Monday, August 27, 2007

Here's to you, Mr. Burn (And to Burn's Momma)

A day late, but alas: taken from The Writer’s Almanac for August 26, 2007:

“It was on this day in 1920 that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was declared in effect. After the Congress passed the amendment, it had to be ratified by a majority of state legislatures. The state that tipped the balance was Tennessee, and the man who cast the deciding vote was the 24-year-old representative Harry Burn, the youngest man in the state legislature that year. Before the vote, he happened to read his mail, and one of the letters he received was from his mother. It said, "I have been watching to see how you stood but have noticed nothing yet. ... Don't forget to be a good boy and ... vote for suffrage."

At the house, supporters of suffrage sat in the balcony, wearing yellow roses. On the house floor, those who opposed suffrage wore red roses. When Burn entered the room, he wore a red rose and the anti-suffrage camp thought they had his vote. But when he was called on to say aye or nay for the ratification of the 19th Amendment, he said, "Aye," and the amendment was ratified by a vote of 49 to 47. A witness there that day said, "The women took off their yellow roses and flung them over the balcony, and yellow roses just rained down."”


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