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Epigraphs: The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight, Part VII, Chapter 21

Telephone and telegraph wires were kept humming. This phrase by Ruth B. Hipple, is the epigraph for The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight, Part VII, Chapter 21, Up to The States: June-December 1919

Anti-suffragists conceded that Congress had passed the federal woman suffrage amendment, but not that thirty-six states would ratify it. ANTIS LINING UP NEW FIGHT read the headline in a Seattle newspaper. The math favored the anti-suffragists. Ratification required approval by thirty-six of the forty-eight state legislatures, with just thirteen state legislatures needed to block ratification. The arduous and costly fifteen-month nationwide ratification campaign against dug-in, no-holds-barred opponents is

typically left out of the telling of the woman suffrage story, or told only through the final nail-biting campaign in Tennessee. The dramatic story begins in Chapter 21 of The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight.

In South Dakota, the fight for ratification played out in the middle of winter and the dark of night. Ruth B. Hipple, the politically well-connected editor of a suffrage newspaper, got a tip that the governor was going to call a special meeting of the legislature to vote on ratification. She, in turn, alerted Mary “Mamie” Shields Pyle, president of the South Dakota Universal Franchise League, who mobilized her troops to hasten legislators to the capitol in Pierre. Ruth Hipple described the excitement: “Telephone and telegraph wires were kept humming for the next thirty-six hours and the men coming from all directions.” A man who lived far from a train station “used up three automobiles getting to the train . . . as the snow made the roads almost impassable.” On December 3, beginning at 7 p.m., the legislative process was quickly accomplished before adjourning, as was required. At one minute after midnight on

December 4, the next legislative day, legislators adjourned and unanimously ratified, in time for them to catch the trains that left in both directions.

The final 1919 victory was in Colorado on December 15, 1919. Between June and December there were 22 ratification victories and 2 defeats. Images from top to bottom: An article about ratification in North Dakota appeared in The Keota News, Keota, Colorado, December. 5, 1919, p. 5;  Alice Paul and the ratification flag appeared in The Sunday Star, Washington, D.C., December 28, 1919, p. 63. The caption reads: “When the Colorado legislature ratified the federal amendment granting suffrage to the women of the United States Miss Alice Paul, chairman of the national woman’s party, sewed the twenty-second star on the ratification flag at the headquarters in Washington.” (Click on image to enlarge.)

The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight is available in paperback and eBook.

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