Suffrage Wins in Senate, NYT, 6-5-19

Document Fourteen: "Suffrage Wins in Senate; Now Goes to States," New York Times, 5 June 1919.


    This article from the New York Times recounted the passage of the national suffrage amendment by Congress. The article details which way each Senator voted. It also described the women's successful lobbying efforts. At the same time the article highlighted the fierceness of the opposition, especially that of New York Senator Wadsworth, a staunch anti-suffragist.  

Suffrage Wins in Senate; Now Goes to States


Constitutional Amendment Is Passed, 56 to 25. Or Two More Than Two-Thirds

Women May Vote In 1920

Leaders Start Fight to Get Ratification by Three-fourths of States in Time

Debate Precedes Vote

Wadsworth Explains His Attitude In Opposition - Resolution Signed With Ceremony

WASHINGTON, June 4 - After a long and persistent fight advocates of woman suffrage won a victory in the Senate today when that body, by a vote of 56 to 25, adopted the Susan Anthony amendment to the Constitution. The suffrage supporters had two more than the necessary two-thirds vote of Senators present. Had all the Senators known to be in favor of suffrage been present the amendment would have had 66 votes, or two more than a two-thirds vote of the entire Senate.

    The amendment, having already been passed by the House, where the vote was 304 to 89, now goes to the States for ratification, where it will be passed upon in the form in which it has been adopted by Congress, as follows:

    "Article-, 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 an account of sex.

    "Section 2. - Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation to enforce the provisions of this article."

    Leaders of the National Woman's party announced tonight that they would at once embark upon a campaign to obtain ratification of the amendment by the necessary three-fourths of the States so that women might have the vote by the next Presidential election. To achieve this ratification it will be necessary to hold special sessions of the Legislatures which otherwise would not convene until after the Presidential election in 1920. Miss Alice Paul, Chairwoman of the Woman's Party, predicted that the campaign for ratification would succeed and that women would vote for the next President.

    Suffragists thronged the Senate galleries in anticipation of the final vote, and when the outcome was announced by President Pro Tem. Cummins they broke into deafening applause. For two minutes the demonstration went on, Senator Cummins making no effort to check it.

The Vote in Detail

    The roll call on the amendment follows:


Republicans - 36

Capper, Cummins, Curtis, Edge, Elkins, Fall, Fernald, France, Frelinghuysen, Gronna, Hale, Harding, Johnson, (Cal.,) Jones, (Wash.,) Kellogg, Kenyon, Kayes, La Follette, Lenroot, McCormick, McCumber, McNaty, Nelson, New, Newberry, Norris, Page, Phipps, Poindexter, Sherman, Smoot, Spencer, Sterling, Sutherland, Warren, Watson.

Democrats - 20

Ashurst, Chamberlain, Culberson, Harris, Henderson, Jones, (N.M.,) Kenrick, Kirby, McKellar, Myers, Nugent, Phelan, Pittman, Ransdell, Shepard, Smith, (Ariz.,) Stanley, Thomas, Walsh, (Mass.,) Walsh, (Mon.)


Republicans - 8

Borah, Brandegee, Dillingham, Knox, Lodge, McLean, Moses, Wadsworth.

Democrats - 17

Bankhead, Beckham, Dial, Fletcher, Gay, Harrison, Hitchcock, Overman, Reed, Simmons, Smith, (Md.,) Smith, (S.C.,) Swanson, Trammell, Underwood, Williams, Wolcott.


Ball and King, for, with Shields against: Calder and Townsend for, with Penrose, against: Gerry and Johnson of South Dakota, for with martin, against: Gore and Colt, for, with Pomerone, against.

Absent and Not Paired.

Owen, Robinson, and Smith of Georgia. The vote came after a few hours of debate, during which Democratic Senators opposed to the amendment filibustered to prevent a roll call until their absent Senators could be protected by pairs they gave up the effort finally as futile.

Changes Defeated

    Before the final vote was taken Senator Underwood of Alabama, called for a vote on his amendment to submit the suffrage amendment to Constitutional conventions of the various States, instead of to the Legislatures, for ratification. This was defeated by a vote of 45 against to 28 in favor.

    Senator Gay of Louisiana offered an amendment proposing enforcement of the suffrage amendment by the States, instead of by the Federal Government. Senator Gay said that from a survey of the States he could predict that thirteen States would not ratify the amendment, enough to block it. His announcements was defeated, 62 to 19.

    During debate, Senator Wadsworth of New York, who has been an uncompromising opponent of women suffrage, explained his attitude as being actuated by the motive of preserving to the States the right to determine the question, each for itself.

    "No vote of mine cats upon this amendment would deprive any of the electors of my State of any privilege the now enjoy," said the Senator. "I feel so strongly that the people of the several States should be permitted to decide for themselves, that am frank to say that, if this amendment, instead of being drafted to extend women suffrage all over the country, were drafted to forbid the extension of the franchise to women in the States, I would vote against it. Even though one might be opposed on general principles to the extension of the franchise of women, one cannot legally object to the people of a State settling that question for themselves.

    "It seems to me that it is incumbent upon a Senator in considering his attitude on this matter to regard the nation as a whole and to give consideration to the wishes of the people of the various States which have expressed themselves from time to time."

Overriding State Votes

    Senator Wadsworth spoke of the results in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Wisconsin, and other States where woman suffrage was defeated at the polls.

