Founding Feminists: February 3, 1919

Founding Feminists is FMF’s daily herstory column.


feature image via Roni.

Sixty-three of the sixty-four votes needed for final Congressional passage of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment have now been pledged!

It was learned today that Senator William Pollock, Democrat of South Carolina, who won a special election in November to fill a four-month vacancy caused by the death of the late Senator Benjamin Tillman, will vote for the nationwide woman suffrage amendment when it comes up again a week from today.

Senator William Pollock, Democrat of South Carolina
Senator William Pollock, Democrat of South Carolina

Pressure for that 64th and final vote necessary to obtain passage by 2/3 of the 96-member Senate is intense, and will now focus on Senator Park Trammel, Democrat of Florida. He was visited by a delegation of suffragists yesterday, bringing with them a number of members of the Florida Legislature urging him to vote in favor. In addition, President Wilson has sent him a telegram personally urging a vote for suffrage.

Unfortunately, two Senators who were considered possible supporters are not cooperating. Senator George Moses of New Hampshire, a Republican elected in November to fill the final two years of the term of the late Senator Jacob Gallinger, said that the Legislature of his State had not asked him to vote for suffrage, and therefore: “That leaves me free to exercise my own discretion. I am opposed to woman suffrage and intend to vote against the resolution on Monday.”

The Idaho Legislature has recently endorsed nationwide woman suffrage (women won the vote there in 1896), so Senator William Borah, Republican of that State, was thought to be another possibility, but anti-suffrage leaders are indicating that he is still firmly in their camp, and there are no indications to the contrary tonight.

Noting that Democrats have controlled both the House and Senate since March 4, 1913, and that Republicans will be the majority in both chambers when the new 66th Congress convenes on March 4th of this year, Alice Paul warned tonight that:

This is the last chance the Democratic Party will have to take advantage of the opportunity they have neglected for the last five years to pass the amendment enfranchising the 20,000,000 women of this country. Women recognize that it is entirely in the hands of the Democratic Party to pass the suffrage measure, and will hold them responsible if it is not passed.

The last time a Senate vote was taken, on October 1, 1918, 30 Democrats voted in favor, 22 against (57.7% support); 32 Republicans voted in favor, 12 against (72.7% support) giving a final tally of 62-34, or two short of passage by the 2/3 (66.7%) needed.

The principal opposition to the measure comes from Southern Democrats, many of whom are outspoken segregationists, and object to the fact that Section One is race-neutral, and that Section Two gives Congress, not the States, the right to enforce the Anthony Amendment.

The House passed the measure on January 10, 1918, by the 2/3 majority required, but without a single vote to spare. Republicans voted 165-33 in favor (83.3%) with Democrats voting 104-102 in favor (50.5%). Six votes were cast by those not affiliated with either party, five of which were pro-suffrage, one anti-suffrage, giving a final total of 274-136.

The Susan B. Anthony Amendment, first introduced into Congress on January 10, 1878, by Senator Aaron A. Sargent, Republican of California, reads:

Section 1: 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.

Section 2: Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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