August 18, 2011 marks the 91st anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment to the constitution, granting women the right to vote. Tennessee’s Rep. Harry Burn was the deciding vote to help grant full Suffrage. While TSM celebrates Burn, I would be remiss not to acknowledge Burn’s mother and all of the women who dedicated their lives to the Suffrage Movement.
Suffragists from all over the country knew it was coming down to the vote in Tennessee. Carrie Chapman Catt and others went to Nashville to push for ratification. Apparently, men wearing yellow roses in their lapels were for suffrage and the men wearing red roses were anti-suffrage. It was clear from the number of red roses that it would be a close deciding margin.
Burn wore his red rose into the Capitol in Nashville. Upon receiving a telegram from his mother, Febb Ensminger Burn, urging him to “vote the right way” and support suffrage, Burn offered his “yea” instead of “nay,” thus giving women in the United States the right to vote. Burn immediately encountered a hostile mob of misogynistic men when he changed his vote. Burn escaped the angry men by climbing out of the third floor window and hiding in the attic of the state Capitol until the mob went home.
On a side note, Michele Bachmann and the other insane Teahaddists might do well to remember that the Constitution is a living document and evolves to enfranchise the citizens of the United States. History lesson anyone? I’m rather saddened by the pool of Republican candidates for President that seem to have no sense of history and who are currently working so hard to disenfranchise the LGBT community. Regardless of how they feel about the LGBT community, they do not have the right to deny us our civil rights. TSM offers a sincere “Thank You” to the Harry Burnses of the 21st Century who stand up for rights for all citizens despite pressure from their peers.