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Down to the Wire: Ninety-One Years of Votes for Women

Alice Paul, founder of the National Women’s Party, sews the 36th star on the suffrage flag after Tennessee’s ratification of the 19th Amendment.

On August 18, 1920, the state of Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, making women’s suffrage national law. Today we’re celebrating the women who made it happen, including Phoebe Ensminger Burn—who changed history 91 years ago today by sending a telegram.

The century-long battle for women’s suffrage came down to a roll call in the Tennessee House of Representatives, where anti-suffragist Representative Harry Burn was poised to cast the vote that would defeat the amendment. Onlookers watched incredulously as Burn rose and mumbled “Aye.” He attributed his last-minute reversal to a telegram he received that morning from his mother, Phoebe Ensminger Burn, imploring her son to “be a good boy” and vote for ratification.

What are your favorite stories of noteworthy women in history?

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