A bill officially designating August 18th as Women’s Suffrage Day in Tennessee passed unanimously with 97 votes in the House Chamber June 8.
Sponsored by State Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, House Bill 2586, declares a day of observation each year for the day Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the right to vote.
“I’m proud to sponsor legislation that commemorates Women’s Suffrage Day and celebrate our state’s leadership in advancing and strengthening democracy in our nation,” Littleton said.
Tennessee played a vital role in securing women’s right to vote. All eyes turned to Tennessee in August 1920 when 35 of the 36 states needed had already ratified the amendment giving women the right to vote. Eight states voted against the amendment and five did not vote at all. Suffragists saw Tennessee as their last, best hope for ratification before the presidential election of 1920. The resolution sailed through the Tennessee State Senate, but the vote looked extremely close in the House of Representatives. State Rep. Harry T. Burn, a 24-year-old Republican from McMinn County, cast the tie-breaking vote and made history.
The Tennessee General Assembly passed the ratification resolution on Aug. 18, 1920, becoming the 36th and final state needed for ratification.
“Tennessee has been home to many remarkable women throughout history. This day celebrates how important women’s voices are to the success of our state and how far we’ve come to ensure equal opportunities,” Littleton said.