep members up on the latest developments.
Lucy Burns explained that it was more efficient to concentrate on Congress than to do State-by-State campaigns, and that women now had enough voting power in suffrage States to influence it : "There are over 4,000,000 women in the United States who can vote. One sixth of the Electoral Vote is cast in States where women have the vote." Burns is not willing to accept the usual explanations for delay : "Every session of Congress, it appears, is 'the busiest in its history.' The time for us to get action is now." If actions like today's can be kept up, results can't be far behind.
August 1, 1911 : An American woman has now joined the ranks of licensed aeroplane pilots ! Early this morning Harriet Quimby earned License # 37 from the Aero Club of America, an affiliate of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. This is the first one the Aero Club has issued to a female pilot in its six year history. Few other women in the world have been licensed, Raymonde de Laroche being the first of six European women who
presently hold licenses there. She ended the male monopoly on pilots' licenses on March 8, 1910.
Getting officially licensed anywhere is not an easy task, and even Quimby had to make two attempts. Late yesterday she successfully performed the required series of figure eights around the designated course, but upon landing didn't shut off her engine quickly enough and came to a stop 40 feet past the allotted 160 feet from her mark. Undeterred, she said that she would be back on the field at 4:30 the next morning to try again, and Aero Club officials agreed to be there.
When she and the officials arrived this morning, the Garden City, Long Island, field was shrouded in fog, so the trials could not immediately be held. But Quimby insisted that the sun would come out and burn off the fog, and by 6:00 she was proven right. She had her Moissant monoplane wheeled out, then she climbed in, and went aloft. Flying at the standard 150 feet, she successfully circled the pylons, proving herself equally adept at right and left turns. But now came the hardest part of the test. After landing to let her motor cool, she briefly went up again, then came in for a landing, stopping within 7 feet nine inches of the mark. This brought her close to the world's official record of 5 feet four inches, though Tom Sopwith is alleged to have landed within a foot of his target.
She then went up again, circled the pylons once more, and landed within 160 feet of the mark a second time to show she wasn't just lucky in the morning's previous attempt. There remained only the altitude test, which she easily passed by going well past the 164 feet required, to 220 feet, in a series of spirals. The height was verified by a barograph carried on her plane. Upon landing for the final time she said : "Well, I guess I get that license." An Aero Club official agreed : "I guess you do !"
In addition to being an aviator, Quimby has been a photojournalist and drama critic at Leslie's Illustrated Weekly for the past eight years, and has written scripts that have been made into motion pictures by D.W. Griffith of Biograph.
Her interest in aviation began last October when she went to the Belmont Park International Aviation Tournament to write a story. Through her interest in flying she became friends with Matilde Moissant, and they both took flying lessons from Matilde's brothers at the Moissant Aviation School. Quimby's progress at the school has been reported by the press, since she is somewhat of a local celebrity in New York. Now that she's a licensed pilot there is no limit to what she can do in aviation, so all her fans are looking forward to this new chapter in her life.
August 2, 1947 : An initiative petition for "An Act to Allow Physicians to Provide Medical Contraceptive Care to Married Women for the Protection of Life or Health" in Massachusetts was filed today by Dr. Karl T. Compton, president of M.I.T., Dr. John Rock of the Harvard Medical School, and eight others. Though most signers were doctors, among the non-physicians signing the petition are Mary Pratt Potter, past president of the Massachusetts Federation of Women’s Clubs and Helen G. Rotch, past president of the Massachusetts League of Women Voters. Birth control and the dissemination of contraceptive information has been illegal in the State since 1879, when in the wake of the federal Comstock Act, which classified birth control devices and information as obscenity, Massachusetts passed - with little debate - a law banning birth control.
Enforcement of the anti-birth-control law became lax by the 1920s, however, so between 1932 and 1937 seven clinics began permitting doctors to quietly provide contraceptives and information to married women whose health was at risk. After Catholic priests began openly condemning the clinics, police had to investigate. Raids then began, with convictions following. The clinics, which provided services to 3,000 women, were closed. Five years later a birth control referendum was put on the ballot, but lost by a 58-42% margin after a vigorous campaign of opposition led by the Catholic Church.
Proponents such as the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts are hopeful that the result this time will be different, though the campaign will be a long and difficult one at best. The form and substance of the petition must first be approved by the State Attorney General, then 20,000 voter signatures must be gathered by Fall. If that is accomplished, the State Legislature must vote on it by June, 1948, and if they do not enact it into law it can then become a referendum on the November, 1948, ballot if 5,000 more signatures are gathered.
Dr. Compton submitted a statement along with the petition in which he said : "I believe that the public interest can best be served by placing in medical hands the control of medical matters. The giving of contraceptive care is a generally accepted medical technique which should not be denied by law to anyone whose medical need is great. Those needing and desiring contraceptive help should not be left in complete ignorance or left at the mercy of irresponsible sources of information. Naturally, such information and help should not be forced upon anyone whose religious beliefs are opposed to those measures, but by the same token the religious beliefs of some should not be forced upon all. This is an elementary matter of civil liberties in a democracy."
Another petitioner, Dr. George Shipton, Chief of Obstetrics at Pittsfield’s House of Mercy Hospital, added : "Since 1796, when Jenner performed his first public vaccination against smallpox, the attention of researchers in medicine has been focused on prevention of illness. Jenner was ridiculed and bitterly opposed by both laity and some medical men. So, also, was Pasteur when he advocated the exclusion of bacteria from wounds and at childbirth. The idea of conserving the lives and health of married women by properly spacing, and, in some desperate conditions, actually preventing pregnancies, is just as humane, and likewise just as important to the welfare of the world. The present law in Massachusetts, which prevents a doctor from safeguarding the health of his married patients, should be abolished immediately. A living and well mother of four children is a greater asset and can do a better job of bringing up her family than a dead mother of ten."
The fact that only two States (Massachusetts and Connecticut) still retain strict bans on birth control and contraceptive information shows the progress that has been made in the other 46 States since the battle to re-legalize birth control was begun a third of a century ago. But even in those other States, birth control devices and information are not yet easily accessible to all those who need them. The battle will continue at the ballot box as well as in the legislatures and the courts until the basic right to control one's fertility is secured. Then will come another hard struggle to preserve this fundamental right.
August 3, 1920 : Is Tennessee about to become the 36th and final State needed to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment ? Or will it fail to do so, and if the even less likely to ratify State of North Carolina is lost as well, end any chance for millions of women in non-suffrage States to be enfranchised before the November election ? The answer depends upon whom you ask.
Carrie Chapman Catt is brimming with confidence, and said just yesterday : "We have taken a poll of the Legislature and we have a safe majority in each House. We have a clear majority without considering the new members who will occupy 13 vacancies. If there is any fight at all, it will be over factional differences inside the two parties and not between the Democratic and Republican parties." But as with her first prediction of victory in Tennessee on July 25th, she didn't give any actual numbers or specific names of pledged legislators, and her estimates have always tended to be on the optimistic side. For instance, on February 9th, just before New Jersey ratified, she predicted final victory within ten days even though this would have required eight States to ratify in that time.
Meanwhile, militant suffragists are making far more conservative estimates. Abby Scott Baker, of the National Woman's Party, arrived in Dayton, Ohio, today, and brought with her a gloomy report for Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox. Her group's latest canvass of the Tennessee Senate showed 9 Democrats and 5 Republicans pledged to suffrage, three short of the 17 needed. In the House the tally was 29 Democrats and 13 Republicans, 8 short of the 50 needed. There are still a number of unpledged legislators, and it was hoped that enough of them would declare for suffrage by now, six days before the legislature meets in special session, that this would cause others to hop on the suffrage bandwagon if passage looked inevitable. So far no luck. The intensity of the last-ditch anti-suffrage campaign may even be causing some second thoughts by legislators leaning in favor of suffrage.
Governor Cox announced today that he would meet with Baker tomorrow, and in doing so said that he had received a similar report about Tennessee from Mrs. Bass. She heads the Women’s Bureau of the Democratic National Committee, and is a member of its Executive Committee. Governor Cox has pledged to do all he can to bring about a suffrage victory, and has already gone so far as to send some of his paid campaign staffers to work with the Tennessee suffrage campaign. Since there is great optimism among Democrats that the Cox / Roosevelt ticket will be elected in November, he should have great influence with Tennessee Democrats who would like to be on friendly terms with the man who may be our next President.
August 4, 1920 : The already uncertain chances of Tennessee ratifying the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment decreased today as Republican presidential nominee Warren G. Harding said he was not presently willing to get involved in pressuring his fellow party members there to vote "yes." With only five days left until the Tennessee Legislature is expected to be called into special session, and Republican support decreasing, it had been hoped that Harding, like Democratic nominee James Cox, would take an active part in the suffrage campaign.
Millions of women are already eligible to vote for all offices in 15 equal-suffrage States (plus the Territory of Alaska), and can vote for President in 12 more States. So, many Republican organizations are becoming increasingly alarmed at the prospect of all those voting women blaming Republicans for the failure of the Anthony Amendment to be approved in time to enfranchise their voteless sisters in the other 21 States for the November election.
Recently the Harding-Coolidge League of the District of Columbia sent a telegram to Senator Harding asking him to use his influence in Tennessee, and today they got his response : "You can understand why I cannot consistently urge Tennessee legislators to vote for ratification without knowing their reasons for such commitment as they have made. The situation is being reported to national headquarters, where it will be given attention at once."
But though Harding is passing the buck to the Republican National Committee, and doing nothing for suffrage, there will still be two party nominees working hard for the cause. In addition to Democratic nominee James Cox, there will be Parley Christensen, Presidential nominee of the newly created Farmer-Labor Party. He sent a wire to the National Woman's Party today offering his services as he prepares for a Statewide speaking tour addressing farm and labor organizations.
In 1916 both major parties endorsed suffrage, but only if won on a State-by-State basis. This year – after the Anthony Amendment had been passed by Congress and gotten 35 of the 36 State ratifications needed - both Republicans and Democrats finally found the courage to endorse it at their national conventions, and asked governors to call special sessions of their legislatures so that the proposed 19th Amendment could be part of the Constitution before the General Election in November.
The latest analysis of votes in the Tennessee Legislature shows that though Republicans are a minority in both houses, their support will still be critical in this close contest. Of the 7 Republicans in the 33-member Senate, 4 are pledged for suffrage, one is uncommitted, one is opposed, and the views of the other are unknown. The 99-member Tennessee House has 28 Republican members, of whom 11 are pledged to vote "yes," 5 are uncommitted, 2 are opposed, and 10 have not replied to inquiries. Adding to the uncertainly is a special election tomorrow to fill 3 vacant seats in the Senate and 10 in the House.
The fragility of a pledge can be illustrated by what’s been happening in regard to one given by Republican House Member Finney G. Carter, representing the 61st District. On July 9th he sent the following telegram to the National Woman's Party : "I will vote in favor of ratifying the amendment to the United States Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women when it comes before the legislature of my State." But on July 31st, Anita Pollitzer told Alice Paul in a telegram : "Carter says he is undecided because of constitutional questions."
The Tennessee Constitution requires a Statewide election to occur between the time a Federal amendment is submitted to the States and its approval by the Tennessee Legislature. This would postpone a vote until after the November election. But a Supreme Court decision in June regarding the 18th Amendment appears to invalidate all restrictions on a State's ability to approve a Federal amendment at any time. Some Tennessee legislators who don't want to come right out and say they oppose woman suffrage have been using this clause as an excuse for saying they'll vote "no."
So, there's a mix of excitement, uncertainty and concern in Tennessee today, but for better or worse, the time when every member of the Legislature will have to take a definite stand on woman suffrage by casting a vote is coming very soon.
August 5, 1920 : In a stunning - and welcome – development today, Republican presidential nominee Warren G. Harding has reversed the position he took just yesterday of being unwilling to help in the fight to win ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment in Tennessee. He has just sent a series of telegrams, and made a number of statements, indicating that he is fully committed to helping win the fight for suffrage. His first telegram went to State Senator John Houk, head of the party in Tennessee, asking Houk to find out which Republicans could use some lobbying, and what Harding could do to help win the 36th and final State needed to ratify the proposed 19th Amendment :
"With the approach of a decision by the General Assembly of Tennessee on the matter of ratifying the suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution, I would like to be advised as to a poll of Republican members. I cling to the belief that the Tennessee Republicans are in a position to serve both party and country by effecting ratification. Will welcome advice as to whether I can aid in securing this act of justice to the women citizenship of our nation."
He then telegraphed Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, who had told him of her concerns about diminishing support among Republicans. His message said : "Your telegram received. No discouragement is voiced from here. On the contrary, we are continuing to encourage Republicans of the Tennessee Assembly to join cordially in the effort to consummate ratification."
Harding has also talked with Abby Scott Baker of the National Woman's Party. He told her that he would take an active part in the suffrage fight in Tennessee, and will send telegrams to two more key Republican legislators, as well as to the Republican candidate for Governor, urging them to work to secure solid Republican support for suffrage when the vote is taken.
His turnaround appears to have been due to a report given him late yesterday by the Republican National Committee. Earlier in the day he said in a telegram to the Harding-Coolidge Republican League of Washington, D.C., that he could not lobby fellow party members in Tennessee until he knew the reasons for their opposition, but that the R.N.C. would look into the situation there. Apparently they did, and gave him compelling reasons to change his "hands off" approach.
His sudden turnaround may be due to the fact that having achieved 35 of the 36 State ratifications needed, the suffrage amendment seems almost certain to be ratified at some point, and the only question is whether it will win in time for women in non-suffrage States to vote in the November election. If it is ratified in time, both parties will want to take credit for enfranchising millions of new women voters, and if it isn't, neither party will want to be blamed by millions of women in States where they can already vote for failing to enfranchise their sisters in other States. So, having their standard-bearers out there visibly working for woman suffrage is a good strategy for both parties no matter what happens in Tennessee.
Meanwhile, long-time suffrage supporter, and Democratic presidential nominee James Cox told Abby Scott Baker when he met with her today that he might go to Nashville to personally lobby the Democratic majority there to ratify. He said that while things did look gloomy, they were not hopeless. That's pretty much the consensus today, although things are looking better now than yesterday. Both major parties endorsed the Anthony Amendment at their conventions earlier this summer, and now both their Presidential candidates are committed to actively lobbying the Tennessee Legislature to ratify.
But despite confident predictions of victory made by Carrie Chapman Catt on July 25th and August 2nd, this is still an uphill fight, and the situation seems to change daily. Some legislators are believed to have defected, others seem unsure, some won't say how they'll vote, and it won't even be known until at least tomorrow exactly who will be voting on ratification, because 10 vacant seats in the 99-member House, and 3 in the 33-member Senate are being decided right now in a special election. But today's news does bring some much-needed cheer to the suffrage camp, and if today's special election goes well, tomorrow could bring even more.
August 6, 1918 : Forty-eight members of the National Woman's Party were arrested today when they attempted to hold a suffrage rally at the Lafayette Monument in Lafayette Park, across from the White House. The demonstration began when Hazel Hunkins, carrying an American flag, led 100 suffragists bearing the purple, white and gold banners of the N.W.P. on a march from their headquarters at 14 Jackson Place, to the park.
The purpose of the rally was to protest the Senate's inaction on the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, and the fact that President Wilson has not as yet applied the full weight of his influence to gaining the Amendment’s passage.
The House passed the Anthony Amendment on January 10th by 274-136, just over the 2/3 necessary, so only concurrence by 2/3 of the Senate (64 of the 96 Senators) is now needed to send it to the States for ratification by 3/4 (36 of 48). Today was chosen for the rally because it is the birthday of the late Inez Milholland Boissevain, an N.W.P. activist who collapsed on stage during a grueling speaking tour of the West in 1916, and died soon after at the age of 30.
Today’s first speaker was Dora Lewis, but moments after she began to speak, while on the steps of the statue, she was arrested, seized by police officers and dragged off. She was immediately replaced by another speaker, who was also arrested, and the pattern continued. Lavinia Dock, a veteran of "General" Rosalie Jones' legendary suffrage hikes, tried to create a diversion by singing "America," and was arrested.
The demonstrators then began to circle Lafayette's statue while the police looked through a book of park regulations trying to find something to charge them with. Police then began making mass arrests of those in the park for "holding a meeting without a permit," "congregating in the park" and "climbing on a statue." Though she was on the sidewalk, Alice Paul was arrested as well, when one of the officers said : "There's the leader - get her !" Tonight she said : "It is intolerable that American women cannot ask for a share of the democracy for which we are fighting without having their speakers and even their listeners arrested. The world will look with amazement upon the spectacle. We are ashamed for our nation."
The reaction of the crowd to the demonstration was mixed. Some applauded when the suffragists tried to speak, others applauded when the orators were arrested and taken away.
Mass arrests of suffragists have been tried before. Last year many "Silent Sentinels" were arrested for allegedly "blocking traffic" on the sidewalk in front of the White House, and a number of them served time in the District Jail or Virginia's infamous Occoquan Workhouse. Some went on hunger strikes and a few, such as Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, endured force-feeding. But on March 4th of this year, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed all the convictions and declared the actions of the "Silent Sentinels" were legal. They specifically said that :
"So far as the information enlightens us, the defendants may have assembled for a perfectly lawful purpose, and though to a degree obstructing the sidewalk, not be guilty of any offense ..... It would hardly be contended that if the defendants had met on one of the spacious sidewalks of Pennsylvania Avenue to conduct a peaceable conversation, though in a degree inconveniencing pedestrians, they would be guilty under the statute of crowding and obstructing the free use of the walk ..... The statute does not condemn the mere act of assembling on the street, but prohibits assembling and congregating coupled with the doing of forbidden acts."
So, it remains to be seen if these equally ridiculous charges stand up. But whether they do or not, National Woman's Party members will not give up their right to peacefully protest the failure of any governmental body or official to do what they can to assure the female half of the population the right of equal suffrage.
August 7, 1920 : Though suffragists from around the country have been converging on Nashville for nearly a month, the level of excitement, as well as apprehension, escalated dramatically today. What all “Votes for Women” supporters hope - and anti-suffragists fear - may be the final battle in the 72-year struggle for the ballot has now been officially set to begin day after tomorrow.
Today Governor Roberts issued a proclamation calling the Tennessee Legislature into special session on August 9th, with a vote on ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment at the top of the list of 139 subjects they will be permitted to consider.
But the outcome is still far from certain. Despite the ever-optimistic Carrie Chapman Catt’s assurances of imminent victory, there are not firm, public pledges of support from a majority of either Senate or House members, though there seems to be more confidence today than just a few days ago at all six suffrage campaign offices in Nashville.
Since there’s no doubt that the vote will be extremely close, there was a great deal of concern about a special election held day before yesterday to fill three vacant Senate seats and ten in the House. But according to the National Woman's Party, the results are favorable to suffrage, so this should increase the momentum for ratification as well as the certainly of making predictions, now that the names of all the legislators who’ll be voting are known.
History is also encouraging. Last year the 33-member Tennessee Senate passed a bill granting women the right to vote in municipal and Presidential elections by a vote of 17 to 14. All those who voted "yes" are still in the Senate. In the 99-member House, the same bill passed by 54 to 32. The vacancies of five House members who voted "yes" and five who voted "no" were filled in the special election, with an apparent gain, if the National Woman’s Party’s analysis is correct. So, if everyone who voted for municipal and Presidential suffrage last year votes for the nationwide suffrage amendment it will pass. Unfortunately, favoring one does not necessarily mean favoring the other, because some think women should vote, but only by their home States authorizing them to do so, and not by a Federal amendment passed by Congress and 36 States “forcing” it on the other 12.
Despite their desperate and precarious situation, anti-suffragists are still expressing confidence. Some of this is based on the number of people joining a new anti-suffrage group called the “Constitutional League of Tennessee,” composed of those who think the State can't legally ratify because of a clause in its constitution that requires a Statewide election to intervene between the time a Federal Amendment is submitted to the States and the time the legislature votes on it. Since the Anthony Amendment passed Congress on June 4, 1919, that clause would appear to block a vote until after the November 2nd election. But a Supreme Court decision in June regarding Ohio's ratification of the 18th Amendment seems to have found any restrictions on a State's ability to ratify an amendment at any time unconstitutional. So, invoking this clause seems to be more of an excuse to vote “no” than a reason. Nevertheless, now that anti-suffragists have begun wearing red roses in their lapels, they seem to be quite numerous, and far from ready to concede defeat.
But suffragists are conspicuous as well, with six offices in Nashville alone, and many more around the State. And the enthusiasm of suffrage supporters in the Legislature gives good reason for optimism. Joe Hanover was forced to choose between his position with the city of Memphis and sitting in this special session of the Legislature, and he chose the Legislature so that he could vote for suffrage. W.H. Maddick, elected day before yesterday, ran on a strictly pro-suffrage platform and said he will go home immediately after casting his vote for ratification. One "no" vote on last years' Presidential and municipal suffrage bill will definitely be reversed. State Senator Frank Rice of Memphis says he wants to rectify his mistake of last year by casting a “yes” vote for the Anthony Amendment.
Both major parties have endorsed ratification, and their standard-bearers are doing what they can to help. But their enthusiasm pales before that of Parley Christensen, Presidential nominee of the new Farmer-Labor Party. He has said that the real enemies of suffrage are reactionary leaders of both major parties, and challenged both nominees to do what he has done by coming here to Nashville to personally lobby. He has also just sent telegrams to Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding and Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox saying :
"You are well aware that unless the Tennessee Legislature, which meets on Monday, ratifies the Federal woman suffrage amendment the women of the country cannot participate in the November national elections. Your party platform pledges you and your party to immediate application of the principle of universal suffrage. If you cannot hold the members of your party faithful to the party's pledges before election, the country will doubt your ability to carry out your pledges if you should be elected to the Presidency.
“This is to notify you that out of twenty-six Democrats in the State Senate only eight are pledged to ratification, and out of seventy-three Democrats in the House only thirty-four are pledged to ratification ; that out of seven Republicans in the State Senate only three are pledged to ratification, and out of twenty-six Republicans in the House only eight are pledged to ratification. And I would further notify you that many of the unpledged members have said they would stand by the decision of their party caucus. Tennessee is the showdown of your sincerity in this matter. Anything less than immediate action resulting in ratification by Tennessee will be accepted by the thinking people of the country at its face value of 100 per cent campaign 'bunk.' The people have had sufficient of sympathetic words on this question from politicians of both old parties."
As exhausted as everyone is from the long campaign for suffrage ; as hot and humid as the weather can be here in August, and as vicious as the opposition's rhetoric is getting, the approach of roll-call votes which could provide the 36th and final State ratification needed for victory has now re-energized everyone for an all-out effort in what's hoped to be the last round of this long fight.
August 8, 1920 : Though the special "suffrage session" of the Tennessee Legislature doesn't open until noon tomorrow, there's been plenty of action in Nashville today. The most promising development is the announcement by suffrage forces that of the 13 legislators elected to fill vacancies on August 5th, 11 have now pledged to vote for ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment.
Tennessee could become the 36th, and final, State needed to make the Anthony Amendment the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But no one is overconfident, or slacking off in their efforts, because according to a poll taken by the National Woman's Party, there are still two more pledges needed in the 99-member House and one more needed in the 33-member Senate to assure a majority for passage.
Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association has been here for some time coordinating the efforts of a number of groups from her well-established and bustling headquarters at the Hermitage Hotel. The anti-suffrage headquarters is there as well, though on a different floor, so the lobby is clearly a busy place, where many well-known advocates for both sides can be seen entering and leaving, and reporters can ask for the latest tidbits of information.
Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding, though sticking to his "Front Porch Campaign" strategy in Marion, Ohio, still made his presence known in Nashville today. He sent a telegram to Harriet Taylor Upton, who Vice-Chairs the Republican National Executive Committee, saying :
"You may say for me to Republican members of the General Assembly of Tennessee that it will be highly pleasing to have the Republicans of that State play their full and becoming part in consummating the constitutional grant of woman suffrage. It is no longer a question of policy. It is a matter of Republican contribution to a grant of suffrage to which our party is committed, and for which our party is in the main responsible."
Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox, who already has several of his paid staffers in Tennessee working with suffrage groups, met with Abby Scott Baker of the National Woman's Party at his headquarters in Dayton, Ohio. Baker gave him an optimistic report. Cox said this was consistent with other reports he was getting, and that he was now confident ratification would occur. But if the situation deteriorated, and additional help was needed, he pledged to do everything he could. He will be sending a personal representative to Tennessee to join the other staffers already sent here. Parley Christensen, Presidential nominee of the newborn Farmer-Labor Party is here in Tennessee, and spoke for ratification at a meeting of the Trades and Labor Council. Members of that group then lobbied legislators who have already arrived back in town for the special session.
As might be expected, anti-suffrage groups are busy as well. Mary G. Kilbreth, head of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is here, as well as Nina Pinckard of the Southern Women's Rejection League. Two members of the Maryland Legislature who were appointed by that body to go to Tennessee to fight suffrage have arrived as well, as has Laura Clay of Kentucky, who is a well-known suffragist in her State, but opposes achieving it by Constitutional Amendment. In an open letter to every member of the Tennessee Legislature the "antis" say :
"Seventeen men of honor in the Tennessee Senate and fifty in the House can save Southern civilization and local self-government from destruction simply by keeping their solemn oaths to the people and constitution of Tennessee, and by giving Southern women and Southern ideals 'a day in court.' "
Anti-suffrage pamphlets now circulating around Nashville declare that for the "antis" : "Victory is mostly a question of manhood and morale ... you can stop anything but death and taxes if enough real men say it shall not pass ... The men who vote against ratification will go down in American history as the saviors of our form of government and the true defenders of womanhood, motherhood, the family and the State."
The "antis" claim that those who oppose woman suffrage in general, plus those who oppose achieving it by Federal amendment, are growing in number, and already sufficient to block ratification indefinitely if Tennessee legislators are not “stampeded” into a quick approval : ”After the election both parties will be so sick and tired of votes for women and offices for women that neither Connecticut, Vermont or Florida will ratify." Suffragists strongly disagree. But with conflicting claims by both sides about their relative strengths, and whether they are gaining or losing support, it's impossible to say for sure what the situation really is, or what it may be an hour from now. So efforts by both sides will continue at a fever pitch until the final roll call settles the issue.
But one encouraging sign that the battle for suffrage may be about to end in victory is that the National Woman’s Party is already talking about future goals in the post-suffrage era. Abby Scott Baker told Governor Cox today that if Tennessee ratifies, and ends one battle for equality, the party may hold a national convention in Chicago and kick off its next campaign by writing platform planks that would call for complete legal equality for women in all matters. Of course, step one toward that goal of total equality is to enfranchise women nationwide, so the N.W.P., as well as all other suffrage groups will have some exhausting – but hopefully rewarding – days coming up !
August 9, 1920 : The Tennessee Legislature is now in session, with voting on ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment at the top of its list of priorities ! Governor Albert Roberts, who called the session, opened it by asking for quick approval of the amendment, so that women might "share in shaping the destiny of the Republic." But ratification in this 36th and final State needed to put the Anthony Amendment into the U.S. Constitution is still a cumbersome process, and though the chances of success look better each day, it is by no means assured.
This, of course, doesn't stop groups on either side from making confident predictions of inevitable victory. Anti-suffrage groups have been claiming to already have enough votes to block approval, while Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, has been saying since July 25th that the votes are there for passage.
But the most credible polls of the legislature have come from the National Woman's Party. The most militant of the U.S. suffrage groups has been making the most conservative pronouncements of suffragists' strength, and accompanying them with exact figures, even when the numbers were not favorable. In yesterday's announcement they said that they were still one vote short of having enough pledges for ratification in the Senate, and lacked two in the House. But tonight at their Washington, D.C. headquarters, it was announced that one more Senate Democrat and six more House Republicans had pledged to vote for ratification, so Alice Paul now believes that an exact majority has been secured in the 33-member Senate, and that they have four more than necessary in the 99-member House.
The task now is to keep that majority until the roll calls. That's no easy job, because votes shift on a daily, sometimes even hourly, basis. Critical to victory are party caucus meetings, where the parties may - or may not - attempt to get all their members to vote the same way.
The State's leading Republicans met today, but decided to take no action as yet on adopting a "unit rule" in regard to ratification, though most who were there are said to have felt that the Republican vote for ratification should be unanimous. Not only have Republicans traditionally been the strongest supporters of suffrage, but since the overwhelming majority of the State's legislators are Democrats, any failure to ratify will be placed squarely on the Democratic Party if all Republicans vote "Aye."
Parley Christensen, presidential nominee of the Farmer-Labor Party called the failure to immediately demand a unanimous vote "a direct betrayal by the Republican Party of its platform pledge for woman suffrage, and Senator Harding, Will Hays and their associated Republican leaders must plead guilty to the betrayal." (Senator Warren G. Harding is the Republican nominee for President, and Will Hays heads the Republican National Committee.)
Christensen is of the opinion that Republicans are now getting cold feet about ratification because some of their most powerful Senators, such as George Moses of New Hampshire, and Frank Brandegee of Connecticut, are outspoken anti-suffragists, and might be defeated if women in New Hampshire and Connecticut can vote in November. But both major parties have endorsed nationwide suffrage in their platforms, and their Presidential nominees are working for ratification, so both parties certainly give at least the appearance of being enthusiastic supporters of "Votes for Women."
Today's legislative session lasted only an hour, and was mostly ceremonial, but tomorrow the real business begins with the introduction of ratification resolutions that will be referred to committees for hearings. It is hoped that the committees will quickly vote to send the resolutions on to the full legislature.
There's certainly a lot of work to do in the next week or two, but now that a 72-year, nationwide struggle has narrowed down to getting just 17 Tennessee Senators and 50 House members to cast the favorable votes they've promised, the finish line of this marathon seems to be in sight.
August 10, 1920 : In the wake of a stunning and totally unexpected setback for suffrage forces earlier today, the process of ratifying – or perhaps now rejecting - the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment formally got underway in the Tennessee Legislature, where resolutions to ratify were formally introduced in the Senate and House.
