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In the meantime the opponents had succeeded in Maine under its Initiative and Referendum law in having the ratification submitted to the voters and they threatened to take this action in all States having this law. The Ohio Supreme Court sustained the legality of a pet.i.tion for a referendum and it was carried to the Supreme Court of the United States–Hawk vs. the Secretary of the State of Ohio. Here it was argued April 23, 1920. On June 1 the Court announced its decision that the ratification of a Federal Amendment was not subject to action by the voters.

This decision removed the obstacle that existed in Tennessee and its Governor called a special session for August 9. Mrs. Catt took charge of the campaign in person and the ratification was obtained in the Senate on the 13th and the House on the 18th, in the latter with the greatest difficulty. It called for a.s.sistance from President Wilson, from both of the Presidential candidates, the National Committees of both parties and many prominent men and women within and without the State. A full account will be found in the Tennessee chapter. A vote for reconsideration followed; enough members left the State to prevent a quorum and it was not until the 24th that Governor Roberts could forward the certificate of ratification to Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby in Washington.[140] Here on August 26 he proclaimed the 19th Amendment a part of the Federal Const.i.tution. A body of the Tennessee legislators, headed by Speaker of the House Seth Walker, went immediately to Washington and undertook to obtain an injunction on this action but it was refused by the court.

Although the ratification by the Tennessee Legislature was due to the votes of both Democrats and Republicans the former claimed the credit.

The general election was close at hand in which all women could take part and Republican leaders felt that some action was necessary.

Governor Marcus H. Holcomb of Connecticut called a special session of the Legislature for September 14 and its first act was to ratify the Federal Amendment by unanimous vote of the Senate and 216 to 11 in the House. Owing to a technical question the ratification was repeated September 21.[141]

The stories of these 37 ratifications are interesting–in some States occasions of much pleasure accompanied by music and feasting; in others strenuous contests which left some unpleasant memories. They are described in each State chapter and the failures as well. Especial reference should be made to those of States mentioned here and of Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.

When the opponents could not prevent ratification they had recourse to the law. The attempt to have a referendum to the voters has been referred to. Efforts were made in many States to have the Attorney Generals declare that the ratification was unconst.i.tutional or that further legislation by the States would be necessary, but they were unavailing. In May, 1920, the official board of the National Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation retained former U. S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes as counsel and his advice and his opinions widely published proved to be of the greatest benefit. Although one of the most eminent of lawyers his interest in woman suffrage was so great that he never refused any appeal for a.s.sistance.

On July 7, 1920, before the 36th State had ratified, Charles S.

Fairchild, president of the American Const.i.tutional League, formerly the Men’s Anti-Suffrage a.s.sociation of New York, inst.i.tuted injunction proceedings in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia against Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby and Attorney General A. Mitch.e.l.l Palmer. They sought to restrain the Secretary from proclaiming the Federal Suffrage Amendment when it should receive the final ratification and the Attorney General from doing anything to enforce it. On July 13 the case for the Government was argued by Solicitor General William L. Frierson and a.s.sistant U. S. District Attorney James B. Archer. Mr. Fairchild and the league were represented by Everett P. Wheeler, a New York attorney and officer of the league. He contended that under the U. S. Const.i.tution Congress had no power to submit the amendment and that various ratifications were illegal.

Justice Thomas J. Bailey dismissed the injunction proceedings on the ground that neither Mr. Fairchild nor the league had sufficient interest to ent.i.tle them to ask for an injunction and that the court had no authority to go behind the action of the Legislatures in voting for ratification. The case was taken to the District Court of Appeals.

On October 4 this court denied the injunction and dismissed the case as “frivolous and brought for delay.” It was then carried to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Litigation was threatened in Tennessee. In Maryland a League for State Defense was formed to defeat ratification. It succeeded in the Maryland Legislature and had delegations of legislators sent to Tennessee and West Virginia for the purpose, who were not successful.

