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Dakota Datebook: Last state passes 19th Amendment Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Prairie Public

On this date in 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the federal woman’s suffrage bill, meeting the three fourths majority required to pass the 19th Amendment.

The bill had easily passed the Tennessee Senate, but had remained deadlocked in the State House of Representatives. Finally, young Harry Burn, whose own constituents were locked in debate and swelling in anti-suffrage ranks, changed his “nay” to an “aye,” creating uproar in the room. Another representative, a staunch anti-suffragist, changed his vote as well so that he could propose voting again, but nothing would change—suffrage passed.

Representative Burn received a lot of criticism for his vote, but defended his decision, stating that he believed in the right of suffrage.

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