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Revolutionary Suffragists

It's Women's History Month and my novel - Not Time For Regrets is centered on the fictional history of the Philadelphia suffragists. They were a radical bunch from all news accounts. They wanted the right to have a say in how the country was governed. Revolutionary for its day.

The 19th Amendment passed the US Senate on June 4, 1919. Eight states quickly ratified it that month. It took over a year before 36 states to ratify. Tennessee was the final state to sign on August 26, 1920.

Woodrow Wilson was president during this period. He initially did not support the amendment but softened once he found women leaders who would trade support for WWI for his support of suffrage. Women took a large role in supporting the war effort and he urged the Senate to pass the amendment in 1918. They took another year before doing so.

Wyoming was the first of 16 states that allowed women to vote in state and local, but not national elections. The ironic element of the 19th amendment was that men had to vote to share the franchise. It was up to those who oppressed women to let go of their power and share it. Major League Baseball declared a suffrage day in 1915 where teams played to support the cause and women filled the parks to hand out leaflets. Gate receipts were shared with suffrage groups and individual players pledged flat fees for runs, hits, and homers during those games.

Three months after ratification, women went to the polls to vote in the 1920 Presidential election. Women voted at about half the rate of men and Republican Warren Harding was elected. Consider that many men were not yet on board for women taking up such public prominence. Consternation at home could easily have kept turnout low. Women had very few points of independence other than the vote. Women mainly were the subject of labor laws and settlement houses in the public arena. Otherwise, they had little legal independence.

What were these women like and what kind of lives did they live? I imagined the world of a few of them and wrote a story about it. I hope you enjoy it!

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