On Oct. 30, 1920, this league brought a test case in the Court of Common Pleas in Baltimore through Attorney William L. Marbury against J. Mercer Garnett et al., const.i.tuting the Board of Registry, to compel them to strike the names of two women from the registration books. The suit was filed in the name of Oscar Leser, a former Judge, who had long fought woman suffrage, and twenty members of the league, on the following grounds: The alleged 19th Amendment is not authorized by Article V of the U. S. Const.i.tution; it was never legally ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the States; (those of West Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri were cited); it was rejected by the Maryland Legislature. Everett P. Wheeler a.s.sisted in the trial just before Christmas. The case was conducted for the State by Attorney General J. Lindsay Spencer. Judge Heuisler gave an adverse decision on Jan. 29, 1921. The case was taken to the Court of Appeals and set for April 7. The decision of the lower court was sustained–that “the power to amend the Const.i.tution of the United States granted by Article V is without limit except as to the words ‘equal suffrage in the Senate.’ … From all the exhibits and other evidence submitted the court is of the opinion that there was due, legal and proper ratification of the amendment by the required number of State Legislatures.”

This case also went to the U. S. Supreme Court and there both of them rested. Meanwhile millions of women voted in the general election on Nov. 2, 1920, and in the State and local elections which followed through 1921, and the cases were almost forgotten. Finally in February, 1922, the court heard the arguments, the Government represented by Solicitor General James M. Beck. On the 27th it handed down its decision on the two cases. It upheld the authority of Congress under the Const.i.tution of the United States to submit the amendment; declared that “the validity of the 15th Amendment had been recognized for half a century”; that “the Federal Const.i.tution transcends any limitations sought to be imposed by the State”; that “the Secretary of State having issued the proclamation the amendment had become a part of the National Const.i.tution.”

This was the decision of the highest legal authority, from which there was no appeal.


[131] The History is indebted for this chapter to Mrs. Ida Husted Harper, author of the Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, and with Miss Anthony of Volume IV of the History of Woman Suffrage, which ended with 1900.

[132] For full account see History of Woman Suffrage, Volume I, page 67.

[133] Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony, Chapter XVI.

[134] The American Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation was organized in Cleveland, O., Nov. 25, 1869, with the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, president; Lucy Stone, chairman of the executive committee, to work especially for amending State const.i.tutions. The two bodies united in February, 1890, under the name National American and the a.s.sociation thenceforth worked vigorously by both methods.

[135] History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II, page 734.

[136] For full account see History of Woman Suffrage, Volume IV, Chapter VI.

[137] In 1913 and the years following strenuous work with members of Congress was done by the Congressional Union, afterwards called the National Woman’s Party.

[138] For full report of this hearing see Chapter XVIII.

[139] For speech in full see Appendix for this chapter.

[140] As soon as the certificate was despatched Mrs. Catt left Nashville, where she had been for six weeks, accompanied by Mrs.

Harriet Taylor Upton, vice-chairman of the National Republican Executive Committee; Miss Charl Williams, vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Miss Marjorie Shuler, the National a.s.sociation’s chairman of publicity, who had been working with her during this time. They went to Washington, called on the President and Secretary of State and in the evening addressed an enthusiastic ma.s.s meeting that filled the largest theater to overflowing. Secretary Colby represented President Wilson, from whom he brought this message:

“Will you take the opportunity to say to my fellow citizens that I deem it one of the greatest honors of my life that this great event, the ratification of this amendment, should have occurred during the period of my administration. Nothing has given me more pleasure than the privilege that has been mine to do what I could to advance the cause of ratification and to hasten the day when the womanhood of America would be recognized by the nation on the equal footing of citizenship that it deserves.”

From Washington the women, joined by others, went to New York, where Governor Alfred E. Smith was waiting at the station and said in greeting Mrs. Catt: “I am here on behalf of the people of the State of New York to convey congratulations to you on your great victory for the motherhood of America.” [See frontispiece Volume VI.]

[141] Vermont was thus left the only State, except those in the so-called “black belt,” which did not ratify the Federal Amendment and its Legislature was ready to do so any day when Governor Percival W.

Clement would permit it to meet. It ratified unanimously in the Senate and with three negative votes in the House when it met in regular session in 1921.



