Suffrage in East Tennessee

Mayor

Madeline Rogero
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Below are a few highlights of the role East Tennessee played in woman suffrage.


Deciding Vote by Harry T. Burn on August 18, 1920


Burn FamilyBy March of 1920, 35 states had ratified the amendment, only one state shy of the two-thirds required for national ratification. The state of Tennessee's decision came down to 23-year old freshman Representative Harry T. Burn, a Republican from McMinn County, to cast the deciding vote.

Envelope from FebbAlthough Burn opposed the amendment, he received a letter from his mother Febb Burn that convinced him to vote for the amendment. Part of her letter included the following: "Dear Son... Hurrah and vote for Suffrage and don't keep them in doubt ... I've been watching to see how you stood but have not seen anything yet ... Don't forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. 'Thomas Catt' with her "Rats". Is she the one that put rat in ratification, Ha! No more from mama this time. With lots of love, Mama." The letter now resides in Knox County Public Library's Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection.

With Burn's vote on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, and certification by U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby followed on August 26, 1920.

Images of the envelope, Febb Burn and Harry Burn are from the Knox County Public Library's Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection.


Burn Memorial


Unveiling of Burn Memorial

At the corner of Clinch Avenue and Market Square, sits the Burn Memorial. The statue depicts Representative Harry T. Burn and his mother, Febb Burn, and honors each of their roles in the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire created the statue and it was unveiled on June 9, 2018.

View photos from the June 2018 Parade & Rally and the June 2018 Memorial Dedication

View a dedication ceremony video from WBIR.com

Learn more at suffragecoalition.org/burn-memorial.


Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial 


Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial by Alan LeQuire

The life size bronze statue at Market Square in Knoxville is called the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial and it commemorates Lizzie Crozier French, Anne Dallas Dudley, and Elizabeth Avery Meriwether, Tennessee civil-rights pioneers who fought for passage of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote in 1920. Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire created the statue and it was unveiled on August 26, 2006.

Learn more at tnwomansmemorial.org and at suffragecoalition.org/tennessee-woman-suffrage-memorial.


Historical Newspaper Pages from the Nashville Tennessean


August 17, 1920 - Suffrage Vote Will Be Taken in House Today [PDF]
August 18, 1920 - 
Suffrage Victory Brings Jubilation [PDF]
August 19, 1920 - Suffrage Amendment Adopted By House [PDF]
August 20, 1920 - Burn Changed Vote on Advice of His Mother [PDF]
August 26, 1920 - Signature Clinches Suffrage Act [PDF]
August 29, 1920 - History of the Bitter Struggle to Ratify Suffrage [PDF]


Other Links of Interest


TN State Archives: Library & Archives Workshop on Women's Suffrage Movement
TN State Archives: "Remember the Ladies!" Women Struggle for Equal Voice
Suffrage Coalition: www.SuffrageCoalition.org