But as an example of how meaningless pledges can be, the Speaker of the House and a number of other legislators have suddenly switched from supporters to opponents. The Speaker had been a strong advocate of suffrage, and was expected to personally introduce the resolution in the House. In addition to the fact that he can use his position to impede the progress of the ratification resolution, there is great concern that Speaker Walker's defection may induce even more members to switch sides. Already the National Woman's Party, whose careful and conservative vote-counting seems the most trustworthy, has said that : "The majority for ratification of the suffrage amendment in the Tennessee Legislature has disappeared."
Many of those who had pledged support while still back home have apparently changed sides since arriving in Nashville, though without saying why. But regardless of what local influences may be in play, Alice Paul has placed the blame at the top :
"The change in the Tennessee situation can be traced to one thing only - the failure of Governor Cox and Governor Roberts of Tennessee to put sufficient force behind their public pleas for ratification to insure favorable action. Defeat of the amendment in Tennessee would be a deliberate defeat. Delay, making it more difficult for women to secure another State, would be a deliberate delay."
As President Wilson can personally attest, the National Woman's Party can make things quite uncomfortable for those who fail to display sufficient zeal for the cause. Since no one in office or running for office would want to be the target of picketing, or even more militant types of protests, such as having their speeches ceremonially burned in public, it's hoped that Alice Paul's words will have an immediate effect on re-energizing the efforts of the Presidential nominees of both parties, and more importantly, Tennessee Governor Albert Roberts.
The session will be a short one, so time is rapidly running out even as it begins. If Tennessee doesn't ratify, it's highly unlikely that another State can be found to become the 36th and final one needed to finish the process of ratification before the November election, which means women in only 15 States and the Territory of Alaska will have full voting rights, though they can vote for President in 12 more. But that still leaves 21 non-suffrage States where women will not be able to vote for President or many other major offices unless the Anthony Amendment passes, and does so early enough for them to meet registration deadlines.
But if votes can suddenly shift one way, they can shift another, so the battle is far from over. Suffragists have recovered from setbacks before. Five years ago this Fall, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania all rejected suffrage referenda despite all-out campaigns, and things looked exceedingly bleak. But now total victory is within reach - though winning will require the usual uphill fight.
Fortunately, all of today’s news isn’t gloomy. Two ailing legislators who favor suffrage, Senator S.C. Collins and Rep. R.L. Dowlen, arrived tonight, and their extraordinary efforts to get here are greatly appreciated. Also, over a hundred "Votes for Women" advocates, representing several suffrage organizations met with leading Democratic suffrage proponents in the State Senate, and after the meeting, the Democrats began trying to arrange a meeting tomorrow with pro-suffrage Republicans to plan a joint strategy for ratifying the proposed 19th Amendment in the Senate. Democratic presidential nominee James Cox has sent a telegram to Charl Ormond Williams, head of the Woman's General Ratification Committee saying :
"I sincerely hope the Tennessee Legislature may ratify the suffrage amendment at once. It is not only a matter of justice and right, but I believe one of utmost benefit to the Democratic Party, because the great issue upon which the campaign will be decided will find its response to the Democratic appeal in the hearts of American women."
The “great issue,” of course, refers to U.S. entry into the League of Nations, which the Democrats - especially President Wilson - have strongly supported, and Republicans have thus far blocked. Though there’s no concrete proof, it has been speculated by some that after being the strongest supporters of suffrage, Republicans are now becoming reluctant to enfranchise millions of women voters for the November election out of fear that Cox may be right, and women will vote overwhelmingly Democratic to support U.S. participation in the League.
Of course, Carrie Chapman Catt remains eternally optimistic. Even after hearing of today's defections, she said : "When I came to Tennessee three weeks ago I announced that a majority of both Senate and House were pledged to vote for ratification. No development has overturned that majority. I have absolute confidence in the integrity of the Legislators of Tennessee and believe they will stand by their pledges." Let's hope she's right.
August 11, 1920 : A key, and quite encouraging victory for suffrage forces occurred today, as a motion to postpone a vote on ratifying the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment until August 24th was tabled. Though it's still highly questionable whether there are enough votes in both houses of the Tennessee Legislature to actually ratify the amendment and give it the 36th and final State approval it needs to become part of the Constitution, at least there will be a vote soon.
Plans now are to have a joint hearing by the House and Senate Committees on Constitutional Conventions and Amendments tomorrow night, then send the ratification resolution on to the full House and Senate the next day. If approved quickly, Friday the 13th could turn out to the a very unlucky day for anti-suffragists.
Had today's motion to postpone passed, there would have been a number of public meetings around the State on the 21st, and no vote on ratification until three days after that. But after a vociferous debate, punctuated with frequent bursts of applause by suffragists in the galleries, the House voted 50 to 37 to table the measure. Since 50 votes are enough to pass the ratification resolution itself in the 99-member House, that number is very significant. The question now is how many of those who opposed postponement favor ratification, and how many are opponents who simply want to cast a quick vote of rejection and go home.
Another attempt to block ratification was made by Representative Story. His resolution declared that since women in Tennessee had been granted Presidential and municipal suffrage last year, the Anthony Amendment would give them no new privileges, and since there is doubt about whether the State can legally ratify, due to a clause in its Constitution about a Statewide election having to take place between the time an Amendment is sent to the States for ratification and a vote can be taken by the legislature, no action be taken at this time. His resolution has not yet been voted upon, but based on today’s other vote, it is unlikely to pass. (The argument about the legislature not being allowed to ratify is bogus, due to the Supreme Court having ruled in June in a case involving the 18th Amendment that any restrictions on a State’s ability to ratify an amendment at any time are unconstitutional.)
One of the more interesting resolutions introduced today was by anti-suffragist State Senator McFarland. It would ask the large number of lobbyists here from around the country "to please go away and leave us alone. We would much prefer your room to your company. The men of Tennessee, noted for their integrity and chivalry, are desirous of doing in this case for their women as they always have in the past, and we feel that we are fully capable and competent to fight our own fights without interference from any outside people whatsoever."
Though wrong on suffrage, he’s certainly right about the State Capital being quite crowded with suffragists and anti-suffragists. But despite Senator McFarland’s displeasure, even more lobbyists are coming. Alice Paul left National Woman's Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., this evening for Nashville to personally direct her already well-established troops here. Before leaving, she declared that responsibility for ratifying Tennessee lies exclusively with the Democratic majority.
All the leading Republicans are now urging ratification on their colleagues, and in today's first vote regarding ratification, 23 out of 28 Republicans voted to table the postponement measure. J. Will Taylor, who represents Tennessee's Second District in Congress assured the National Woman's Party that Republicans would give a majority in both houses for the ratification resolution, and said that he expected the present Republican majority for support to increase by the time of the vote.
Will Hays, head of the Republican National Committee, was today's strongest advocate for suffrage among the politicians. With the apparent approval of Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding, he sent a message to 3 State Senators and 11 House members that left no doubt about how the Republican Party wants them to vote :
"My deep interest in the ratification of the suffrage amendment induces me to presume to communicate again to you the resolutions passed by the National Committee in February, 1918, January, 1919, and December, 1919, and by the Executive Committee in Columbus, Ohio, last month, all most earnestly urging the Republican Legislatures to ratify. Present unrest is in a large measure due to the fact that so many vital questions are clamoring for simultaneous decision. Any one of those questions, definitely settled, is a big contribution toward national stability.
“The suffrage question is one that can be settled immediately by the Tennessee Legislature. It is really not a party question. Its pendency merely makes it more difficult for the public mind to focus upon the issues of the Presidential campaign. If we relieve the American woman from the necessity of claiming her constitutional rights, and her sister from the fancied necessity of opposing the claim, we will liberate a body of public opinion upon the campaign and its issues which will prove itself to be one of our greatest national assets.
“Democracy in the United States is really nothing but a sham unless Election Day gives all Americans the chance to express their political opinion effectively. To hold American women bound by the result of an election, to train them in schools to think for themselves as well as a man, to accord them freedom of utterance as a constitutional right, and then to attempt to deny them the opportunity to stand up and be counted on Election Day is a governmental blunder of the first magnitude.
“Both parties recognize that the effects of the approaching Presidential election will influence our national life for at least fifty years. There never was an election at which it was more important for opinion and sentiment to express themselves. The action of the Congress and of thirty-five Legislatures has given to millions of American women the right to hope confidently for this great opportunity. Deny them the opportunity merely because the necessary governmental machinery does not function, and you produce the unhealthy national situation which always exists when masses of citizens have burning convictions to express and no effective outlet for their expressions.
I refrain from advancing the usual argument in behalf of suffrage. I leave entirely out of consideration the partisan advantage or disadvantage which ratification might entail. I urge ratification, first, in the hope of thereby clearing the political atmosphere ; second, in the belief that the suppression of effective opinion works harm to the whole body politic ; and finally, in the conviction that we owe immediate action as a measure of simple justice to American women. I trust you will help in this."
As to the Democrats, recent complaints by not just Alice Paul, but other suffragists as well, that Governor Albert Roberts was not getting as personally involved as he should in the drive for suffrage diminished somewhat today. He was seen on the floor of the House this morning lobbying his fellow party members, who constitute an overwhelming majority of both House and Senate. But yesterday's defection of the Democratic Speaker of the House, plus a number of others, is a major obstacle that still needs to be overcome as the vote in Tennessee becomes even more critical due to a development elsewhere.
Tennessee is now the one and only hope of ratifying the Anthony Amendment before the election on November 2nd, because 63 members of the 120-member lower house of the North Carolina Legislature announced today that they will not allow their State to ratify :
"We, the undersigned members of the General Assembly of North Carolina, constituting the majority of said body, send greetings to the General Assembly of Tennessee and assure you that we will not ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment interfering with the sovereignty of Tennessee and other States of the Union. We most respectfully request that this measure be not forced upon the people of North Carolina."
There's clearly a tough fight ahead, but today's first victory in the Tennessee House is definitely an encouraging sign. The "no postponement" votes of the 50 House members brought some much-needed and justifiable cheer to those working at the many suffrage campaign offices around town, as the shock of yesterday's still-unexplained defections wears off, and is being replaced by cautious optimism.
August 12, 1920 : The week may have begun badly for suffrage forces, but it looks as if it will end in a victory. Tennessee House and Senate Committees on Constitutional Conventions and Amendments held a joint three-hour hearing earlier this evening on the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. Afterward, it was said that there will be a favorable report by the Senate committee delivered tomorrow, and the House committee is expected to give an equally favorable report on Monday, the 16th. If the ratification resolution is reported to the full Senate tomorrow it will get that body's approval within an hour, according to Senate Speaker Andrew Todd.
He's not alone in his optimism, as the momentum seems to have shifted once again, now swinging back to "Votes for Women" advocates just when it counts. Governor Albert Roberts, who has been personally lobbying for suffrage among the legislators, said tonight that adoption by both houses was assured "unless something miraculous occurs."
Suffrage leaders are now expressing views much cheerier than those of just two days ago when stunned by still-unexplained defections in the Senate and House. But with many previously uncommitted legislators now jumping on the bandwagon and pledging for suffrage, there are now predictions not just of victory, but speculations on how great a victory it will be. The most optimistic poll shows 24 votes for ratification in the Senate, 17 being needed, and 60 in the House, where 50 are required.
Though outwardly confident that they can still defeat ratification, anti-suffragists are apparently so desperate that they are now counting on the fact that the Senate vote will be taken on Friday the 13th as useful to their cause, and they're expecting bad luck to strike suffragists. But the "antis" had some bad luck today, as they lost one potentially powerful weapon from their arsenal. Senate Speaker Todd said a filibuster would not be permitted there, and Speaker of the House Seth Walker, who switched to the anti-suffrage forces two days ago, said that if it looked like his side was in for a defeat, he "would not delay the game but would take it right away."
An encouraging sign of suffrage strength occurred earlier today in the House, when a resolution that would have prohibited any consideration of the ratification resolution during this special session, due to alleged "constitutional questions," was rejected by a voice vote. Only three members, two less than the required number, even asked for a formal roll call. Like yesterday's victory over a measure to postpone consideration until August 24th, this still isn't the same as a vote on ratification itself, but it's a very positive sign.
Today saw the Democrats apply national pressure on the State legislators in the same way the Republicans did yesterday. Governor Cox, the Democratic nominee for President, was giving a speech in Camp Perry, Ohio, when upon hearing what turned out to be an erroneous report that a vote on ratification would be taken tonight, immediately dictated the following message to be telegraphed to the Democratic legislators in Tennessee :
"The platform presented to the country by a political party is not only an evidence of intent but of good faith as well. It carries the specifications which will be rendered if the opportunity presents. In the modern and better day of American politics it is regarded as a promissory note. The National Democratic Convention declared for the principle of woman suffrage and pledged the party to an earnest effort toward its adoption. The Democracy of Tennessee has the chance to redeem the pledge given and I earnestly hope that it will not hesitate in the face of manifest duty."
Legislators' pledges, party platforms, expressions of support for suffrage by State and national figures, and polls by even the most politically astute suffrage groups are all significant, but can't actually ratify a Constitutional amendment. Seventeen members of the Tennessee Senate and fifty in the House can ratify by voting in favor. If they approve, the proposed Susan B. Anthony Amendment will have its 36th ratification, become the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the 72-year battle over whether women should have exactly the same voting rights as men will be settled once and for all in the affirmative.
Though there's newfound confidence among members of the National Woman's Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association tonight, there's anxiety as well, as the week’s events have reminded everyone of just how unpredictable politics can be. But as the Senate roll call approaches and suffragists hope to take this almost-final step toward political equality in just a few hours, no one doubts that everything that could have been done to insure a victory has been done, and that there will be absolutely no slackening of efforts until the final vote is cast in the House as well.
August 13, 1920 : There’s jubilation in Nashville tonight, as suffragists celebrate a victory in the Tennessee Senate that exceeded even the most optimistic predictions, and bodes well for the final vote on ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment still needed in the House.
Ever since this special session of the legislature opened four days ago, suffrage forces have been on a political roller-coaster, with legislators going from definite pledges of support to uncertainty, or even defecting to the anti-suffrage side. Loyalties changed so rapidly that even when the numbers seemed to be in favor of ratification, they couldn't be counted upon to stay that way for long. But when it finally came time to cast actual votes, pro-suffrage forces carried the day right from the start.
A majority of the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments, which held joint hearings on the ratification resolution with a House committee last night, gave a favorable recommendation. Their report told the Senators that the Legislature has a "legal and moral right to act," and that the clause in the State Constitution which requires a Statewide election to intervene between the time a Federal Constitutional amendment is submitted to the States and its ratification by the Tennessee Legislature, is "invalidated by the U.S. Constitution." An anti-suffrage Senator then made a motion to adopt the minority report instead, which disagrees with this interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in a case involving Ohio’s ratification of the 18th Amendment. But his move failed by a vote of 23 to 10. Since only 17 votes are needed for a majority in the 33-member Senate, this particular “Friday the 13th” was off to a very lucky start.
Senator McFarland then tried to stop the ratification resolution by making a "point of order," but the Chair overruled him, and was sustained by a vote of 27 to 5, one not voting. This was followed by two hours of intense debate. At one point, when Senator Chandler began making personal attacks on Carrie Chapman Catt specifically, then suffrage workers in general, Speaker Todd felt it necessary to chastise him, and said, to much applause from the gallery : "These slurs do not meet approval of the good women of Tennessee."
Finally it was time for a vote on the ratification resolution itself. Most polls - uncertain as they were - had predicted 20 to 22 favorable votes in the 33-member Senate. The highest estimate was 24. When the 17th vote for ratification was cast, and a majority was assured, a great cheer went up from the galleries. It was so enthusiastic that it was necessary to suspend the roll call. Even when it resumed it was hard to hear the votes being cast, but eventually the Chair was able to finish, and the tally was 25 to 4, four not voting. The announcement of the final tally was accompanied by another loud outburst, which required the Sergeant-At-Arms to intervene to quiet the chamber so the legislators could get on with other business.
Of course, the Senate has always been considered much easier than the House to win, but the size of the margin, and the fact that it was greater than anyone - even Carrie Chapman Catt - expected, has given all the suffragists here a tremendous boost of confidence. Attention now turns to the House, where the result is far less certain. Among other complicating factors is the fact that Speaker Seth Walker, who had been presumed to be a strong supporter of suffrage, defected to the anti-suffrage side just three days ago, and has considerable influence among his fellow members. The House is also three times as large as the Senate, so there are far more legislators to lobby and monitor. But the heavy lobbying continues, both here in Nashville and from elsewhere.
The Tennessee Legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic, and today President Wilson sent a telegram to Speaker of the House Walker, saying : "May I not, in the interest of national harmony and vigor and of the establishment of the leadership of America in all liberal policies, express the earnest hope that the House over which you preside will concur in the suffrage amendment." This follows last night's telegram from Democratic presidential nominee James Cox to Democratic Senators hours before the vote. Earlier tonight, Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed his delight at today's result and attacked Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding's record on suffrage.
There's a consensus here that the House vote will be extremely close, so even rumors are now being taken into consideration regarding predictions of what will happen next week. One story floating around town tonight is that the anti-suffragists are planning to ask their supporters in the House to go home so that no quorum will be present, and no action can be taken on the amendment for the duration of the session. If they're even considering such a radical action - and one that has failed when tried by others in the past - it means that despite their public pronouncements of confidence, in private they're desperate.
Suffragists, however, seem as confident as anti-suffragists are dispirited. "So far so good ; we will now push for victory in the House," said Florence Bayard Hilles, who heads the Delaware branch of the National Woman's Party. Even Alice Paul, never easy to please when it comes to support for suffrage, has expressed satisfaction with recent actions of President Wilson, Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox, and Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding.
Interestingly enough, now that Tennessee appears to be on the verge of doing the honor of giving final approval to the Anthony Amendment, the battle in North Carolina seems to be heating up again. It’s still a long shot, however, because day before yesterday, 63 members of its 120-member House issued a statement saying that they would not allow North Carolina to become the 36th State to ratify. But today the Senate’s Constitutional Amendments Committee favorably reported the ratification resolution to the full Senate by a 7 to 1 margin.
Governor Thomas Bickett is also making a major push. He said that the most anti-suffragists could do would be to delay “for six months a movement you are powerless to defeat” and that if North Carolina doesn’t ratify, “some other State will open the door and women will enter the political forum.”
He reiterated the judgment of many leading Democrats that because U.S. participation in the League of Nations will be a major issue in November, enfranchising millions of women would not only be just, but help the party, due to its strong support for the League, and Republicans leading the opposition :
"There is another and far deeper reason for not delaying the movement we are powerless to defeat. The big question that is going to be settled in the next six months is whether this nation shall enter an alliance with twenty-nine of the most powerful nations on Earth for the purpose of forever delivering humanity from the burdens and horrors of war. On that question the women have a sacred right to be heard, for when the cannon roar the women furnish the fodder.”
With the Tennessee Senate vote out of the way, only fifty men now need to cast a "yes" vote to enfranchise millions of women in all the non-suffrage States. A House committee will hold one more hearing on Monday night, the 16th, then hopefully send the ratification resolution on to the full House the next day. If nothing unexpected comes up, the battle could be over in just four days.
Of course, after 72 years of experience, suffragists know to keep working as hard as they can, because even in much less momentous circumstances "something unexpected" always comes up. So this will not be a weekend to celebrate today's victory, but to work for the one that really counts next week, when Tennessee could become the 36th and final State needed to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.
August 14, 1920 : The suffrage campaign stayed at high intensity today, even though it's Saturday and the Tennessee Legislature won't be back in session until Monday. After the Senate's approval yesterday, only a roll-call vote in the Tennessee House is now needed to make this State the 36th and final one necessary to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, so no effort will be spared until that vote is cast.
Today Alice Paul made it clear to the Presidential candidates of both major parties that she's holding them responsible for assuring a majority for ratification in the House next week. The unexpectedly high margin of victory in the Tennessee Senate yesterday brought hard-to-earn praise today from Paul for the recent efforts of the party nominees :
"There is every evidence that the national leaders of both political parties have up to this time put their shoulders to the wheel. If they continue the same determined efforts, victory in the House, when the vote comes next week is assured. The real struggle, however, has always been in the House, and the most hopeful poll today shows hardly a vote to spare, so that the result will depend entirely upon the efforts of Governor Cox and Senator Harding and the national parties. The real battleground is not in Tennessee but in Ohio. It is not too much to say that whether or not women vote next November rests with the Presidential nominees and their efforts for ratification over this weekend."
Abby Scott Baker, in charge of the Woman's Party's Political Committee, is staying in Ohio to work with the party nominees. Ohio's Governor and Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox has his headquarters in Dayton, while Senator and Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding is conducting a "Front Porch Campaign" from his home in Marion. President Wilson is also doing his part to help win ratification by sending telegrams to Tennessee Democrats. Yesterday he sent one to Seth Walker, Speaker of the House, asking him to help with the battle there. But four days ago Speaker Walker shocked everyone by announcing that he had switched to the anti-suffrage side, and so today replied :
"I have the profound honor to acknowledge your wire of Aug. 13. I do not attempt to express the views of other members of the lower House of Tennessee, but speak for those of myself alone, which on the Anthony amendment are contrary to yours. You were too great to ask it, and I do not believe that men of Tennessee will surrender honest convictions for political expediency or harmony."
Walker has told the House members to vote according to their own conscience. Since almost three-quarters of House members are Democrats, strong leadership by a pro-suffrage Speaker would have assured success. But the opposition of the Senate’s most powerful Democrat has made things considerably more difficult. Even if he’s true to his word and doesn't use his influence to pressure legislators into voting against suffrage, just having such a prestigious figure on their side is certainly a major advantage to anti-suffragists, and will certainly have an effect on many legislators who will want to be on friendly terms with the Speaker when they seek his support for their own bills in the future.
Wilson isn't the only Democratic leader trying to lobby Speaker Walker. William McAdoo, who recently served as Secretary of the Treasury, and actually got the most first-ballot votes at this year's Democratic Convention before James Cox finally won the Presidential nomination on the 44th ballot, also sent a wire to Walker :
"As a former Tennessean, proud of his State and interested in her welfare, I trust I may with propriety express my earnest hope that the House of Representatives will concur with the action of the Senate and ratify the woman suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution. It will add new glory to the historic achievements of the Volunteer State if her Legislature now consummates the great hope and long delayed act of justice to American women, which will make them full and equal participants with men in the benefits and responsibilities of truly democratic government."
Anti-suffragists are also busy, fully aware that their movement may be one roll-call vote and a few days away from extinction. They are taking comfort in the fact that a majority of the North Carolina House has pledged to block suffrage, and today made public a telegram from R. H. Williamson of the State Rights Defense League of North Carolina :
"We are going to win in spite of pressure from the White House, from Dayton, Ohio, and from the United States Senate and the Secretary of the Navy. The will of the people of our States must be the law. If this crime is perpetrated let it not be laid at the door of either North Carolina or her daughter, Tennessee. Fight to the last ditch, and then some." ("Dayton, Ohio" refers to Ohio Governor James Cox's headquarters, the "United States Senate" to Senator Harding, and Cox's Vice-Presidential running-mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. What is now Tennessee was initially part of North Carolina.)
The House will be back in session on Monday the 16th, but doesn't plan to act on the ratification resolution until a committee report on it is delivered. The House Committee on Constitutional Conventions and Amendments will meet again Monday night, and hopefully deliver a favorable report on the ratification resolution the next day, clearing the way for an immediate vote by the full House. Members of the committee are making no comments about what the report will recommend, but anti-suffragists are hinting that they may try to bury the ratification resolution in committee. If they do that, an effort will be made by pro-suffrage House members to call it to the floor even without a recommendation from the committee.
Though vote estimates are always questionable, there is no doubt that the tide is running in favor of suffrage. In yesterday's Senate vote, eight members of the 33-member Senate who had voted against Presidential and municipal suffrage for women in Tennessee last year voted in favor of ratifying the Susan B. Anthony Amendment this time. Support was almost unanimous among Republicans, with seven out of eight (87.5%) voting for ratification, and overwhelming among Democrats, with eighteen of twenty-five (72%) casting a “yes” vote. The fact that the vote for suffrage (25 to 4, with four not voting) exceeded even the most optimistic prediction is, of course, the most encouraging sign.
But "encouraging signs" and trends aren't what the Constitution calls for to ratify an amendment. Fifty "yes" votes in the 99-member House next week are what's needed for final victory, so until that 50th vote is officially cast and recorded, there will be no let-up in the frantic pace of suffrage activity here in Nashville.
August 15, 1920 : Another plunge on the political roller-coaster for suffrage forces today. With the final opportunity to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment before the November election drawing near, momentum sees to have shifted back toward the anti-suffrage side.
Despite an unexpectedly big victory in the Tennessee Senate day before yesterday, the outlook for ratification in the House now looks doubtful. Polls of House members were taken several times today by both sides, indicating that no one is confident of winning - or believes pledges are valid for more than an hour or two.
The day's good news may also be bad news. House Speaker Seth Walker announced today that there would be no attempt by him or his fellow anti-suffragists to hold the ratification resolution in committee. But he also indicated that the reason he wouldn't try to keep it off the floor was because he's confident that there are enough votes to defeat it.
With a majority of members of the North Carolina House firmly pledged against suffrage, and the Governors of Vermont and Connecticut stubbornly refusing to call special sessions of their legislatures to vote on ratification, Tennessee is the only realistic hope for victory before the November election. If the ratification resolution comes up short by even a single vote here in Nashville, it means the next State legislature to vote on it won't do so until regular sessions begin early next year. Not only will millions of women in non-suffrage States be unable to vote in November, but the 1921 suffrage campaign will have to be launched in the wake of a frustrating and devastating setback.
Though the Speaker of the House is opposed to suffrage, Governor Albert Roberts is still vigorously promoting the cause, despite the political risks involved. It was learned today that two newspapers, which have up until now endorsed his bid for re-election have told him to stop lobbying for suffrage or they will actively oppose him in November. More opposition is on its way, as an "envoy" from the North Carolina Legislature (where 63 of 120 House members recently pledged to stop ratification there) is expected to arrive in Nashville shortly to give "encouraging words," and plot mutual strategies with local suffrage opponents. The envoy, Representative W. W. Neal, is also alleged to have some sort of definitive poll showing that the Tennessee House is opposed to suffrage, and this poll will be used to try to generate a bandwagon effect among uncommitted or wavering legislators that will increase the margin of rejection.
But while the result may be in doubt, the timetable of events is now starting to become clear. Tomorrow night the House Committee on Constitutional Conventions and Amendments will discuss the ratification resolution once again, and then majority and minority reports will be submitted to the full House the next day by 2:00 in the afternoon when it reconvenes. At that point, if there are no unforeseen delays, there should be a vote on the ratification resolution itself either late that day or early the next. If all members are present and voting, fifty votes will be required in the 99-member House to give the 36th and final State ratification needed to make the proposed 19th Amendment part of the Constitution.
Despite the fact that this was a Sunday, it has been no day of rest for suffragists, and the upcoming week will be the busiest, and most important one yet for the cause. After today's developments, there is certainly no danger of any slacking off due to overconfidence, and the highly uncertain outlook seems only to have spurred the forces of the National Woman's Party and National American Woman Suffrage Association to greater efforts. So if the same dedication that has marked the suffrage movement for the past 72 years can be kept up for less than 72 hours more, victory could still be achieved.
August 16, 1920 : Good news ! And, of course, bad news. The good news is that ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment could be voted on as early as tomorrow by the Tennessee House. Approval there would complete the ratification process and put it into the U.S. Constitution as the 19th Amendment. The bad news is that there may not be enough votes to ratify after today's defections by 5 out of 7 members of the Davidson County (Nashville) delegation. Polls that had predicted 53 to 60 votes for suffrage have now been revised down to 48 to 55, fifty being the number needed in the 99-member House.
All the estimates are literally that - educated guesses, not certainties - and what the figures will be a few hours from now is even less certain. But there's no doubt that a sudden and totally unexpected loss this big is a major setback, and may push even more legislators on to the anti-suffrage bandwagon if the momentum isn't reversed. As anti-suffrage groups celebrated all over town, House Speaker Seth Walker lost no time in making it known that :
"We have ratification beaten ; that is all there is to it." But suffragists have 72 years of experience at rebounding from setbacks and ignoring opponents' confident boasts, so the battle goes on. There are at least 1,000 people here in town working for or against suffrage, and since supporters wear yellow roses and opponents wear red ones, they're easy to spot in hotel lobbies and on the streets. A few lobbyists were even on the floor of the House earlier today.
But the battle will be over soon. Tonight the House Committee on Constitutional Conventions and Amendments voted 10 to 8 to report the ratification resolution favorably, though the minority will submit its own report to the full House as well. That will clear the way for a possible vote tomorrow. In the meantime, efforts continue nationally as well as locally. Governor Roberts made a telegram sent to him by Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox public tonight :
"I earnestly hope that you will do everything in your power to aid in the immediate ratification of the suffrage amendment. It is the platform pledge of our party and one which every Democratic legislator should be proud to support. Great forces for good represented by the womanhood of the nation will be unloosed with the final adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, and I again urge your best efforts to this behalf."
Abby Scott Baker, political coordinator of the National Woman's Party, met with Cox today and once again urged him to come to Nashville to lobby personally now that the situation is deteriorating. According to Baker - and the usually quite conservative but accurate vote estimates of the National Woman's Party - the votes are lacking in the House. Though it doesn't look like he can come here, he will keep lobbying the Legislature by telephone while conducting his Presidential campaign.
As to Senator Harding, the Republican presidential nominee, Abby Scott Baker met with him last night, and conveyed to him her apprehension about the upcoming vote. But today he was unwilling to say anything about the ratification of the Anthony Amendment. The Harding camp seems to be having concerns about the legality of Tennessee being able to ratify. On August 13th a letter from Harding to a State legislator was read at a committee hearing in which he said :
"I had heard something about the constitutional inhibition against your legislature acting upon the Federal amendment, but I did not know of the explicit provision to which you make reference. I quite agree with you that members of the General Assembly cannot ignore the State constitution .... I did say and I still believe it would be a fortunate thing for Republicans to play their full part in bringing about ratification. I should be very unfair to you and should very much misrepresent my own convictions if I urged you to vote for ratification when you hold to a very conscientious belief that there is a constitutional inhibition which prevents your doing so until after an election has been held."