The National Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation formed in New York City May 15, 1869, by pioneers in the movement from nineteen States was the first of the kind in the world. [History of Woman Suffrage, Volume II, page 400.] This was followed by the forming on November 24 at Cleveland, O., of the American Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation. [Same, page 576.] In 1890 these two were combined under the name National American. [Volume IV, pages 164, 174.] For various reasons other organizations came into existence, as the years pa.s.sed, which had some claim to being considered national, but this great united a.s.sociation was the bulwark of the movement for woman suffrage from its beginning to its end in 1920. It was always the official authority recognized by Congress, State Legislatures, the press and the public, but all of the others a.s.sisted, each in its own way and degree, and, except in the case of one, the National Woman’s Party, there was no antagonism among them, as all were consecrated to a common cause, and followed similar methods.


This a.s.sociation was organized on March 3rd and 10th, 1892, in the lecture room of the Sherman House, Chicago, with the following officers: President, the Hon. M. B. Castle, Sandwich, Ills.; vice-president, the Rev. Olympia Brown, Racine, Wis.; secretary, Mrs.

A. J. Loomis, Chicago; treasurer, Mrs. S. M. C. Perkins, Cleveland, O.

Judge Charles B. Waite of Chicago; Mrs. Isabella Beecher Hooker of Hartford, Conn.; Mrs. Lucinda H. Stone of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Mrs.

Lucia E. Blount of Washington, D. C., with many other prominent people a.s.sisted. The object was to secure the pa.s.sage of a Law by Congress authorizing women to vote for members of the House of Representatives, according to Sections 2 and 4, Article I of the Federal Const.i.tution, which gives Congress authority to change the regulations made by the States for the election of these members. The way for this organization had been prepared by articles in the _Forum_ and the _Arena_ by Judge Francis Minor of St. Louis, presenting the arguments for this law. He quoted James Madison, who said at the time Virginia adopted the National Const.i.tution that “the power was given to Congress to change the regulations made by the States in order to protect the people. Should the people at any time be deprived of the right of suffrage for any cause it was deemed proper that it should be remedied by the general government.” At the first meeting a memorial was adopted asking Congress to enact this law, which later was presented by Representative Clarence D. Clark of Wyoming. The officers of the a.s.sociation were instructed to present a memorial to the Republican national convention in Minneapolis that summer asking that a plank approving this Federal suffrage be inserted in the platform.

The Rev. Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Perkins attended the convention, where they were treated with marked courtesy and given prominent seats. They secured a hearing and the presentation of the memorial in the Committee on Resolutions. The papers of Minneapolis printed it in full, which was something unusual at that time when woman suffrage was scarcely recognized by the press. At the Columbian Exposition in 1893 a section in the Political Congress was a.s.signed to the Federal a.s.sociation and a day appointed for its meetings. Two sessions were held, addressed by prominent speakers and attended by large audiences.

Much propaganda work was done and efforts were made to form local organizations. The subject was kept before the Republican and Democratic parties by memorials presented to their national conventions. In 1902 the society was reorganized as the Woman’s Federal Equality a.s.sociation in order to include other interests of women besides suffrage. It was hoped thus to enlist the cooperation of those employed by the Government but this hope not being realized the name was changed to the original. Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood had been chosen president in 1902 and was followed in 1903 by the Rev. Olympia Brown, who held the office until the end in 1920, Mrs. Lockwood continuing as honorary president until her death. Mrs. Clara Bewick Colby was chosen corresponding secretary in 1902 and devoted herself to the interests of the a.s.sociation unceasingly until her death Sept.

7, 1916. No session of Congress was allowed to pa.s.s without the presenting of a bill demanding the right of women to vote for federal officers. These bills were referred to the Committee on Election of President, Vice-President and Representatives in Congress. Usually hearings were granted and arranged for with much care by Mrs. Colby, who resided in Washington. They were very effective. Among the most important was that of 1904, which attracted so much attention that the committee appointed a second day to continue it and invited Mrs. Colby to explain more fully the demand of the a.s.sociation. Another important hearing was that of 1913, when the largest committee room was filled, many standing outside. It began in the morning and was continued in the evening, with the speakers nearly all members of Congress, a remarkable circ.u.mstance at that time.

