Tennessee State Library and Archives

“Remember the Ladies!”: Women Struggle for an Equal Voice

introduction | the beginning | the struggle | the payoff

The Struggle

Suffragettes in decorated automobile, n.d., Carrie Chapman Catt Photograph Suffragettes in decorated automobile, n.d., Carrie Chapman Catt Photographs
In an automobile bedecked with flowers and greenery, Nashville women campaign for the right to vote.  Reproduction of image from the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA.  Used by permission.
National Suffrage Convention Pamphlet, 1914, Library Collection
The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) held its annual convention in Nashville in 1914.  The heated debate ended with a resolution to support the Susan B. Anthony Amendment by “every means within its power.”
Boys, Decide between us and booze, ca. 1910, Looking Back At Tennessee Collection
Martin College students rally in Pulaski, Giles County, for Prohibition.  At first, the women’s suffrage and Prohibition movements attracted many of the same people, though by the 1910s they had split over philosophical outlooks.
"Truth crushed to the Earth will rise again" is illustrated, 1920, Josephine A. Pearson Papers
At the Anti’s headquarters in the Hermitage Hotel, representatives of the Southern Women’s League for the Rejection of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment display the colors of the Union and the Lost Cause.  An elderly Confederate veteran sits in the middle.  Portraits of Andrew and Rachel Jackson hang on either side of the scene.
The Sifter, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
“The Sifter” sorts Pro-suffrage and Anti-suffrage politicians through the sieve of the 19th Amendment.  In this cartoon, the “Suffs” are doomed to political extinction. Tumbling to the ground are such famous men as President Woodrow Wilson, future President Warren G. Harding, former President William Howard Taft, and future Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes.
Declaration of Principles, n.d., Josephine A. Pearson Papers
Principle No. 4 has obvious racial overtones as it asserts the continuation of Anglo-Saxon (white) supremacy.  The Anti-Suffragists feared that African American women might want to vote if the Amendment became law.
Why We Oppose Votes For Women, n.d., Josephine A. Pearson PapersThe Antis believed that the suffrage movement represented a social step backward—civilization was at stake!
Home!, n.d., Josephine A. Pearson Papers
Jilted for the vote?  The Anti-Suffs predicted the demise of marriage and motherhood if women were given the right to vote.  Here, a man returns home to find his two daughters deserted by their mother who is out campaigning for suffrage.
America When Feminized, n.d., Josephine A. Pearson Papers
Mother hen walks out on her eggs leaving the rooster to set them.  According to the Anti-Suff literature, giving women the right to vote would make men “sissies” and doom civilization.
Antisuffragists, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Photographs
Anti-Suff forces gather at The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, during the Amendment fight.  Tennessee Anti-Suff activist Josephine Pearson stands in the center of the front row.  The women saw themselves as patriots who were protecting society against the feminization of men.  Reproduction of image from the Carrie Chapman
Catt Papers at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA. 
Used by permission.
Please!, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
PLEASE! begs the suffragist while the Tennessee General Assembly argues ratification of the 19th Amendment.  Governor Roberts had called the legislature back into session in August 1920 to consider suffrage for state and local elections.  Tennessee women had been allowed to vote for president since 1919.
Anti-Suffrage Answers, n.d., Josephine A. Pearson Papers
Anti-Suffrage talking points include the declaration “Government is MAN’S work.”
Office of Anti Ratification Headquarters in the Hotel Hermitage, 1920, Josephine A. Pearson Papers
Strategizing in the front office at Anti-Ratification headquarters, Hermitage Hotel, August 1920.
The "Melting-Pot," n.d., Carrie Chapman Catt Photographs
Suffragists considered themselves just as devoted to the nation as the Antis. Here, as a fundraiser, women contribute jewelry to the movement. American flags were prominent during such rallies as each side tried to claim the mantle of patriotism. Reproduction of image from the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA. Used by permission.
Still Trying To Button It Up, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
Uncle Sam tries to secure the 36th button on national suffrage.  Thirty-six states were required to ratify the Amendment before it became law. Look closely at his wife’s dress and you can see a map of the United States at the top of the western hemisphere.
Marching Suffragettes, ca. 1915, Sadie Warner Frazer Papers
Women march for the right to vote in this Nashville parade.
Anxious Moments, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
Casting a line that gets snared in a tree, the women’s suffrage cause tries to reel in the right to vote.  This cartoon appeared in an Alabama newspaper during the Tennessee fight for votes.
Hope At Last!, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
National Suffrage climbs the ratification cliff while grabbing a strong hold on Tennessee.  The country focused its eyes on our state—this cartoon is from the Sacramento, California, Bee.
Votes For Women Parade, n.d., Carrie Chapman Catt Photographs
Campaigning for the cause.  Reproduction of image from the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA.  Used by permission.
Special Session, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
Governor Roberts called a special session of the General Assembly to consider the suffrage Amendment.  Here, both Suffs and Antis sidle up to the legislature trying to make their case.
Where Three’s A Crowd, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
The Suffs “schmooze” the General Assembly while the Antis look on in scandalized appearance.
Lest We Forget, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
Southern gentleman presents the vote to women as suffragists from the past look on: Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eliza Turner Wilkes, Inez Holland, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw and others.
Mass Meeting, n.d., Library Broadside Collection
The Antis genuinely believed they would save the South by stopping the Susan B. Anthony Amendment in its tracks.  Part of their unspoken reason was racial since it would give nonwhites the right to vote.  This call to arms was a hurried effort to rally their supporters.
Men! Are You Politically A "Subject Sex?," 1915, Josephine A. Pearson Papers
Anti-Suffrage handbill exclaims that half the country is already corrupted by some form of “harem government,” or those which allow women to vote. The Antis believed that a small minority of women were imposing their will on the American people.  
Majorities Win At The Polls, 1915, Josephine A. Pearson Papers
The Anti-suffrage Ideal, n.d., Josephine A. Pearson Papers
The Antis sought to separate women from the grunge of politics and advance the ideals of patriotism, morality and Americanism.
The Federal Suffrage Amendment Will Never Be Ratified, n.d., Library Broadside Collection
The Antis used a unique argument to lobby against the Amendment: that it was unconstitutional in Tennessee to ratify a federal amendment without electing a new state legislature.  They included the Suffs in a class of people that included bootleggers and Bolsheviks (Communists).
The Truth About Wage-Earning Women, 1910, Josephine A. Pearson Papers
The Truth about wage-earning women?  Here, Antis accuse Suffs of stretching the truth about how the vote will empower female wage earners.  Today, the arguing points may seem a little disingenuous.
Can Anybody Terrorize Tennessee Manhood?, ca. 1920, Josephine A. Pearson Papers
In this broadside, the Southern Women’s League counseled Tennessee legislators to do their “duty.”  The League accused the Suffs of unfairly pressuring the General Assembly, blackmail and dishonest tactics.
Women's Suffrage Ratification in the Tennessee Senate Chamber, 1920, Library Collection
This photograph from the "Ratification Issue" of the Nashville Tennessean, Sunday morning, August 29, 1920, depicts the Senate chamber at the moment that the clerk counted the historic vote on women's suffrage.  Women flood the gallery and floor as the clerk counts the votes.  Young Senator Harry T. Burn from McMinn County cast the deciding vote for the 19th Amendment.  With this vote, Tennessee became the 36th and deciding state to approve the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote. 