The prohibition to which Harding refers is one that precludes Tennessee from ratifying a Federal Constitutional amendment until a Statewide general election has been held. Since the Anthony Amendment was passed by Congress on June 4, 1919, that would prohibit Tennessee from taking action until after the November 2, 1920 election. For that reason Tennessee and some other States with similar provisions were ignored by suffragists and anti-suffragists alike until this June, when the Supreme Court made a ruling in a case involving Ohio's ratification of the 18th Amendment that appears to invalidate all restrictions on a State Legislature ratifying a Constitutional Amendment.
The Tennessee Attorney General has stated that the Court’s ruling allows Tennessee to ratify at any time. But this constitutional provision does complicate things. If Tennessee ratifies there is no doubt that the "antis" will ask the Supreme Court to decide whether Tennessee's ratification is valid. But if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Tennessee's ratification after the election, and women in non-suffrage States were precluded from registering to vote while the case was being appealed and argued, the election results would be considered an invalid expression of public sentiment. On the other hand, if women are permitted to register and vote during the appeals process and the Supreme Court then decides that Tennessee's law is different enough from Ohio's to be valid, then millions of "illegal" votes will have been cast under the authority of an amendment that was never properly ratified, and the election will also be seen as invalid. Since the Supreme Court does not even convene until October, any decision will be a long time in coming.
So, as if there wasn't enough to worry about with wildly varying and rapidly changing estimates of how many votes there are for ratification in the Tennessee House, there's also the coming fight in the courts. There is only one narrow path to total victory. Tennessee must first ratify, then there must be no court injunctions issued against women registering immediately and voting in November in non-suffrage States, followed by a favorable ruling in the Supreme Court on the Anthony Amendment's validity. Suffragists, both militant and more conservative, believe that this is the path that will be followed IF that critical first step takes place tomorrow or the next day. So this is going to be a long night of last-minute strategizing at the headquarters of the National Woman's Party and National American Woman Suffrage Association offices in Nashville, with all suffragists hoping it will be the last such night !
August 17, 1920 : The anxiety level remains high in both suffrage and anti-suffrage offices here in Nashville tonight, because there was no vote on ratifying the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment by the Tennessee House today. But four hours of intensely bitter debate shows that legislators on both sides know just how critical this vote will be when it finally occurs.
Since 35 of the 36 States needed to ratify a Constitutional amendment have already done so, and the ratification resolution passed in the Tennessee Senate on the 13th, the 99-member House now has the unique ability to either finish the process of ratification, and enfranchise women nationwide, or keep women who live in non-suffrage States from going to the polls in November by rejecting ratification.
The North Carolina Senate - which was thought to favor ratification - voted just a few hours ago to postpone consideration of the issue until its regular 1921 session. There are no other unratified States whose legislatures are currently in session and thought to be favorable to suffrage, and no prospects for special sessions being called in Vermont or Connecticut, where most legislators would probably vote for ratification if given a chance. So, it’s all up to Tennessee for this year.
Whether the Tennessee House is "pro" or "anti" suffrage is the subject of considerable debate, and despite confident statements coming from both sides tonight, no one really knows for sure. There were a number of setbacks last week, starting with the Speaker of the House suddenly and unexpectedly announcing that he was anti-suffrage, and ending with 5 out of 7 members of the Davidson County (Nashville) delegation joining him by defecting to the opposition as well. But efforts to get a favorable vote have never slackened, and today they were at their peak.
Never in the history of the Capitol has there been a greater demonstration of support - or opposition - to a measure being voted upon. Every legislator was immediately besieged upon arrival by those determined to get a definite commitment, and to have them publicly show their sentiment by wearing a yellow (pro-suffrage) or red (anti-suffrage) rose in their lapel. Suffragists were even lobbying on the House floor until the legislators voted to have them sent to the galleries where they could observe. The galleries were then quickly decorated with yellow suffrage banners from a number of organizations, as well as the purple, white and gold of the National Woman's Party.
The debate began when Representative Riddick moved that the House concur with the Senate in its approval of the Anthony Amendment. He noted that at one time 62 members of the House - 12 more than needed for a majority of 50 - had signed pledges of support for ratification, and that they should keep their word : "The Senate has vindicated itself, and we have written pledges of 62 members of the House. What do you say to violation of a written pledge ?" He then read a long list of national and State leaders who favor ratification, and challenged his opponents to come up with a similar list of prestigious individuals. Clearly unable to do so, Representative Boyer instead argued that suffrage would "degrade" women :
"Women are the best thing God ever made, and I would not pollute them by allowing them to wade through the filthy waters of politics. My wife, nine daughters and eight daughters-in-law think I can represent them at the polls and I guess what's good enough for them will have to be good enough for the rest."
Speaker of the House Seth Walker, whose unexpected change of loyalties last week has caused great speculation as to his reasons for the switch, said that he was opposed to ratification because a Federal amendment would force woman suffrage upon other Southern States which have rejected it. However, he didn't explain why he suddenly came to this realization just eight days ago. Representative Hanover, who is in charge of getting the resolution through the House, said :
"Ours is a great Volunteer State, and women from East, West, North and South are looking to us to give them political freedom. Tennessee never does things by halves for women. What we do for them as Southern men we should have the privilege of doing for other women that ours may be truly a democracy. Those of us who served overseas know no geographical distinction. I am voting for this because it is a moral question."
Outside pressures are still critical, and according to Alice Paul, Democratic Presidential nominee James Cox has said that he is now prepared to go to Nashville to personally lobby for suffrage. She said earlier today that he was planning to leave right after a speech to the Democratic State Convention in Columbus, Ohio, and could be here by noon tomorrow. Cox has been regularly talking with Governor Albert Roberts, who has ignored threats of opposition to his re-election by powerful newspapers if he persists in working for suffrage. He says he would rather go down to defeat in November than desert the party platform and his promises.
Republican women are equally busy lobbying Warren G. Harding, their Presidential candidate. Though he favors suffrage, he is now expressing reluctance to get involved in the Tennessee campaign due to doubts about whether Tennessee can legally ratify. (Most legal scholars and the State Attorney General say that a Supreme Court decision in June regarding Ohio's ratification of the 18th Amendment seems to invalidate all restrictions on any State legislature's right to ratify at any time.)
Late in the day, hoping to keep the legislature in session, the pro-suffrage forces in the galleries sent some of their number out of the Capitol to bring back $ 20 worth of sandwiches and iced tea for their hungry and thirsty legislators. But the doorkeeper refused to let the refreshments be passed in, so a coalition of hungry and exhausted suffrage supporters and opponents voted for adjournment until tomorrow.
Despite some worrisome developments, such as a few legislators who voted in favor of Presidential and municipal suffrage for Tennessee women last year making speeches against the Anthony Amendment today, most suffrage leaders, such as Charl Ormond Williams and Harriet Taylor Upton, are making confident statements tonight. The fact that it was anti-suffragists who moved for adjournment is also a good sign, because it means they were not certain they had the votes to defeat the ratification resolution today. The midnight oil will burn again tonight in Carrie Chapman Catt's Hermitage Hotel ratification headquarters, as well as in the offices of the National Woman’s Party, but if Catt’s prediction comes true, this may be the last night of a 72-year struggle :
"Tennessee men will not betray the interests of their country by refusing to give women the vote. They have conferred municipal and Presidential suffrage upon Tennessee women and surely they will not withhold from others what they consider good for their own.”
August 18, 1920 : The day of final victory has arrived, after 72 long years of effort ! "Votes for Women" is no longer a slogan or a distant goal, but will be a Constitutionally guaranteed reality, with only purely ceremonial events remaining to be done.
The long struggle that began with a suffrage resolution passed in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 20, 1848, by those attending the second day of the first women's rights convention, ended in Nashville this afternoon when the Tennessee House approved - because of a single switched vote - ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. That State has now become the 36th and final one needed to enshrine these words in the U.S. Constitution :
"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." A second section says : "Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
The final day of the battle was like the 26,326 which led to it, with hard work done, heavy opposition encountered, and hopes rising and falling repeatedly. The anti-suffrage Speaker of the House controlled the action, and an hour into today's debate, Rep. Seth Walker left the Speaker's chair and took to the floor to protest the implication that "special interests" were behind the opposition to suffrage and would be responsible for its imminent defeat :
"The battle has been won, and the measure has been defeated. I resent the iniquitous remarks that special interests are here alone against this measure. I resent this on behalf of the womanhood that is both for and against suffrage. I move that this measure go where it belongs, to the table."
All over the chamber "antis" gleefully shouted "Second the motion !" and Representative Overton, chosen by Walker to preside over the House so Walker could work the floor, immediately ordered the roll called. After several agonizing minutes, in which predictions of how a member would vote finally encountered reality, the result was a 48-48 tie, with 3 members absent. The "antis" demanded a second roll call, hoping to change one vote, table the measure, and end all action on suffrage until next year. Overton quickly obliged, but no votes changed. The "motion to table" was then declared lost for want of a majority.
Since a 48-48 tie on the ratification resolution itself would be insufficient for passage, the "antis" demanded, and of course got, an immediate vote. Suffragists in the galleries awaited the inevitable result stoically, disappointed once again, but already beginning to plan the 1921 campaign for that 36th State.
Then something totally unexpected happened. Harry Burn, the youngest member of the House, who had been wearing a red, anti-suffrage rose, voted "Aye" on ratification even though he had just voted to table the measure twice. Did he misspeak, and might he correct himself at the end of the roll call, or were there actually 49 votes for ratification now ? After a moment of stunned silence, there was an outburst of cheers from the suffragists in the galleries, as hopes rose once again. The roll call continued, but just as suffragists were beginning to relax, Rep. Turner chose to pass. He had voted against tabling the measure, but if he had now changed his vote from pro-suffrage to anti-suffrage it was back to a 48-48 tie and failure to ratify.
The "antis" in the galleries and on the floor now had their turn to cheer as they appeared to be back on the road to victory after a brief detour. The roll call proceeded, then at almost the last moment Rep. Turner requested the clerk to record his vote as "Aye." That meant Harry Burn's vote was the only one that had changed, and the tally would be 49-47 in favor of ratification. (It was noticed by some observers that just before his final vote Burn was reading and re-reading a letter - rumored to be from his mother, telling him to vote for suffrage. He will discuss his vote tomorrow, so everyone is eager to hear his story.)
Pandemonium broke out even before the clerk officially announced the result. Yellow banners waved in the galleries, and suffrage supporters danced and hugged as a shower of yellow flowers they'd thrown into the air rained down on the House floor.
Barely heard amid the boisterous and lengthy demonstration, Speaker Walker made a move he may later regret. He changed his vote to "Aye" just before the tally was made official by being entered in the Journal, because only someone who votes for a measure can ask to have it reconsidered, and the "antis" definitely want the ratification resolution reconsidered and reversed. But by making the final vote count 50-46, he gave the measure an absolute majority of those in the 99-member House, and has prevented any challenge to it on the basis of lacking such an absolute majority for passage.
Though there will be unprecedented partying tonight at suffrage offices all across the city - and nation - no one will be going back to their home States tomorrow. The House has two days to reconsider the measure, and suffragists will be keeping close watch on all legislators to make sure there are no defections that might cause ratification to be rescinded, though the legality of rescission is highly questionable. The three absent legislators are thought to be pro-suffrage, but they'll still be heavily lobbied in case they take their seats tomorrow. There will also be legal challenges to ratification due to a section of the Tennessee Constitution which prohibits the Legislature from ratifying a Federal Amendment submitted by Congress to the States until after a new legislature has been elected. The 19th Amendment was submitted to the States on June 4, 1919, and the first General Election after that will be on November 2nd of this year. But a Supreme Court decision in June appears to have invalidated all restrictions on a State legislature's right to ratify at any time, which is why the Governor felt free to call this special session to ratify the Anthony Amendment.
If the House majority for suffrage can be maintained for just two more days, all that will remain are two ceremonies. Governor Roberts, who has been a tireless advocate of suffrage, will need to certify that the ratification resolution was properly passed by both the House and Senate of the Tennessee Legislature. After he signs that document it will go to Washington, D.C, where the Secretary of State will review it as he has similar documents from 35 other States, then issue a proclamation that the Susan B. Anthony Amendment is now the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Secretary Colby said today that he would issue the proclamation as soon as certification arrives from Tennessee. The Attorney General of the United States said today that the Amendment is self-enforcing and no new laws are needed to make women eligible to vote in States where they could not vote until now.
At National Woman’s Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., Alice Paul happily added a 36th star to the ratification flag, and then gave out a victory statement :
"The victory of women today completes the political democracy of America and enfranchises half the people of a great nation. It is a victory which has been won not by an individual or group, but by all those women who since the time of the Revolution have suffered and protested against the humiliation of disenfranchisement and proclaimed the equality of men and women. All women of the United States are now entitled to vote in the coming elections on the same basis as men.
“But our work cannot end. Ratification must be protected in the courts against attacks of its opponents. It must be safeguarded, if possible, by the winning of a thirty-seventh State. In certain States, also, provision must be made for admitting women to the polls and providing for their registration in accordance with the law. The Woman's Party will at once get in touch with the Attorney General of each State with the object of aiding in this matter, which we anticipate will cause no difficulty or delay.
“With their power to vote achieved, women still have before them the task of supplementing political equality with equality in all other fields. In State and national legislation, as well as in other fields, women are not yet on an equal basis with men. The vote will make it infinitely easier for them to end all discriminations, and they will use the vote toward that end. The National Woman's Party, organized in 1913 to secure passage of the Federal suffrage amendment, has accomplished the purpose for which it was founded. It will meet in convention within the next two months to decide upon its future."
Paul is confident that today's vote will stand. "We do not fear the results of the efforts to reconsider, but we shall, of course, do everything possible to prevent such action. We are informed by our workers in Nashville that the forces opposing suffrage, as soon as the vote was taken, began attacks on our men to induce a sufficient number of them to remain at home for the next two days in order that the reconsideration motion might be passed and the amendment defeated. They are reported to be saying to our men : 'You have done everything you need to do now to please the suffragists ; all you need to do for us is to stay at home for two days.' We are confident that none of the men who voted for us today will agree to such tactics.
“The vote in the Tennessee House today showed that we had one more vote than the necessary clear majority of fifty, since two men who failed to vote were strong suffragists. One of them was unable to leave his home because of his own illness, the other was with his wife, who is critically ill. Both of these absent men were Republicans.
"In addition to these two men, sixteen Republican members voted for ratification, which means that the Republicans have enlisted on their side of ratification more than a majority of their delegation in the House - a record of which they may well be proud." (The original 49-47 vote had 33 Democrats in favor, and 36 opposed, with 16 Republicans in favor – Harry Burn among them - and 11 against.) She then thanked the Presidential candidates of both parties for their help, as well as Tennessee Governor Albert Roberts who called the special session.
Alice Paul‘s militant tactics and self-sacrifice certainly deserve a big share of the credit for today's victory, but so do Carrie Chapman Catt's more than three decades of efforts. Today Catt, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900 to 1904 and since 1915, said :
"The gallant men of the Volunteer State, unafraid of the noisy threats meant to intimidate, have opened at last the long-locked door through which millions of grateful women will pass to political freedom. Ratification of the amendment is more than a victory for woman suffrage. It is proof of the inviolable integrity of the Tennessee Legislature, a fact which should fill every Tennessee heart with pride. In this hour of victory there is but one regret, and that is every man and woman in the nation does not share our joy. Today there are those yet too blinded by prejudice to recognize the justice and inevitability of woman suffrage, but tomorrow we know that we shall work together for the common good of this great and glorious nation.”
The National American Woman Suffrage Association will now begin the process of disbanding, its purpose happily fulfilled. But Catt sees plenty of work ahead for veteran suffragists :
"The suffrage victory means opportunity for more work and added responsibility. The suffrage triumph is too belated for it to come with any shock of surprise. We have long been ready for it. We are ready for the work that lies on ahead of us.
"Since votes for women is now an accomplished fact, what are the women going to do with the vote ? Are they going to draw back their skirts in disdain from all interest in politics on the ground that it is corrupt ? Are they going to join the army of kid-gloved men slackers whom I have heard proudly boast that they would not touch politics with a 10-foot pole ? Or are they going to be of those who will help swell America's army of voters who put conscience and thought into the scales with party politics and party candidates ?
"In order to help the new woman voter find her way through the maze of these besetting questions there has been formed the National League of Women Voters. In each State, State branches are forming out of the old suffrage associations. The league is non-partisan. it is pan-partisan, all partisan.”
There should also be tribute paid today to literally uncountable numbers of others going all the way back to those who gathered together in 1848 to launch the battle for equality between men and women. Even gaining such a basic right as the vote must have seemed impossible not just in the beginning, but at other times, such as between 1896 and 1910 when not a single State was won for suffrage, or 1915 when an all-out campaign in four big Eastern States produced nothing more than defeat and discouragement. But though she didn't live long enough to see the victory, Susan B. Anthony knew all along that it wasn't winning the vote that was impossible, but that for those who believe in equality "Failure is impossible." Today she was proven right.
August 19, 1920 : Intent on assuring that yesterday's historic victory does not become muddled by a vote to revoke approval, suffragists spent today keeping constant company with every Tennessee legislator who voted to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. When not being fanned on the House floor, the legislators were entertained by being taken to luncheons, on country drives, or to motion picture theaters, and by suffragists listening attentively to their stories about the War Between the States.
The anti-suffrage Speaker of the House is determined to have the ratification vote reversed, and could call for reconsideration without a moment’s notice at any time the House is in session for up to two days after the resolution's passage. Since a single vote constituted the margin of victory that gave the 19th Amendment the 36th and final State ratification needed to become part of the Constitution, it's essential that every House member who voted "Aye" yesterday be present and still support woman suffrage should a vote to reconsider the resolution suddenly be called. But the suffragists who packed the galleries from the beginning to the end of the session today were relieved to find that nothing other than routine business was done.
Tonight, however, Speaker Seth Walker announced that 47 members of the House had signed pledges to vote to reconsider ratification. Since that’s the same number who voted against suffrage in the initial 49-47 roll call, it means that no “anti” has converted to the pro-suffrage side, so no pro-suffrage legislator can be allowed to defect if the razor-thin majority for suffrage is to be maintained for one more day. Three legislators were absent for the original vote, and may - or may not - arrive here tomorrow. If they do take their seats, it is hoped the reports that two of the three are pro-suffrage are true. But presumptions about how a legislator will vote have been proven wrong in a number of cases, so their arrival would only add to the uncertainty.
Though the legality of a State reversing its ratification is highly questionable, such a rescission vote would clearly complicate what's now a straightforward, purely ceremonial process : The Governor certifies that Tennessee has legally ratified, then sends the certification to the U.S. Secretary of State, and Secretary Colby then officially proclaims that the 19th Amendment is a part of the United States Constitution.
Article Five of the Constitution does not require the Secretary of State to issue a proclamation of ratification, so the Susan B. Anthony Amendment fulfilled all requirements for inclusion yesterday by having been ratified by 2/3 of both Houses of Congress and 3/4 of the States. But the symbolism of the Secretary of State, representing the United States Government, proclaiming that woman suffrage is the law of the land would be quite powerful, and go a long way toward ending resistance to women registering to vote and voting in November, even if there are court challenges to Tennessee’s ratification.
It's been quite a day for Representative Harry Burn, whose unexpected and last minute vote switch provided the margin of victory yesterday. While suffrage forces have been honoring and praising him, anti-suffragists have been charging that bribery was involved in his surprise vote, and both the Nashville Banner and Nashville Tennessean printed affidavits today alleging that bribes were offered to Burn just before his final vote. A Grand Jury already seated to investigate claims of "improper influences" on the State’s legislators in regard to the suffrage campaign is now investigating these new charges, though suffragists don't take them seriously, and even some anti-suffragists seem skeptical.
Harry Burn himself told why he voted the way he did in an open letter to the Tennessee House today : "I know that a mother's advice is always safest for her boy to follow, and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification. I desired that my party in both State and nation might say that it was a Republican from the mountains of East Tennessee who made national woman suffrage possible at this date."
It was truly appropriate that a Republican cast the final vote needed to ratify, because suffrage and Republicans have had a close relationship for some time. When Susan B. Anthony cast her “illegal” ballot in 1872, she wrote to Elizabeth Cady Stanton that night saying she voted the Republican ticket. The Susan B. Anthony Amendment itself, ratified yesterday, was first introduced in Congress by Senator Aaron Sargent, Republican of California, in 1878.
When the House passed the Anthony Amendment last year, the vote was 104 Democrats in favor and 70 opposed, but 200 Republicans in favor and just 19 opposed. In the Senate it was 20 Democrats in favor and 17 opposed, but 36 Republicans in favor and 8 against. In both cases Republicans provided the votes necessary for the 2/3 majority required. Of the 36 States that ratified, 26 had Republican legislatures, 7 were Democratic and in 3, one party dominated the House and the other the Senate. Of the nine States which rejected ratification, eight were Democratic. Three have never voted on it. And, of course, yesterday, the initial vote in Tennessee was 33 Democrats in favor and 36 opposed, while 16 Republicans voted in favor and 11 were opposed, Harry Burn and his party providing the votes needed for a simple 49-47 majority. (The final count was actually 50-46 because the anti-suffrage Speaker changed his vote so that he would be allowed to call up the ratification resolution again for the purpose of reversing the vote of approval.)
While some die-hard anti-suffragists fight on, some are conceding graciously. Even The New York Times, which has been second to none in its vehement opposition to woman suffrage, today said that : "...there is no doubt that the vote of yesterday will be almost universally taken as ending the long struggle for woman suffrage in this country." They noted that women had already won full voting rights in many States, and were eligible to vote for President in even more. So, 68 years after their first condescending and dismissive editorial on the subject, they admitted : "A movement gathering such momentum was bound to succeed in time."
Proponents were much more enthusiastic in their reactions, and congratulations are pouring in from around the world. Countess Maria Loschi of Rome, Italy cabled :
"American women have already good will, splendid preparation, and great power. May their final enfranchisement be blessed. May all roads be open to this new wonderful army. Be united, dear friends, especially after this deserved victory, and accept greetings from an Italian woman who has known, loved and appreciated you."
Madame De Witt Schlumberger said : "Enthusiastic congratulations from the French Union for Woman Suffrage to their American sisters upon their enfranchisement so well merited." Ellen Key of Sweden wrote : "Sisters, use your enfranchisement in the noble spirit which made Susan B. Anthony great in the struggle." Olive Schreiner of South Africa said : "Hearty congratulations. May all women unite to labor for peace and international brotherhood."
Governor Roberts, who called the special session so that ratification could occur, received telegrams from many prominent suffrage supporters around the country, among them President Wilson : "If you deem it proper, will you not be kind enough to convey to the Legislature of Tennessee my sincerest congratulations on their concurrence in the Nineteenth Amendment ? I believe that in sending this message I am, in fact, speaking the voice of the country at large."
But after one final night of strategy sessions, with some time out for reading congratulatory telegrams, and newspaper stories with long-sought headlines proclaiming “Votes for Women !” it will be back to work early tomorrow for all suffrage organizations to assure that yesterday's final victory is, indeed, final.
August 20, 1920 : Another day of cheering and waving of yellow banners from the galleries of the Tennessee House as day before yesterday’s pro-suffrage majority held together, and kept ratification of the 19th Amendment intact. When Tennessee voted to become the 36th and final State needed to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, the anti-suffrage Speaker of the House changed his vote to "Aye" at the last moment so that he would have the right to introduce a motion - at any time during the next two days - to reconsider and reverse the vote to ratify.
Despite a boastful speech made to an anti-suffrage rally last night by House Speaker Walker that he would have the votes to undo ratification today, he instead made a motion to adjourn until Monday, in hopes that he could change at least two votes over the weekend. Suffrage supporters defeated that motion with numbers identical to those cast for ratification on the 18th, so when it became obvious that no votes had yet changed, cheering broke out.
Suffrage forces eagerly agreed to adjourn until tomorrow morning, when there will be a rare Saturday session. Though the State Attorney General and a number of parliamentarians have said that Speaker Walker's failure to bring up the motion to reconsider within two days should settle the issue, suffragists want no loose ends. Since a motion to reconsider is still on the House Journal as a matter of record, suffrage supporters plan to bring it up tomorrow and either defeat it outright or permanently table it. Now that two days have passed since the original vote, a motion to reconsider can be brought up by any member who voted in favor, not just the Speaker. This will be done at a time of the pro-suffrage leader’s choosing, and only if victory is absolutely certain. Once this motion to reconsider is disposed of, there can be no further action on suffrage by the Tennessee House.
Needless to say, suffragists are continuing to keep close to their legislative allies to make sure that there are no defections, because only two switches could change a 49-47 vote to kill the reconsideration resolution into a 49-47 vote to retract ratification and give opponents an issue to litigate in court. Although it's believed that rescinding ratification is not legal, because two rescissions of the 14th Amendment were never recognized, such a move would give those who want to delay implementation of the new amendment an excuse to do so.
Of course, there will be court action no matter what happens. Judge Joseph Higgins, President of the Tennessee Constitutional League, said that he would ask for a writ of injunction to be issued against Governor Roberts restraining him from signing the certification that the Tennessee legislature had properly ratified the Amendment, and prohibiting U.S. Secretary of State Colby from issuing a proclamation that the 19th Amendment is part of the Constitution.
The legal issue here is that the Tennessee State Constitution prohibits the legislature from ratifying a Federal amendment sent to the States for ratification by Congress until after a new State legislature has been elected. The 19th Amendment was approved by Congress on June 4, 1919, and the first Statewide election after that date will not occur until November 2nd of this year. But virtually all legal authorities and scholars believe that a Supreme Court decision in June regarding Ohio's ratification of the 18th Amendment declared all restrictions on a State legislature's right to ratify an amendment at any time to be unconstitutional.
While desperate and dejected anti-suffragists are pinning their hopes on long-shot legal challenges and last-minute conversions, suffragists are so confident that their work is nearly done that campaign offices are being dismantled, and train reservations for tomorrow are being made so that victorious veterans of the last battle in the fight for suffrage can begin leaving for home right after the vote to kill the motion to reconsider.
Carrie Chapman Catt, never one to take anything for granted, has nevertheless begun the switch from planning campaign strategy to thinking about how to celebrate the victory. While reading through the latest batch of telegrams of congratulations, she said : "We suffragists have worked so hard and against such odds that we have forgotten how to play." When asked about the details of the coming nationwide celebration, she said : "Many proposals are coming in, but I have made no plans. The credit is not mine. It belongs to all that faithful band who have struggled for political freedom.” Thinking back over her three decades of work, she also said : “What has sustained me in this thirty year contest ? My unswerving belief in the righteousness of woman suffrage."
Alice Paul has been busy with post-ratification duties as well. She has been sending telegrams on behalf of the National Woman's Party to Attorneys General in States where women had no voting rights, and therefore have never been allowed to register, asking whether women will be able to register and vote in their States on the same basis as men once the U.S. Secretary of State issues his proclamation that the Anthony Amendment is properly ratified. No additional legislation in the States should be legally required to allow women to vote, because the 19th Amendment is self-executing and overrides any State laws restricting the vote to men. So, her inquiry is simply to find out whether the funds and machinery necessary to register women are available.
Some States where women had partial suffrage, such as New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Mississippi, as well as Virginia, where they had no voting rights, have passed enabling acts specifically affirming the right of women to register to vote under the 19th Amendment, and similar legislation is pending in North Carolina, where women have never voted. Attorneys General in Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio, North Dakota and New Jersey, where women had partial suffrage, plus Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Florida, where women had no voting rights, have given informal opinions that no special legislation is needed, and that women can register and vote on the same basis as men. The Governor of the partial-suffrage State of Missouri has said that if there are any problems with registration of women, he will call a special session of the State legislature to remove the barriers. Yet to be heard from are Alabama, South Carolina and Maryland, where women had no voting rights, and Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana and Vermont, where women had partial suffrage and could vote for some offices but not others.
Though registering millions of women to vote before November second, overcoming resistance by anti-suffrage State officials, and fighting off court challenges is a huge task, it pales in comparison to the challenge of achieving the victory won day before yesterday. So, the job is in competent hands, and should certainly get done in time.
August 21, 1920 : Last-ditch battles are by their very nature desperate, so it shouldn't be any surprise that anti-suffrage forces are outdoing themselves in their attempts to put up roadblocks to the 19th Amendment. The first of two major offensives began just after midnight, when thirty-seven anti-suffrage members of the 99-member Tennessee House left for Decatur, Alabama, intent on staying there until the special session of the Tennessee Legislature expires. Their aim is to prevent a quorum from being present to defeat their motion to reconsider ratification or to authorize any further actions involving ratification.
There remained this morning just that one "loose end" on the agenda of suffrage forces, which was to be eliminated by calling up and defeating a motion to reconsider the House's ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment three days ago. Most legal authorities believe that defeating or tabling the motion is not necessary and that the 19th Amendment has been ratified, awaiting only the Governor’s certification of Tennessee’s ratification, and the Secretary of State's official proclamation affirming that 36 States have ratified, and that the 19th Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution. But suffragists want to take no chances on national victory being jeopardized by some obscure parliamentary rule in one House of one State. So the plan today was to call up the motion, then have the full House either defeat or permanently table it, presumably by the same 49-47 margin as the initial vote on ratification on the 18th. But instead of just the three seats that have been empty since the beginning of the special session due to illnesses, there were forty vacant seats. With only a handful of anti-suffragists at their desks, calling up and defeating the motion was an easy task, but whether it was legal or not is open to debate.
One anti-suffragist who was certainly here today was Speaker of the House Seth Walker. After the roll was called and only 59 members of the 99-member House answered "present," he declared that the House was 7 votes short of a quorum. In accordance with standard procedure, the Speaker then declared a one-hour recess so the Sergeant-at-Arms could go out and "arrest and bring before the bar of the House such absentees as could be found." Of course, he knew that they were across the State line and could not be found in time, nor compelled to return, since the Tennessee House has no authority over them while they're in Alabama.
