05 January 2015

how to word - whip a mama and her babe

True it was.  O, so true it was:  when I was 32 and myself already a seasoned labor, delivery, postpartum, postsurgical and emergency room nurse from having worked, nearly solo, at three small and very rural hospitals and who had furthered my formal education in to becoming as well a bona fide and practicing doctor of veterinary medicine, nothing –– at all –– quite frightened me more than when any one of my three wee sons became ill or sustained injuries.  From my belly’s growing them all into their first selves, then propelling each babe forth into society and on until the Boys were all gone from me, the worst –– by far, the very worst –– struck two of us on one quite late Thursday night in August 1980.

Returning home from my noon – to – 10:00pm office hours at Dr ____ ______’s ______ Animal Hospital eight miles off southwesterly in small – town _______, also then working there alone save for the clinic’s receptionist, my hand turned the knob of the unlocked front door to our ( Penn State ) University Manor apartment housing in Hershey.  I had always tried to be very quiet coming in at this hour so, easily, my one hearing ear right there just inside the foyer picked up a tell – tale sound.  I rushed right back to the Boys’ bedroom.  Things were bad.  There in his crib 11 – month – old Micah Abraham Zebulon, barely up on all fours, at 11:50pm –– at just minutes before midnight –– was struggling.

So as not to startle him nor wake up his two brothers, I whispered Micah’s name and touched his back.  Micah looked up but was panting so rapidly –– the nurse later told me 80 respirations per minute –– that he could not even acknowledge my presence, let alone, calm himself.  As swiftly as I could manage in the darkness, he was swaddled up inside layers of baby blankets; and I started –– with Micah cradled in my arms –– out the door walking.  The emergency room’s entrance at the University’s Hershey Medical Center was several housing units and one not – so – busy – now, two – way street’s distance away.  “He’s struggling to catch his breath; I think it’s croup,” I told the admitting agent at the Front.  “Please help.  He’s only 11 months old, at least, maybe over 22 pounds by now.  Please.  He needs oxygen.”

Within minutes, the night crew had Micah inside a tent of piped oxygen after initial whiffs from a blow – by mask.  He finally calmed although his respirations remained at a high but manageable rate for several more hours.  We put a warmed and dry sleeper onto Micah the sweating from his work at breathing had been so profuse.  And the rest of the night passed.  While fitful, Micah did sleep some.  Beside the plastic I vigiled. 

At 7:30am and from the pediatric ward’s pay telephone just outside Micah’s room in the hallway this frightening Friday morning, I phoned my boss and the clinic’s only owner, Dr ______.  “I need to take a day today for my littlest one; my baby was hospitalized because of croup, Dr ______, in the middle of this last night.  We’ve been here all night.  They’re going to keep him here, too.”

There was no answering me back; it actually sounded for one long, very long moment like the line was dead.  Then the sound I did register in to that right ear and up in to my brain stated thus to me, “Well.  I have no idea how we are to get along today then.  How are we gonna get done today what needs doin’ ?!”

I swallowed.  I continued.  “Micah is still not at all out of the woods yet, Dr ______.  May I switch weekends with Dr ______?”  Not only had Dr ______, a father with two daughters in elementary school, not even bothered himself to inquire of me about the life of my child; but that language is the exact manipulation of power over women in the y1980 workplace and, in the fright and morbidity of my so – sick baby, to what guilt – ridden and veiled threat for my job I had had to listen.
The next day –– only Micah’s second one then of hospitalization for a babe’s life – threatening illness –– would be the start of the weekend, of course.  The scheduled coverage over at the _______ Animal Hospital for this particular upcoming one?  I was to work its emergency call –– through until Monday  –– on which day, then, I would return to beginning my regular hours at noontime.  At the practice with a total of the three of us veterinarians affiliated with it there, Dr ______, Dr _______, also a father of two schoolchildren, and me with three kiddos all under five years of age, each one of us was required to take such call every third weekend.  In the short few months of my work there as an employed veterinarian, the same status as was Dr _______, I had noted the two of them switching around such weekends’ scheduled – call nearly a dozen times already, certainly eight or nine weekends’ worth, that is.  And this one?  This was my very first request of the boss for one to be changed and substituted in his scheduling.

