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Teaching With Documents:
Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

Ratification of 19th Amendment
Tennessee - August 24, 1920

Early in 1919, the House of Representatives passed the 19th amendment by a vote of 304 to 90, and the Senate approved it 56 to 25. Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were the first states to ratify it. On August 18, 1920, it appeared that Tennessee had ratified the amendment--the result of a change of vote by 24 year-old legislator Harry Burn at the insistence of his elderly mother--but those against the amendment managed to delay official ratification. Anti-suffrage legislators fled the state to avoid a quorum and their associates held massive anti-suffrage rallies and attempted to convince pro-suffrage legislators to oppose ratification. However, Tennessee reaffirmed its vote and delivered the crucial 36th ratification necessary for final adoption.

Some states were slow with their endorsement even after the amendment became a part of the supreme law of the land. Maryland, for example, did not ratify the amendment until 1941, and did not transmit the ratification document to the State Department until 1958.

The Document

Ratification of 19th Amendment
Tennessee - August 24, 1920

Record Group 11
Amendments to the Constitution
General Records of the U.S. Government
National Archives and Records Administration

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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