After the recess, T.K. Riddick, who led suffragists to victory in the House on the 18th, said that since the ratification of a Constitutional Amendment is a Federal, not State matter, the State law regarding what constitutes a quorum does not apply, and moved to call up the reconsideration resolution. Walker ruled his motion out of order due to lack of a quorum, but on appeal to the House, his ruling was overruled. Ironically enough, at this point, Walker had to turn over the Speaker's chair to suffrage supporter Rep. Odle, because an injunction sought by anti-suffrage forces to keep all major State officials from taking action on the suffrage amendment had arrived, and as Speaker of the House, Walker’s name had to be on the list.
Odle immediately ordered a roll call on the motion to reconsider, and to the delight of suffrage forces, reconsideration of the vote to approve the Susan B. Anthony Amendment was defeated by a vote of 50 to 9 - an absolute majority of the 99-member House, and a surprising gain of one vote for the suffrage forces during the past three days. Odle then moved that the House certify and transmit the ratification resolution, and the motion passed 50-0, the nine remaining "antis" refusing to vote. Walker said that nothing could force him to sign the resolution. Speaker Todd of the Senate then noted that the joint resolution didn't need the signatures of the Speakers of the House and Senate anyway, and with or without Walker's signature Tennessee's ratification was equally valid.
That injunction was the other interesting development today. It was issued by Judge E. F. Langford of the Chancery Court here in Davidson County to restrain Governor Roberts, Tennessee Secretary of State Stevens, Senate Speaker Andrew Todd and House Speaker Seth Walker from certifying ratification or taking any action in regard to the suffrage amendment. How seriously the injunction should be taken depends upon one's feelings about suffrage. At the headquarters of the "antis" it was considered a major victory, stopping suffrage in its tracks. According to Charlotte Rowe : "The suffragists thought they had won by a trick and they have been foiled." But though plans to return home by suffrage leaders have been postponed, there is no doubt being expressed that victory has been won and will soon be made official. Carrie Chapman Catt, just before a meeting with a number of pro-suffrage groups, said : "The anti-suffrage forces have made no move which was not anticipated by us" and that "When thirty-seven men ran away from their posts, which they had sworn to safeguard, they immortalized themselves as being willing to delay for a few days the operation of woman suffrage."
Meanshile, in Washington, D.C., the National Woman’s Party gave an accounting today of just how expensive this ratification campaign has been for them :
"From June 4, 1919, when the amendment passed the Senate, to Aug. 18, 1920, when Tennessee's ratification completed the long suffrage struggle, expenditures by the Woman's Party are totaled at $ 149,599.36, according to the report of the Treasurer's department issued today.
"Since March 22, when Delaware, which suffragists hoped to make the 36th State, caller her Legislature in special session, $ 68,519.26 has been raised and spent by the national headquarters of the Woman's Party. This does not include the sums raised and spent by Delaware for its own campaign or spent but not yet raised within Tennessee. The Tennessee campaign cost at least $ 10,000 bringing the total cost of the thirty-sixth State up to at least $ 80,000.
"By far the greater part of this sum has come in small contributions of $ 1 and up. The largest contributor to the ratification fund of the Woman's Party was Miss Mary E. Burnham of Philadelphia, Pa., who gave $ 14,000. Next largest was the gift of Miss Fannie T. Cochran of Pennsylvania, who gave $ 6,100 ; Mrs. Charles Boughton Wood gave $ 5,050 and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer of New York City $ 4,850.
"Money raised by the Woman's Party has been spent in maintaining the party headquarters in Washington and the paying of its staff of officers and organizers in Washington, who have campaigned in nearly every State in the Union for ratification, in organizing demonstrations and in other phases of the year-long intensive campaign."
Naturally, the Woman’s Party would be appreciative of any donations that could be made, no matter how small, to help defray the costs of this final, and quite expensive phase of the battle for the vote.
Though there are still some legal tangles to sort through, the only thing anti-suffragists are likely to accomplish with their latest obstructionist tactics is to decrease what little respect may still remain for their movement, and they'll probably have great success at that, judging by these recent actions.
August 22, 1920 : Four days have now passed since Tennessee became the 36th and final State needed to ratify the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment, and suffragists are so confident that the formal proclamation of ratification by Secretary of State Colby will soon be forthcoming that only a few are still in Nashville.
Those who remain in the State Capital are here to fight and quickly dispose of one last roadblock that anti-suffragists have put up to stave off their defeat as long as possible. It takes the form of a court injunction which supposedly restrains the Governor of Tennessee from officially certifying that the 19th Amendment was properly ratified by his State. This certification is needed by the U.S. Secretary of State before he can officially declare the 19th Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution.
Even with the injunction in place, other formalities have been proceeding smoothly. The Tennessee House's resolution of concurrence with the Senate's approval of ratification has been transmitted back to the Senate for engrossment (the printing of a final copy of a bill or resolution after passage.) This step puts it beyond the reach of the House, so they can no longer reconsider or rescind their vote to ratify without the permission of the Senate. Since the Senate approved the ratification resolution 25 to 4 just nine days ago, no one worries about that.
Governor Roberts said today that the State Attorney General had assured him Tennessee's approval of the Anthony Amendment on August 18th was fully legal. The Governor has been a vigorous supporter of suffrage, and said today that he will not allow any act by anti-suffrage legislators to nullify that State's successful ratification : "I will exercise and bring to bear all the legal and legitimate powers of the office of Governor to consummate in an orderly and legal manner the certification of the action of the Legislature to the proper Federal officials.” Numerous legal authorities have said that the Governor is not subject to orders by the Chancery Court of Davidson County, but the Governor said that out of respect for the court system he would wait for the injunction to be lifted, something that is expected to happen either tomorrow or the next day after it is challenged in court.
Suffrage opponents are still issuing confident statements, though reality finally seems to be slowly sinking in, as they now talk of delaying, rather than defeating, woman suffrage. They sent this message to the Governors of seven States yesterday, and released its text to the public today :
"No women will vote for a year and a half, at least, on account of Tennessee's action today, as the injunction will be carried to the highest court. Any State official who attempts to certify will be attacked for contempt of court, and Secretary Colby has already been warned that action in violation of the injunction is invalid under our laws.
"Secretary Colby will also be enjoined by an amended bill filed by Charles S. Fairchild and the American Constitutional League at Washington. There is no reason for any stampede in other States on account of Tennessee's alleged action today and press reports assuming the ratification as completed are entirely misleading. Therefore, we earnestly ask you to make careful examination of ratification status before doing anything that may have a tendency to complicate the coming Presidential election and the election of Governors, Congressmen, Legislators, etc., in many States."
The anti-suffrage House members who fled the State to prevent a quorum from being present, in an attempt to keep the House from removing the last parliamentary technicality that might have blocked ratification, are still in Alabama. Now that their effort has failed, and the House is finished with the ratification resolution, the reason for their continued absence is uncertain.
Some say the deserters want to get even with the pro-suffrage Governor, and prevent votes on certain other bills he wants enactd. Their absence would successfully preclude action on those bills, since these are State, not Federal matters, and for these, 66 of 99 House members must be present for a vote. Others suspect the "refugees" are simply enjoying the royal treatment they're getting from die-hard anti-suffragists wherever they go in that neighboring State. If so, they had better enjoy such attention and praise while they can, because the once powerful and well funded anti-suffrage organizations such as the "National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage" and the "Southern Women's League for the Rejection of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment" seems about to join the "Know-Nothing Party" in extinction, as just more embarrassing footnotes in American history.
August 23, 1920 : The many Nashville offices of the National Woman’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which only a week ago were jammed to capacity and open at virtually all hours, have been dismantled, and the vast majority of their workers happily gone back to their home States following Tennessee’s ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment on the 18th. But Carrie Chapman Catt is still in her campaign headquarters in the Hermitage Hotel, and the anti-suffrage forces are still busily at work on another floor of the same establishment.
Despite numerous legal authorities and scholars having declared the battle for national woman suffrage was won when Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the Anthony Amendment, opponents have refused to concede defeat. Today they even expanded their courtroom offensive to block the final formalities of ratification. The Chief Clerks of both the Tennessee House and Senate were added to the list of all the State’s top public officials who are now restrained by the Chancery Court of Davidson County from taking any actions leading to official certification of Tennessee's ratification. This certification is required to be delivered to the U.S. Secretary of State before he can officially proclaim that the Anthony Amendment is now the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
So far the major accomplishment of the “antis” has been to bring the Tennessee House to a complete standstill. This was the result of 37 anti-suffrage legislators deserting their posts, with most fleeing to Decatur, Alabama, in order to prevent a quorum from being present to do business. Three more seats remain vacant due to illness, so only 59 of 99 House members have been present over the past two days. Since the number required for a quorum regarding a Federal matter is different from that required for doing State business, their boycott failed to stop a vote day before yesterday dispensing with the last piece of parliamentary procedure that might have put ratification at risk. Now they're only holding up votes on important State matters, which require 66 of 99 members to be present. Anti-suffragists charge that the vote to take up and kill a motion to reconsider ratification was invalid because “the House was not at any time during the day legally and constitutionally organized for the transaction of business.”
The anti-suffragists are now calling for mass meetings around the State to persuade legislators to change their votes and rescind Tennessee's ratification should they somehow succeed in getting it voted on again. In a statement issued today from Alabama, the runaway legislators said :
"We are convinced that the methods which were adopted to secure the passage of the resolution were improper and not justified. We believe that the majority of the people of Tennessee do not favor the ratification of said amendment. It is our purpose to remain outside the borders of the State for a reasonable time until the people of the State may have an opportunity to express themselves in the premises."
The Governor and State Attorney General insist that ratification has already been accomplished and the moment the injunction is lifted, the Governor will officially certify that Tennessee has ratified, and immediately send the certificate on to U.S. Secretary of State Colby. The Secretary has already said that upon receipt of the certification document he will promptly issue a proclamation that the 19th Amendment was properly ratified and is the law of the land. No date has been set by the judge to hear arguments over the restraining order, but it is hoped they will take place sometime this week.
As frustrating as it is to have to wait for a victory that has already been won to be formally proclaimed, there is no doubt among suffragists in Nashville or Washington, D.C., that a nationwide celebration of woman suffrage is just days away, and well worth waiting for after 72 years of unceasing efforts.
August 24, 1920 : A surprise - and major - victory this morning for woman suffrage as the legal tangle holding up official certification of Tennessee's ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment was finally broken. The attention of both sides in the suffrage fight had been focused on preparing for an upcoming hearing sometime later this week in the Chancery Court of Davidson County to lift an injunction anti-suffragists had won barring top State officials from taking any action to certify that Tennessee had become the 36th and final State needed to ratify the 19th Amendment.
But the Governor and State Attorney General had a plan known only to themselves and a few high-ranking suffragists. Last night Governor Roberts and Attorney General Thompson petitioned Chief Justice D. L. Lansden of the Tennessee Supreme Court to issue a writ of certiorari (requiring the lower court to send up the record of the case so that its actions could be reviewed by the higher court) and supersedeas (to command the lower court to halt enforcement of its injunction against the State officials.)
After the requests were granted, the Attorney General issued an opinion overnight that these writs had the effect of setting aside the injunction won by suffrage opponents three days ago in the lower court. With all legal barriers removed, the Governor called suffrage leaders and a few of the more prominent pro-suffrage legislators into his office this morning for a ceremony, and within minutes the certificate of ratification was signed, and on its way to Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Colby has said he will issue a proclamation that the 19th Amendment was properly ratified and is a part of the Constitution once Tennessee’s certificate of ratification arrives and joins the 35 already sent by other States.
At first, anti-suffragists were simply stunned by the sudden and unexpected development. It took only 25 minutes after the legal documents from last night had been officially filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court this morning at 9:55 for the ratification certificate to be signed, mailed, and on a train heading North. After a week of trying to block the progress of the Anthony Amendment through tricky and unpredictable legal tactics, opponents were quite angry at being outmaneuvered today. Once they recovered from their shock, anti-suffragists issued a formal statement saying :
"This action was taken and the injunction in effect dissolved without any notice whatsoever to the complainants or their solicitors, all of whom live in Nashville and were easily accessible although the rule of law generally and as stated by competent authority, and the rule of professional ethics and courtesy, always requires that notice be given ordering counsel of the intention to apply to an Appellate Judge for the writ of supersedeas. Lawyers who have been consulted stated they hardly believe that such action was taken and acted on by Governor Roberts, as it appeared to them to be at least, if not revolutionary in character, in such violation of established law and procedure as to seem almost incredible."
The battle in Tennessee is clearly over, because the only way anti-suffragists could trump the Chief Justice’s order would be to get a majority of the State Supreme Court to overturn his action. Since the court doesn't even meet until September 20th, and the Secretary of State's proclamation may be issued by late tomorrow, or early the next day, time is not on their side. Fighting to the last, opponents have vowed that the American Constitutional League will try to get the District of Columbia Supreme Court to issue an order restraining Secretary of State Colby from signing the proclamation that the 19th Amendment was properly ratified and is the law of the land. That may prove a somewhat harder challenge than getting a friendly local judge in Nashville to restrain State officials.
But while opponents complain, and plot desperate legal strategies, the last of the suffrage workers still here in Nashville are now happily preparing to leave for their homes around the State and nation, their goal in Tennessee accomplished beyond any doubt. Carrie Chapman Catt can expect a huge tribute from fellow suffragists when she gets back to New York.
Alice Paul is at National Woman's Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., sorting through replies from 24 Attorneys General in the 33 States where women either had no voting rights, or the right to vote for some offices and not others. Women already have full voting rights in 15 States, so there are no concerns about their ability to vote in November.
Of the 24 officials who have replied to Paul’s inquiries, 17 said that no State legislation will be required to register women to vote once Secretary Colby makes his official proclamation. The Attorney General of Arkansas, one of the 17, added that Colby's proclamation is unnecessary if Tennessee has lawfully ratified.
Four States have passed enabling acts to make special provisions to register women voters. Officials of two other States said that all necessary arrangements for women voters will be made. The reply from Alabama, where women had no voting rights, was that a ruling will be made when the State Attorney General returns.
Of the other nine, three are States in which women vote for President already, and in a fourth they can vote in primaries, so registration will not be a problem. Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey and Vermont have not been heard from, but women have partial suffrage there, though it would be reassuring to know that there are specific plans to assure that they will be able to vote for every office on the ballot in November.
But even with a few uncertainties, and some technicalities to be worked out, the "ratification train" is both literally and figuratively back on track today, after what might be considered a lengthy “layover" in Tennessee following ratification six days ago. Barring any more legal hitches, the final act in this 72-year drama may be just 24 to 36 hours away.
August 25, 1920 : As Alice Paul and other National Woman's Party stalwarts hold one last vigil tonight, final victory for woman suffrage appears to be at hand. Despite the dogged determination of opponents to fight until the bitter end, the last obstacle to Secretary of State Colby proclaiming that the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment was properly ratified, and is now the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, has been brushed aside. All that remains now is for Tennessee's certificate of ratification to arrive here in Washington, D.C., and be delivered to Secretary Colby. He has said that even if it arrives as late as midnight or a little after, he will immediately go to the State Department and formally proclaim the new amendment to be part of the Constitution.
Today began like so many others before it, with a battle. Having been unsuccessful in preventing the Governor from certifying Tennessee's ratification (the 36th and final State approval needed by the Anthony Amendment) anti-suffragists turned their attention from Nashville to the nation's capital. Their last-ditch plan was an attempt to get the District of Columbia Supreme Court to issue an order restraining Secretary of State Colby from signing the ratification proclamation.
The plaintiff was Charles S. Fairchild, acting on behalf of the American Constitutional League. The case was argued by attorney Alfred D. Smith. Justice Frederick L. Siddons first raised the question of whether he even had the authority to issue such an order, and asked Smith to go find references and citations to show that he could. Smith returned to court a few hours later with the requested documentation, but the judge still refused his request to summon the Secretary of State to show cause why he should not be restrained from signing the proclamation, or to issue an order forbidding him from doing so :
"I hold that the act of promulgating the ratification of the suffrage amendment is purely a ministerial act. I am averse to issuing a rule ordering the Secretary of State to show cause why he should not be enjoined on the grounds presented here."
The judge also seemed rather surprised to see that the “antis” were not just attacking Tennessee’s ratification, which was a subject of legitimate controversy until recently, but all 36 ratifications : "Do you attack the validity of every legislative act of the States with reference to ratification ?”
Smith replied : "We do on the grounds, first that Congress had no right to propose such an amendment, and secondly, because the acts of ratification were in some instances invalid because the legislatures which voted favorably were elected before Congress proposed suffrage ratification." (Some States have a rule that a Statewide election must take place between the time that a Constitutional amendment is passed by Congress and the State legislature can vote on it. But in June, the Supreme Court made a ruling in regard to the 18th Amendment which been interpreted by legal authorities and scholars as invalidating all restrictions on a State’s right to ratify a Constitutional amendment at any time.)
Though Justice Siddons didn’t buy any of Smith’s arguments, he did do him one favor. Rather than putting things on hold while he took his time to consider a ruling, he immediately dismissed the application so Smith could take it directly to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Though it’s possible the D.C. Court of Appeals might first agree that it has the authority to issue a temporary injunction against Secretary Colby, and then choose to do so, it's very unlikely they could act before Colby has signed the proclamation. The opposition is indicating that if they fail, or get their ruling too late, their post-ratification strategy will be to continue to challenge the legality of the ratification process. Their new goal would be to get the U.S. Supreme Court to rule before the November election that at least one State ratification of the amendment was invalid. If that occurred, things would stay as they have been, with women having full voting rights in 15 States, the right to vote for some offices and in some elections in 26, and no voting rights at all in 7.
Suffragists are quite confident that unless the train from Nashville is extremely late, they'll win tomorrow's race, and that Tennessee's certification will be delivered to Secretary Colby before the D.C. Court of Appeals can even convene.
National Woman's Party members are keeping a close watch on all developments. In a move reminiscent of their "Silent Sentinels," who picketed outside the White House gates to put pressure on the Wilson Administration to help get the Anthony Amendment out of Congress, party members are stationing themselves around the State Department tonight waiting for the final act in this drama. The building will be kept open, because some State Department employees have been ordered to stay there to receive and sign for the registered letter containing the certificate from Tennessee. The latest estimate from postal officials is that the document will arrive somewhere between 12:30 and 2:30 a.m.
No matter at what hour Colby's proclamation is made, it will be a time of triumph and celebration for suffrage forces. But by no means will there be only a single commemoration. There are plans for a variety of observances from coast-to-coast over the coming days. Then it will be time for each individual suffragist and every suffrage organization to decide what to do now that the goal of "Votes for Women" has been achieved.
August 26, 1920 : Absolute, final, total victory ! Twenty-six thousand, three hundred and thirty-four very long, hard days ago, a small, but brave group of suffrage pioneers declared " ...that it is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise." Today, the Secretary of State proclaimed that the U.S. Constitution now provides :
"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" and that "Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
The battle to add those two simple sentences to the Constitution took so long that of the 300 who attended the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, 100 of whom signed the "Declaration of Sentiments" on July 20, 1848, only Charlotte Woodward Pierce is still living. (And she’s eagerly looking forward to casting her first vote on November 2nd !)
Since woman suffrage has been postponed so long, it probably should have been expected that the day would begin with one last, frustrating delay. The train from Nashville, carrying Tennessee's signed and sealed certificate of ratification (the 36th and final one needed for Secretary Colby to certify that the 19th Amendment had been properly approved by 2/3 of both Houses of Congress and 3/4 of the States) arrived late in Washington, D.C.
Secretary Colby expected the document to be delivered by 12:30 A.M., at which time he would leave home, come to the State Department and issue his proclamation. But it wasn't until about 3:45 in the morning that Charles Cooke called the Secretary to let him know that the certification had just arrived. Colby thought this an unseemly time to sign such an important document, and since there was no possibility of anti-suffragists getting an injunction in the next few hours to prevent him from signing the ratification proclamation, he decided to have Tennessee's certificate delivered to him at home, and sign the proclamation in the morning.
After double-checking to be sure that all the necessary documents from Congress and the States regarding the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment were in order, he signed the proclamation at 8:00, using a single steel pen, witnessed only by F. K. Nielsen, State Department Solicitor, and Mr. Cooke.
The fact that none of those who had worked so hard and made such sacrifices for suffrage got to see the actual signing of the proclamation seems an injustice, but it was not an intentional one. Because there were so many who had made major contributions to the effort - and the fact that two of the principal groups were not on friendly terms with each other - Colby felt it was impossible to decide who to invite to a signing ceremony.
Abby Scott Baker, of the National Woman’s Party expressed the feelings of many suffragists :
"This was the final culmination of the women's fight, and women, irrespective of factions, should have been allowed to be present when the proclamation was signed. However, the women of America have fought a big fight and nothing can take from them their triumph."
Because the news that the 19th Amendment's ratification was now officially recognized, and would be defended by the full might of the U.S. Government arrived simultaneously with the realization that they had not been present at the signing, the other suffrage leaders were also far more focused on this momentous victory than any personal slight.
Alice Paul, whose dedication to suffrage was proven by enduring imprisonment, hunger strikes, and force-feedings, and whose militant tactics kept the issue of suffrage in the public eye while putting irresistible pressure on political leaders such as President Wilson said :
"August 26th will be remembered as one of the great days in the history of the women of the world and in the history of this republic. All women must feel a great sense of triumph and of unmeasurable relief at the successful conclusion of a long and exhausting struggle. The suffrage amendment is now safe beyond all reasonable expectation of legal attack. This opinion was secured from high legal authorities by officers of the National Woman's Party who devoted their efforts after the signing of the ratification proclamation to discover what further steps, if any, would be necessary to protect the amendment. Pending injunction cases were automatically thrown out of court by the signing of the proclamation according to the consensus of legal opinion."
Carrie Chapman Catt, head of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, met with President Wilson at the White House soon after the proclamation was signed. She presented him with a bound volume entitled "A Tribute to Woodrow Wilson," a memorial of appreciation from the national officers and State chapters of N.A.W.S.A. for his efforts in favor of suffrage.
President Wilson was originally a supporter of suffrage only on a State-by-State basis. When he met with a delegation of suffragists on January 9, 1917, his refusal to endorse the Anthony Amendment caused Alice Paul and other members of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (later the National Woman’s Party) to begin posting “Silent Sentinel” pickets along the White House fence to prod him into first endorsing nationwide woman suffrage, then to help lobby the amendment through Congress. Exactly one year later, on January 9, 1918, Wilson came out strongly for the Anthony Amendment the day before a key vote in the House of Representatives. Amid continual pressure on him by National Woman’s Party, he became a stronger and stronger advocate of suffrage. Among his later actions was a personal appearance before the Senate the night before a vote, asking them to pass the Anthony Amendment as a “War Measure,” followed by numerous telegrams to State legislators asking them to vote for suffrage after the amendment passed Congress and was sent to the States.
N.A.W.S.A. officially kicked off the nationwide victory celebrations this evening at Poli's Theater, here in Washington, D.C. Secretary Colby came and brought not just his own best wishes, but those of President Wilson as well. Carrie Chapman Catt recounted the challenge of getting that final State ratification in Tennessee, and noted the powerful array of forces that had been brought together to stop approval there. But suffragists had been able to overcome the remnants of the old "whiskey ring," still hoping for prohibition repeal, the steel corporations, the railroad lobby, and the Manufacturers' Association of Tennessee. But even though they used overtly racist pleas, as well as "States' Rights" arguments, opponents still came up a vote short when the final roll was called in Nashville.
As exhilarating as today's victory may be, the work begun at Seneca Falls has by no means been completed with the fulfillment of only one resolution. Those pioneers saw suffrage as merely a means to attain their goal of total equality :
"Now, in view of this entire disenfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation -- in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of the United States. In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule ; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and National Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this convention will be followed by a series of conventions, embracing every part of the country. Firmly relying upon the final triumph of the Right and True, we do this day affix our signatures to this declaration."
That struggle for absolute equality - using the same means as they outlined in 1848 - must continue with the same energy, enthusiasm, and persistence that brought about today's win.
Hard as it may be for those who have spent decades in the struggle to imagine, "Votes for Women" will inevitably become taken for granted by those who were born after this last battle was fought. But while it's comforting to think that there will come a time when no one in this country will be able to imagine being barred from the polls solely on account of being a woman, suffragists and the work that they did to bring about that result must never be taken for granted. So, it seems only appropriate to suggest that on August 26th of each year, this crucial step toward equality be celebrated, and there be a rededication to the goal of those pioneers of 1848 to eliminate every vestige of sex discrimination that may still exist.
August 27, 1920 : Just one day after the Secretary of State proclaimed that the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment was now a part of the Constitution, Carrie Chapman Catt has made her triumphant return to New York. The suffrage celebration here began with a welcome from Governor Al Smith, then became a "victory parade" down Seventh Avenue as Catt was being driven to festivities in her honor at the Waldorf.
But these were far from the first honors for her since the 19th Amendment was officially recognized as the law of the land yesterday morning. The post-ratification commemorations began last night in Washington, D.C., with a mass meeting at Poli's Theater. Then at every stop made by her train between the nation's capital and New York City, enthusiastic local suffragists were there with flowers, tears in their eyes, and praise for her work in helping achieve nationwide suffrage.
When she got off the train at Penn Station, she was met by 400 suffrage workers, plus a host of public officials, and members of both the Republican and Democratic National Committees. Governor Al Smith said : "I am very much pleased to assist in extending a welcome to the leader of the nation's forces which have played such a large part in bringing about the political freedom of motherhood in America." Catt then told the crowd that : "This is a glorious and wonderful day. I have lived to realize the big, beautiful dream of my life - the enfranchisement of women."
She arrived with three others who had worked closely with her in Tennessee for the 36th and final State ratification needed : Harriet Taylor Upton, Vice Chair of the Republican National Committee ; Charl Ormond Williams, Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and Marjorie Shuler, an organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which Catt headed from 1900 to 1904, and has led since 1915. She was then escorted to a limousine decked out in suffrage colors, accompanied by U.S. Senator William Calder and other dignitaries.
Six mounted police officers led New York's final "suffrage parade" down Seventh Avenue as the 71st Regiment Band struck up "Hail, the Conquering Hero" while other prominent campaign workers, such as Mary Garrett Hay, marched behind Catt's automobile bearing suffrage banners. Catt carried with her "the biggest suffrage bouquet ever seen" made up of suffrage-yellow chrysanthemums and blue delphiniums, tied with yellow ribbons inscribed "To Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt from the enfranchised women of the U.S."
Thunderous applause broke out as she entered the Astor Gallery of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and her speech proved worthy of the ovation. She reminded the crowd that : "We are no longer petitioners. We are not wards of the nation, but free and equal citizens. Let us practice the dignity of a sovereign people." Speaking of the recent campaign, and looking to the future, she said : "We have proved in Tennessee that this is a government of the people, not an empire of corporations. Let us do our part to keep it a true and triumphant democracy."
Knowing from their behavior in Tennessee that suffrage opponents will never graciously concede defeat, Catt said : "If any one dares oppose your right to vote, we're coming there with a legal battle and we'll beat them. But let us remember always that we must consecrate ourselves to the realization of government by the people, and let us refuse to support, regardless of party, the man or woman who does not promise to support that principle."
With thirty-three years of suffrage work behind her, and more work ahead with the National League of Women Voters, as well as for the cause of world peace, she will first be going to her home in Briarcliff Manor for a few days of well-deserved rest at the conclusion of today's celebration, then begin the second part of her life.
August 28, 1920 : Today, people all around the country got a chance to celebrate day before yesterday's final suffrage victory, while Alice Paul took some time out to speculate about what the National Woman’s Party will do now that its original goal has been achieved.
On August 26th, when Secretary of State Colby proclaimed that the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment was now the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Carrie Chapman Catt asked that whistles and bells be sounded at noon today, and many cities eagerly endorsed the idea. In Chicago, Mayor William "Big Bill" Thompson issued a proclamation yesterday asking people to participate in today's "ringing of bells, blowing of whistles, sounding of horns, and such other methods as may comport with dignity and order" to celebrate "women's wonderful and unprecedented opportunity." Local suffragists also asked that at the sound of the first whistle or horn, the men of Chicago remove their hats in silent tribute to the new women voters.
In Los Angeles, Mayor Meredith Snyder and the Chamber of Commerce both requested that the whistles at all the city's industrial plants be blown at noon. In Portland, Oregon, 230 women gathered for a victory luncheon, and at noon all stood at attention by their tables as they listened to the ringing of the bells that paid tribute to their national triumph. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, the local League of Women Voters held a celebration, but they will be back to post-suffrage business tomorrow when they hire a pilot to drop leaflets over the city advising women to register to vote in time for the election.
In Boston, a wide variety of tunes were played on the Christ Church chimes at noon, including such selections as "The Last Rose of Summer" and "Oh, Dear, What Can The Matter Be ?" while suffragists gathered to celebrate. Two suffrage flags flew over Boston City Hall alongside the Stars and Stripes, and another huge rally was held in Faneuil Hall. In Worcester, Massachusetts, where suffrage work goes back 70 years to a national women's rights convention in 1850, there was a mass meeting on City Hall Plaza. The mayor extended greetings and congratulations to suffragists following the ringing of church bells, factory whistles and even fire alarms.
But the best idea for a celebration came from Columbus, Ohio. In addition to commemorating the Secretary of State's proclamation of the ratification of the Anthony Amendment, a campaign was launched today to make August 26th an official national holiday known as "Susan B. Anthony Day." Other women's rights groups will soon be enlisted in the effort. Considering the importance of Anthony's work for women's equality, and the impact the 19th Amendment will have on the nation's future, an annual celebration every August 26th seems totally appropriate, and sure to come about in some form.
Alice Paul certainly appreciated the nationwide salute to women’s enfranchisement, but seems more interested in bringing about future gains for women than celebrating those of the past. She is presently preparing to go to New York to meet with other high-ranking officers of the National Woman’s Party to decide the group’s future direction now that the Anthony Amendment is firmly embedded in the Constitution. She said today :
"Certain groups in the party advocate the formation of a separate woman's political party, with candidates and a platform. Other groups urge that we work for the elimination of discrimination against women in existing political parties. Still other groups assert that the party in securing a Federal suffrage amendment has fulfilled its purpose and is no longer needed. Decision by a majority of the executive committee will determine future actions."