Yes, Micah Abraham Zebulon did respiratorily improve and was able on continued liquid antibiotics to be discharged out of that ward and into my arms and off to home across the Manor way that August’s next Monday morning.  But after that previous and entirely sleepless Friday off clinic work and my ministering all of its 24 hours to a very, very sick Micah at his cribside?  Dr _______, the other daddy, refused to switch his next weekend’s call with me right then.  After my asking Dr _______, the boss refused to take mine as well.  Instead and because of its cruelty causing a burnt memory in my brain which has never left me, Dr Maas, a mama who did not want to be forced to do that which she did do, left on that Saturday morning the side of Micah’s oxygen tent and worked call that very particular weekend.  Instead and against my will, I took and carried out a total of 22 hours’ worth of emergencies.  To keep my job.  True it was.  O, so true it was: I sacrificed the precious time at the bedside of my so–ill kiddo just to keep my job. I feared that loss –– more it seems.

A couple of new years’ weeks later  –– on one of the seven days between the 25th of December and the 01st of January when home in the evenings from the laboratory, I opened in Columbia, Missouri, an envelope addressed to me from Dr ____ _ ______.  It was  –– the substance and depth of it  –– an accounting / an accountability for his behavior that August 1980 weekend and at other worktimes.  It was an apology to me.  I never saw Dr ______ again.  I never heard from him again.

04 January 2015

it bears repeating --- Big Waters

“ For many seasons, the men had given away more of the people’s hunting grounds, their fishing places, their settlement lands, while singing and drinking with the white ones, while making fools of themselves, dancing with broomsticks and with tin buckets on their heads.  At each session, Big Waters and the other women were expected to stand off along the wall, to wait to carry the goods, and to be quiet.  They had been silent so often that many children had died from hunger.  The next season, Big Waters simply stepped forward among the men at the long table at the fort and said, ‘ I would like to read that paper before these fools put their marks on it. ’

That was the end of her time among her people.
Though she’d saved her people from giving away another parcel of place, from agreeing to remain confined in a bare space with no animals or water, she’d insulted the men, her husband in particular, and he had declared her banished.
The next day, he had a new wife.  In the same way her mother had disappeared all those years before, Big Waters then walked into the tall grasses. 
Her children were directed to turn their backs to her as she left.  Her own children did this.
The one Big Waters had nursed until he could ride a horse.  The one she had tended to night and day for many months while he lay crying and recovering from burns suffered in foolish play, in dares of manhood made by one child to another.  Had he forgotten how she had held him in the cold river water day and night?  Or how she held her hand over his mouth so the other boys would not hear his crying and think him a coward?  Even her only girl, the one who was betrothed to a Spanish brute with a withered arm until Big Waters begged on her behalf to her father, saving her from the bad marriage, even she turned her back to Big Waters.  She from whom Big Waters later pulled the upside–down baby after three days of pain and delirium, saving both their lives, also turned her back.  She who had been stolen by the enemies for a slave and whose return Big Waters had negotiated by trading her own fine beadwork and tunics, she turned her back.  Even the two she had taken into her own heart as her own after their mother succumbed to disease.  The all turned their backs to her.  Never to call her mother again.
These were the events Big Waters could not speak of to anyone except the small baby in her arms, the one whose little ear was so near her lips.  She would be a good mother to Clement, and he would be an obedient son.
Big Waters introduced Clement to the finicky horse, left her by the girl who had birthed the twins.  The beast snorted at the baby’s scent.  The baby sneezed at the horse’s.  Big Waters let the animal sniff the child again, then laid Clement in the straw while she worked; but she didn’t take her eyes off that horse.  He showed her his teeth but didn’t try to bite her this time.  The warm, stewy air of the barn entered Clement’s lungs.  He breathed deeply in a way that swelled his chest, like a river about to overflow.  He slept soundly and snored.  When he woke, Big Waters mixed milk with molasses and sugar and let him suck.  She tried to make peace with the horse and offered it a bit of sugar too, but it snapped at her finger, and she kicked its leg.
This horse had a bad spirit.  Big Waters called him Hole–in–the–Day, after her husband.  But Hole–in–the–Day’s spirit wasn’t as bad as her husband’s. Whereas his breath had smelled of throat fire and bile, the horse’s smelled mealy and grassy, and only occasionally of stomach odor.  Even then, its breath worked magic on Clement.  While the boy slept beneath the horse’s nose, he grew and strengthened.  The vapor healed whatever ailed the baby. ”    
                 ----- pp 136 – 137, Stillwater by Mz Nicole Helget, y2014

