Perfect 36: When Women Won the Vote
Airs on Fusion on Monday, March 20, at 8:30 p.m.
Airs on Western Reserve PBS on Friday, March 24, at 1:30 a.m.
Of all the battles waged on Nashville’s doorstep, the final throes for the passage of the 19th Amendment were among the most heated, controversial and colorful. In July of 1920, all eyes were on the Tennessee capital as anti- and pro-suffragists each fought for their vision of a socially evolving United States.
PERFECT 36: WHEN WOMEN WON THE VOTE chronicles the dramatic vote to ratify this amendment and the years of debate about women’s suffrage that preceded it. On July 17, 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, arrived to spend a few days in Nashville. She was traveling on the heels of Tennessee Gov. A. H. Roberts’ announcement of a special session of the state legislature, called at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson. One more state needed to ratify the proposed amendment, and that duty rested solely on the shoulders of Tennessee.
On the sweltering day of Aug. 18, 1920, the House convened. After two consecutive 48-48 outcomes to table the resolution, it was put to a vote. The votes were coming in neck and neck. At the last minute, 24-year-old freshman representative Harry Burn recalled a letter from his mother received that morning, urging him to “be a good boy” and grant women the right to vote. Burn swung his vote, making Tennessee the deciding 36th state to enable passage of the 19th Amendment, and thereby granting women the Constitutional right to vote.