Considering the success her party has had in directing the energies of dedicated feminists toward specific actions which were crucial to bringing about that initial goal of winning the vote, it seems highly unlikely that such a powerful organization, composed of extremely committed activists, would simply disband. But regardless of whether the N.W.P. decides to compete with the major parties and field its own ticket, or work with Democrats and Republicans, we already know what Alice Paul’s post-suffrage goal is. Minutes after Tennessee’s ratification on August 18th assured the Anthony Amendment's inclusion in the Constitution, she was already outlining the next logical step :
“With their power to vote achieved, women still have before them the task of supplementing political equality with equality in all other fields. In State and national legislation, as well as in other fields, women are not yet on an equal basis with men. The vote will make it infinitely easier for them to end all discriminations, and they will use the vote toward that end.”
Exactly how that will be achieved is still to be decided, but apparently the end of one battle just marks the beginning of the next, and we’ll be hearing a lot more from Alice Paul until total equality is achieved.
August 29, 1942 : Today was "graduation day" for the first class of officers of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), and all the dignitaries present to witness it were quite impressed with what the women had accomplished since beginning their training on July 20th.
Though the battle to get approval for the WAAC was long, and accompanied by a good deal of skepticism about women in uniform, there was nothing but praise today from two Major Generals, the WAAC Director, and the Congressional sponsor of the bill establishing the corps.
After the graduates passed in review prior to the ceremony, Major General Ulio, Adjutant General of the Army said :
"I've never seen anything like it. When the first company came by my first reaction was to applaud rather than salute. It was outstanding. Many of our soldiers would do well to emulate them. I am very proud to be a part of this."
Oveta Culp Hobby, Director of the WAAC, echoed his sentiments and said : "I was never more proud than I am today." Hobby had also received a telegram from General George C. Marshall, saying : "Please act for me in welcoming them into the Army. This is only the beginning of a magnificent war service by the women of America."
Representative Edith Nourse Rogers, Republican of Massachusetts, who never wavered in her efforts to establish the new group, told just how long her struggle had been as she delivered the commencement address : "You represent a dream which I conceived during the First World War, when, working in England and on the battlefields of France, I saw the work performed by the members of the women's army."
During that conflict 21,480 women served as Army nurses in the U.S. and overseas. There were 10,245 in Europe, and 1,476 Navy nurses. Over 400 military nurses died in the line of duty, most from a particularly vicious and contagious form of influenza that swept through the packed military hospitals. Rogers told today's graduates : "You are soldiers and belong to America. Every hour must be your finest hour."
Though urged to grant direct commissions to prominent individuals or those with special skills, as some other services do, Hobby rejected the idea and has decreed that no one can become an officer in the WAAC without going through the rigorous training. And it was quite challenging. Candidates were up early enough to be neatly dressed for inspection at 6:00 in the morning, and, except for a lunch break they trained through 5:00. Then after supper it was time for a required study hour and washing clothes.
One objective indication of the dedication of this class was its graduation rate : 98.2% of those who began the training successfully completed it. The 436 new graduates are now Third Officers, which is the equivalent of a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army. (They have their gold bar, but the WAAC insignia to pin on their uniform is still in production. The WAAC was only created on May 15th.)
After leaving Fort Des Moines in about two weeks, some will be deployed to engage in recruitment, others to train those new recruits, or to take over jobs presently being done by male soldiers so they can be freed for combat. Some may even be sent to assignments in England. But wherever they’re stationed, they will certainly be of great service to the country, and have the opportunity to show that women can serve in the military as well as in defense plants to support our war effort.
August 30, 1920 : The National Woman's Party is focused on two major tasks today : Paying off a large debt run up during the final days of the suffrage campaign in Tennessee, then deciding what to do now that they've accomplished their original purpose of putting woman suffrage into the Constitution. According to Alice Paul, it cost $ 12,000 to wage that final, but victorious campaign for the 36th and last State needed to ratify the 19th Amendment. Now the party's creditors need to be paid, and so today she sent out the following letter to 6,000 suffragists around the country :
"At last the suffrage battle is won - but it is not paid for. The final hotly contested stages were costly and have left a deficit of approximately $ 12,000. We are glad that the money was spent on Tennessee because we believe that without it the victory would not have been won. But now the bills must be paid. Will you send some contribution to help pay the price of the victory ? Even if you cannot give much, please do not put this letter aside without sending at least a dollar toward the Tennessee expenses. The money is needed urgently. There are bills for telegrams, telephones, printing, press work, traveling expenses, salaries of the large staff of organizers maintained in Tennessee and general expenses connected with the State headquarters. If you have not already contributed to the Tennessee work, will you not take this opportunity to have some part in the victory ? If you have already given, will you not give once more to help wind up the campaign ?"
Once this obligation is taken care of, it will be on to what may be an even harder job. After spending its entire history dedicated to a single goal, the National Woman's Party must decide what to do now that their objective has been fully accomplished. There are plans for a convention in a few weeks, with 400 delegates representing all 48 States. According to a statement by Alice Paul day before yesterday : "Certain groups in the party advocate the formation of a separate woman's political party, with candidates and a platform. Other groups urge that we work for the elimination of discrimination against women in existing political parties. Still other groups assert that the party in securing a Federal suffrage amendment has fulfilled its purpose and is no longer needed. Decision by a majority of the executive committee will determine future actions."
The only things for certain are that there will be a memorial service at the Capitol for suffrage pioneers on the first day of the convention, and that total equality has not yet been achieved, though the winning of the vote has brought that goal much closer.
August 30, 1967 : Today the ten-month-old National Organization for Women took on the 116-year-old New York Times over its policy of segregating “help-wanted” ads by sex. Members of the organization’s 300-member New York Chapter marched outside the Times' classified ads office carrying signs that said : “Women can think as well as type” and “I didn’t get a job through the New York Times.” (The latter a reference to the paper’s advertising slogan of “I got my job through the New York Times.”)
The protesters, many dressed in suffrage-era costumes to symbolize the paper’s old-fashioned policies, also distributed leaflets to passers-by on the street outside the Times' main office, explaining the purpose of the demonstration.
The action got the attention of several local TV stations, as well as the New York Times itself, which will be reporting on the story in tomorrow’s edition of the paper. In the meantime, Monroe Green, a vice president of the Times, defended their policy of segregation by saying :
"It is my belief that the best interests of job applicant, employer, city, state, and Federal antidiscrimination laws are being served by our present practice, which is to require the following legend on each page which includes Classified Help Wanted Advertising :
"The New York State and City Laws Against Discrimination and the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit discrimination in employment because of sex unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification. Help Wanted and Situation Wanted advertisements are arranged in columns captioned 'Male' and 'Female' for the convenience of readers and are not intended as an unlawful limitation or discrimination based on sex."
Their policy is in compliance with a ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in September, 1965, that “Help Wanted – Male” and “Help Wanted - Female” advertising is legal, so long as it is also stated that discrimination on the basis of sex in hiring is illegal. On the second and third of May, the E.E.O.C. held hearings on this issue again, as a result of actions by N.O.W., but no ruling has yet been issued.
The battle will continue, both to get the E.E.O.C. or a court to ban all sex-segregated want-ads, and to get the New York Times to integrate its classified ads immediately. New York N.O.W. said that more pickets will be out again tomorrow morning.
August 31, 1920 : The “antis” are back, unrepentant, and as tricky and obstructionist as ever. The members of the Tennessee House who fled to Alabama ten days ago in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent a quorum from being present to dispose of the last parliamentary formality regarding ratification of the 19th Amendment suddenly returned this morning.
Before all the pro-suffrage members had even arrived for what they thought was to be a routine day, House Speaker Seth Walker and his fellow anti-suffragists quickly passed a motion to erase from the official House record all references to Tennessee's vote to ratify on August 18th and the House vote to kill a motion to reconsider on the 21st. Today’s motion passed 47-37, all 47 anti-suffrage members present, including the 37 returned from Alabama, with 6 members not voting, and 9 absent in the 99-member House. Then, by a voice vote, the House adopted a motion to reconsider its previous approval. They then voted by 47-24, 20 not voting, 8 still absent, not to concur in the Senate's action of August 13th to ratify.
In the opinion of State Attorney General Thompson, reversing a ratification vote is not legal. A letter from him stating this view was read on the House floor during the debate. There is also some reassuring historical precedent on this issue. On January 5, 1870, New York voted to take back its previous approval of the 15th Amendment on April 14, 1869. There was a heated debate on the right of a State to rescind held in the U.S. Senate on Feb. 22, 1870, which illuminated all the complex legal aspects. But on March 30, 1870, the Secretary of State issued a proclamation that the 15th Amendment had been ratified by the required number of States, and New York was included among them, though by this date other States had ratified and made the matter of New York's status moot. Today's attempted rescission stands on even weaker ground than the earlier one because it occurred after the Secretary of State had already declared the 19th Amendment was properly ratified, and is a part of the Constitution.
Both sides are awaiting statements from U.S. Secretary of State Colby and U.S. Attorney General Palmer on the issue, though it is being said tonight that a campaign for a 37th ratification may be launched by suffrage forces in order to make Tennessee's status as irrelevant in 1920 as New York's was in 1870, and thereby head off any legal challenges to women voting nationwide in November.
September 1, 1920 : Alice Paul remains calm and confident today, despite yesterday's surprise attack on the 19th Amendment by the Tennessee House of Representatives. Thirteen days after the House voted to ratify on August 18th, making Tennessee the 36th and final State needed to put the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment into the Constitution, the House voted on August 31st to erase its previous action from the House Journal, and passed a resolution of “non-concurrence” with the Senate’s ratification resolution of August 13th.
This particular group of anti-suffragists has been unusually tricky and persistent. A few days after the ratification resolution passed the Tennessee House on the 18th, most of those who voted against suffrage snuck out of town on a midnight train to Alabama to prevent a quorum from being present on the House floor to deal with one last piece of parliamentary procedure. (Suffragists wanted to bring up and defeat a “motion to reconsider” that might possibly have been valid, or at least have complicated things considerably if it had passed.)
The retreat of the “antis” to Alabama failed to thwart suffrage forces, however, because the definition of a quorum for Federal business was less than the number required for State business, so despite only 59 members being present in the 99-member House, the pro-suffrage majority was able to legally take up and overwhelmingly defeat the reconsideration motion, thus tying up that last loose end.
Still not ready to concede, the “antis” then got a local judge to issue a restraining order prohibiting Governor Roberts from signing a certificate stating that ratification had been properly completed in Tennessee. But on August 24th, suffrage forces persuaded the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court to dissolve the restraining order, the Governor quickly signed the certificate, and it went straight to Secretary of State Colby. On August 26th, Colby declared that 2/3 of Congress and ¾ of the States had legally ratified what was now the 19th Amendment, so the matter seemed settled once and for all.
But yesterday, with everyone on the pro-suffrage side thinking that this latest “Battle of Nashville” was over, the “antis” returned from Alabama and sprung their surprise. Taking a quick and secret poll, they knew that with several pro-suffrage members absent due to illness and others not having yet arrived for what was expected to be just another routine session, the "antis" had a temporary majority of those present and voting, and quickly pushed their motions through.
But their actions are not meeting with the approval of anyone except other rabid anti-suffragists. The Tennessee Senate, which on August 13th voted 25-4 (four not voting or absent) to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, not only refused to reverse their own ratification, but voted 17-8 (with 8 absent or not voting) to refuse to accept, and to return to the House, the message sent to them announcing the vote of rescission. House members will now try to send their message of rescission to Governor Roberts (who won't accept it either), and some in the House have vowed to vote against all Senate bills sent their way for the rest of the special session as retaliation against the Senate's snub today, while others suggested immediate adjournment as a way of showing their discontent.
But while anti-suffragists fuss and fume in Nashville, calm and confidence prevails at the D.C. offices of the National Woman's Party. After talking to Alice Paul in New York by telephone, the party issued a statement that it is "so secure is the belief in the legality of the ratification of the suffrage amendment by thirty-six States and of Secretary Colby's proclamation, that no active campaign for a thirty-seventh State is planned." Paul said in a statement later that : "After consulting several constitutional lawyers, we are sure that suffrage is a fact."
Special sessions of their legislatures have been called in Connecticut and Alabama for later this month. Though the session in Connecticut was called to make provisions for the registration of women voters following the 19th Amendment's ratification, the National League of Women Voters is launching a campaign to put ratification on their agenda as well, because approval by a 37th State would render Tennessee's action irrelevant even if it were upheld, since 36 valid ratifications would still remain.
Officials at the Justice Department were not ready to make a formal statement about Tennessee's action because they are waiting to get a request from President Wilson for their opinion on the matter. But officials did say informally that if Connecticut ratified it would make Tennessee's re-vote moot. Secretary of State Colby, who signed the proclamation that the 19th Amendment was properly ratified, expressed no worries about his proclamation being upheld, though he said he was no longer a part of the process. He explained that his duties in the matter were ministerial, that he had taken his action in signing the proclamation based on the facts as presented at the time, and that this was now a judicial matter. Everyone agrees on this last point about ratification being a judicial issue now.
There's no doubt that the validity of the 19th Amendment will be taken up in the courts. The American Constitutional League plans several kinds of attacks. They will take their present case challenging ratification from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. They will also argue against the validity of Tennessee's original ratification when the Tennessee Supreme Court convenes on the 20th of this month, and will try to get them to issue a writ of mandamus to force Governor Roberts to withdraw his name from the certificate of ratification. But their biggest potential for causing major problems will come from initiating actions to prohibit election officials in States where women have not already won the vote from registering them. Suffragists have vowed to vigorously fight all these challenges as their final actions in the battle for “Votes for Women.”
Since the Supreme Court will not even convene until October it will be well after the election when a definitive ruling on the validity of the 19th Amendment will be issued. This means that two nightmare scenarios could occur. If the amendment is eventually upheld, but substantial numbers of women were prohibited from registering and voting until the case was decided, the validity of the election itself could be challenged. Or, in the unlikely event that the High Court rules the 19th Amendment not to have been valid as of election day, women who were permitted to register and vote in non-suffrage States solely under its authority would be considered "illegal" voters, and this could also call the election's results into question.
But like most everyone else, organized labor appears to be confident that the 19th Amendment will be upheld, because today the National Non-Partisan Political Campaign Committee of the American Federation of Labor sent out a letter to its affiliates all around the country telling them to make a special effort to appeal to women voters, especially in their Labor Day speeches. The letter concluded by saying : "We suggest that local speakers should make a special effort to present to the women of the country the fact that labor's political program is for the better home, the well-fed and happy child, the elimination of exploitation of child labor for profit."
At the moment, registration of newly-enfranchised women voters is proceeding well in most States, and though there could be problems in States that must still pass special laws enabling women to register after the usual deadline - which passed before the 19th Amendment became effective - there is a consensus that barring unexpected developments, millions of new women voters will be voting for all offices on the ballot November 2nd.
September 2, 1943 : The quality of women's defense work was called "magnificent," but the quantity is still inadequate, according to William Haber, Assistant Director of the War Manpower Commission who spoke at a press conference today. A million more women must be added to the workforce in just the next six months to produce the tools needed to finish the job of winning the war. Though the number of women in the workforce jumped from 10 million in 1940 to 14 million just a year ago, and now stands at 17.1 million - a third of those who are employed - it's just not enough, and there are no other significantly large reserves of potential workers left to draw from. So, the 5,600,000 non-farm homemakers between 20 and 55 who have no children under 16 will be strongly recruited to do defense work. It was even hinted that the need is so great that the Austin-Wadsworth bill, which would draft women ages 18 - 50 for factory work, is a possible solution to the problem if volunteers are not forthcoming in sufficient numbers.
As to why there are not enough women in the workforce, several factors may be involved. In some areas, women have applied for jobs and been turned down, assumed they were no longer needed, and stopped applying. But the need for workers varies from time to time and place to place, so a factory that has a surplus of applicants one day may have a shortage a few months later when new work comes in, therefore an "awareness program" about the need to keep checking for defense jobs is in the works. There is also a "fatigue factor" involved in the attrition rates, as women try to do two full-time jobs - one at home and one in the factory. More on-site day care facilities will alleviate part of the burden on employed mothers. Some may also believe that because of recent Allied victories, winning the war is "in the bag" and there's no need for the kind of all-out effort called for right after Pearl Harbor. But as anyone in uniform fighting on the ground, in the air, or at sea will attest, the war is far from over, and they still have the same need for the best military equipment America can produce as they had on December 7, 1941, so let's make sure they have it.
September 2, 1965 : Outrageous discrimination in regard to both age and sex was the subject of a hearing today before a Labor Subcommittee of the House of Representatives. Colleen Boland, head of the Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association, supported by other uniformed stewardesses in the hearing room, discussed the injustice of airlines automatically grounding or firing stewardesses who married, or reached age 32, and imposing other equally bizarre and unique rules, such as far too exacting weight and appearance standards.
Boland noted that stewardesses were primarily judged on their sex appeal, rather than their competence at preparing and serving food, attending to sick passengers, or being ready to give critical instructions to those on board in case of an aircraft emergency. She quoted one airline executive as explaining why beauty trumped ability or experience : “If we put a dog on a plane, 20 businessmen are sore for a month.”
Though some members of Congress were patronizing or frivolous, Representative William D. Hathaway, Democrat of Maine, was quite supportive of Boland’s testimony. He said that he would like to “eradicate from the minds of the public” the idea that airplanes were “flying bunny clubs.” This is a reference to Playboy Clubs, where voluptuous women dress in skimpy outfits and wear bunny ears while serving patrons. Apparently being unmarried as well as youthful is a part of the fantasy that’s being served to the male passengers, because a substantial number of stewardesses have had to keep their marriages a secret in order to continue working.
This is not the first time that stewardesses have gone public with their justifiable complaints about discrimination. Nancy Collins and Dusty Roads have been trying to better working conditions in their profession for many years. After being ignored by executives in male-dominated unions, they got together with Rep. Martha Griffiths, Democrat of Michigan, to get a bill passed that would prohibit airlines from firing or grounding stewardesses at 32 (or 35 in some cases). But the nearly all-male Congress never took the issue seriously, so what some of its members referred to as the “Old Broads Bill” was never passed.
Two years ago Collins, Roads and a number of their colleagues held a press conference at the Commodore Hotel in New York City. Because of the glamour associated with their airborne profession, the press showed up, and one photo even went nationwide. In the caption to that one, readers were asked to guess which four of the uniformed stewardesses were over 32, and therefore supposedly “too old” for the job. (Collins, Roads and two others were over that age and still working because the “out at 32” rule dated back to November, 1953, and the way that the airlines got the unions to agree to such a ridiculous practice was to exempt any women working at the time.)
Other avenues to justice are being pursued as well. Last year, stewardess unions filed a complaint against TWA and American Airlines with the New York State Human Rights Commission. Though the state has no law banning sex discrimination, New York has had a law banning age bias since July 1, 1958, though the emphasis is on those over 45, so it may not apply.
The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws gender bias, and the establishment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are the most promising recent developments. Roads and Jean Montague, who was about to be fired for turning 32, went to the E.E.O.C. office so soon after it opened this summer that they helped unpack the office’s typewriters from the boxes in which they’d been shipped. The union is now trying to get the E.E.O.C. to hold hearings on the issue.
The airlines have powerful incentives to continue to discriminate. They see young, thin, attractive, unmarried women as a great marketing tool in general, and certainly on United’s “Executive” flights, which are strictly limited to male passengers only. Airline companies also know that an employee who has only a brief career will never earn much more than a beginner’s salary, gain the respect and authority that comes from seniority, or draw generous retirement benefits.
But though the suffrage movement ended 45 years ago, there are still women willing to work for full equality, and the inequality of treatment in regard to male and female employees in the airline industry is so blatant that it seems an ideal place to renew the struggle for equal rights.
September 3, 1912 : Despite a valiant effort, the 1912 Ohio suffrage campaign is ending in defeat tonight. Efforts to get the issue of woman suffrage on the ballot here date back decades, and finally in late May of this year a State Constitutional Convention approved putting a proposed woman suffrage Constitutional Amendment (#23) on today's special election ballot. This gave supporters just over three months to overcome the entrenched and well-funded opposition of the liquor industry as well as the usual anti-suffrage arguments.
The campaign was run by Harriet Taylor Upton of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association. She is an experienced suffragist, and was Treasurer of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1894 to 1910. She raised an impressive war chest of $ 40,000, and was assisted by over 50 full-time workers out in the field, plus large numbers of local volunteers in each community. The highlight of the campaign was a colorful suffrage parade in Columbus last month, in which over 5,000 took part.
National momentum seemed to be swinging in favor of suffrage, so there were great hopes for victory in the Buckeye State. Last October, California approved "Votes for Women," and then in May, there was a hugely successful suffrage parade in New York City. But Ohio seems to have brought the advance to a temporary halt.
Among the major difficulties encountered here were a series of anonymous handbills that tried - apparently with success - to tie the issue of woman suffrage to that of prohibition. Brewing is a major industry all over Ohio, and suffragists have been vigorously trying to reassure the public that the two issues are separate, and by no means do all suffragists, or all women, favor prohibition. The Ohio Woman Suffrage Association even offered a $ 100 reward for information about the authorship of these handbills, but their origin still remains a mystery.
The vote today was quite light, despite 42 amendments appearing on the special election ballot covering a wide spectrum of issues. So it's not known whether suffrage would have carried if the turnout had been high. Amendment 23 is faring especially badly in many of the large cities. This is a common phenomenon, because the saloon operators tend to have great power in big cities, and in this State there are major breweries to contend with as well.
Fortunately, Amendment #6, which provides for Initiative and Referendum, is passing by an overwhelming majority, so Ohio suffragists are confident that they can get the issue back on the ballot again by going directly to the people, instead of having to lobby the Legislature to put it there, or wait for another Constitutional Convention.
Despite tonight's disappointment, there's still some room for optimism in 1912. Five other States have suffrage referenda on the ballot, so hopefully a win in Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Arizona or Oregon will re-start the victory train later this year.
September 4, 1974 : Just 26 days after becoming First Lady, Betty Ford held her first press conference today. During the 30-minute session with 142 reporters and photographers in the State Dining Room of the White House, she said that she wants to help the Equal Rights Amendment campaign, and favors abortion rights.
Today's full-fledged news conference was an unprecedented move by a First Lady. (Eleanor Roosevelt held 348 press conferences, but they were far more informal, and open to women only, as a way of helping them get ahead in a male-dominated profession.)
Though she doesn't intend to get involved in partisan political issues, she does want to encourage women to play an active role in politics. There is, of course, one exception to her non-partisan role as First Lady, and she left no doubt that she'd be campaigning for President Ford's election in 1976.
She said that in regard to the E.R.A. campaign, a measure endorsed by Republicans since 1940 and Democrats since 1944 : "I would be happy to take part in it." She intends to lobby for the amendment in the 17 states that have not yet ratified to help get the five more needed. Though President Ford once joked about the issue with her, and in 1971 backed off of his initial strong support of it a year earlier, due to pressure from his constituents, the First Lady assured the press that the President was now an E.R.A. advocate. He re-endorsed the E.R.A. on August 22nd in a press conference.
When asked whether her views on abortion were closer to those of Vice-Presidential nominee Nelson Rockefeller, a strong advocate of abortion rights when Governor of New York, or those of Senator James Buckley, who wants it re-criminalized, she said that they were "definitely closer" to those of Rockefeller, and that she favors liberalized abortion laws.
On other issues, she said the vacation White House would be in Vail, Colorado, that she was being kept quite busy with her new duties since becoming First Lady, and that the children have adjusted to life in the White House quite well.
The Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress and sent to the States for ratification on March 22, 1972, and has until March 22, 1979 to gain the 38 state approvals needed for inclusion in the Constitution. Polls show consistent public support for the measure, and so far 33 states have ratified, three this year : Maine, Montana and Ohio. The Equal Rights Amendment reads, "Section 1 : Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Section 2 : The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. Section 3 : This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification."
Though the pace of ratifications has slowed, that's to be expected, as the more progressive states ratify quickly, and the more conservative ones do so more slowly - and after a battle. But with only five more states needed to ratify, four and a half years to get them to do so, and the support of the First Family, things are definitely looking up for the Equal Rights Amendment.
September 5, 1910 : In a very encouraging sign, a majority of the over 70,000 marchers in New York's Labor Day Parade this afternoon were women. They used the occasion to celebrate a recent victory by shirtwaist workers, as well as show solidarity with striking cloakmakers now being prohibited from peacefully picketing by New York Supreme Court Justice John Goff.
Despite this being one of the hottest days of the summer, there were few dropouts of either sex, though the women seemed to hold up better than the men during the four and a half hour parade down Fifth Avenue from 59th Street to Washington Square.
There were too many bands to count, and colorful banners were everywhere. Most of the banners were in support of the cloakmakers who have been on strike since mid-June, and in opposition to Justice Goff's recent ruling against their right to picket their employer. Some examples : "Goff's injunctions can never break labor's solidarity" ; "The bosses' latest masterpiece - Goff" ; "We appeal from Goff's court to the court of the people." The most popular was "O Goff, Come Off," written in seven different languages. One of the largest banners said "Plutocracy Steals Our Soap And Then Calls Us The Great Unwashed."
The record number of marchers this year is due to the work of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and the Women's Trade Union League. Helen Marot, Leonora O'Reilly, Rose Schneiderman and Clara Lemlich all marched at the head of large delegations.
The hard-fought but successful strike against the shirtwaist companies has induced many to join the labor movement in order to win concessions from their employers similar to what shirtwaist workers got earlier this year. Among other benefits, union shirtwaist employees now have a 52-hour week instead of 65, no longer need to pay for any of the tools necessary for their work, and will get four paid holidays a year. The sympathy that these workers generated during the strike due to their arrests and the brutal attacks by company thugs is still present. All along Fifth Avenue marchers were applauded by spectators, and many of the mansions of their newfound wealthy women supporters, most of whom are also dedicated suffragists, were decorated for the occasion.
Following the parade, a number of women went to the office of the Women's Trade Union League, where they were served tea and sandwiches. Though there is a lot of work yet to be done in regard to better wages, workplace safety, and recruiting more members into unions, a day to celebrate recent gains was definitely earned, and clearly enjoyed by all.
September 6, 1920 : Now that the fight over "Votes for Women" has moved from the State Legislatures to the courts, the process of dismantling the political machine that brought about nationwide woman suffrage has begun. In one example, Grace Wilbur Trout announced today that the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association would disband at its final convention on October 7th, having accomplished its purpose. Trout is already quite active in the League of Women Voters, which will be the successor to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and she was in charge of the L.W.V.’s national convention here in Chicago in February.
Hopefully her confidence will be justified, because the "antis" are working just as hard now to challenge the 19th Amendment's validity and postpone its implementation as they did to try to stop its ratification. Three days ago the Tennessee House forced the pro-suffrage Governor of Tennessee to forward to the U.S. Secretary of State a copy of a resolution taking back their ratification vote. The Governor did not sign anything that implied that it was valid, and only certified that it was a true copy of the proceedings as recorded in the House Journal. That same day Tennessee Attorney General Thompson sent a telegram to Carrie Chapman Catt reassuring her that : "Nothing done in either branch of the General Assembly has amended the ratification and certification by the Governor to the Secretary of State of the Nineteenth Amendment upon which his proclamation was issued, nor can either branch of the Assembly, the Governor or Secretary affect it."
Opponents have a four-part strategy, but have already received a setback in regard to one attempt. Their primary focus is to challenge the legality of the ratification process, and get the courts to declare that the 19th Amendment is invalid because it was not properly ratified. But the Chief Justice of the D.C. Court of Appeals has refused to immediately certify their case for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. So now they’re waiting for the entire D.C. Court of Appeals to convene on October 4th so it can rule on the merits of their case, and then they’ll try to get it to the Supreme Court as quickly as possible for a final ruling.
Meanwhile, they'll be in Nashville challenging Tennessee's ratification when the Tennessee Supreme Court convenes on September 20th. They will also try to use injunction and mandamus proceedings to prohibit election officials from letting women in non-suffrage States vote until after all the court cases have been decided. Finally, they will ask a State Attorney General friendly to their cause in a State where women could not vote prior to the 19th Amendment's ratification to file a case challenging its validity. This would be the speediest way to the Supreme Court.
But Carrie Chapman Catt is not worried. Day before yesterday she said :
"Women have the right to register to vote in all States under the Nineteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. The Federal amendment is ratified, all anti-suffragists to the contrary notwithstanding. Every woman in the land not disqualified by any discrimination other than sex has a right to vote under the Federal Constitution. If any State authority denies her that privilege it is her right to demand it in the courts. It is possible for a thief to declare that a diamond ring is his because it is in his possession. It is sometimes necessary for the owner to prove his right of ownership in the court. This is a parallel now with the women's vote. No honorable State will deny it to the women."
She noted that former President Taft had something to say recently about those who may try to keep women from voting :
"Election officers of the State who impede or deny her right to vote expose themselves to prosecution under statutes, whether Federal or State enacted, to protect citizens in their lawful right to vote. It may well be that the doubling of the number of voters in every State by this amendment will require for the convenience of voters amendments to the election laws of the States, but such inconveniences cannot be made any excuse for preventing women from exercising the franchise."
So, the battle is still being fought, both on a Federal and State level. In Mississippi, the law states that all voters must register four months before the election, and there does not appear to be any move to approve special legislation to allow women to register after that date, even though they were still prohibited from registering there on July 2nd. In Georgia, the Attorney General thinks they don't even need to register, but local officials strongly disagree and are preventing women from doing so because that State's registration deadline also ended before the 19th Amendment was ratified. But though suffrage may be delayed for a while in two States, it looks as if women will be voting for all offices and in great numbers in the other 46 States this year, and that's a major improvement over the 15 States where they had full suffrage just a few weeks ago.
September 7, 1968 : The "Miss America” pageant - and perhaps America itself - will never be quite the same again. Out on Atlantic City's Boardwalk, as well as inside Convention Hall, voices of feminist protest were raised at an event dedicated to promoting the illusion of ever-smiling feminine contentment, and eager conformity to the limited roles assigned to women in a patriarchal society. It was by far the most elaborate and successful event yet staged by the Women's Liberation Movement, and the fact that a relatively small group of totally nonviolent protesters could generate such vast, nationwide press coverage shows that this is an issue whose time has come.