22 December 2014

22 December 2014

22 December 1947 = me:  a Monday's Child then, too




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDHmmoJ_lOc = ! my main mountain man Mr Joe Cocker !

     mighty finest – ever air – piano piece, Bird on a Wire
                    … … with the lushest of (Leonard Cohen) lyrics … … done justice by
                    … … the Most Perfect of … … The Gravel – y / Raspy Voices !

     R I P, Lovely Joe !     --Blue

21 December 2014

Winter Solstice 2014: re a War and Torture UNrecognized

re a War and Torture UNrecognized:
      .three children's custody, somewhere in the A m e r i c a n Midwest, 1990 - 1997.

     " From a distance, he looked like a somebody.  Up close ? there idn't much there. "

     " You don't even know what the T R U T H is ! "
                         --- Keen HAWKINS' ( 'Keane' ) Big Eyes

"It should never have been authorized, and even still it should not have been carried out. 'Just following orders.' is not an acceptable defense.

People must be held accountable at all levels."
  --- Mirzah Truemaier, 14 December 2014

26 November 2014

! Haaaappy, Happy 75th Birthday, Mz Tina !

And many, many more TO you ! and yours !

Here is a compilation of Diva Tina performing her most STUNNING song EVER: 

                        .RIVER DEEP     MOUNTAIN HIGH.

L O V E L Y Mz TINA TURNER !  tinyurl.com/k9ox2sj

16 November 2014

birth control: just the information ABOUT it !

  1. Yea, Rah, Rah, Science ! logical / reasonable: 
    the Greatest Invention .over All of Time over All the World.: 
    chemical BIRTH CONTROL = the birth control .P.I.L.L.  !
  2. Arrested today 16 November 1916:  Ms Margaret Sanger for opening a birth control INFORMATION clinic.  Police came and shut it down.  Sanger was jailed all thanks to Your Man: Anthony Comstock of this nefarious infamy:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx6aEfseDbg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgJqYOqgkNs and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Comstock

12 November 2014

an honoring, please, for Ms Elizabeth ... ... ... ... NOOOO forgetting

Happy Birthday today, ELIZABETH CADY Stanton!

The woman grew into their first selves and bulldozed 'em all out then ... ... !seven! kiddos.

No washing machines and no air conditioning and no furnaces and no refrigerators and no ranges.

And.and.and she still found time to get YOU past thus: and, although dead without casting a ballot herself, another 17,000,000 of you .f.i.n.a.l.l.y. into the voting booths by 1920.

11 November 2014

in y2014: life as a veterinarian when one is, ... ... instead, ... ... a woman

Still in y2014:  eg only this particular aspect ( out of many sexist ones ): 
USA salaries:  female $88,000 v male $112,000 … … sooo if hers is considered 100%, then his is 127%.   Wha’ ? !

