The 19th Amendment

The Constitution of the United States, Amendment 19

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
"Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

The passing of the 19th amendment was the conclusion of battle that included many groups who went through sometimes inhumane consequences for supporting women's suffrage.  Iron Jawed Angels portrayed the end of the battle, focusing on key points that lead to the ratification of the amendment.
NAWSA Involvement
During 1917 NAWSA was the worlds largest voluntary organization in the country with over two million followers.  Carrie Chapman Catt was the clubs president, taken a different way of handling things than the National Womens Party.  In a 1916 NAWSA convention Carrie Catt revealed her 'winning plan' which focused on the lobbying at the state and local levels.
Catt was a women with a vision for the future and planned ahead by forming a group of women supporting Woodrow Wilson as he was feeling the pressure of the war.  Though many of NAWSA disagreed with her stance on supporting the president, they were blind to the affect it would have on the future.  With this support from Catt, Woodrow Wilson in return showed favor for Womans suffrage in the long run.  He made personal pleas to anti suffragists and even delivered speechs in behalf of womens suffrage.

The 'winning plan' was a conservative yet very persistence plan on the senators.  Without the support from the Senators Women would never have an oppertunity to vote.  Senators served a 6 year term allowing the Senators to pick a stance without being worried of losing election.  In the fall of 1918 the Senate once again denied the right for women to vote by winning the majority by 2 votes.  With the elections in November quickly approaching Catt continued to persist the New York Times.  In One Half the People:  The Fight for Woman Suffrage the efforts to persuade the upcoming elections were recorded.
"file cases holding...531 portfolios, 96 for the senate and 435 for the House...provided...all the known data about the senator or representative.  There were printed sketches of his life; there were facts supplied by our members in the state about his personal, political, business and religous affliations; there were reports of interviews...there was everything that could be discovered about his stand on woman suffrage and more or less about his views on other public questions."
After elections the house had a total of 117 new members and once again passed the ammendment sending it to the Senate.  With the help of 13 new Senate members the vote was passed and sent to the individually states for ratification.
The movie Iron Jawed Angels depicts Carrie Catt as a vicious woman with two goals, gain womans suffrage and stop the NWP.  She is portrayed without enthusiasm towards the 19th amendment and even with a pesimistic view towards womans suffrage.  Towards the end of the movie it depicts that Catt had jumped on the NWP bandwagon.  Also shown is that she finally started working with the President after the woman were jailed.
Though she did not agree with Alice Paul's style of gaining the amendment she still worked tirelessly at helping the amendment pass which the movie does not accurately portrays.  Without the support from Catt womans suffrage would have taken years longer, even with Alice Paul's NWP in jail.  The movie makes the viewer believe the opposite, that Alice Paul alone was the reason for the passing of the amendment which is also false.

Woodrow Wilson's Change of Heart

Through the beginning of Woodrow Wilson's first term as President of the United States he rarely commented or even paid much attention to the women's suffragists in his own country.  As pressure from the World War 1 began to bear down on Wilson, the lack of support of women through the country increased the load on his back.  As written in the New York Times Wilson was shocked to find out the treatment that Alice Paul and fellow suffragists.  With the roles of women expanding during the war Woodrow Wilson began support by mentioning to congress in his speech now called "peace without victory" in January of 1917.  He continued by lobbying for Women's suffrage during the summer of 1918 and finally delivered a speech specifically targeted at passing the amendment.  Iron Jawed Angels shows Woodrow Wilson speaking in front of congress, which was an actually event that happened on September 30, 1918.  The 15 minute speech touched on the war and how the involvement of women was necassary for victory.  In comparison with Wilson's real speech Iron Jawed Angels portrayed his words nearly perfect.  Though much had to be left out for reasons due to time, the movie focused on main topics presented by Wilson. Here is the transcript of what Wilson said in Iron Jawed Angels with the red lettering for the parts that were added to the movie by the writers and blue lettering for words that Wilson actually spoke which are missing:

"This war could not have been fought by America, if it had not been for the services of the women.  We have made partners of the women in this war; shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?  I know the magic it will work in their thoughts and spirits if you give this thing (it) them, that is mere justice.  We shall need their moral sense to preserve what is right and fine and worthy in our system of life.  Be assured the voices of the radicals who agitated and disrupt have no influence here today.  The tasks of the women lie at the very heart of the war, and I know how much stronger that heart will beat if you do this just thing and show our women that you trust them as much as you in fact and of necessity depend upon them.  We shall deserve to be dis trusted if we do not in trust them with the fullest possible enfranchisement, as it is now certain the other great and free nations will enfranchise them.  Have I said that the passage of this amendment is a vitally necessary war measure, and do you need further proof?"

To breakdown the speech further, the movie depicted his speech accurately.  Wilson actually did say "that is mere justice"in his speech in the sentence before the one shown by the movie.  He also made mention to the fact that the radicals had no influence but did not use those words.  He was quoted by saying "...the voices of foolish and intemperate agitators do not reach me at all."  The only thing wrong was that Wilson's speech was out of order to what he truly said.  Also his final words to the speech was not a lingering question as shown.  Rather he finished his speech by pleading to the Senate to lighten his load by helping him in this great cause.  

"That is my case. This is my appeal. Many may deny its validity, if they choose, but no one can brush aside or answer the arguments upon which it is based. The executive tasks of this war rest upon me. I ask that you lighten them and place in my hands instruments, spiritual instruments, which I do not now possess, which I sorely need, and which I have daily to apologize for not being able to employ."-Woodrow Wilson, Sept 1918

Though his speech was motivating, the amendment still failed to get through the Senate losing the majority by 2 votes.  With Wilsons approval along with voice, and a new Senate voted in in November the amendment was able to pass the next time voted on in Congress.