The plans for the demonstration were announced just as the preliminary competitions were beginning three days ago. They were discussed with reporters by one of the protest's organizers, Robin Morgan. Among the top objections to the pageant were its "degrading mindless boob-girlie symbol" which epitomizes the roles women are supposed to play when competing for male approval, and the overt racism shown by the fact that every finalist since the pageant began in 1921 has been Caucasian.
The demonstration ran from early afternoon until late into the evening. A major center of attention was the "Freedom Trash Can," which represented the idea that women can only be free when no longer enslaved by ludicrous beauty standards and stereotyped roles. Into that container went all the items of oppression suggested by organizers in their flyers : "bras, girdles, curlers, false eyelashes, wigs and representative copies of Cosmopolitan, Ladies Home Journal, and Family Circle," plus detergent, high-heeled shoes, and a ripped-up copy of Playboy tossed in for good measure. Unlike antiwar protests, however, where draft cards are frequently burned, absolutely no bras or anything else went up in smoke, although this idea was apparently under consideration in the days leading up to the protest.
The largest exhibit was a huge puppet with chains hanging from her red, white and blue bathing suit representing "the chains that tie us to these beauty standards against our will." Signs read : "Welcome to the Miss America Cattle Auction," "I Am a Woman, Not a Toy, Pet or Mascot," and "Who Dares to Judge Beauty ?" Perhaps the most symbolic action was the crowning of a live sheep as Miss America.
The protests were not limited to Atlantic City's Boardwalk. As last year's winner gave the standard farewell speech that could have been - and probably was - given in 1948 or 1928, the balcony erupted with something unprecedented : Sixteen demonstrators shouting "Freedom for Women !" and "No More Miss America !" as they quickly unfurled and hung a banner from the balcony reading "Women's Liberation." They were quickly hustled out, with Naomi Jaffee, Carol Jones, and three others under arrest. (The first arrest occurred earlier, when Peggy Dobbins was charged with "disorderly conduct" for spraying a can of Toni Home Permanent - one of the pageant's sponsors - throughout the audience.)
Today was a day of guerrilla theater, singing, symbolism and protest. It was also a signal to those who think feminism died in 1920, when women won the vote, that the battle for dignity and equal opportunity is far from over. If even so impregnable a citadel of traditional women's roles as the Miss America Pageant can be breached, and its celebration of women as cheerleaders for the men in their lives, and youth and thinness as the only definitions of beauty, can be transformed into a day-long expression of what a wide spectrum of true beauty and life-choices for women really exists, then nothing is immune from criticism now, and today will be only the first of many such protests.
September 8, 1852 : Judging by the attendance, speeches and resolutions at today's opening session of the third annual National Women's Rights Convention, the movement is growing, and attracting many new and ambitious young supporters. Best of all, the advocates of equality for women here today are as dedicated to the goals espoused four years ago as were those at the original 1848 convention. In fact, more than the usual number of veterans of that gathering are here because unlike the two previous meetings held in Massachusetts last year and the year before, Syracuse is just a two-day ride, or a matter of hours on the railroad, from Seneca Falls.
Lucretia Mott presided over the lively convention, which lost no time in immersing itself in calls for many reforms promoting equality for women, with nothing immune from attack. According to one of the early resolutions submitted today, all of which will be voted on at the close of the gathering :
"Inasmuch as many of the Institutions, handed down to us from the past, like heir looms, are felt to be time-honored hindrances to human progress, and opposed to that Divine truth which gives light to the world - therefore : Resolved, That it is our duty to examine these Institutions, and ascertain which of them are still worthy of honor and support, which we should seek to reform, and which to cast aside."
The demand made in 1848 that women have a right to vote was not only reaffirmed, but militant tactics for achieving it applauded. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, though unable to attend, sent an address to be read to the convention which advocated refusing to pay taxes until the vote is won : "Should not all women, living in States where they have the right to own property, refuse to pay taxes so long as they are unrepresented in the government ?"
Lucy Stone made a similar plea in person, and a resolution to this effect was introduced as well : "Resolved, That it is the right of every one, holding property as a citizen of the Republic, to resist taxation till such time as she is fully represented at the ballot-box."
Other resolutions were introduced in the afternoon : "Resolved, That the demand of Woman is not for privileges, nor favors, nor employment, nor honors but for rights." And, "Resolved, That the right of human beings to their own persons - to their own earnings and property, and to participate in the choice of the civil ruler, are rights which belong as naturally, absolutely to Woman as to Man."
Lucy Stone expressed her opposition to laws that gives husbands a wife's earnings and property : "It gives him her earnings, no matter with what weariness they may have been acquired, or how greatly she may need them for herself or her children."
Rev. Antoinette Brown criticized an all-male justice system that denies women a jury of their peers by barring women from jury panels : "The law is wholly masculine ; it is created and executed by man ..... when woman is tried for crime, her jury, her judges, her advocates are all men ..... common justice demands that a part of the law-makers and law-executors should be of her own sex."
One practical and far-reaching suggestion for helping eliminate the gap between the wages of men and women was made in a letter sent by Horace Greeley and read to the convention. Noting that it is common to pay women 4 to 8 dollars a month for work equal to that for which men are paid 20 dollars a month, he said that :
"Friends of Woman's Rights may wisely and worthily set the example of paying juster prices, for female assistance in their households, than those now current. If they would but resolve never to pay a capable, efficient woman less than two-thirds the wages paid to a vigorous, effective man employed in some corresponding vocation, they would very essentially aid the movement now in progress for the general recognition and concession of Equal Rights to Woman."
The issue of women who are not yet in support of this movement was dealt with in another resolution : "Resolved - That as the imbruted slave who is content with his lot, and would not be free if he could, (if any such there be), only gives evidence of the depth of his degradation, so the woman who is satisfied with her inferior condition, observing that she has all the rights she wants, does but exhibit the enervating effect of the wrongs to which she is subjected.”
Among those attending their first national women's rights convention is Susan B. Anthony, a 32-year-old temperance advocate and abolitionist. Acutely aware of discrimination against women due to her years of being paid far less than her fellow teachers who were male, she recently had another outrageous experience. Elected as a delegate to the New York State Temperance Society's June 17th convention by the Woman's State Temperance Society, she found that women would not be credentialed or allowed to speak. So she and her supporters held their own meeting nearby. Her reception here was, of course, quite different, having been personally invited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was not just allowed to speak, but encouraged to do so, and was elected as a Secretary of the convention.
The revolutionary spirit of this convention may have been best expressed by Elizabeth Oakes Smith. She told the delegates :
"My friends, do we realize for what purpose we are convened ? Do we fully understand that we aim at nothing less than an entire subversion of the existing order of society, a dissolution of the whole existing social compact ? Do we see that it is not an error of today, nor of yesterday, against which we are lifting up the voice of dissent ; but it is against hoary-headed error of all times ; error borne onward from the first footprints of the first pair ejected from Paradise — intermingled in every aspect of civilization, down to our own times. In view of this, it does seem to me, that we should each and all feel as if anointed, sanctified, set apart as to a great mission. It seems to me, that we who struggle to restore the divine human to the world, should feel as if under the very eye of the Eternal Searcher of all hearts, who will reject any sacrifice other than a pure offering.
"We are said to be a few, disaffected, embittered women, met for the purpose of giving vent to petty personal spleen, and domestic discontent. We repel the charge — and I call upon every woman here to repel the charge. If we have personal wrongs — here is not the place for redress. If we have private griefs, (and what human heart, in a large sense, is without them), we do not come here to recount them. The grave will lay its cold honors over the hearts of all here present, before the good we ask for our kind, will be realized to the world. We shall pass onward to other spheres of existence, but we trust the seed we shall here plant, will ripen to a glorious harvest. We 'see the end from the beginning,' and rejoice in spirit. We care not, that we shall not reach the fruits of our toil, for we know in times to come, it will be seen to be a glorious work."
The convention will continue two more days, and the struggle will go on for as long as may be necessary. But if future advocates of equality for women have the same dedication as those present here today, there is no doubt that Elizabeth Oakes Smith's prediction of victory will prove true, and those who can say they were among the first to begin the work of winning total equality will be especially honored.
September 9, 1912 : If Progressives are to win the White House in November, women must register and vote in great numbers, according to former - and hopefully future - President Theodore Roosevelt. He was in Spokane today, urging women in Washington State to take full advantage of their right to cast a ballot in the upcoming General Election. He told 2,500 women gathered at the American Theatre : "The suffrage having been given to you, it is not only your right but your duty to exercise it. You are false to your duty as citizens and as women if you fail to register and vote."
His speech was most timely, because today is the final day of registration for the November 5th General Election. Apparently his words were quite effective, because after the conclusion of the program, women crowded the places of registration much as they did right after winning the vote here two years ago. Several hundred women were seen standing in the registration line a block away from the theater soon after the conclusion of the first of his two speeches today to female audiences.
Col. Roosevelt's speeches were unique in two ways. He had never addressed an all-female audience before, and neither the Democratic nor Republican Presidential candidates have yet made a speech to a similar audience. At first he was a bit hesitant, not quite sure what to say, but many years of campaigning coupled with his own excellent instincts soon took over, and before long it looked and sounded like a traditional Roosevelt rally. Following his introduction, and after the shouts of "Hurrah for Teddy" subsided, he told why he and the newborn Progressive Party had earned women's votes :
"One of the things that has given me peculiar pleasure is the fact that this is the first party that ever put forth a woman suffrage plank and then tried to live up to it. We have not only declared for woman suffrage, but have tried to live up to the declaration. At Chicago we had women delegates, not only from the suffrage States, but from States that have been dragged along at the tail of the procession. We had them not only from Colorado and Washington, but from Massachusetts and New York. One of the memories of that convention that I shall always prize is the fact that one of my seconders was a woman, Miss Jane Addams."
He said he wasn't really a "convert" to woman suffrage because he had always supported it, but that he had been changed from a passive suffragist to an active one by some of the women he'd met who were doing social reform work. He knew that suffrage would add to their power and respect. He also stated that rather than interfering with the home, suffrage will be good for it :
"I believe that it will tend toward an increasing number of ideal homes, an increase in the sense of co-partnership between the man and the woman, and make each think more of the rights of the other than of his or her own rights. Just as a man can do better work for others if he is a free man, so a woman can do better work for others if she is a free woman."
The Progressive Party Platform endorses “minimum wage standards for working women, to provide a ‘living wage’ in all industrial occupations,” so its Presidential nominee addressed that issue, and compared his views with those of one of his rivals, Democrat Woodrow Wilson :
“We have studied the conditions among girls and women in industry, and know the suffering, misery, crime, and vice that are produced by an income that is insufficient to enable the girl or woman to keep body and soul together in surroundings of ordinary decency.
“Mr. Wilson’s fears that the employers of these women, if obliged to pay them a proper wage, would reduce all the other employes to that same minimum wage are groundless. The employers who now pay employes a starvation wage prove by that fact that they are paying all the employes the very least they can get them to take. The objection is one of the schoolroom, and will not have weight with those who know what life is.”
His loudest rounds of applause came when he told the mothers in the audience that in regard to parenting, "father has an easy time of it," and when he repeated his invitation to women to turn out on election day : "Bring your husbands and brothers along with you if you can ; but if you can't, come anyway."
Sarah Flannigan, a local Roosevelt campaign worker gave a clue about why getting out the women's vote is so crucial to Progressives : "When I ask a woman how she is going to vote, she always looks a little surprised at the question, and then says in an astonished way : 'Why, for the Progressive ticket, of course.' I am speaking now of mothers, and the more children they have the more strongly they are for Roosevelt."
The campaign train will now move on, but Col. Roosevelt will certainly have good memories of Spokane, and should be able to count on a substantial women's vote here on November 5th, when he takes on New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson of the Democrats and incumbent Republican President William Howard Taft.
If the election is close, and Roosevelt’s win should be credited to the women’s vote in the six States where they have won the franchise, it could be as big a boost for the suffrage movement as for the Progressive Party. So hopefully, the women of California, Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming will recognize their special responsibility, and turn out at the polls in sufficient numbers to elect a Progressive President this year.
September 10, 1920 : The National Woman's Party will battle on ! Though originally created for the purpose of putting a woman suffrage amendment into the Constitution, there was a consensus among Executive Committee members today that because this recent victory will not automatically cause all discriminations and barriers against women to fall, they must now evolve from a "suffrage" organization to a "feminist" organization whose goal is total equality.
As Alice Paul explained it : "It is incredible to me that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won. It has just begun. There is hardly a field, economic or political, in which the natural and accustomed policy is not to ignore women. Men are chosen to fill high Government offices and the responsible, well-paid positions in industry. No comment was excited by the fact that no woman was a member of the Coal Commission, for instance, or of the Railway Wage Board, in whose hands lay matters of vital concern to women as housekeepers and as workers. Unless women are prepared to fight politically they must be content to be ignored politically.”
Though becoming an official political party with its own women candidates has been discussed, Abby Scott Baker indicated that most board members thought it would be better to continue doing what has been so successful for the party during the suffrage struggle. Therefore, the party will throw its influence and the power of women voters in favor of established party candidates who support their goals and against those who do not. She urged women to enter politics, but to beware of being relegated to the lowest rungs of the ladder :
"You may be sure that it will be some time before they are allowed to speak up in meetings in the inner party councils. Politicians are bargain hunters, and they are not bidding very high for the women's vote. If I have learned anything from my political experience, it is that the one thing politicians fear is a determined minority united on a program, and ready to throw its power to the group through which it can secure that program's success. This is the policy through which the Woman's Party won national suffrage within seven years. By following this policy, the Woman's Party could win success for the larger problems still before women."
Alva Belmont, who hosted today's gathering at her Long Island, New York home, gave an example of a problem that winning suffrage did not solve, but using women's votes as a political tool could fix :
"With such an active, fighting women's group in the political field, it would be impossible for women to be deprived of their citizenship through marriage or to be given citizenship because of marriage. A woman should have the right of separate domicile, so that she can not be disenfranchised, as thousands of women now are because their residence is fixed by that of their husbands." This is not just an academic issue to her, because her daughter recently lost her American citizenship when she married the Duke of Marlborough in England.
The date of the upcoming national convention is still uncertain, because there is still some "unfinished business" to deal with in regard to suffrage. Anti-suffragists have launched multiple legal offensives in the courts trying to invalidate ratification of the Susan B. Anthony (19th) Amendment, or at least block its implementation until after the Presidential election in November. The National Woman's Party's highest priority is making sure that women can vote in the election, so they are helping fight the court suits as well as working for ratification in Connecticut. (The major legal controversy involves Tennessee, which became the 36th and final State needed for ratification on August 18th. But if Connecticut ratifies before the election it would make Tennessee's contested status irrelevant.)
Fortunately, one major impediment to the National Woman's Party's activist plans has been dealt with. Dora Lewis announced at the Executive Committee meeting that the $12,000 debt run up during the final days of campaigning for ratification has been paid in full, thanks to vigorous efforts to collect on previous pledges, plus new contributions, the largest of which was $1,000 from Alva Belmont.
So, debt-free and with a major victory behind them, the National Woman's Party can now move on toward the goal of total equality. With the votes of millions of newly-enfranchised women added to the party’s years of political experience, achievement of their goal now seems possible in the not-too-distant future.
September 11, 1917 : Today saw a celebration of courage and triumph in Washington, D.C., as well as optimism in the wake of a defeat in Maine.
Six "Silent Sentinels" who had been serving time in Virginia's infamous Occoquan Workhouse for picketing the White House were honored with a banquet tonight at Cameron House, headquarters of the National Woman's Party.
The picketing has been going on since January 10th to point out the hypocrisy of President Wilson vigorously campaigning for democracy around the world while failing to use his influence with the Democratic majority in Congress to bring democracy to American women by getting Congress to pass, and send to the States, the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment.
Over the past eight months pickets have endured extreme cold, snow, and rain, then heat and humidity, attacks by mobs, and finally arrests and lengthy sentences in the harshest of prisons. But tonight was a time to celebrate the freedom - temporary as it probably is - of six of the many suffragists who have been willing to endure imprisonment for the sake of every woman's right to vote.
Alva Belmont, one of the principal speakers, left no doubt about her feelings toward the Wilson Administration or the courts, as she praised the recently-released pickets :
"We come together tonight to honor the gallant six who have so bravely endured persecution at the hands of the Government, which has used its power to oppress women instead of liberating them. The present undemocratic Administration, on technical and unproved charges, and in court trials which have been a bitter travesty on justice, has dared to imprison American women of patriotism and distinction in a filthy workhouse, in order to attempt to suppress the insistent demand of women for their political freedom.
"An Administration which could be stupid and vicious enough to meet this appeal by such medieval methods proves that it is hostile to the liberal movements of the world, and that it is trying to smother the needs of democracy at home. Such an Administration, if it does not cease its cowardly persecution, should be shorn of power in the next Congressional election."
The news from Maine, where a suffrage referendum was defeated by 2-1 yesterday, was not nearly so cheery, of course. Local suffragists fought a good campaign, distributing 1,500,000 leaflets, or 10 for every eligible voter, and Deborah Knox Livingston traveled thousands of miles around the State speaking and raising money. But there was never that much hope for a victory in Maine's first suffrage referendum due to the short time between the measure being placed on the ballot and Election Day, as well as the State's basic conservatism. The very low turnout may also have been a factor.
But today suffragists are still optimistic about the New York suffrage referendum coming up on November 6th. New York and Maine are very different States, and should produce different results. According to Carrie Chapman Catt :
"A good deal of suffrage education has been inculcated that will count toward future victory. We have learned to take what looks like failure as the forerunner of success. It was a good deal to expect Maine to go pro-suffrage in a first campaign. Even in the Western States it has taken several campaigns to win. I understand that a Maine 'anti' hopes the question is settled in Maine for a long time to come, but the suffrage question is never settled until it is settled affirmatively. It is true that there probably never will be another campaign in Maine except for the purpose of ratification. The Federal suffrage amendment is surely going to pass and soon. The effect of every State's repudiation of the suffrage plank in the national platforms of all political parties can serve only to focus the effort of the National American Woman Suffrage Association anew upon the Federal route to the suffrage goal. More and more our work concentrates on Washington as the immediate focal point."
Dudley Field Malone agreed that the days of State referenda are probably past :
"It took the liberal and progressive elements of the men and women in Maine nearly twenty years before they were permitted to put a suffrage amendment to the voters of that State, and a similar suffrage amendment may not be submitted to the electorate for twenty years more because of antique political methods in Maine. In a democratic republic this is a denial of justice and democracy, without which there would be no progress. The situation in Maine proves that the most just and speedy way to enfranchise all the women of the country is by the passing of the Federal suffrage amendment through Congress."
Anti-suffragists are expressing their usual optimism that the battle is over. Alice Hill Chittenden, President of the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage said :
"Woman suffrage has not carried a single State through popular election since 1914, when the two small States of Montana and Nevada extended suffrage to women, and since that date has been defeated in twelve States, namely, South Dakota, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Iowa, and West Virginia, Maine yesterday making the twelfth. The total majority for suffrage in Nevada and Montana amounted to about 7,000. The results in Maine point the way to the defeat of woman suffrage in New York on Nov. 6. Most people regard the question of woman suffrage as an intrusion at this time, when the whole mind and heart of the nation is engrossed in the great war upon which we have entered. This is a time when the man power in Government is needed ; that is the one power which can enforce law. I cannot believe the men of New York State will make the fatal mistake of adding to the electorate at this critical time some two million votes."
But despite the latest obituary for the suffrage movement by its critics, it's healthier than ever. In the Empire State the campaign has been large, well-funded, and running on a continuous basis since the 1915 referendum's defeat. And regardless of how the New York contest may come out, women are already a substantial voting bloc in the Western States where they have won full voting rights.
The addition of the element of militance by the National Woman's Party may be the final ingredient to success, however. Pressure on President Wilson to do something meaningful to help suffrage is growing, as is sympathy for the women who have been jailed for exercising their right to protest against being excluded from the political process for no other reason than their sex.
Victory may not be at hand, but it is in sight, and now that there is a consensus among even conservative suffrage organizations that Alice Paul was right years ago about the Susan B. Anthony Amendment being the only practical route to suffrage, we now know how victory will come about, so the only question is when.
September 12, 1967 : Are being quite young, very attractive, and an unmarried woman "bona fide occupational qualifications" for being a stewardess ? According to the airline industry, the answer is "yes," but two unions and feminist Betty Friedan disagree. Today a hearing was held by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to hear from both sides so that the E.E.O.C. can make a ruling on whether the airlines are in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or whether their biased standards can be justified and permitted to continue.
Friedan, president of the almost 11-month-old National Organization for Women, noted the similarity between the job requirements of the airlines and those of a Playboy Club, and said that the airlines were "transforming stewardesses into bunnies of the air." She said that : "While the air lines talk about these pretty girls and the service they give, the sexuality of the girls is a necessary factor in the job." She called their policies "the most flagrant kind of sex discrimination" because male airline employees are not required to resign, or take other jobs upon reaching age 32 (or 35 in some cases) nor when they marry, and do not have the same ultra-strict weight requirements.
None of the airline executives disputed the fact that they have unique and far more restrictive age standards for stewardesses than for any of the jobs done by men, but tried to show why they were needed. According to Walter Rauscher, vice-president of American Airlines, "We must have a glamorous product that is wanted and needed by people," and he resented comparing stewardesses to Playboy bunnies. But he didn't say what the difference was between a woman being "glamorous" vs. a "sex symbol," or what part of the job's duties could not be performed by a married woman, someone over 32, or a man.
Robert E. Johnson, vice-president of United Air Lines, also objected to the comparison : "I resent the implication that stewardesses are sex symbols. They are not. They perform a quality service. I resent characterizing them as 'bunnies.' That is unwarranted on the basis of their conduct, breeding and behavior." He then said that it was United's stewardesses who kept the "friendly skies of United friendly," apparently adding an ever-smiling compliant attitude to the strict age, height, weight, beauty and marital status requirements.
The Air Transport Association, consisting of 55 air lines, sent attorney Jesse Friedin to tell the E.E.O.C. that discrimination based on age and marital status wasn't even something they were empowered to rule on. But those testifying for the Transport Workers Union and the Air Line Pilots Association disagreed, and then went on to point out that not all airlines have such restrictions, so they must be arbitrary, rather than truly necessary.
Protests against these policies date back to April 17, 1963, when eight stewardesses held a press conference to denounce the American Airlines policy of forced retirement at 32. "Do I look like an old bag ?" asked 35-year-old Barbara "Dusty" Roads, at the time. The Civil Rights Act was signed on July 2, 1964, and the E.E.O.C. began its work a year later, charged with interpreting and implementing Title VII. However, the Act permits bias in "those certain instances where religion, sex, or national origin is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise." Congress began taking testimony on the issue on September 2, 1965, when Colleen Boland and several other stewardesses testified about the unfairness of the rules.
The present controversy dates back to November, 1965, when charges of sex discrimination by the airlines began to come to the E.E.O.C. The vast majority of complaints have been from women, though one was from a man who wanted to be a steward but was told that only women could apply to be flight attendants at that particular airline. (Only about 5% of flight attendants are men.)
The E.E.O.C. held a five-hour public hearing on May 10, 1966, with representatives of both sides present. On November 9, 1966, the Commission voted on a ruling, but some of the airlines went to court and got a preliminary injunction to prevent the E.E.O.C. from publicly issuing its ruling. Their main argument was that Aileen Hernandez, one of the Commissioners, was active in the newborn National Organization for Women, and couldn't have been "objective" about sex bias when the Commission vote was taken. A few months after her resignation, the judge made the injunction permanent and said the E.E.O.C. would have to either drop the issue or hold a new hearing, and that's what took place today.
September 13, 1910 : A different kind of "ballot battle" for New York City's suffragists today, as they asserted their right to be poll watchers, even though still barred from casting votes themselves. The first clash occurred early this morning at 870 Ninth Avenue, when Chairman Robert Jackson of the Board of Inspectors disputed the right of Lavinia Dock, Emma Herenden and Winifred Leonard to be present behind the rail inside the polling place, even though they had the proper authorizations. But the women knew that they had a right to be there, and were not about to move voluntarily. After an argument that caused a ten minute delay in opening the polling place, with Jackson being harassed by voters eager to vote so that they could get to work on time, he called the police. Two officers came over, and though reluctant to make an arrest, having never arrested a woman for anything but public intoxication, when Dock and Leonard refused to move, both were arrested for "obstructing the polls," and driven to the West 47th Street Station in the patrol wagon.
The dispute then quickly went to court. Since the Democratic faction that appointed Dock a poll watcher was opposed to District Leader John F. Curry, he came to court in person, and as might be expected, made a strong argument against the women poll watchers. But Assistant District Attorney Smyth and Deputy Attorney Moffat noted that there was absolutely nothing in the law that specified poll watchers must be male. That was good enough for the Magistrate, and soon the poll watchers, still wearing yellow "Votes for Women" sashes, were on their way back to Ninth Avenue, with Dock saying to Leonard : "Come on. There is work for us over there."
Word of their vindication in court spread quickly, and though two more arrests were made by officers in the field, one arrestee, Mary Thornton, was set free immediately after being brought to headquarters without even having to go to court. The other arrest was that of Nora Stanton Blatch De Forest, granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and wife of Lee De Forest, head of the De Forest Wireless Telegraph Company. She refused to move from behind the rail of the polling place at 503 West 59th Street, was arrested, and brought to court. But without even asking to hear from her lawyer, the Magistrate immediately dismissed the case.
The poll watchers did their jobs well. Dock and Leonard spotted two men who had been given ballots but whose names were not on the register. In an incident at 200 West 67th Street, Alberta Hill, Helen Hoy Greely, and Virginia Hudson caught a man trying to cast a "cannon ballot" (several ballots ironed together to appear as one when dropped in the box.) All in all, it was a successful exercise, which will be done again. Not only does poll watching make for more honest elections, it has the potential to help the cause of woman suffrage by getting people used to the idea of seeing women at polling places, as well as proving that they show no ill effects from even a lengthy stay there.
September 13, 1948 : There’s a celebration going on tonight at the home of Senator-elect Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, as she adds her biggest triumph so far to an already long list of achievements. On January third, she will become the first woman to ever have served in both the U.S. House and Senate, only the second Republican woman to have held a seat in the Senate, and the sixth woman Senator in U.S. history.
When sworn in, she will be the lone woman in the Senate, since none are serving now, and no others are expected to be elected in November. There are presently six other women in the House, though that number is expected to change due to her departure as well as the upcoming November elections nationwide.
Though her victory tonight was by an overwhelming 71-29% landslide, the campaign was by no means an easy one. In the Republican primary, she faced three opponents, one of whom is the present governor, and another a former governor. But on June 21st she won more votes than the other three combined. Of course, there was really a fourth opponent : prejudice against women in politics. When questioned on why a woman should be sent to Washington if a man was available, or if women should even be in politics, she has said :
"Women administer the home. They set the rules, enforce them, mete out justice for violations. Thus, like Congress, they legislate ; like the Executive, they administer ; like the courts, they interpret the rules. It is an ideal experience for politics."
Some are saying tonight that the attacks on her candidacy due to her gender caused a backlash, and that this was a poor campaign strategy to begin with in a State where most registered voters are women. So, perhaps we'll see less of that tactic in the future, and more women Senators from Maine.
Her political career goes back to 1930, when she was elected to the Maine Republican State Committee. When her husband died in 1940, she first won a special election to fill his House seat, then a regular election to a full term, and has been re-elected to Congress ever since. Among her accomplishments is championing the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, signed just three months ago by President Truman, making women a permanent part of the armed forces, not just an “auxiliary force” to be called on in wartime then arbitrarily dismissed when peace returns. As a moderate, she supported many parts of New Deal legislation, and voted against making the House Un-American Activities Committee a permanent body in 1945.
She understands the needs of women who work outside the home, having been a schoolteacher, telephone operator, circulation manager for a local newspaper, and textile mill worker. In the 1920s she helped found the Skowhegan Business and Professional Women’s Club.
The first female Senator was Rebecca Felton, appointed on October 3, 1922 to fill a vacancy due to the death of the incumbent. Sworn in on November 21, 1922, she served only until the next day. (Since the general election had already occurred by then, and a new Senator had been elected, he chivalrously allowed her to be sworn in before taking his seat on November 22nd.)
The Senate’s second woman, Hattie Wyatt Caraway, was appointed November 13, 1931 to fill her late husband’s seat, won election in her own right with 92% of the vote in January, 1932, then went on to serve until defeated in a primary in 1944.
Rose McConnell Long was appointed on January 31, 1936 to finish out the term of her late husband, Huey Long. She served from January 31, 1936 to January 3, 1937.
Gladys Pyle was the first Republican woman to win a seat in the Senate, though it was only to finish out the term of a deceased Senator. She served from November 9, 1936 to January 3, 1937.
Dixie Bibb Graves was appointed by her husband, the Governor of Alabama, on August 20, 1937 to succeed Hugo Black when Black was appointed to the Supreme Court. She served until January 10, 1938.
Though only one of ninety-six Senators, the experience she’s gained in the House, and her determination to get things done should give Senator-elect Smith great influence in the Senate once she gets some seniority. At the very least, she will assure that for the next six years - and hopefully many more - the Senate will not be the “Boys’ Club” that it has been since Hattie Caraway left when her term expired on January 3, 1945.
September 14, 1970 : The myth that only women in elite professions support the E.R.A. was refuted today at a news conference by women representing several labor unions. At Senate hearings last week, it was argued by Myra Wolfgang of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union that since so-called "protective" laws restricting women's hours and the amount of weight they can lift would be invalidated if the E.R.A. is passed, employers would then take advantage of this to exploit working-class women.
But at today's press conference, Dorothy Haener, representing United Auto Workers, noted that laws restricting the amount of weight a woman could be required to lift had only been enforced in regard to high-paying jobs, and brought no benefit to women who worked in minimum-wage jobs such as waitresses. Not only that, domestic workers, among the country's lowest-paid, have always been exempt from weight-limit and maximum hour restrictions.
Cele Carrigan, also of United Auto Workers, said that laws restricting only women workers were already invalid due to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that unions were in court fighting these restrictions. (Fifteen states have already repealed such provisions and the courts have struck down others.) Among the other unions present were the International Union of Electrical Workers, the Butchers and Meat Cutters Union and the American Federation of Government Employees.
