Helping women to get the vote was not considered a good way to advance your political future, yet several did just that. They risked a lot to see that the right of women to vote became the law of the land. I reckon that heroic could rightly be used in this case, don't you?
“Heroic” and “politician” don’t usually go together, but some of America’s male politicians were definitely suffrage heroes. In 1878, Senator Aaron Sargent of California—a friend of Susan B. Anthony and a steadfast supporter of women’s rights—introduced a bill nicknamed “the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.” It stated that no citizen could be prevented from voting because of their gender. Unfortunately, the bill took a while to pass.
Forty years later, three congressmen went above and beyond to help the Anthony Amendment (now officially the 19th Amendment) pass the House of Representatives. Thetus W. Sims of Tennessee had a painful broken shoulder, but he not only showed up to vote with his arm in a sling, he also lobbied his Southern colleagues to vote for the bill, too. Indiana’s Henry Barnhart was carried into the House on a stretcher to give his vote. And Congressman Frederick Hicks of West Virginia obeyed his dying wife’s request to leave her bedside so he could make sure the amendment passed.
But the drama wasn’t over even when the 19th Amendment finally won passage in both the House and the Senate—it still had to be ratified by at least 36 states. The press followed the frantic trip of West Virginia State Senator Jessie Bloch as he rushed home from a vacation in California because the governor had called a special ratification session. He knew the bill wouldn’t pass without him—and he arrived just in time to cast the vote that made West Virginia the 34th state to ratify the Amendment.
Even more dramatic was the saga of 24-year-old State Representative Harry Burn. His vote made Tennessee the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, and thus was the deciding vote in making women’s suffrage the law of the land. Desperate anti-suffragists demanded that Harry change his “aye” to “nay.” They accused him of taking bribes, ordered his mom to make him change his mind, and generally harassed him until he had to hire bodyguards. But Harry stood firm, proud of his action “to free 17 million women from political slavery.”
I can't help but wonder how many politicians today would do the same thing? My guess is that very few would step up, know what I mean?
Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?