Tennessee & Harry Burns

On the 21st of May 1919 the House of Representatives again passed the Women's suffrage amendment with a vote of 304-89.  A few weeks later the Senate for the first time passed the amendment with a vote of 56-25.  In order to official pass the amendment the states must ratify the amendment with 75% of states approval.  One by one states began to vote when on August 18th, 1920 Tennessee was to vote.  If voted yes then 3/4 of the states would have ratified the amendment officially making it the 19th added amendment to the United States Constitution.

As the day arrived young lawmaker Harry Burns would go down into history for his epic vote.  With pressure of re-election bearing down his vote could determine if the 24 year old Republican would win re-election.  As the state congress voiced their votes with a "Aye" or "Nay"it was time for Harry Burns.  He entered that day with the intentions to vote against the amendment, he being the decisive vote wearing red flower with his 'anti' voters.

As the day arrived young lawmaker Harry Burns would go down into history for his epic vote.  With pressure of re-election bearing down his vote could determine if the 24 year old Republican would win re-election.  As the state congress voiced their votes with a "Aye" or "Nay"it was time for Harry Burns.  He entered that day with the intentions to vote against the amendment, he being the decisive vote wearing red flower with his 'anti' voters.

Burns carried with him a letter written from his mother who urged him to vote in behalf of Woman's suffrage.  "Dear Son, … Hurray and vote for Suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt. I noticed Chandlers’ speech, it was very bitter. I’ve been waiting to see how you Mrs. Catt with her “Rats.” Is she the one that put rat in ratification, Ha! No more from mama this time. With lots of love, Mama.”

Harry Burns was left in a tough spot, but when it came time to vote the announcer repeated his name three times before he arose and proclaimed "Aye."  With Harry's vote Tennessee ratified the constitution with a 49-47 approval rating. Burns received negative treatment from his anti-suffragists for years and was given nicknames trying to demoralize him.  He never regretted listening to his mother as he paved the way for the 19th amendment.

Iron Jawed Angels correctly depicts many things concerning Harry Burns as a young attractive politician.  As shown he was nervous for the vote and was hesitant to respond to his name.  After his vote was announced the court room burst into an uproar, some in an uproar in happiness while others in an uproar of anger.  He really was convinced by his mother that he should vote supporting suffragists.  However incorrectly depicted was that Harry received a telegram during the voting.  In reality he had already received the letter and carried it with him in his pocket.  The New York Times also supports the fact that the movie correctly portrayed the issues surrounding the passing of the 19th amendment.

Time Line of States Approval
Before 1920, women could vote in national and local elections in 12 states: Wyoming (1890), Colorado (1893) , Utah (1896) , Idaho (1896) , Washington (1910), California (1911), Oregon (1912), Arizona (1912), Kansas (1912), Montana (1914), Nevada (1914) and South Dakota (1918). On May 21, 1919, the House endorsed women's suffrage 304-89. On June 4, the Senate finally followed suit, approving the amendment 56-25 and sending it to the states for ratification.

When ratification by the states was begun on June 4, 1919 it only took six days for Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to all ratify the amendment. Kansas, New York and Ohio followed on June 16, 1919. The last required 36th state to ratify was Tennessee, who barely ratified the amendment on August 18, 1920.

Jun 10, 1919

Jun 10, 1919

Jun 10, 1919

Jun 16, 1919

New York
Jun 16, 1919

Jun 16, 1919

Jun 24, 1919

Jun 25, 1919

Jun 28, 1919

July 2, 1919

Jul 3, 1919

Jul 28, 1919

Aug 2, 1919

Aug 2, 1919

Sep 8, 1919

New Hampshire
Sep 10, 1919

Oct 2, 1919

Nov 1, 1919

Nov 5, 1919

North Dakota
Dec 1, 1919

South Dakota
Dec 4, 1919

Dec 15, 1919

Jan 6, 1920

Rhode Island
Jan 6, 1920

Jan 13, 1920

Jan 16, 1920

Jan 27, 1920

Feb 7, 1920

New Jersey
Feb 9, 1920

Feb 11, 1920

Feb 12, 1920

New Mexico
Feb 21, 1920

Feb 28, 1920

West Virginia
Mar 10, 1920

Mar 22, 1920

Aug 18, 1920
Sep 14, 1920

Feb 8, 1921

Mar 6, 1923

Mar 29, 1941

Feb 21, 1952

Sep 8, 1953

May 13, 1969

South Carolina
Jul 1, 1969

Feb 20, 1970

Jun 11, 1970

North Carolina
May 6, 1971

Mar 22, 1984

Ratified in 441 days

Iron Jawed Angels doesn't spend to much time on this but in the portion that it does it is portrayed correctly.  Tennessee was the final state to pass the 3/4 ratification.

Reaction to Passing

The passing of the amendment brought great excitement and joy to all woman throughout the United States.  Although the day was great for NWP they continued to fight for equal rights.  Alice Paul authored the Equal Rights Act and continued to lobby for it until her death.

According to Alice Paul Website when Tennessee announced the passing of the 19th amendment NWP unfurled a purple, yellow, and white flag with 36 states symbolizing the states that ratified the decision.  The picture shown below was also taken before the amendment passed.  Alice knew the potential for media coverage and was prepared in advance by taken a picture.

Iron Jawed Angels accurately portrays the passing of the 19th amendment with flag being hung.

NAWSA Picture -
Alice Paul Flag Picture -
Votes for Women Sign Picture -
Wilson's Speech -
Harry Burns Pictures and Information -
Ratify Time Line -
Woodrow Picture -