Non-union E.R.A. supporters were at the press conference as well, and spoke of the amendment's potential benefits. According to Dr. Frances Norris, ending restrictions on the number of women admitted to medical schools, and thereby increasing the number of female physicians, would improve health care for women. She said that male doctors tended to be too radical in their treatment of women, and that if there were more women doctors there might be fewer hysterectomies and radical mastectomies because more conservative treatments are available and have been proven effective. If the E.R.A. were passed, state-supported medical schools could no longer place arbitrary limits on the number of women admitted.
E.R.A. hearings are now being conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the anti-E.R.A. side having begun the testimony five days ago. In an unexpected development, one of the witnesses who testified three days ago, Professor Leo Kanowitz, of the University of New Mexico School of Law, spoke in favor. He had previously been opposed to the E.R.A., and his shift of views was apparently unknown to the committee. He was grilled by Senator Sam Ervin, Democrat of North Carolina, but stuck to his new position and said that his previous concerns about the E.R.A.'s effects had been put to rest.
It's quite unusual for opponents of legislation to go first at hearings, and it is believed by some that this is part of a strategy by anti-E.R.A. committee members to get their case against the E.R.A. before the public, then find some excuse to keep postponing the testimony of proponents. Today was supposed to be the first day for those who favor the amendment to testify. Acting Committee Chair Sam Ervin's cancellation of today's hearing on the grounds that no Senator was available to preside only increases the plausibility of that theory.
The E.R.A. was introduced to Congress in 1923 by Senator Charles Curtis and Representative Daniel Anthony (nephew of Susan B. Anthony), both Republicans of Kansas. The first hearings were held in the House in February, 1924 with the Senate following suit a year later. It has been endorsed by the Republican Party since 1940, the Democrats since 1944, and supported by every President since Harry Truman reaffirmed his support for it five months after taking office in 1945.
On February 10th of this year women disrupted a Senate hearing on an amendment that would give 18-year-olds the vote, to demand action on the E.R.A. This May, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held three days of hearings with Betty Friedan, among others, testifying in favor. On August 10th the House voted 346-15 in favor. No hearings had been held because the House Judiciary Committee's chair, Democrat Emanuel Celler, who has been blocking the E.R.A. since he became H.J.C. chair in 1949, refused to hold them. Rep. Martha Griffiths, Democrat of Michigan, got enough signatures from her fellow members on a discharge petition to bring the E.R.A. out of committee and before the full House for a vote.
If the 100-member Senate approves it by a 2/3 majority - and it has 83 sponsors, 16 more than the 67 votes required for passage - it will be sent to the State Legislatures for ratification, where it needs the approval of 38 out of 50 for the 3/4 required. The Equal Rights Amendment, authored by Alice Paul, says : (1) "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." (2) "Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." (3) "This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification."
September 15, 1970 : Today, Equal Rights Amendment supporters finally got a chance to make their case to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But in a move that mirrored the kind of bias that still exists, and shows why there is a campaign for the E.R.A., proponents were allowed only one day of testimony, after opponents were given three days last week. Fortunately, the witnesses made such great impressions, and stated their case so well, that a single day may turn out to be sufficient.
Wilma Scott Heide, who chairs the National Organization for Women's National Board, and is a Human Relations Commissioner in Pennsylvania, told the Senators :
"I am not a 'bubble head' and I do not burn bras." (Here she was alluding to a remark made on August 26th by Senator Jennings Randolph, Democrat of West Virginia, about feminists, and the "braburning" myth that has plagued the movement since the Miss America demonstration in 1968.) "I am a middle class member of mid-America."
But because society puts such an emphasis on arbitrary gender roles :
"I know now that I shall never achieve my full potential .... It is tragic that the reproductive abilities women share with all other mammals have been more highly valued and developed than the productive intelligence we do not share with any other animal. My ability to reproduce two children does not confer on me the unique ability, based on my sex, to care for and raise these children, any more than my husband's biological ability to father these children disqualifies him from child care. Homemaking and child care are learned social roles without biological imperatives as to who performs them."
She then said that there are just three jobs which can be performed solely by members of one sex. Only women can be "human incubators" and wet-nurses, and only men can be sperm donors. All other jobs can be performed by either men or women. She was also vehemently opposed to any changes in the E.R.A.'s text, specifically one addition suggested by Senator Sam J. Ervin, (D-NC). The "Ervin Rider" would exempt women from the military draft, and permit any law "reasonably designed to promote the health, safety, privacy, education or economic welfare of women, or to enable them to perform their duties as homemakers or mothers."
The “Ervin Rider” (like its predecessor, the “Hayden Rider,” first proposed by Senator Carl Hayden in 1950) would render the E.R.A. purely symbolic by allowing any form of gender bias to be permitted by simply alleging that it was of benefit to women in their now Constitutionally defined roles as homemakers and mothers. If this language were added to the text, the E.R.A. could no longer even be called an "equal rights" amendment because it would authorize special rights and privileges for women and validate unique forms of discrimination against men such as male-only Selective Service registration and mandatory military service.
Heide made it clear that there would be no going back to the 1950s, and that women were demanding their fair share of power and influence : "We whose hands have rocked the cradle are now using our heads to rock the boat so that in proportion to our numbers we intend to share in guiding the ship of state and of the world. We value ourselves, our children and men too much to deprive the world of our other talents."
One example of her "rocking the boat" occurred on February 17th, when she led a group of about 20 N.O.W. members in a disruption of a Senate subcommittee hearing on an amendment that would lower the voting age nationwide from 21 to 18. The protesters demanded that they take up the Equal Rights Amendment as well. The tactic worked, and that's why the E.R.A. is the subject of hearings in the Senate now instead of still languishing indefinitely in a subcommittee.
Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-MI), who was responsible for extracting the E.R.A. from the House Judiciary Committee, where it had been bottled up for two decades, then led the successful fight for approval in the full House, also testified at today's hearings. She attacked anti-E.R.A. fears about abolishing "protective" legislation for women by noting that : "It has always been a matter of some amusement to me that a woman who can lug around a squirming 20-pound kid all day can't lift 12 pounds at work."
Norman Dorson, of New York University, spoke to concerns expressed by other law professors that the E.R.A. was too vague and would lead to years of litigation. He said that these fears have been "magnified unrealistically" and that Constitutional amendments are always broad and general in their language. But even if some litigation proved necessary in the amendment's interpretation, "It is wrong to suggest that because ending deep-set and historic discrimination will result in some uncertainty and litigation we should not act."
With far more sponsors in the Senate than the 2/3 that are needed for approval, it appears that 47 years after its introduction to Congress, Alice Paul's Equal Rights Amendment is about to get final approval and be sent to the States for ratification. So unless there are unexpected developments or unforeseeable delays, when the nation celebrates its Bicentennial in 1976, the 26th Amendment to the Constitution will read : (1) "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." (2) "Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." (3) "This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification. "
September 16, 1918 : The contrast between the older, traditional suffrage groups and the movement's newer, more militant faction was never more in evidence than today.
The day's events began when National American Woman Suffrage Association members who are voters in suffrage States had a friendly meeting with President Wilson at the White House. Those in the delegation lavishly praised his words of support for the cause.
Two hours later, the National Woman's Party got a transcript of his statement, and as a way of emphasizing that mere words will not be enough to get the President's fellow Democrats to stop blocking passage of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment in the Senate, set fire to the copy his words at the Lafayette Monument just across from the White House.
The N.A.W.S.A. delegation that had a 15-minute visit with the President was quick to praise him. According to Minnie Fisher Cunningham of Texas : "The President is a wonderful listener. He gives the closest attention to the matter presented and you have his entire interest for the period of the interview. This is real democracy - to be able to get to the head of the nation with the problems of the people." He had told the delegation : "I am, as I think you know, heartily in sympathy with you. I have endeavored to assist you in every way in my power, and I shall continue to do so. I will do all I can to urge the passage of this amendment by an early vote."
Sounds great, but words are not equivalent to deeds, and the National Woman's Party was far from satisfied. After forty N.W.P. members marched from their headquarters to Lafayette's statue, tricolor banners held high, Lucy Branham held aloft a flaming torch and said : "We want action." Then, as she set the President's statement alight, she proclaimed :
"The torch which I hold symbolizes the burning indignation of women who for a hundred years have been given words without action. In the Spring our hopes were raised by words much like these from President Wilson, yet they were permitted to be followed by a filibuster against our amendment on the part of Democratic Senate leaders. Today the Chairman of the Rules Committee of the Senate, a spokesman of the Administration, stated that suffrage was not on the program for this session, and that the Senate was hoping to recess in a few days for the Autumn election campaigns without taking up any other measure. Today the Chairman of the Woman Suffrage Committee in the Senate, another spokesman for the Administration, announced that he would not even call the Suffrage Committee together to consider taking a vote. This session is nearing its close and the President and his party refuse to take any effective step toward the passage of the suffrage measure.
“As in the ancient fights for liberty the crusaders for freedom symbolized their protest against those responsible for injustice by consigning their hollow phrases to the flames, so we, on behalf of thousands of suffragists, in this same way today protest against the action of the President and his party in delaying the liberation of American women. For five years women have appealed to this President and his party for political freedom. The President has given words, and words, and words. Today, women receive more words. We announce to the President and the whole world today, by this act of ours, our determination that words shall no longer be the only reply given to American women - our determination that this same democracy, for whose establishment abroad we are making the utmost sacrifices, shall also prevail at home."
Today's demonstration - though the first where they've used fire - is just the latest in a long series of militant protests against President Wilson by the National Woman's Party that began on January 10th of last year. After a meeting the night before with a large delegation of suffragists, in which Wilson expressed sympathy for the cause, but unwillingness to endorse the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, or use his considerable influence to help get it through Congress, the N.W.P. began stationing "Silent Sentinels" outside the White House fence near the gates. Their banners highlighted the hypocrisy of Wilson’s campaigning for democracy around the world while doing nothing to bring democracy to the female half of his own country. The Sentinels first braved extreme cold and heavy snow, then Spring rains, summer heat and humidity, attacks by mobs angry at anyone who would criticize a President in wartime, and finally arrests and prison sentences, including time at the infamous Occoquan Workhouse.
As recently as August 12th and 14th there were mass arrests, with injuries, and demonstrators sent to Occoquan for making peaceful protests at Lafayette's statue over the failure of the Senate to vote on the Anthony Amendment. As Alice Paul said at the time : "We will continue to protest as long as our disenfranchisement exists. Oppression and abuse at the hands of the law merely emphasized the great need of women for political power." On August 20th, twenty-three suffrage prisoners were released after a six-day hunger strike.
Older, more traditional suffragists have denounced the actions of the militants as allegedly hurting the cause by alienating male voters in States where suffrage referenda are on the ballot, as well as politicians who have at least come out in favor of suffrage, even if they haven’t done anything meaningful to bring it about as yet.
Militants complain that the older, more conservative suffragists are too friendly and deferential toward those who have the power to immediately pass the Anthony Amendment, and that their low-key, State-by-State campaigns will take far too long to win suffrage nationwide. But this combination of approaches actually seems to be quite effective. There has been more progress in the past five years than in the sixty-five that preceded it, so "more of the same" by both factions should produce the result that all suffragists desire : "Votes for Women" in every State, permanently won.
September 17, 1909 : It's a new era in the suffrage battle, and a new headquarters for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. After six years in Warren, Ohio, first at the home of Treasurer Harriet Taylor Upton, then in the Trumbull County Courthouse, N.A.W.S.A. has moved back to New York City, and is now situated on the 17th floor of 505 Fifth Avenue, at 42nd Street.
Rent for the entire floor - $5,000 a year - will be paid by Alva Belmont. Divorced in 1895 from her first husband, William Vanderbilt, and widowed last year by the untimely passing of Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, she has since that time become quite active in the suffrage movement. On July 15th she made an incredibly generous contribution to the cause by agreeing to lease space for this "suffrage headquarters" to be used exclusively by organizations working to win the vote for women.
Today reporters and photographers were given a tour of all nine rooms - and free "Votes for Women" pins from N.A.W.S.A. President Anna Howard Shaw, who pinned them on each guest personally. (Of course, many “won’t be able to get into the newspaper office wearing them,” joked Belmont.) Things are not yet in complete order, as the largest room in the suite is filled with 24 cases of suffrage literature, and the bookshelves lack books, but have a surplus of flowered hats upon them. The offices themselves are all quite attractive. In the president's room are fine portraits of pioneer suffragists, and the reception room, near the front, is furnished with black carved oak. Next to that is Alva Belmont's office, furnished in mahogany.
Since so many reporters were gathered together, it seemed like a good time for Ida Husted Harper to address one of her pet peeves. There has been a great deal of publicity here lately about violent actions taken by British "suffragettes" who use that term to distinguish themselves from the more moderate suffragists. So Harper said : "We would be very glad if you would not call us suffragettes. The suffragettes are all right, and we have no quarrel with them, but we represent the suffragists of long standing, and the word suffragette is the one for the suffragists who have adopted militant methods."
Anna Howard Shaw gave some comfort to elected officials who are suffrage supporters and fair warning to those who are not : "We are now going into practical politics. We are going into the districts where our friends are in the political field and try to elect them, and we are going to try to defeat our enemies. We are told that women have more influence without the vote, and we are going to try and use that influence."
Shaw outlined an ambitious program, and specifically mentioned major suffrage campaigns to be carried on in Washington State, Oregon and South Dakota, as well as in the Territory of Arizona. Her organization will even try to have some sort of suffrage legislation introduced in the legislatures of all 42 non-suffrage States this Winter. Now that the nation's largest suffrage group is situated in such a strategic location, and rent is not a burden, the future of the cause seems very bright. Though women can only vote in four of the forty-six States (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho), the long drought - 13 years without winning the vote in a single State - may be about to end, and a suffrage renaissance begin.
September 18, 1968 : Alice Paul is in full fighting mode today, and women are preparing to risk arrest and engage in civil disobedience if necessary. Though this sounds like a report from the suffrage battlefront 50 years ago, it's not. But one big difference between 1918 and 1968 is that back then, the National Woman's Party wanted Congress to pass something (the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, to guarantee women the right to vote) whereas today they want them to defeat something : a bill to confiscate two-thirds of historic Sewall-Belmont House property to build a driveway for an expanded New Senate Office Building. The party has always tried to have its headquarters as close to the center of political action as possible, but at the moment it may seem a bit too close.
The National Woman's Party has had its offices and officers' living quarters at Sewall-Belmont House since 1929, when it became the group's fifth and final headquarters. The house itself is one of the oldest homes on Capitol Hill. Robert Sewall completed construction on the original house by 1800, and rented it to Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin from 1801 to 1813. During the War of 1812, the house was burned by invading British troops when in August, 1814, it was used to resist their advance on Washington. Sewall rebuilt the house after the war, and it remained in his family for over a century, until purchased by Senator Porter Dale in 1922. He sold it to Alva Belmont in 1929, so that she could donate it to the National Woman’s Party as their new headquarters.
It has been reported that the Joint Committee on Landmarks, in a report that will be delivered to the National Capital Planning Commission, thinks the house belongs in the "landmark" category following a three-year study. But Rep. Kenneth Gray, Democrat of Illinois, disagrees. A member of the Public Works Committee, he has been engaging in unethical tactics to steamroll this controversial bill through the House after it was passed by the Senate.
He has presented his bill as just a "housekeeping" measure that ought to be passed by the House as a simple courtesy to the Senate, and has reportedly misinformed members of Congress that an agreement was reached with the National Woman's Party to sell the land for $ 50,000. He has said that Sewall-Belmont House is "unsightly" and of "no historical significance" and that the apartments used by N.W.P. officers are in disrepair and "will fall down anyway."
The bill was originally introduced by Senator Ralph Yarborough, Democrat of Texas, and it excludes from condemnation the central portion of the building and a small lot, but confiscates the majority of the property. "It's all one building and one historical landmark," says Alice Paul, N.W.P.’s founder.
When the bill first came up for discussion in the House on August 2nd, Rep. Edith Green, Democrat of Oregon, noted that the Senate had passed it by a ratio of 4-3, hardly the kind of near-unanimous vote normally cast for uncontroversial "housekeeping" measures. Others objected to trying to push it through in August when so many members were away attending their parties' national conventions in Miami and Chicago.
Alice Paul, 83, is as actively involved in this new campaign as the one half a century ago. Today she phoned N.W.P. President Emma Guffey Miller at Miller's home in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, to discuss strategy, and has sent telegrams to House Majority Whip Hale Boggs, Democrat of Louisiana, and Senator Everett B. Jordan, Democrat of North Carolina, asking them to delay action, citing the findings of the Joint Committee on Landmarks.
But if conventional methods fail, the National Woman's Party knows how to escalate. And this time they have a new ally. Barbara Ireton, president of the National Capital Area Chapter of the National Organization for Women said it was decided at meetings held today in Washington and New York that if necessary, a ring of women will surround the property to protect it if the House passes the condemnation bill and President Johnson doesn't veto it. So, history may repeat itself half a century after the National Woman's Party's "Silent Sentinels" went to jail in D.C. for peacefully protesting along the White House fence in favor of woman suffrage. Updates will follow when there are new developments in this confrontation.
September 19, 1893 : In an unprecedented victory for the suffrage movement, the women of New Zealand won full voting rights today. The struggle goes back to 1869, when Mary Ann Miller wrote "An Appeal to the Men of New Zealand" which advocated female suffrage. Two years later, Mary Colclough gave the first public lecture on the subject. Bills to extend the suffrage (initially to women taxpayers only) were introduced into Parliament in 1878, 1879 and 1887, and only narrowly defeated. But thanks to leadership by Kate Sheppard, as well as the tireless work of Women's Christian Temperance Union campaigners, a winning strategy was devised.
The start was quite modest. In 1887 two petitions signed by 350 women were presented to the House of Representatives. By the next year there were 800 signatures. But after this slow start, suffrage began to pick up major support. In 1889, the enthusiasm of the newly-established Tailoresses' Union was added to that of the W.C.T.U. In 1891, 9,000 women signed eight petitions. A year later, the Women's Franchise League was established, and six petitions with 19,000 signatures were presented. Earlier this year thirteen petitions containing 32,000 signatures were submitted.
As in the United States, major opposition to woman suffrage has come from those who believe that a woman's "natural" role as wife and mother is incompatible with politics, and from the liquor industry. Since a good deal of the work for suffrage has been done by the W.C.T.U., it has not been difficult for liquor interests to generate fear of prohibition and gather signatures for anti-suffrage petitions in the nation's pubs.
This year's final victory was by no means assured at any time. Premier John Ballance, who supported woman suffrage, died in April, and was succeeded by Richard Seddon, a strong anti-suffragist on quite friendly terms with liquor interests. But the huge number of signatures on the petitions - representing a substantial percentage of the nation's women - were sufficient to get an Electoral Bill passed by the House. A furious campaign then ensued as it went to the Legislative Council, which had killed two previous suffrage bills.
There were rallies and heavy lobbying of members, in person and by telegrams. Anti-suffragists went all out, with Seddon using every trick in the book to pressure his fellow legislators to vote "no." Finally, the day of the vote arrived, with pro-suffrage members of the Legislative Council wearing white camellias in their buttonholes. But apparently Seddon's underhanded and strong arm tactics had gone too far this time, and offended two anti-suffragists sufficiently for them to change their votes to "yes," so the measure carried 20 to 18.
Opponents, now wearing red camellias, didn't give up, and spent the eleven days since the vote pressuring the Governor not to sign the bill. But today the Electoral Bill became the Electoral Act with Lord Glasgow's signature, and the battle for unconditional, universal woman suffrage ended in New Zealand. Though technically a part of the British Empire, the nation has been self-governing since 1852, thanks to the British Parliament passing the New Zealand Constitution Act. A national election will take place on November 28th, and New Zealand's new Parliament will achieve a unique legitimacy by becoming the first national governing body to be freely selected by a majority of the adult citizens of the country.
Hopefully, the U.S. will follow suit. At present, women can vote in only the State of Wyoming, where they won the ballot in 1869, when it was still a territory. Women could vote in New Jersey from 1776 until 1807. Women in Utah Territory could vote from 1870 until 1887, when Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker (anti-polygamy) Act and disenfranchised them. Women in Washington Territory won the vote twice, but legislation passed by the Territorial Legislature in 1883 was overturned by the Territorial courts in 1887, and a bill passed in 1888 was similarly voided. In 1889 a suffrage referendum in what is now the State of Washington was defeated by a 2-1 margin. But there is a suffrage referendum on the ballot in Colorado, so a second suffrage State may be in the offing, and as was the case in New Zealand, persistence may yet pay off.
September 20, 1973 : Game, set, match ! Even with the carnival atmosphere, and hype more suited to professional wrestling than tennis, Billie Jean King's 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 rout of Bobby Riggs tonight was a major triumph for women in sports, and for the revitalized feminist movement itself.
Though King was intently focused on giving Riggs some lessons in how the game is played, he wasn't her only opponent, and tonight wasn't just about tennis. She was battling against all the traditional assumptions and ancient stereotypes about men and women that the swaggering Riggs proudly embraced, and came to personify in the months since he first issued his challenge to the world's best women tennis players.
After months of verbal volleying, here they were, at a packed Houston Astrodome, before a live television audience of about 50 million in the U.S., plus viewers in 36 other countries, with Howard Cosell and Rosemary Casals present to do an uninhibited commentary for ABC.
Male supremacists confidently awaited a repeat of Riggs' far less publicized 6-2, 6-1 trouncing of Margaret Court on Mother's Day, ready to cheer his victory, and reassure themselves that feminism was just another passing fad, and no real challenge to the status quo. Schoolgirls, whose opportunities to play competitive sports are now rapidly expanding and who see King as a role model, tuned in as well. Their mothers and grandmothers, who remembered being barred from some sports when they were growing up, or whose teams never had the funding or respect they deserved, were beside them, eagerly looking forward to applauding any shot King got past Riggs. The claim that men are so athletically superior to women that even a man who hadn't won at Wimbledon since 1939 could easily defeat a woman who won there two months ago was about to be tested, and it made for high tension and irresistible, real-life television drama.
But before some no-nonsense tennis, another bit of flamboyance that the sport had never seen before, and is unlikely to witness again. King entered the Astrodome first, on a gold litter straight out of Cecil B. DeMille's "Cleopatra," carried by several well-conditioned male track and field athletes from nearby Rice University. Riggs entered in a gold-wheeled rickshaw pulled by six professional models in tight red and gold outfits that left no mystery as to why he dubbed them "Bobby's Bosom Buddies." And just to make sure that none of the 30,492 fans in the stands would think this too somber an affair, a band blared march music while clowns and other costumed characters frolicked about in front of the large banners being waved by champagne-sipping spectators who had paid up to $100 for some of the better seats.
Finally came the mutual introductions, and in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, Riggs presented King with a giant "Sugar Daddy" caramel lollipop courtesy of his principal sponsor. She responded by giving him a live (and presumably male chauvinist) pig. The piglet, named "Larimore Hustle" (Larimore is Bobby's middle name, and hustling his real game) was one of the few things King sent his way tonight that Riggs was able to intercept. In the first set alone, she won 26 of her 34 points with shots that Riggs' racquet couldn't even touch. By the end of the match it was 70 out of 109. He had said that women just didn't have the nerves to play under pressure, but it was Riggs making the double-faults into the net when it was his serve.
This wasn't just a win, it was a big enough drubbing that there will be no debate about whether luck played any part in the result, or if King just had a really good night. After running him around the court to the point of exhaustion, King left Riggs with just enough strength to leap the net and congratulate the winner, as Billie Jean tossed her racquet high into the air. Then, in one of those unforgettable TV moments, King stood in the middle of the stadium with the huge winner's trophy raised over her head as the crowd cheered itself hoarse.
Surprisingly, Riggs made no excuses, and was among the first to say he'd been outplayed. In the interview room afterward, he said : "Billie Jean is too good. Too quick. I got the ball past her but she not only returned it but made a better shot than I did. Too good. Too quick. She deserved to win it."
Despite having recently won her fifth Wimbledon singles title, Billie Jean said : "I feel this is the culmination of my 19 years in tennis." Not only did she feel that her win was good for women, but for the game as well, with millions of people getting their first exposure to it :
"I've played tennis since I was 11 and I love it very much. When I was young I thought it was a sport just for the rich and white. There were a lot of non-tennis people who saw tennis for the first time tonight. You know I believe in spectator participation so a lot of my dreams came true tonight."
This evening she changed not just tennis, but the country's attitude toward women athletes and women's equality in general. In just two hours and four minutes, King may have given as big a boost to women's sports as last year's passage of Title IX, which will assure that the girls who are inspired by her feat will finally get the same access to school sports as the boys, and enjoy the same lifelong benefits from their experience.
September 21, 1920 : The ongoing controversy over the validity of Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, which die-hard anti-suffragists had been hoping to use to block its implementation, became irrelevant today. The State of Connecticut has ratified - beyond any doubt - the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, so even without Tennessee there would still be 36 unquestionably valid ratifications, all that are necessary for the woman suffrage amendment to withstand any court challenge.
Though the State's action came a lot later than suffragists would have liked, it is still very much appreciated. There was a major campaign here in May to get the Governor to call a Special Session of the Legislature so that Connecticut could become the 36th and final State needed to put the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment into the Constitution. But despite pressure from the Connecticut Woman Suffrage Association and women who came here from 47 other States, Governor Holcomb refused to issue the call, and victory was postponed until August 18th in Tennessee. Things have certainly changed in a big way : Connecticut has now ratified three times in one week !
The first approval was September 14th, when the House voted 216 to 11 in favor, and the Senate was unanimous. But the Special Session had not been called for the purpose of ratifying the suffrage amendment, so there was some question of whether the approval was valid. In order to avoid giving the "antis" another ratification to challenge in court, a second Special Session was called for today, with ratification included among the issues for action. The Senate once again gave its unanimous approval, with the House voting 194 to 9 in favor.
That seemed to settle the matter, but a bit later someone suggested that just to be sure there could be no legal challenge, there ought to be a formal, joint ratification resolution attached to, and covering the ratification document sent to the Secretary of State in Washington, D.C. After adjourning today's first session, and being immediately summoned back for another one, a quick unanimous vote in the Senate and one more approval by the House by 159 to 3 was easily accomplished. (Things do get easier with practice, and Connecticut has become uniquely experienced in the art of ratification, having done it three times in seven days.)
Whatever frustrations and unpleasant feelings suffragists nationwide may have had about Connecticut (actually, just its Governor) earlier this year are now gone, and there's praise tonight for the aptly nicknamed "Constitution State," and even for Holcomb, who called the three sessions. The anti-suffragists' traveling courtroom circus has been filing legal actions from Washington, D.C. to Nashville, challenging the validity of Tennessee's ratification, but their antics are now just an amusing sideshow thanks to today’s action. There had been some real concern before today that anti-suffrage judges in States where women cannot vote without the 19th Amendment might take these challenges seriously, and throw a monkey wrench into the process of registering women until all the cases are decided by the Supreme Court, at some point long after Election Day in November.
But now that Tennessee's ratification is no longer crucial, there is no reasonable basis upon which to claim that the 19th Amendment was improperly ratified, and therefore it should continue to be in full effect. So, though September 21, 1920, may not be as historic as August 18th, when the 19th Amendment was ratified by the required 36 of 48 States, or August 26th, when the Secretary of State officially proclaimed it a part of the U.S. Constitution, today is still an important one in the march toward women's equality, as the last potential barrier to full implementation of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in time for the 1920 General Election has been removed.
September 22, 1932 : Amelia Earhart and four high-ranking members of the National Woman's Party lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment (also known as the Lucretia Mott Amendment) today at a meeting with President Hoover in the White House. Earhart and Anita Pollitzer did most of the talking, with the President paying close attention to what they had to say. Long-time N.W.P. members Burnita Matthews, Anna Kelton Wiley and Ruth Taunton were also present.
Earhart told Hoover : "I know from practical experience of the discriminations which confront women when they enter an occupation where men have priority in opportunity, advancement and protection. In aviation the Department of Commerce recognizes no legal differences between men and women licensed to fly. I feel that similar equality should be carried into all fields of endeavor, so that men and women may achieve without handicap because of sex.
"As far as our country is concerned, in every State of the Union today there are discriminations against women in the law. I join with the National Woman's Party in hoping for the speedy passage of the Lucretia Mott Amendment, which would write into the highest law of our land that men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Your own statements on equality of opportunity make me believe you understand our desire."
At a meeting with an N.W.P. delegation on January 5th of last year, the President expressed his opposition to the growing practice of women workers being fired to make jobs available to men as a means of alleviating the unemployment crisis.
Anita Pollitzer said : "Do you realize, Mr. President, that there is no single State in the Union today where all the laws apply equally to men and women ? In almost one-half of the States women are limited in their power to contract or to carry on a business." She then left a report with Mr. Hoover that summarized the many laws that discriminate against women.
Earhart has expressed feminist views many times before. On May 8th of last year she told 250 Barnard College students at their annual Barnard Athletic Association Dinner that the educational system was based on "sex, not aptitude," and that it was unfair for girls to be shunted into cooking and sewing classes solely on account of their sex :
"I know a great many boys who should be making pies - and a great many girls who would be better off in manual training. There is no reason why a woman can't hold any position in aviation providing she can overcome prejudices and show ability." On June 24th of this year she reiterated that she would keep her "flying name" despite her marriage to George Palmer Putnam on February 7, 1931.
Her most recent aviation feat was a solo flight from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Northern Ireland, May 20-21st, the fifth anniversary of Lindbergh's first solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1927. No other woman has flown the Atlantic alone, and no man or woman other than Earhart has crossed the Atlantic twice by airplane. Her first time was as a passenger on June 17-18, 1928. Women's aviation is growing rapidly here in the U.S. On January 1, 1929, there were only 34 licensed women pilots, but as of this Spring, there were 512.
The Lucretia Mott (Equal Rights) Amendment was written by Alice Paul, and became the National Woman's Party's top priority after the vote was won on August 26, 1920. At their national convention on February 16, 1921, there was a unanimous and enthusiastic call for "absolute equality," and work was begun on drafting a Constitutional amendment to bring that about.
