THE TASK WHICH TENNESSEE
SUFFRAGISTS HAVE SET FOR THEMSELVES
SOME LOCAL FACTS—(GROWTH OF SUFFRAGE IN GENERAL,.
By Carrie C. Callaway
Like New York suffragists, the Ten-
nessee suffragists have set a task
themselves. For the New York women
it is "Suffrage in 1913," which date (owing to
the fact that in that state an
amendment to the constitution has to pass
two successive legislatures before
it becomes a law) is the earliest at which
the question can reach the voters. At
that time Woman's suffrage is sure to
pass in New York state for all New
York political parties have indorsed the
submission of a woman's suffrage
amendment to their platforms.
The task that Tennessee suffragists
have set for themselves is to make Tennessee the first equal suffrage state in
the south and it seems to me that the
Tennessee woman's task is going to be
the hardest to accomplish.
And why? There are several reasons.
In New York state equal suffrage has
practically arrived. The question there
has been agitated for forty-four years,
from the time of Susan B. Anthony and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who worked
for the political emancipation of women
in 1868, and the sentiment for woman's
suffrage in that state is now too strong
and too universal to be longer disregarded.
But in Tennessee we have not this
mass of sentiment in sympathy with the
cause. It is comparatively of late years
that the matter has been generally discussed
in the press and in polite society.
it is only within the past half dozen
years that equal suffrage has been regarded other than a joke in this section.
Far be it from me, a native of the
"cracker state" to disparage the south's
fair name, but it is a fact that the
group of states known as "The South"
are the most conservative in the country, and are the last to give up their
traditions and customs; to them changes
come slowly in all departments of life
and especially are they slow to see that
the granting of political independence
to women will not detract from their
charm and womanliness but rather add
to it dignity and self-respect.
For those reasons—which might be enlarged upon indefinitely—the Tennessee
suffragists have set for themselves no
easy task. If they accomplish their goal,
they cannot sit idly by and dream of the
beauties of a society where man and
woman stand shoulder
to shoulder in
solving the larger social and political
problems of the home, city and state.
They must work; they must create favorable sentiment; they must agitate—not
in a militant manner, but in the way
the women of the south know how to
work; in the way they worked in pioneer
days, in Revolutionary days; in the days
of '61-'63, and in the days of the reconstruction period. The woman of the
south, now struggling for her political
independence, is this same woman working out her destiny now, as then. And
they must work together. Every woman
in the state, who is interested in the
cause, should, connect herself, in some
way, with the movement and do her
part. If the women of Tennessee WILL
work together they will succeed in making the Volunteer state the first in the
southland to grant the franchise to its
women for week by week the gates
swing more widely open and more southern women pass through them.
Some State Facts.
As the result of interest manifest in
Tennessee in woman's suffrage within
the past two years, this stale has been
put, by national leaders, in the list of
those most likely to immediately follow
in the footsteps of the nine equal suffrage states already in existence. Dr.
Anna Shaw, president of the national organization, says that Michigan, South
Dakota, Maine, Missouri, Montana and
Tennessee are the states most apt to
grant equal suffrage in 1913 and 1914.
Kentucky and Virginia rank next to Ten-
nessee in the south, in interest in the cause.
The organization of the Tennessee
Equal Suffrage association was effected
about 1885, but at that time it was
very weak and little was known or cared
about equal suffrage in the stale. In
fact the cause practically died after the
organization of this association and was
not renascent until about two years ago.
It was not until the fall of 1910 that
any vital interest was manifest in Tennessee in the cause. It is true that be-
tween 1885 and 1910 here were periods
when the movement seemed to take on
new life but these periods were brief and
were followed by periods of indifference.
But since 1910 the growth of the
movement has been prodigious and there
are now equal suffrage leagues in
Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga,
Morristown, Jackson—with leading
women in other smaller towns interested.
The state league, of which Miss Sarah
Barnwell Elliott, of Sewanee, is president, now numbers its membership into
the thousands. There seems to have
been a concerted awakening throughout
the state, and there is no doubt about
the permanency and potency of this
With sentiment growing, as it is in
this state, for equal suffrage, it is no
wonder that Tennessee has been placed
in the list of "probable" equal suffrage
states for 1913-14. At the convention
of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage association, held in Nashville January 6 and
7, the delegates adopted as their slogan,
"Make Tennessee the first southern equal
suffrage state," and the women of this
state, with the courage of their convictions behind them, will soon be in a
position to demand their enfranchise-
Some National Facts.
The rapid growth of equal suffrage
sentiment in Tennessee and the south
since 1910 is only an echo of the wider
national movement. There are now nine
equal suffrage states in the Union. They
are Wyoming, Washington, Utah, Idaho,
Colorado, California, Kansas, Oregon
and Arizona. The three last states went
for equal suffrage in the November 1912,
elections and in Michigan the cause
failed by only 600 votes. It is certain
that Michigan will be won by the women
The number of women now entitled
to vote total three million. According to
reliable statistics, sixty-six per cent of
these women will actually exercise their
suffrage rights. At the next general
election, therefore, two million American
women will go to the polls as full-fledged
citizens. This great new political force,
held by women, is sufficient, if acting
in unison, to turn the scale in national
issues. The whole Pacific coast is free
soil for women and they can now claim
about one-fifth of the states in the Union.
The equal suffrage states can cast today
seventy votes in the electoral college.
After New York state is won in 1915,
a national campaign will be inaugurated,
for equal suffrage is rapidly becoming a
question for the nation to decide, instead
of the separate states. Two-thirds of
the states can call a convention to
amend the national constitution; three-
fourths are needed to adopt an amendment. In that roll call Idaho, for instance, will loom as large as Pennsylvania. The enfranchisement of Women
will, in 1916, be a national issue.
On November 21, last, delegates from
all the suffrage organizations in the
country met in convention at Philadelphia, This was the largest and most
significant political gathering of women
ever held in the United States, a historic
event. Distinguished speakers at this
convention were: Baroness Bertha yen
Suttner, the great advocate of international peace and the winner of the Nobel
peace prize in 1905; Carrie Chapman
Catt, president of the International
Woman's Suffrage Alliance, who has just
returned from a two years' tour of the
world on which she investigated the
social evil in every country on earth;
Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of
the National American Woman Suffrage
association; Jane Addams, Harriet Stanton Blatch, Mrs. O.H. P. Belmont, M.
Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr,
The biennial convention of the International Woman Suffrage alliance will
be held at Budapest, June 15-20, 1913,
Delegates from twenty-eight countries
will attend. The city council of Budapest
has contributed $5,00 toward this convention. This will be the most important
gathering of women ever held in the
And so the onward march of equal
suffrage take its way. The six million
women breadwinners in the United
States will not much longer be deprived
of the protection of the ballot nor of
their inalienable right to life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness.
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