Unsung Hero of
the Suffrage Movement

One Mom can make all the difference! As we wind down Women’s History Month, we cannot forget the mother who was responsible for the passage of the 19th Amendment.

By the summer of 1920, 35 states had ratified the 19th Amendment, bringing it one vote short of the required 36. It all came down to Tennessee and thousands of pro- and anti-suffrage activists had descended on Nashville where weeks of intense lobbying and debate went on in the Tennessee legislature. It seemed certain that the final roll call on a motion to table the amendment would maintain the deadlock, ringing the death knell for the 19th Amendment.

But that morning, the youngest legislator, 24 year-old Harry Burn received a note from his mother, Phoebe Ensminger Burn, saying, “Hurrah, and vote for suffrage!” and imploring her son to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.” And thus, Burn changed his stance to an “aye” vote and the 19th amendment was ratified!

Read the full story here.

Learn more about the Suffrage Movement generally from Ninth Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown’s conversation with Elaine Weiss, author of The Woman’s Hour. Watch the The Great Unfinished Fight: A Conversation on the History and Legacy of the 19th Amendment on the ABA’s 19th Amendment Commission website.

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