[ And that isn’t even the one where the animal owner, knowing that she is the veterinary professor,
asks him, the student, for … …
… … The Medical Counsel. ]

From the time I graduated with my DVM in mid 1978, till now ?  36 years. 
IF I had been at practice at $24,000 LESS per year during 36 years’ time, then that would be $864,000 LESS ( gross ) that I have earned until now. 

[ And this is just in the United States. 
O.  O.no.no. … … no.no.no.  NOT worth it, is it ?  Is it ? … … Really ? ]
Sexism Straight From The Horse’s Mouth:
Life As A Female Veterinarian

06 November 2014

The family cat was lynched: THE BASIS for ALL separation of state from church in the USA

This birthday commemoration, that for Ms Vashti Cromwell McCollum who had she lived, would be 102 years old this date of 06 November 2014, is the type of commentary re a remembered birthday which all – the – time – only – happy – talk Morning Edition should have featured this morning --- in addition to or instead of the one which it did.  ( And, because of its crud, … … THE reason since Bob Edwards’ summary dismissal from its program leadership some time back … … that I refuse to donate $ to NPR anymore. )

The saga of Midwesterner Ms Vashti Cromwell McCollum and her three sons, one now himself long an attorney, of simple Champaign, Illinois, is both history – making and precedent – setting.  

The y1945trial and its outcome of Ms Vashti Cromwell McCollum IS:  THE basis for separation of state from church --- inside the United States of America.  That is just a year and a half 'fore my own birth.

Yet, in your, my, in any history textbooks of high school today? 

Does anyone even know of her?  Do we know of her and her Boys’ and spouse’s courage?  She and her kiddos were soooo, so horribly treated; her spouse from his state – supported university professorship was threatened with firing.

The Cromwell McCollum Family kitty cat was lynched.  The townspeople killed the atheist family's kitty.
  1. Martin, Douglas (26 Aug 2006). "Vashti McCollum, 93, Plaintiff In a Landmark Religion Suit". The New York Times. p. A13.
Why is our history so … … doggedly, persistently --- so purposefully … … hidden?

04 November 2014

"I sha'n't be gone long. — You come too."

ON my way to go VOTE today
and as from "The Pasture" by Robert Frost:

"I sha'n't be gone long. — You come too.":) 

... ... yet another favorite:  youtube.com/watch?v=pO70ZjZ0wrw  

17,000,000 went to the ballot box on 02 November 1920, who never before had been able to do so. 

Likely many then only voted as their spouses ordered them to … … but so not since !

No other 20th Century event, not ww i, not ww ii 
and not even the European Holocaust, ... ...
.IMPACTED. as many then --- nor since.

28 October 2014

Dr Jonas Salk, had he lived, would be 100 years old today.

My father, Willard Albert William Maas, contracted the poliomyelitis virus in late 1939; seven other Iowa State University students did as well causing the University to altogether close down that quarter then.  There was at that time a University inpatient hospital; afflicted were within iron lungs, and five of the seven died.  Daddy at his age of 19, went home to his 98 – pound mama, Grandma Adeline, who also had at home within the rural Iowa countryside at the time five younger children, she not knowing if he, her eldest, would live or when he would ‘get better.’

He was paralyzed from the neck down.   It took Adeline two full years of her own home – therapies of physical exercises and other care.  He survived and thrived enough, although 4 F – classified, to volunteer for the Army – Air Corps and did.

One day in 1960, with a silage wagon underneath him, Daddy himself was on the outside of it astride its ladder at the very top of a silo.

Bilaterally and neuromuscularly suddenly, his arms failed him.

His life altogether that day … … changed. He managed to put his truncal thoracic anatomy forward onto the ladder and with his legs slither down the rungs to the wagon. And clumsily climb out of it. He went inside to talk with my mother; and within a month’s time therefrom, Daddy was re-enrolled in the next quarter’s agricultural economics curriculum ( a springtime one ) at that same University. We all moved away to its town.

Willard Maas never farmed again.

