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Women's Suffrage Celebrated

Women's Suffrage Celebrated


Wednesday marks the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women in the United States the right to vote.

The Commercial Appeal
of Memphis recalls how a mother's urging pushed Tennessee to become the 36th state to ratify the amendment, and thus qualify it for addition to the U.S. Constitution.

Thanks to a letter from a mother to Harry Burn, her legislator son, the Tennessee house of representatives approved the resolution for the Nineteenth Amendment by a single vote on August 18, 1920, more than 70 years after the women's suffrage movement was launched at the Seneca Falls convention in New York.

"Tennessee's Senate had already approved it, but after several votes in the House, the issue was deadlocked," reports the Commercial Appeal. "As the debate continued, Burn (who had earlier spoken against the amendment) opened a letter from his mother urging him to vote for it. He did.

"The National Archives continued: 'The next day, Harry Burn explained his vote to angry opponents: 'I believe in full suffrage as a right. I believe we had a moral and legal right to ratify. I know that a mother's advice is always safest for her boy to follow, and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.'"

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