    "Now the question is, "he resumed, "whether the people of these States are competent to settle the question for themselves. There is no tremendous emergency facing the country, no revolution or rebellion threatened, which would seem to make it necessary to impose on the people of these States a thing they have said as free citizens they do not require or desire. Is it contrary to the spirit of American institutions that they shall be left free to decide these things for themselves?

     "My contention has been, with respect to an amendment to the Constitution, that, if it be placed there, it should command the reverence and devotion of all the people of the country. The discussion here yesterday makes it perfectly apparent that, in part at least, in a certain section of this country, this proposed amendment will be a dead letter. No pretense is made that it will be lived up to in spirit as well as in letter. That same attitude has been manifested in the discussion of the last amendment to the Constitution, ratified last Winter. Today there are thousands of people all over the United States who are attempting to contrive ways by which the prohibition amendment can be evaded. This attitude shows the utter lack of appreciation of the Constitution as a sacred instrument, a lack of realization of the spirit of government."

    Senator Smith of South Carolina opposed giving women the right to vote, he said, because to allow it would induce "sectional anarchy."

Signing the Resolution

    Immediately after its passage by the Senate the Suffrage Amendment was signed. In appreciation of the fifty-year campaign of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the guests were limited to representatives of that association and members of Congress, and the gold pen used was presented to the national association. The women chosen to represent the national association were Mrs. Maud Wood Park of Massachusetts, who for two years had been in charge of the association's Congressional work; Mrs. Helen Gardener of Washington, D.C.; Mrs. Ida Husted Harper of New York, Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton of Ohio, Miss Mary Garrett hay, and Miss Marjorie Shuler of New York.

    Besides Speaker Gillett, who signed the bill, the members of the House were Frank W. Mondell, majority leader; Champ Clark, minority leader and ex-Speaker, under whom the amendment first passed the House, and John E. Raker, Chairman of the committee which won the suffrage victory in the House last year.

    The Senators present at the signing of the bill for the Senate were Albert B Cummins, President Pro Tempore, who signed the measure; James E. Watson, Chairman of the Suffrage Committee; Charles Curtis, Republican Whip, A.A. Jones, Chairman of the Suffrage Committee in the last Congress; Thomas J. Walsh of Montana, Morris Sheppard, Joseph E. Ransdell, and Reed Smoot.

    To celebrate the passage of the amendment the national association will give a reception next Tuesday evening at its Washington headquarters to the members of the House and Senate who voted for the resolution and to their wives. These will be the only guests.

    Miss Paul, Chairman of the national Woman's Party, issued a statement, in which she said: "There is no doubt of ratification by the States. We enter upon the campaign for special sessions of Legislatures to accomplish this ratification before 190 in the full assurance that we shall win."

    "The last stage of the fight is to obtain ratification of the amendment so women may vote in the Presidential election in 1920," said Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, President of the association. "This we are confident will be achieved. The friends of woman suffrage in both parties have carried out their word. In the result we can turn our backs upon the end of a long and arduous struggle, needlessly darkened and embittered by the stubbornness of a few at the expense of many. 'Eyes front,' is the watchword as we turn upon the struggle for ratification by the States."

Prospects of Ratification

    Suffrage leaders say quick ratification is assured in twenty-eight States in which women now have full or Presidential suffrage. These States are Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington, California, Kansas, Arizona, Oregon, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Rhode island, North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Nevada, and Texas.

    Legislatures now in session are: Illinois, will adjourn late in June; Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, adjourn end of June or first of July; Wisconsin, Florida, in session until June 1, cannot ratify, because an election musty intervene between submission of amendment and ratification.

    Legislatures to meet comparatively soon, or with prospects of meeting soon, are: Michigan and Texas, extra sessions called in June; Georgia, to meet this month; Alabama, to meet in July, Louisiana, possibility of extra session before September; New Jersey, movement for extra session soon, Maine, special session in October; Iowa, special session in January, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Mississippi, met in January; Virginia, meets in February; Maryland, meets during 190; Ohio meets in June.

    Today's victory for suffrage ends a fight that really dates from the American Revolution. Women voted under several of the Colonial Governments. During the Revolution women demanded to be included in the Government. Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John Adams, "If Women are not represented in this new republic there will be another revolution." From the time of the Revolution agitated for suffrage by means of meeting and petitions. In 1848 a woman's rights convention was held at Seneca Falls, N.Y., arranged by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as the first big suffrage demonstration. From 1848 to the Civil War efforts were made to have State laws altered to include women, and Susan B Anthony became leader of the movement.

    For five years after the Civil War suffragists tried to secure interpretation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments which would permit them to vote. In 1872 Miss Anthony made a test vote at the polls, was arrested, and refused to pay her fine, but was never jailed. In 1875 Miss Anthony drafted the proposed Federal Amendment, the same one that was voted on today. In 1878 the amendment was introduced in the Senate by Senator Sargent of California. It has been voted on in the Senate five times, including today, and on Feb. 10, 1919, it failed buy one vote. It has been voted on three times in the House. It failed there in 1915 by 78 votes. In 1918 it passed the House with one vote to spare. On May 21, 1919, it passed the House with 14 votes more than the necessary two-thirds.

    Foreign countries or divisions of countries in which women have suffrage are: Isle of man, granted 1881; New Zealand, 1893; Australia, 1902; Finland, 1906; Norway, 1907; Iceland, 1913; Denmark, 1915; Russia, 1917; Canada, Austria, England, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Scotland, and Wales, 1918; Holland and Sweden, 1919.