Government Legislation

Final Act In The Suffrage Fight

Washington D.C., August 26 -- The proclamation announcing officially that the suffrage amendment to the constitution had been ratified was signed today by Secretary Colby of the state department. The document was signed at 8 o'clock this morning at Mr. Colby's home when the certificate from Governor Roberts that the Tennessee legislature had ratified the amendment was received. Secretary Colby announced his action on his arrival at his office later.

The announcement disappointed a group of suffrage workers from headquarters of the national woman's party who had gathered at the state department, hoping to be present when Mr. Colby attached his signature to the proclamation. Miss Alice Paul, chairman of the party, was among the number.

"We are confident that the signature of Secretary Colby completes the suffrage struggle in this country," she said. "In spite of every obstacle that our opponents could put in our way, women have won the right to an equal voice in the affairs of this government. The woman's party will not relax its vigilance, however, until it is satisfied that no further attempts will be made to wrest from the women of the United States the political quality which they have won."

A suffrage jollification was planned for tonight.

Secretary Colby later sent word to the woman's party headquarters that he would see the suffrage leaders at his office if they desired. Word was sent back that Miss Paul was preparing to leave for New York; that the other leaders already had returned to their homes and the invitation could not be accepted.

Secretary Colby had prepared a statement regarding ratification of the suffrage amendment which he had planned to read to the officials of the national woman's party, had they accepted the invitation. The women gave evidence of keen disappointment in not having had an opportunity to make something of a ceremony out of the signing of the proclamation and went back to headquarters, planning an independence jubilation.

"When the secretary's invitation to return to his office was declined, another party of suffrage leaders appeared at the department. They were officials and members of the National American Woman Suffrage association, headed by Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt. The invitation to hear Mr. Colby's statement was promptly accepted by this group and they filed into his office for the purpose.

[Published August 26, 1920; submitted by Ann]

To Get Out The Woman Vote

Des Moines, Ia., August 27 -- Iowa suffragists plan to put in the time during the remaining weeks before election in urging the women to get out and vote and in perfecting their organization so that every woman voter in the state will know as much or more about the politics of the state and nation before election day as her an franchised spouse.

No special celebrations have been announced here as yet over the official ratification of the suffrage amendment and the proclamation announcing its ratification, signed Friday by Secretary Colby at Washington. However, ardent suffragists organizations in various localities are reported as planning jubilees.

The local workers are having flyers printed to distribute to the visitors at the state fair, announcing the fact that women can now vote and urging Iowa women to accept every opportunity to inform themselves on the political questions and candidates to be passed upon this fall.

It is possible that Gov. W.L. Harding will make a formal announcement on or possibly issue a proclamation calling attention to the fact that woman suffrage has passed.

[Published August 27, 1920; submitted by Ann]

The Women's Suffrage Movement

The movement for the enfranchisement of woman first found place in Iowa's legislative journals in 1866 when the general assembly ordered an inquiry as to the expediency of striking out the word "male" from the state constitution. Two years later steps were taken looking toward the proposed change. In 1870 the battle seemed won! Then began a notable series of seesaws between the two houses.

In 1878 both houses indefinitely postponed the proposed amendment. The battle now seemed lost!

In 1880 women were given a vote on expenditure of money for school buildings, etc.

In 1882 the legislature was for the amendment; in 1884 it would do nothing.

In 1886 and in 1888 the seesaw was resumed, and the subject was treated as a joke.

Complimentary but unmeaning votes followed until 1913, when both houses passed the measure, the Senate by sixteen and the House by fifty-five majority! With this strong endorsement, from the Thirty-fifth General Assembly, the Thirty-sixth early took up the question and passed the amendment on to the voters of Iowa. A suffrage amendment was presented to voters at the primary election in June, 1916, and was voted down by a majority of over 10,000.

Before passing to other themes, mention should be made of the pioneer women of Iowa, prominent among whom were Mrs. Savery, Mrs. Bloomer, Mrs. Callanan, Mrs. Coggeshall, Mrs. Cattell and Mrs. Wright, who in their respective personalities refute the assertion that no true, womanly woman wants the suffrage. These bore aloft the banner of equal suffrage when their cause throughout the nation was the object of rude assault and unmanly ridicule. None of them lived to see the fruition of their hopes; but every one of them died in the confident expectation that it would not be long delayed. With the defeat of the amendment, the suffragists bravely inaugurated a movement for the resubmission of the amendment.

Iowa, Its History & Its Citizens, Volume 2, 1918
Submitted by Cathy Danielson

Women Win Right To Vote

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution states that voting rights "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. "Ratified August 26, 1920, it gave all U.S. women full voting rights. Before the 19th Amendment, women had voting rights in every state west of the Mississippi River except Louisiana and New Mexico, as well as in many states to the east. Some states offered full suffrage, others limited it to presidential elections or primaries. Nations that passed women's suffrage before the United States include New Zealand in 1893; Australia, 1902; Finland, 1906; Norway, 1913; Denmark, 1915; the Netherlands and the Soviet Union, 1917; Canada and Luxembourg, 1918; Austria, Czechoxlovakia, Germany, Poland and Sweden, 1919.

[Gannett News Service; submitted by Ann]

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