Can you believe #Tennessee tipped the balance? On August 18, 1920 Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th amendment, giving it the two-thirds majority it needed to become a federal law. By the time the certified document arrived from Tennessee to Washington by train, it was August 26th. So, we celebrate two milestones for women in August. August 18th and August 26. Make sense?
A million thanks deservedly go to the women (and men) who fought for women’s right to vote. Yet Alice Paul, in my opinion, did the most to tip the scale.
Her name isn’t mentioned as often as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, or Lucretia Mott. I didn’t learn much, if anything, about her in history classes as a schoolgirl. And why not? She was probably one of the most kick-ass American feminists ever. A woman who didn't just talk, but who got stuff done.
She is without a doubt the most fascinating leader of the women’s movement, a mover and shaker that made things happen, and she deserves far more credit along with Lucy Burns.
NAWSA, in their opinions, was moving too slow on pressuring the government. So, Alice and Lucy founded the National Women’s Party (NWP). They organized marches and other acts of civil disobedience to gain attention.
Once upon a time the US president used to come and go from the White House without much security or a cavalcade. President Woodrow Wilson was treated to NWP “silent sentinels” that stood watch in front of the White House until the amendment was passed. These were women volunteers that stood outside of the White House holding banners. There was a massive outcry against them when the US entered #WWI, many feeling the sentinels should stand down as it was unpatriotic during war.
Paul refused, and she as well as many other women were arrested and put in jail. They began a hunger #strike, and were abusively force-fed. The outcry against this was great, and actually provided the push needed for the amendment to be passed. It finally was made official on August 26, 1920.
Was Alice Paul finished? No. she just kept going, fully understanding that the right to vote was just one small step on the path towards full equal rights for women. She worked hard for the Equal Rights Amendment, but died in 1977. The amendment, and fire behind it, seemed to die with her. Maybe it's time for a resurrection?
So, happy August 26, #America! The day women officially got the right to vote. How will you celebrate a right that should not have had to be fought for? Ponder that a bit. Thanks to Alice Paul, who helped us finally acquire a right to vote, or at least the right to choose to vote or not!
If she were still around, #Trump wouldn't stand a chance, right?