At the hearings of 1914, 1915 and 1916 Representative Burton L. French of Idaho was a valuable speaker, as was Representative John E. Raker of California. Mrs. Lockwood and other women took part at different times, Mrs. Colby in all the hearings and the Rev. Mrs. Brown in most of them. Dr. Clara McNaughton, the treasurer, rendered important service in raising money and in other ways. At the great Gettysburg celebration in 1913 she and Mrs. Anna Harmon represented the a.s.sociation, obtaining signatures to pet.i.tions, circulating literature and finding a wide sentiment for woman suffrage among the old soldiers.

On July 11-13, 1915, the Federal Suffrage a.s.sociation held a Congress at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, over which the Rev.

Olympia Brown presided. Mrs. Colby went out some time before the meeting and made the arrangements. Among the distinguished people who took part were Mrs. May Wright Sewall, founder of the International Council of Women, Mrs. Ida Husted Harper, historian of woman suffrage and biographer of Susan B. Anthony; Mrs. Adelaide Johnson, the noted sculptor; the eminent Mrs. Elizabeth Lowe Watson of California; Mrs.

Emma Smith DeVoe of Tacoma, president of the National Council of Women Voters, and Mrs. Mary G. Bellamy, former member of the Wyoming Legislature. The most notable of the exercises was the fine pageant in the Court of Abundance on the closing night. This court was a most beautiful place for scenic display, the arrangement of the platform, lights and decorations all contributing to make any function there an enchanting scene. Mrs. Colby had prepared a comprehensive lecture on Woman’s Part in the Building of America, and, with the a.s.sistance of a skilful specialist, Mrs. Andrea Hofer, had arranged a memorable entertainment. She stood on the pedestal of a ma.s.sive column while she gave her lecture, which was ill.u.s.trated by tableaus on the platform in the presence of a large audience. The congress was continued at San Diego with largely attended meetings.

The history of Federal Suffrage would not be complete without some mention of the work of Miss Laura Clay and her sister, Mrs. Sarah Clay Bennett, of Kentucky, who advocated the idea of Federal Suffrage even before the forming of the a.s.sociation and long worked for a U. S.

Elections Bill. Miss Clay’s maintenance of the Federal suffrage principles, her writings and her strong personality were a guarantee to many of the southern women that no infringement of the State’s rights idea was intended. By Aug. 26, 1920, the Federal Amendment had been submitted by Congress and ratified. All the women of the United States were fully enfranchised and the a.s.sociation had no longer any reason for being.

[Prepared by the Rev. Olympia Brown.]


From the time the National Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation was organized to secure the enfranchis.e.m.e.nt of women by amending the Federal Const.i.tution there were among its members those who did not favor this method because it was contrary to the doctrine of State’s rights. They did, however, want Congress to provide that woman should vote for its own Representatives, which could be done simply by a Law requiring only a majority vote of each House. From the early 80’s this group was led by Miss Laura Clay and Mrs. Sarah Clay Bennett of Kentucky. There was no doubt that Congress had authority over the election of its Representatives, as was clearly shown in Article I, Section 2, which prescribes the manner of their election and the qualifications of the electors in the different States. Later it fixed a time for these elections. This authority was conferred when, after the amendment was adopted for the election of U. S. Senators by the voters, Congress enacted that all who were qualified to vote for Representatives should be eligible to vote for Senators. The leaders of the National American Suffrage a.s.sociation recognized the const.i.tutionality of the bill and for many years kept a standing committee on it but they did not believe Congress ever would accept it. Its advocates claimed that if members of Congress had women for their const.i.tuents they would soon see that the States enfranchised them. The national leaders held that if women could elect members of Congress it would not take them long to compel the submission of a Federal Amendment and that the members would not put this power into their hands. They held also that it would be just as much a violation of the State’s right to determine its own voters as would the Federal Amendment itself. The Southern Woman Suffrage Conference, or a.s.sociation, however, had a committee to further this U. S. Elections Bill.

At the annual convention of the National American a.s.sociation in 1914 its Congressional Committee was instructed to include this bill in the measures which it promoted. It was re-endorsed at the conventions of 1915 and 1916. Miss Clay went to Washington and lobbied for it with all the prestige of her family back of her and with all her commanding ability, supporting it by unanswerable argument. Members often presented it in both Houses but it never was reported by a committee.


While Miss Maud Wood of Boston was a senior in Radcliffe College her attention was directed to woman suffrage by the efforts of its women opponents in Cambridge to enlist the college girls on their side.


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