There were some really accomplished American ladies of the early twentieth century that opposed the constitutional amendment that gave women the right to vote. Amongst them was a pioneer in journalism, a college founder, and a suffragist who – along with Susan B. Anthony – were on the front lines.
Elaine Weiss noted that a female activist almost defeated the 19th Amendment in 1920 and she was shocked to know that it was a woman who was championing the fight against freedom of the women folk. Both houses of congress voted in favor allowing women vote in 1919. However, it needed the 36 out of the 48 legislators to agree with it for it to be law.
It was Tennessee’s turn after 35 states had passed the amendment and another 12 had either rejected or refused to vote on it. Charlotte Rowe, a top anti strategist noted that they were determined to ensure that women don’t descend to the level of men. Annie Nathan Meyer at the age of 22 almost founded Barnard College as the women’s affiliate of Columbia University on her own. She was of the opinion that if women got into the type of dirty politics that dominated the political realm, women would lose their influence.
The mother of investigative journalism, Fearless muckraker Ida Tarbell blasted what she said was our stupid and confused meaning of equality. She pointed out that exterior forces such as ballots, trousers and the study of Greek could never make both sexes equal.
In 1920, Eleanor Roosevelt, a first lady of the United States was rather meek politically and wasn’t even interested in winning a vote for herself.
She noted that she just took it for granted that men were more politically inclined and just took it that they knew more about politics than women did. She even refused to cast a ballot when a state referendum offered New York women the right to vote in the 1918 election. There were some racists Antis involved as well. Laura Clay of Kentucky battled for suffrage alongside Susan B. Anthony’s but she wasn’t fighting for all women, she wanted the voting rights to be restricted to only the white women.
The properly organized suffragists had already done some strong lobbying to seek solid support all through the Tennessee. The Democrats from the progressive Memphis and the republicans from the Appalachian hill country favored the amendment. Although the House of Representatives was bitterly divided, it passed easily in the state Senate, 25 to 4.
In the end, it was dependent on the vote cast by Harry Burn, a 24-year old youngster, an obedient son and the youngest member of the legislature. He received a letter from his mother that morning and it read: “Hurrah and vote for suffrage, and don’t leave them in doubt.”
Weiss wrote; Suffs rose to their feet in the gallery and roared while abuses were hurled by the Antis. Burn ducked out in a window and tiptoed his way out of the legislative library.
The suffrage movement splintered immediately the right to vote was enshrined in the US Constitution. The Antis learned how to vote in a manner that the Suffs didn’t. They moved to anti-communism from anti-suffrage. They also went against anything they perceived as state-imposed social engineering.