Harry T. Burn ratifies Women's Suffrage

Annie69 By Annie69, 5th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

American women started fighting for the right to vote in 1848, but it wasn't until 1920 that the 19th Amendment made that happen. See what role Harry T. Burn played in its ratification.

Before 1919

Long before Congress passed the 19th Amendment, long before America freed the slaves, women were fighting for their right to vote. The first Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, but three Constitutional Amendments would be passed and ratified before Congress would suggest an amendment granting women's suffrage.

Finally, in 1878, such an amendment was introduced into Congress. It failed.

After three more amendments were passed by Congress and ratified by the states, other attempts at women's suffrage were introduced. The first one failed in 1918, but on June 4, 1919, the 19th Amendment was passed by Congress. The battle, however, was not over. It was still necessary for ¾ of the states to approve, or ratify, the Amendment.


There were 48 states in the Union at the time and ratification would require the approval of 36 of them. Although 15 states already allowed women the right to vote, ratification would not be easy.

The first three states—Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin—ratified the Amendment in less than a week, but by March 22, 1920, only 35 had approved women's suffrage. Not only that, but eight states had changed the wording on the bill. Not only did they not approve it, they voted to reject it.

Harry Burn

Harry Thomas Burn was born in Tennessee on November 12, 1895. The youngest member of the state legislature when elected in 1918, he was serving his first term in office when the 19th Amendment came before Tennessee for ratification in August 1920.

There were many heated debates and arguments. Burn had decided to vote against the Amendment but, on the morning of August 18, 1920, he received a letter from his mother asking him to vote yes. The vote was 48-48 when the last vote, Burn's, was called for. Following his mother's request, he voted for the Amendment and, consequently, was responsible for ratifying the 19th Amendment and giving women the right to vote.


19Th Amendment, Harry Thomas Burn, Tennessee, Womens Suffrage

Meet the author

author avatar Annie69
History column appears weekly in local newspaper. Also news, human interest, and pictures. My fiction and poems have appeared in literary anthologies and I've written 3 novels

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author avatar Carol Roach
6th Sep 2015 (#)

great article, I did a series on the suffragists,

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author avatar Annie69
6th Sep 2015 (#)

Thanks, how many pieces and which people? Was it on here? I'll have to look

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