What did kill him too young ? far, far too young at only age 72 ? And the point of my post ? This: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-polio_syndrome via the attacked muscle that is the heart.

A heart attack — mostly thanks to this virus' initial attack of it therein.

Dr Jonas Salk is a hero. As was … … Daddy.

28 September 2014

I gave birth 35 years ago this day: “simple as that,” "my little doll" ---- Baby, Baby … … Baby !

I gave birth 35 years ago this day.  That entire deal ?  Stunning.

Two other, very, very wee kiddos of mine, only 13 months old and 37 months old at the time on this date, needed to be looked after when, alone with only them beside me, I went in to labor with my and my belly’s third baby boy --- then grown by me to bulldozing – maturity. 

I telephoned my daddy.  His line was busy.  I tried again; the line was still busy.  This was 1979, around noontime:  lunch time for the two with the weer one longingly and so, so sorrowfully stating in to my eyes, “Mommy, I hungry.”  At this plaintive plea of Jacob Thomas’ his two tiny hands gripping both of my kneecaps, I recall, at that time of the next pain, thinking how many women everywhere every hour registered in their ears and up in to their brains this same mewling:  the World over, “Mommy, I hungry.”

Contractions were five minutes apart; membranes intact, but I was allegedly exactly three weeks past Dr Hesse’s oft – stated ‘due’ date so this was it:  the real deal.  O, and my father by the back road, the one that led right in to the university housing complex’s parking lot, was over 30 miles away.  At least and fortunately, the blacktop wasn’t iced over; it was September in Iowa, not February.  Again, Daddy's telephone line was still busy.

I pressed the ‘ 0 ‘ on my telephone’s pad; and when an actual voice came back in to my ear, stated to it thus, “I don’t know if this is an emergency enough, ya’ know, enough of a reason to try to break in to my daddy’s line, Operator, I truly don’t.  I am having labor pains every five minutes; I’m overdue, ‘nd it’s my third baby, and aaah, ah, well, my daddy needs to come to look after my other two little ones.  No one else is here.  He has to come, well, quite a ways actually.  Um, it’s over a 30 – mile drive at least.  Do ya’ think … … ? ”

“HELL YES, Woman !  Now !   I’ll do THAT right now !  What’s his phone number ?  Now !  And you, you Woman, call your doctor right away.  Do it now.  Hang up and do it now !  I am breaking in to your father’s conversation right now.  I’ll get ‘im there.  Call your doctor. ”

Willard Albert William Maas drove, I know he did around that blacktop’s four S – curves and the rest of its length upwards the entire stretch of mileage at over 90 miles per hour, screamed his “baby” – blue Seville to a halt into the lot’s parking space at nearly a 45 – degree, askewed angle; and we three watched Daddy on those O – so spindly tibial pins of his and with that already thrice – attacked ( at least once by that poliomyelitis virus of 1939 through 1941 ) heart – muscle actually .run. himself over to our itty – bitty apartment’s front door.

Knowing precisely two things:  i) that Jacob Thomas and Zachary Adam would now not only both be heartily fed but also well looked after and ii) at where inside that building its labor and delivery suite was located, I did not wait for any wheelchair nor elevator – lift but, instead, climbed the four flights of back stairsteps from the hospital’s entrance to it.  The crown of the head of Micah Abraham Zebulon was exiting as I listened to Dr Hesse’s wingtips clamoring down the hallway.  He burst in to the delivery room, grabbed off of the equipment table a sterilized towel, turned around from it to me; and, exhaling that last Lamaze – laboring breath of mine at 2:16pm, I finished … … this particular matter.