Telegram 2 | Telegram 3
Warren G. Harding and J. P. Tumulty Telegrams, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
Telegrams to Carrie Chapman Catt from future president Warren G. Harding and White House advisor, James Tumulty, voice support for the suffrage cause.  Both Antis and Suffs made headquarters at the Hermitage Hotel.  The hotel, which still stands at Sixth and Union, is an easy walk to the Capitol and was a beehive of activity during the fight.
Equal Partners Now, Ma, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
Uncle Sam celebrates the ratification of the Amendment with his Lady Suffrage.
Suffragette, Oh Suffragette Song Lyrics, n.d., Library Broadside Collection
To The American Women Democratic Tennessee Did It, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
Pro-Democrat cartoon congratulates the Tennessee party for enacting suffrage though it fails to recognize that Harry Burn, who cast the deciding vote, was a Republican.  The donkey and elephant still symbolize the Democratic and Republican parties.
Lest We Forget, ca. 1917, Library Broadside Collection
Woodrow Wilson was cagey on issue for most of his presidency though the Democratic platform endorsed suffrage.  The Republicans favored a states’ right approach instead of a federal amendment.
Safe, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
A Philadelphia newspaper revels in the passage of the 19th Amendment.  Here, the Lady sits safely atop the Constitution while an Anti-Suffragist rat shakes its fist.
Vamped!, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt Papers
In a double entendre, a Southern colonel admires Tennessee’s “Perfect 36,” an allusion to her figure.  The Constitution requires 3/4 of the states to ratify an amendment proposal before it becomes law.  In 1920, thirty-six states comprised that magic number.  Tennessee was number 36.
Christening the "Anna Dudley,” n.d., Carrie Chapman Catt Photographs
Anne Dallas Dudley at the christening of her modern namesake fire engine, Waverly Belmont station, Nashville.  Reproduction of image from the Carrie Chapman Catt Papers at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA.  Used by permission.