Tomorrow is Election Day. The choices may not be all we’d wish, but our grandmothers went through a lot to win us the right to vote.
Wikipedia reminds us that:
On the night of November 15, 1917, the superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, W.H. Whittaker, ordered the nearly forty guards to brutalize the suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, then left her there for the night. They threw Dora Lewis into a dark cell and smashed her head against an iron bed, which knocked her out. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, who believed Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, guards grabbed, dragged, beat, choked, pinched, and kicked other women.
Newspapers carried stories about how the protesters were being treated. The stories angered some Americans and subsequently created more support for the suffrage amendment. On November 27 and 28, all the protesters were released, including Alice Paul after spending five weeks in prison. Later, in March 1918, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declared all the suffrage arrests, trials, and punishments has been unconstitutional.
On January 9, 1918, Wilson announced his support of the women’s suffrage amendment. The next day, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the amendment but the Senate refused to even debate it until October. When the Senate voted on the amendment in October, it failed by two votes. And in spite of the ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arrests of White House protesters resumed on August 6, 1918.
To keep up the pressure, on December 16, 1918, protesters started burning Wilson’s words in watch fires in front of the White House. On February 9, 1919, the protesters burned Wilson’s image in effigy at the White House.
On another front, the National Woman’s Party, led by Paul, urged citizens to vote against anti-suffrage senators up for election in the fall of 1918. After the 1918 election, most members of Congress were pro-suffrage. On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later on June 4, the Senate finally followed. With their work done in Congress, the protesters turned their attention to getting the states to ratify the amendment.
It was ratified on August 18, 1920, upon its ratification by Tennessee, the thirty-sixth state to do so by the single vote of a legislator who had opposed the amendment but changed the position after his mother sent him a telegram saying “Dear Son, Hurrah! and vote for suffrage. Don’t forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt [Carrie Chapman Catt] put the ‘rat’ in ratification.”
I’ll be getting up a little bit early tomorrow morning to go vote. I shan’t be gone long. You come too.