26 August 2014

… … on the first anniversary of our belov├ęd Aunt Ruby’s dying on Women’s Equality Day y2013 … …

Why Women Need Freedom From Religion
Organized religion always has been and remains the greatest enemy of women’s rights. In the Christian-dominated Western world, two bible verses in particular sum up the position of women:
“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” By this third chapter of Genesis, woman lost her rights, her standing—even her identity, and motherhood became a God-inflicted curse degrading her status in the world.
In the New Testament, the bible decrees:
“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” 1 Tim. 2:11-14
One bible verse alone, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, if not millions, of women. Do women and those who care about them need further evidence of the great harm of Christianity, predicated as it has been on these and similar teachings about women?
Church writer Tertullian said “each of you women is an Eve . . . You are the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law.”
Martin Luther decreed: “If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.”
Such teachings prompted 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write: “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.”
The various Christian churches fought tooth and nail against the advancement of women, opposing everything from women’s right to speak in public, to the use of anesthesia in childbirth (since the bible says women must suffer in childbirth) and woman’s suffrage. Today the most organized and formidable opponent of women’s social, economic and sexual rights remains organized religion. Religionists defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Religious fanatics and bullies are currently engaged in an outright war of terrorism and harassment against women who have abortions and the medical staff which serves them. Those seeking to challenge inequities and advance the status of women today are fighting a massive coalition of fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic churches and religious groups mobilized to fight women’s rights, gay rights, and secular government.
Why do women remain second-class citizens? Why is there a religion-fostered war against women’s rights? Because the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The bible establishes woman’s inferior status, her “uncleanliness,” her transgressions, and God-ordained master/servant relationship to man. Biblical women are possessions: fathers own them, sell them into bondage, even sacrifice them. The bible sanctions rape during wartime and in other contexts. Wives are subject to Mosaic-law sanctioned “bedchecks” as brides, and male jealousy fits and no-notice divorce as wives. The most typical biblical labels of women are “harlot” and “whore.” They are described as having evil, even satanic powers of allurement. Contempt for women’s bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the bible. The few role models offered are stereotyped, conventional and inadequate, with bible heroines admired for obedience and battle spirit. Jesus scorns his own mother, refusing to bless her, and issues dire warnings about the fate of pregnant and nursing women.
There are more than 200 bible verses that specifically belittle and demean women. Here are just a few:

Genesis 2:22 Woman created from Adam’s rib
3:16 Woman cursed: maternity a sin, marriage a bondage
19:1–8 Rape virgins instead of male angels
Exodus 20:17 Insulting Tenth Commandment
21:7–11 Unfair rules for female servants, may be sex slaves
22:18 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”
38:8 Women may not enter tabernacle they must support
Leviticus 12:1–14 Women who have sons are unclean 7 days
12:4–7 Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days
15:19–23 Menstrual periods are unclean
19:20–22 If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged
Numbers 1:2 Poll of people only includes men
5:13–31 Barbaric adulteress test
31:16–35 “Virgins” listed as war booty
Deuteronomy 21:11–14 Rape manual
22:5 Abomination for women to wear men’s garments, vice-versa
22:13–21 Barbaric virgin test
22:23–24 Woman raped in city, she & her rapist both stoned to death
22:28–29 Woman must marry her rapist
24:1 Men can divorce woman for “uncleanness,” not vice-versa
25:11–12 If woman touches foe’s penis, her hand shall be cut off
Judges 11:30-40 Jephthah’s nameless daughter sacrificed
19:22–29 Concubine sacrificed to rapist crowd to save man
I Kings 11:1–4 King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines
Job 14:1–4 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one . . .”
Proverbs 7:9–27 Evil women seduce men, send them to hell
11:22 One of numerous Proverbial putdowns
Isaiah 3:16–17 God scourges, rapes haughty women
Ezekiel 16:45 One of numerous obscene denunciations
Matthew 24:19 “[woe] to them that are with child”
Luke 2:22 Mary is unclean after birth of Jesus
I Corinthians 11:3–15 Man is head of woman; only man in God’s image
14:34–35 Women keep in silence, learn only from husbands
Ephesians 5:22–33 “Wives, submit . . .”
Colossians 3:18 More “wives submit”
I Timothy 2:9 Women adorn selves in shamefacedness
2:11–14 Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam blameless
Why should women—and the men who honor women—respect and support religions which preach women’s submission, which make women’s subjugation a cornerstone of their theology?
When attempts are made to base laws on the bible, women must beware. The constitutional principle of separation between church and state is the only sure barrier standing between women and the bible