On July 21, 1923, at an N.W.P. convention celebrating the 75th anniversary of the first women's rights meeting at Seneca Falls, NY, on July 19-20, 1848, the wording was set, and the amendment was officially endorsed by the party members. It was also decided to name it for pioneer feminist Lucretia Mott.
On December 10, 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in Congress by Senator Charles Curtis and Representative Daniel Anthony (nephew of Susan B.), both Republicans of Kansas, with the first hearings held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee two months later. It continues to pick up support, and the campaign will continue until equality is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution regardless of how long it might take.
September 23, 1923 : Anyone who thinks the National Woman's Party must have lost some of its drive or militance after finishing its campaign to put the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment into the Constitution on August 26, 1920, clearly wasn’t at today’s colorful pageant in Colorado Springs. Meeting over the weekend, the party celebrated 75 years of feminist progress, while making it clear that the battle for total equality is far from over.
Alva Belmont, President of the N.W.P., let it be known at a banquet last night that the 19th Amendment was just one stepping stone on the path to equality, and that it's time for women to assume political leadership :
"For twenty centuries men have been running the world. Now it is time for women to take over affairs, and as they very nearly hold a balance of political power at this time, the day may not be as far distant as old party leaders imagine when there will be set up a woman's government by women for women, children and humanity in general."
Plans were announced in April to set up a separate "Women's Congress" in Washington, possibly as early as December, to debate the same issues as those of the U.S. Congress, so that women's views could be made known. There is presently only one woman in Congress, Rep. Mae Ella Nolan, Republican of California. The National Woman's Party may also become a formal political party with its own candidates and platform.
But Belmont reassured those who fear that feminists want to simply "get even" for thousands of years of patriarchal rule and plan to disempower and restrict men, that this is not the case : "Now don't construe my meaning as that of a woman opposed to men. I am for men, but for women and children first. Men have forgotten us during the past, but we are going to remember them and take them right up and onward with us."
One prime example of that “equality for all” philosophy is the party's enthusiastic endorsement of an “Equal Rights Amendment,” which they call the “Lucretia Mott Amendment” in honor of that pioneer feminist. Written by the party's founder, Alice Paul, it would outlaw any form of discrimination against either sex by any State, the United States, or any place subject to its jurisdiction. The party made full equality for women its "paramount issue" during the 1922 midterm elections, and intends to do the same in the 1924 General Election.
Despite her many years of work and unrivaled monetary contributions to the suffrage struggle, Belmont said that she had never voted, and would refuse to do so until she could vote for a woman candidate nominated by a woman's party. She also criticized other wealthy women for not getting involved in the struggle for dignity, opportunity and equality for all women :
"For nine years I have been as one crying in the wilderness to women of wealth and leisure to give over their pleasure and frivolities and do something to justify their existence. I have cried in vain. No reform ever appealed to people who have all they want."
Fortunately, there are exceptions to the rule. On July 28th, E.M. Levy announced that she had bequeathed $ 50,000 to the party in her new will. She had never taken much interest in politics until the National Woman's Party came along, but is now an enthusiastic supporter, who has already made a number of generous contributions, including a $1,000 Life Membership.
The party concluded its conference today by putting on an elaborate pageant in the Garden of the Gods, and it was reminiscent of the suffrage spectacles of a decade ago. It drew 20,000 spectators, plus reporters from many major newspapers, and film was shot by Fox, Pathe, and Universal for their nationally distributed newsreels.
The program opened with Ruth Montgomery, assisted by a 200-voice chorus, singing “Angels Ever Bright and Fair,” followed by trumpets announcing the procession that followed. Led by Sally Halthusen Gough on a black horse, it was intended to salute previous efforts, and show how long the struggle has gone on since that original women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. It included everything from a covered wagon and bright red stagecoach to more modern forms of transportation, with hundreds of participants taking part. Many portrayed feminists of earlier days, and dressed in costumes from their time.
The pageant also featured exuberant singing of confident songs, such as "The March of the Women," an anthem from suffrage days, which begins with “Shout, Shout, Up With Your Song,” accompanied by a large display of purple, white and gold banners of the National Woman’s Party held up by a delegation of schoolgirls. Other banners, bearing the words of Susan B. Anthony that “Failure is impossible” fluttered in the breeze as well.
Colorado is a very progressive State. Women won the vote here in an 1893 Statewide ballot referendum. But the fact that the laws are far from equal even here was stressed in numerous speeches, and cited as proof that there is still much work to be done. Among today’s speakers were many veterans of the suffrage struggle, such as Alice Paul, Sue White, and Eunice Brannan. White, who played a major role in her home State of Tennessee’s crucial ratification of the 19th Amendment back in 1920, deplored the fact that even in 20th Century America, we are still living according to the English Common Law assumption that in marriage, the husband and wife become one, and that the husband is the “one.”
It was noted by Alva Belmont that 30 years after winning the vote in Colorado, a wife’s earnings were still the property of her husband, and women can not serve on juries, thus denying them even so basic a right as a trial by a jury of their peers. Of course, she also noted that things are a lot better here than in Georgia, where a father can will his children to anyone he chooses without the wife’s consent. And in Louisiana, the husband is recognized as “head and master” of the household.
The 14th Amendment has failed to help women in any way thus far, so there is still nothing in the Constitution to explicitly guarantee equal treatment under the law for women and men. But that oversight is something the National Woman’s Party intends to remedy, and there are plans to get the Lucretia Mott (Equal Rights) Amendment formally introduced into Congress later this year.
So, as exciting as their battle for the ballot may have been, there should be even more interesting times ahead for the National Woman's Party on this long road to equality !
(Photo : Schoolgirls holding up the purple, white and gold banners of the National Woman's Party earlier today.)
September 24, 1917 : Though Representative Joseph Walsh, Republican of Massachusetts, called it yielding to "the nagging of iron-jawed angels," the militant tactics of the National Woman's Party seem to be paying off, as the House voted 181-107 today to finally create a separate Committee on Woman Suffrage. Up until now the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment had been just one of many issues to be dealt with by the always overburdened House Judiciary Committee.
The debate today was heated, and less about whether women should vote than about the "Silent Sentinels" who have been taking up their posts along the White House fence each day since January 10th. They are there to point out the hypocrisy of President Wilson vigorously campaigning for democracy around the world while not even endorsing - much less lobbying for - a Constitutional Amendment that would bring democracy to millions of voteless women in his own country. Representative William Stafford, Republican of Wisconsin, called the Sentinels' peaceful picketing "outlawry," and Rep. Walsh referred to the pickets as "bewildered, deluded creatures with short skirts and short hair."
The fight for creation of the committee was led by Rep. Edward Pou, Democrat of North Carolina, and Rep. Jeannette Rankin, Republican of Montana. After quoting some State Constitutions to show how hard it would be for women to win suffrage in some States, Rep. Rankin told her fellow House members :
"Perhaps it is news to you to know that some of the women of the United States can never be enfranchised except by Federal Amendment. Constitutions of the States are such that it is practically impossible to amend them."
She used New Mexico as an example. That State requires 3/4 of all the votes cast, and a 2/3 majority in every county to amend its constitution through a referendum. Representative Pou, who chairs the House Rules Committee, said that President Wilson had written a letter to him in which the President said that he was in favor of a Suffrage Committee in the House. A skeptical Rep. Edwin Webb, Democrat of North Carolina, who heads the House Judiciary Committee, challenged Pou to produce the letter, which he did.
Both major parties went on record in 1916 as favoring woman suffrage on a State-by-State basis, and President Wilson is personally in favor of suffrage, but unwilling to use his considerable influence on his fellow Democrats to push the Anthony Amendment through Congress. So, pressure on President Wilson to declare passage of the Amendment a "War Measure," and on both parties to endorse nationwide suffrage, as well as on individual members of Congress to vote in favor of the Anthony Amendment will continue.
Carrie Chapman Catt and the National American Woman Suffrage Association will lobby their traditional way, while Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party will continue with their more militant tactics, and the combination of the two approaches should produce even more favorable results. The "Silent Sentinel" campaign continues, and as the House was voting today, four more pickets were arrested.
September 25, 1932 : A new weapon used in the war on women in the workforce was denounced tonight by Civil Service Commissioner Jessie Dell at a meeting sponsored by the National Woman's Party at Alva Belmont House, in Washington, D.C. Section 213 of the Economy Act of 1932 was allegedly passed to try to spread Civil Service jobs around to as many families as possible during the current economic crisis. It declares that if cutbacks are needed, those who have spouses working for the Government must be dismissed first, and if new positions become available, priority must go to those who do not have Federally employed spouses.
Dell noted that the original bill called for the dismissal of wives only, but at the last minute, due to "fear, on the part of legislators, of the political effect, if discrimination against women were otherwise so clearly and forcibly shown," the text was changed to make it neutral in regard to gender. But the change was purely cosmetic. Since men hold the vast majority of the higher ranking positions, virtually all husbands earn more than their wives, so if cutbacks require a family to live on just one salary, it is invariably the lower-paid wife who will resign to protect the higher-paid husband’s job, not vice versa.
Dell also noted that if keeping a family from having too many Government jobs is the aim, why not prohibit fathers and sons from being simultaneously employed, or any two family members living in the same household ? She said that the real purpose of the law was "to strike at the employment of women generally" and that "this strange freak of legislation is merely a reaction against the employment of women on the part of men who, after all the remarkable work women have done, still cannot push aside their biased opinions and honestly consider the real good of the service."
Prejudice against married women in the workforce is nothing new, of course. The most obvious examples are strict bans on women teachers marrying, which were widespread decades before the current Depression hit, and are by no means extinct today. But hostility toward the employment of wives in general has skyrocketed with the unemployment rate, and has now been formally enshrined in Federal law.
The new law states : “In any reduction of personnel in any branch or service of the United States Government or the District of Columbia, married persons (living with husband or wife) employed in the class to be reduced, shall be dismissed before any other persons employed in such class are dismissed, if such husband and wife is also in the service of the United States or the District of Columbia. In the appointment of persons to the classified civil service, preference shall be given to persons other than married persons living with husband or wife, such husband or wife being in the service of the United States or the District of Columbia.”
Section 213 violates the principle of Civil Service employment being based solely on merit, and is anti-marriage as well. Already there are reports of working couples cohabitating instead of marrying and secret marriages, as well as separations and divorces among those already married, so that both partners can evade dismissal.
Civil Service Commissioner Dell urged women to "get busy and set in operation forces which will hasten the repeal movement." She said that the law could be repealed, but only if there was "enlightened sentiment and crystallized public disapproval." The National Woman's Party intends to be at the forefront of the battle, and expects to succeed.
September 26, 1968 : An amazing victory for the National Woman's Party today, in a struggle which caused some of the country's youngest feminists to unite with suffragists who had fought for the vote half a century ago. Their common purpose was to save the N.W.P.'s headquarters, historic Alva Belmont House, and the property immediately surrounding it. A bill had been introduced in Congress to take 2/3 of the N.W.P.'s land for a driveway to serve a proposed new Senate Office Building extension. After getting approved in the Senate, the bill was just a quick House vote and a Presidential signature away from enactment.
The National Woman's Party, whose members picketed the White House from 1917 to 1919, and endured jail sentences, hunger strikes, and force-feedings in a campaign to pressure President Wilson into becoming an active suffrage advocate, wasn't about to be intimidated by any of today's politicians. So when confiscation of most of their land - and even structures attached to the main house - was threatened, N.W.P. members vowed that if it became necessary, they would use the same civil disobedience tactics in 1968 as in 1918. New feminist groups, such as the National Organization for Women and other Women's Liberation organizations then offered to help. Barbara Ireton, president of the local N.O.W. chapter, promised a ring of women around the building to protect it if a condemnation bill passed.
A week ago, a preliminary victory was won when House Majority Whip Hale Boggs, Democrat of Louisiana, informed Alice Paul, the N.W.P.'s founder and honorary chair, that the vote would be postponed. At the same time, Patricia McDonald, accompanied by fifteen college students and recent graduates, arrived in town, and they began personally lobbying the House members about the historic status of Belmont House. According to McDonald : "No hearings have ever been held, in either the House or the Senate, so we knew the members of Congress didn't know anything about the house and its history."
Today's victory was complete when the House voted to kill the bill. Alice Paul said : "It is indeed a relief. It is almost unheard of for the House to vote against the Senate on a measure that affects the internal problems of the other house. A very unusual procedure."
But Belmont house is also very unusual. It has been the headquarters - and officers' living quarters - for the National Woman's Party since it was donated to them in 1929 by Alva Belmont. Now the entire property, which contains one of the oldest houses on Capitol Hill, will remain in the N.W.P.'s hands. So all of the N.W.P.'s efforts can once again be concentrated on getting Congress to approve, then 38 States to ratify, the Equal Rights Amendment, written by Alice Paul, and first introduced into Congress in 1923 !
September 27, 1914 : Alice Paul's "Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage" is now fighting on three fronts. In addition to their traditional conflicts with anti-suffrage forces, and their recently declared war on Democrats, who have the power to pass the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment in Congress, but have refused to do so, there is now open hostility being expressed toward the C.U. and its militant tactics by the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Alice Paul was formerly in charge of N.A.W.S.A.'s Congressional Committee, but after coordinating their massive suffrage march in Washington, D.C. on March 3rd of last year, there was increasing dissension between N.A.W.S.A's conservative and militant factions. So Paul created an independent group, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, in order to pursue her goal of getting the Anthony Amendment approved by Congress and the States using whatever tactics seemed best at any particular time without asking N.A.W.S.A.'s approval.
The top priority for the C.U. at the moment is working against Democratic Congressional candidates in the nine suffrage States of the West where women can vote. On September 14th they began sending speakers with carloads of literature to the districts where Democrats will be up for election in November hoping to get the West's four million women voters to replace them with Republicans. Another massive shipment of literature for the Western campaign left today, according to C.U. members who spoke to the press at their headquarters tonight.
The tactic of holding the party in power responsible for blocking suffrage is one Alice Paul learned from her time in England when she worked with the militants there. She has certainly given the Democrats a chance to gain her favor. She sent numerous delegations to meet with President Wilson, but has yet to get any kind of support for the Anthony Amendment, because the President considers women’s voting rights a matter for each State to decide. Meanwhile in Congress, Democrats continue to block passage of the Amendment.
While Alice Paul has become more militant, N.A.W.S.A. has become even more conservative. It originally just wanted to postpone pushing for the Anthony Amendment until more States have been won for suffrage, so the women there could pressure their members of Congress to pass it. But in March it endorsed another Amendment as well. The Shafroth-Palmer Amendment, even if enacted, would not directly grant the vote to any woman, but would mandate a suffrage referendum if 8% of a State's registered (male) voters petitioned for one. It would satisfy Southern Democrats who take a "States' rights" position, but clearly is not a realistic path to nationwide suffrage. Paul thinks that Federal action is the best strategy, the time is now, and that scarce resources can best be spent putting direct pressure on the small number of men who serve in Congress to pass the Anthony Amendment rather than trying to convince a majority of the male voters in the 39 States where women do not have equal suffrage to vote in favor of expensive, exhausting, and often unsuccessful suffrage referenda.
Needless to say, the conflicts that have become apparent in the suffrage movement have not escaped the attention of anti-suffragists. Mrs. Arthur (Josephine Jewell) Dodge, president of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage said today :
"On the one hand we see the Congressional Union, headed by Miss Alice Paul, declaring indiscriminate war against all Democrats because a Democratic Congress has refused to amend the legislation. On the other hand we see Dr. Anna Shaw, President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, repudiating all connection with the Congressional Union, and even going so far as to announce that the union is not a member of the National Association .... From Kansas, Miss Cora G. Lewis, a member of the Kansas Board of Administration, wired Dr. Shaw last Tuesday asking whether two representatives of the Congressional Union working in Kansas had the endorsement of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Dr. Shaw's response was an emphatic negative. The truth of the matter seems to be that the country is confronted with the spectacle of several bands or groups of women quarreling among themselves, unable to determine whom they shall oppose or what they shall advocate, making speeches that contradict each other, and altogether creating a confusion which, in its final results, will wreck an altogether futile propaganda."
But interestingly enough, on the same day that Dodge was writing yet another obituary for the suffrage movement, it appears on the verge of inheriting great wealth. It was learned today that Carrie Chapman Catt has been named trustee of a large fortune left by the late Miriam Leslie, and the money - estimated at somewhere between one and a half and two million dollars - is to be spent as Catt sees fit in the interests of woman suffrage. Though it will take a while for the will to work its way through the courts, once the money is released for distribution it will give an incredible boost to suffrage activity and make for a much more even match between suffragists and the anti-suffrage groups which benefit from generous contributions by liquor interests fearful of prohibition laws being enacted if woman suffrage wins.
September 28, 1918 : Seventy years into the battle for the ballot, a major setback today for suffrage forces just as they came tantalizingly close to final victory in Congress. Though aware that a single vote was still lacking for approval of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment in the Senate, hopes had been high until today that somehow that 64th vote could be won. Coupled with the House's approval on January 10th, the Amendment would then go to the States for approval.
But today the task of conversion became twice as hard when Senator Christie Benet, Democrat of South Carolina, announced to the surprise of all that he would be voting against the Anthony Amendment. The revised tally now stands at 34 opposed and 62 in favor, leaving suffragists a seemingly insurmountable two votes short of the 2/3 needed in the 96-member Senate. The measure has been a partisan issue for some time. Counting today's defection, there are now 30 out of 52 Democrats in favor (57.7%), while 32 out of 44 Republicans (72.7%) are still supporters.
With midterm elections coming up, and tensions running high, there have been a number of unusually caustic comments made on the Senate floor regarding the suffrage battle. Yesterday, Senator Key Pittman, Democrat of Nevada, a strong supporter of suffrage, accused Republicans of entering into an alliance with the National Woman's Party to embarrass Democrats just before the election. Senator Pittman accused Senator Reed Smoot of Utah of deliberately overestimating Republican suffrage strength so that Senate suffrage supporters would think that the Amendment would pass, and call it up for a vote. At that point the Amendment would be defeated, and the National Woman's Party would be able to once again drive home to women voters in Western suffrage States the fact that Republicans voted for it by well over a 2/3 majority, and Democrats defeated it by voting for it by much less than a 2/3 majority. Senator Smoot denied that he had ever told suffrage lobbyists that there were 33 Republican votes for suffrage, and many bitter speeches by Senators of both parties followed.
One example of the tenor of the rhetoric came from suffrage opponent Senator James Reed, Democrat of Missouri, who resents the power that suffrage organizations and their leaders have acquired over the years. He said yesterday : "The Senate of the United States does not want a female or male boss outside, or any boss except the people of the United States, and I include in that every official of the Government - I include the Cabinet and the President. But here we have a situation where a petticoat brigade waits outside, and the Senate sends out its leaders, like little boys, like pages, to these women to receive their orders. Put on cap and bells if you are to do that, and get a stick carried by the court fool of the Middle Ages, and go and do your truckling in a proper garb."
All efforts by pro-suffrage Senators to bring the Anthony Amendment to a vote have been abandoned for now, and new strategies are being considered. But unless something changes, suffrage supporters must either wait until a new and more supportive Congress is seated, or face a certain defeat for the measure if it's brought up in this one. Either way, the struggle will go on.
September 28, 1945 : The Equal Rights Amendment bandwagon just keeps picking up supporters ! E.R.A.’s newest endorsement was revealed today at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing, when a letter from Dennis Cardinal Dougherty, Archbishop of Philadelphia, was read to the panel. The letter was originally sent to Dr. Mary Sinclair Crawford and Mrs. Cecil Norton Broy on September 22nd, and said :
"Apropos of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, according to which it is proposed to give women full constitutional rights, I am glad to hear from you that His Excellency, President Truman, and also the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives are heartily in favor of this amendment. Personally I agree with them in this matter."
He was referring to President Truman’s recent reaffirmation of his support for the E.R.A., given at a meeting with National Woman’s Party members on September 21st. The President’s support for the E.R.A. goes back at least as far as the days when he was a Senator. In April, 1944, he sent a letter to Emma Guffey Miller, a member of the Democratic National Committee, who was about to address a national convention of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. In it he said : “Say to them that I am in sympathy with their fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, because I think it will improve the standard of living by setting a level on wages equal for both sexes. I have no fear of its effect on the home life of the American people.”
The E.R.A. was written by Alice Paul, introduced into Congress in December, 1923, and was first subject to hearings by the House Judiciary Subcommittee just two months later. The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held its first E.R.A. hearing on February 4, 1925.
In the years since, it has made steady progress, gaining the support of 16 national organizations and over 300 local ones. It received the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 11, 1942, and that of the House Judiciary Committee on March 31st of this year. Both major political parties support it.
Opponents who testified at today’s hearings, such as Frank Donner, of the C.I.O., said the E.R.A. would "overturn long-established and deeply rooted interests which are based upon present laws in the fields of title, transfer and descent of real estate, community property, domicile, public morals and domestic relations, and remove from family and other relations a protective mantle which has evolved through the centuries."
Others said that it would eliminate “protective” labor laws that apply to women only. But proponents noted that these laws were actually more restrictive than protective, and ought to be eliminated. It was further noted that discriminatory statutes were so numerous that only a Constitutional Amendment could either wipe them out or force them to be changed to apply to women and men equally. A list of 1,101 State laws that discriminate on the basis of sex was presented as proof of the immensity of the job that would be required to fix these laws one at a time.
The Equal Rights Amendment states that : “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” and would be the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.
September 29, 1906 : "Equal pay for equal work !" That was the demand today by the 4,000 women in New York City's Interborough Teachers' Association. Having gotten nowhere with the Board of Education, they're now planning to go to the State Legislature. At present, women's elementary school teaching salaries start at $600 a year, and can rise to a maximum of $1,440 after 11 years if they pass extra examinations. Male teachers begin with a salary of $900 a year, and can reach $2,400 after 11 years if they pass the same extra examinations.
However, a woman teacher who teaches a boys' class can earn a $60 a year bonus, though for many that isn't nearly enough. District Superintendent Grace Strachan says that women teachers who switch to boys' classes often quickly demand to be transferred back. According to Kate Hogan, the I.T.A's President, it is with the hardy group of women who continue to teach boys that the battle for equality will begin :
"We are going to be true to our cry, 'equal pay for equal work,' in our fight. The work of equalization of salaries will be principally in making the salary of a teacher of a boys' class equal to that of a man teacher." But that's only the beginning. "When we started our campaign for 'equal pay for equal work,' we announced that all women in the system would profit by it, and they will," Hogan said today, as reassurance to the women who prefer to teach girls.
One powerful ally in their fight may be President Theodore Roosevelt. Six years ago, when he was still Governor of New York, he signed the Davis Act, an educational reform passed by the State Legislature. At the time he expressed disapproval of the provision setting a wide discrepancy between the salaries paid to male and female teachers, but since it was highly unlikely that the bill could be revised, the differences were narrower than those which existed at the time, and both sexes had their salaries raised, he gave the bill his signature, hoping the flaws could be fixed in the future.
But six years later, the problem of unequal pay for women teachers is still unresolved. Last year, a dissident faction of the Class Teachers' Association led the campaign. They sent out a circular saying :
"The time is ripe to establish the principle of equal pay for equal work. Why should a woman's minimum annual salary be $ 300 less than a man's, and why should her maximum salary be $ 960 less than a man's ? The women teachers do the same work, are exempt from no rules or duties, and most of them have fathers, mothers, sisters, or brothers dependent upon them. Why, then, should women not receive the same salaries ? Let us make a strong, united effort to bring about a consummation of what is so manifestly just."
This year it is the I.T.A. that has become militant. The Board of Education was given the power to equalize pay, but did not do so this Spring when the women made a strong, united appeal. Their proposal was rejected without a single dissenting vote. Now the teachers have decided to go directly to the highest lawmaking body in the State, and the one that passed the Davis Act in the first place. Since they do not want the Act itself repealed, only amended in regard to equal salaries, they think that they have a chance of success, and have already gotten support from some legislators.
A mass meeting will be held on Saturday, October 6th, in the old City College of New York Building, on 23rd Street, to determine how to proceed with the campaign. All those supportive of "equal pay for equal work" should attend. A victory in this fight will not just bring economic justice to New York's women teachers, but hopefully start a national trend, resulting in "equal pay for equal work" for women in all fields of endeavor while this new Century is still young.
September 30, 1918 : It was as unexpected as it was stunning when President Wilson came into the Senate at 1:00 this afternoon and spoke eloquently and unequivocally for fifteen minutes on the necessity and justice of that body voting in favor of the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. It has already been approved by the House, which did so by a one vote margin on January 10th of this year, the day after President Wilson first gave the Anthony Amendment his endorsement. But the Senate had been postponing action, and because Democrats constitute 22 of the 34 votes pledged to vote against it, only 33 of which are needed to defeat the measure, a pep-talk by a Democratic President was welcomed by all factions of the suffrage movement.
In his address, he went so far as to call it a "War Measure," the highest priority that a President can assign to legislation he wishes to be passed. He said, in part :
"I regard the concurrence of the Senate in the constitutional amendment proposing the extension of the suffrage to women as vitally essential to the successful prosecution of this great war of humanity in which we are engaged ..... It is my duty to win the war and to ask you to remove every obstacle that stands in the way of winning it. I had assumed that the Senate would concur in the amendment because no disputable principle is involved but only a question of the method by which the suffrage is to be extended to women ...
“This is a people's war and the people's thinking constitutes its atmosphere and morale, not the predilections of the drawing room or the political considerations of the caucus. If we be indeed Democrats and wish to lead the world to democracy, we can ask other peoples to accept in proof of our sincerity and our ability to lead them whither they wish to be led nothing less persuasive and convincing than our actions. Our professions will not suffice. Verification must be forthcoming when verification is asked for ...
“This war could not have been fought, either by the other nations engaged or by America, if it had not been for the services of women - services rendered in every sphere - not merely in the fields of effort in which we have been accustomed to see them work, but wherever men have worked and upon the very skirts and edges of the battle itself. We shall not only be distrusted but shall deserve to be distrusted if we do not enfranchise them with the fullest possible enfranchisement, as it is now certain that the other great free nations will enfranchise them ... The executive tasks of this war rest upon me. I ask that you lighten them and place in my hands instruments, spiritual instruments, which I do not now possess, which I sorely need, and which I have daily to apologize for not being able to employ."
President Wilson's journey from a position of woman suffrage being a matter for the States to decide for themselves, to "sympathy for the cause" but no specific endorsement of the Anthony Amendment, to endorsement but no action, and finally to today's vigorous lobbying for the Amendment on the eve of a crucial vote, has been a long and trying one. Ever since his first inauguration in 1913, all suffragists have been urging him to use his considerable influence to get the amendment through successive Democratic Congresses and sent to the States for ratification.
Alice Paul and other members of the National Woman's Party began engaging in peaceful protests outside the White House fence on January 10, 1917, and have suffered arrests, imprisonment, brutality by guards, and force-feedings by prison doctors for publicly pointing out Wilson's previous hypocrisy of strongly promoting democracy around the world while doing nothing to bring it to the female half of his own country. This summer they began protesting Senate inaction as well as Wilson’s insufficient support, and on September 16th they staged a colorful protest at the Lafayette Monument. The next day, thanks to such tactics - plus the more traditional lobbying of Carrie Chapman Catt and N.A.W.S.A. – the Senate suddenly decided to schedule a vote for October 1st.
While the National Woman's Party has not yet commented on today's speech, Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and who had personally asked Wilson to address the Senate, said :
"No country has paid so great a tribute to its women as was paid the women of our country today, when the President of the United States entreated the Senate to pause no longer in the passage of the Federal amendment. He perceives that the new faith in the ultimate outcome of the war, that exultation of spirit which would come to women through the recognition of their political equality, would bring into the war spiritual forces not now engaged. The President today took a stand for human liberty which no man can gainsay."
Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, N.A.W.S.A.’s previous president, also praised Wilson :
"For more than forty years I have devoted my life to securing the ballot for women because I have always believed it to be a fundamental principle of right and justice, but from this day I have the authority of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy. Although the patriotism of American women will always lead them to devoted service for their country, the fact that their country recognizes the justice of their claim to political freedom will hearten and encourage them in service as nothing else can."
Whether his speech will change the outcome of tomorrow's vote remains to be seen. Southern Democrats, now the principal bottleneck to nationwide woman suffrage, seem as vehemently opposed as ever, judging by some of their speeches today following Wilson's speech. As “States Rights” advocates, they tend to oppose Constitutional Amendments in general, and are particularly opposed to endorsing this one because it is race-neutral, and Section Two gives Congress the right to pass appropriate legislation to enforce the voting rights it would grant to all women, something they see as a potential threat to “white rule.”
Though lobbying by pro-suffrage Senators of their colleagues continues, not a single Senator of either party has yet announced a shift to the suffrage side. So, the tally at the end of the day is still what it was this morning : Sixty-one in favor, thirty-four against, and one doubtful, but leaning toward suffrage. Sixty-four of the ninety-six Senators must vote in favor of a Constitutional Amendment in order for it to pass by the 2/3 majority required if all are present. The party lineup tonight is as follows : 29 Democrats in favor, 22 opposed (57% support) ; 32 Republicans in favor, and 12 opposed (73% support), with Senator Martin, Democrat of Kentucky, leaning toward suffrage, but still uncommitted.
Knowing a vote today would be a defeat, Senator Jones, Democrat of New Mexico, the Anthony Amendment's sponsor, wisely moved for a recess until tomorrow. A vote will be taken then, with everyone on the suffrage side - including the President of the United States - having done their best to get a favorable result.
If Senator Martin votes as expected, and two votes can somehow be changed overnight, the Anthony Amendment will be sent to the States, with 36 approvals needed to make woman suffrage the law of the land. If the amendment is rejected tomorrow, then the National Woman's Party's campaign to elect Republicans and unseat Democrats in November's election will become even more intense, and the National American Woman Suffrage Association's rumored “back-up plan” of targeting four specific anti-suffrage Senators for defeat will likely be implemented. Either way, victory in Congress seems to be approaching, the only question is whether it will be tomorrow, or after some long overdue changes are made in the composition of the Senate after the November election.