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Epigraphs: The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight, Part VII, Chapter 22

Suffragists of the country, do not lay down your arms! This exhortation by Kenyon Hayden Rector, is the epigraph for The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight, Part VII, Chapter 22, Unite Again: January-July 1920

Thirteen states ratified the federal woman suffrage amendment by the end of March 1920.

In Oregon, where it had taken suffragists six referenda before winning equal suffrage in 1912, the legislature claimed it set a record by unanimously ratifying in thirty minutes. In West Virginia, legislators had waited in Charleston, while vigilant suffragists kept them from leaving town as the tie-breaking, pro-suffrage legislator, Jessie A. Bloch undertook a speedy return from his vacation in California.

In Oklahoma, a suffragist had sacrificed her life for the cause. Thirty-three-year-old Aloysius Larch-Miller died on February 2 in Shawnee. The day before, although ill with influenza, she had debated Attorney General S. P. Feeling, a skilled orator and fierce opponent of ratification, at a convention of Democrats. They had met to discuss a resolution requesting the obstinate governor to call a special session to vote on ratification. Larch-Miller’s “enthusiasm and eloquence” won the debate and convention delegates overwhelmingly adopted the resolution requesting a special election. The governor ordered the state flag to

be flown at half-mast. Resolutions were passed honoring her as “a martyr to woman suffrage.” Feeling was one of many dignitaries who attended her funeral. Children and local citizens raised money to create the Larch-Miller Park in Shawnee. The legislature ratified the federal woman suffrage amendment on February 28.

The state of Washington, where women won equal suffrage in 1910, was the thirty-fifth state to ratify. One state short of ratification, the fight for final victory continued. The way ahead was fraught with frustration and futility.”Suffragists of the country, do no lay down your arms!” warned Kenyon Hayden Rector in her pamphlet “Women Awake!” The first woman licensed architect in Ohio and a member of the NWP’s Advisory Council, Rector urged, “You soldiers who held the cause dear, unite again for the final struggle.”

Top two images: Harriet “Hattie” Redmond, of Portland, Oregon, was one of many African American women who fought for their right to vote. In 2012, her superb organizing efforts were rediscovered, and this headstone was dedicated in Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Oregon. Middle image: the historica marker, a plaque attached to a boulder, reads: IN MEMORY OF ALOYSIUS LARCH-MILLER WHO GAVE HER LIFE FOR THE ENFRANCHISEMENT OF WOMEN.

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

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