18 August 2014

"The man (and his mom) who gave women the vote"

“From his statements, he changed his mind because of his mother’s note persuading him to support the amendment.  Many say his vote cost Burn his political career.  It should be noted that after Burn cast his historic vote, he hid in the attic of the capitol until the maddening crowds cleared away.  It is also rumored that the anti-suffragists were so angry at his decision that they chased him from the chamber, forced him to climb out a window of the Capitol and inch along a ledge to safety.  We are fortunate that this uncommon man listened to his mother’s advice and put thought into his decision, as it guaranteed all American women the right to vote.” --- http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/exhibits/suffrage/beginning.htm

The man (and his mom) who gave women the vote

On the 94th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, we look back at a young politician whose unexpected vote in the Tennessee state legislature gave all women the right to vote.
harry-t-burnThe story of Harry T. Burn, the seemingly rogue 24-year-old legislator, has become a bit embellished over the years. And in fact, women had won the right to vote in some states before the 19th amendment was passed by Congress and ratified by three-quarters of the states then in the Union.

But in August 1920, the struggle between the suffrage movement (which wanted the vote for women) and powerful anti-suffrage forces had come down to a series of votes in Tennessee.

The suffrage movement had found a way to get Congress to approve the proposed 19th amendment, with the endorsement of outgoing President Woodrow Wilson (who hadn’t supported it until it became needed as part of the war effort).

By the middle of 1920, a total of 35 states had voted to ratify the amendment. The problem was that 36 states were needed, and there was really only one state left were a vote could be taken that year.
Four other available states—Connecticut, Vermont, North Carolina and Florida—would not consider the resolution for various reasons. The remaining states had rejected the amendment. But Tennessee decided it would tackle the ratification vote.

Supporters from both sides camped out at a Nashville hotel and began intense lobbying efforts in what became known as the War of the Roses. Supporters of suffrage wore yellow roses in public; the anti-suffragists wore red roses.

The suffragists had lobbied Burn, the youngest member of the state house, but they were unsure of how he would vote.

They did know that any vote to bring the amendment to the floor would be too close to call, as well as the vote to ratify the amendment.

On August 18, the legislature voted on a motion to table, or delay, any ratification vote. It seemed as if the anti-suffragists had enough votes to delay a 19th amendment vote, after Burn arrived wearing a red rose and voted to table the amendment.

But another representative, Banks Turner, switched sides during the roll call, leaving the vote deadlocked and moving the ratification vote forward. The suffragists would need one more vote to make the 19th amendment the law of the land, and what happened stunned the legislature.

Early in the voting, Burn, who came from a conservative district and wore the red rose on his lapel, said in a very clear voice “aye” when asked if he would vote to ratify the 19th amendment.

Burn also had a letter in his suit pocket, from his mother Febb E. Burn, in which she asked him to “be a good boy” and vote for the amendment. When Turner also voted in favor of the ratification, the 70-year-old battle for suffrage was over.

Link: Read The Seven-Page Letter

Lawmakers in Tennessee tried to delay the state’s official approval, but on August 26, 1920, the official documents arrived in Washington and they were quietly signed by the Secretary of State.

Burn later explained that he initially vote to table the vote so it could be brought back in the next legislative session. But after it came to the floor, he had several reasons to change his vote.

“I knew that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification,” he said. “I appreciated the fact that an opportunity such as seldom comes to a mortal man to free 17 million women from political slavery was mine.”

Febb E. Burn then said she was pressured in person by the governor of Louisiana’s wife to recant the letter and say it was a fraud. She refused to do so.

Scott Bomboy is the editor in chief of the National Constitution Center.