This year marks the centennial of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution’s Nineteenth Amendment, codifying the right to vote for American women. The final battle of the long, hard political war for women’s suffrage was won on August 18, 1920, in Nashville, Tennessee. On that day, the Volunteer State’s all-male House narrowly approved the amendment, thanks in large part to the last-minute defection of twenty-four-year-old Harry Burn, who famously changed his vote upon receipt of a letter from his mother, Febb: “Hurrah and vote for suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt.” Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, meeting the constitutional requirement for ratification by three-fourths of the states. The amendment became law a week later, on August 26, 1920.
Of course, the fight for women’s voting rights wasn’t really over. White women could vote, but Black Americans, Native Americans, and many Latinx and Asian-Americans were excluded from voting by a myriad of citizenship laws, racist state and local government regulations, voter suppression tactics such as literacy tests and poll taxes, and threats and acts of violence. Though universal suffrage had yet to be achieved, the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 was a watershed moment in our nation’s history
In anticipation of centennial celebrations next week, we’re highlighting a few Bas Bleu products that can help you create your own suffrage celebration at home!
The “Votes for Women” Collection
This collection of tableware was created by the Preservation Society of Newport County, modeled on a real design created for suffragist Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. The famous socialite commissioned the dishes for a rally luncheon hosted at Marble House, her Newport mansion, and she gifted the china to her fellow activists and young suffragists new to the cause. All of the pieces are sold separately…or you can buy the complete set for your own tea party! (Keep your eyes peeled for a new novel about Alva Vanderbilt Belmont in our upcoming Autumn 2020 edition, due in mailboxes next week.)
Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote
We’re not sure it’s possible to include every detail of the seventy-plus-year fight for U.S. women’s suffrage in a single book, but historian Ellen Carol DuBois makes a good effort! She digs deep into the stories of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many of the other major players, guiding readers through the decades-long battle. And she doesn’t ignore the racial strife that splintered the movement, hard truths too often ignored in the study of American history.
Votes for Women Puzzle
Usually we wouldn’t tout a product that’s temporarily unavailable for purchase, but this circular puzzle is too cool not to mention! You’ll probably recognize some of the activists featured—Lucy Burns, Alice Paul, Frederick Douglass—but we suspect others will be new to you. You can learn more about all of them on the informational poster that’s included with the puzzle…which will be back in stock next month! (Thank you for your patience during what has turned out to be an unprecedented puzzle shortage.)
The Lives of the Constitution
This multi-person biography devoted to “ten exceptional minds that shaped America’s supreme law” focuses on nine men—and one extraordinary woman. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born into slavery in 1862 and grew up to become a teacher, journalist, and anti-lynching activist. She was also a major force in the American suffrage movement, challenging white suffragists’ decision to sacrifice Black Americans’ voting rights for their own gain.
Don’t want to miss another post from The Bluestocking Salon? Sign up to receive our posts via email! Just scroll down past the comments section and you’ll see a space where you can enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.