Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited

By Jean H. Baker | Go to book overview
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“The Winning Plan”
Robert Booth Fowler & Spencer Jones

The most satisfying moments in Carrie Chapman Catt's life were those when she saw her dream of woman suffrage fulfilled. The moment had two vivid expressions. The first came when the Tennessee legislature passed the suffrage amendment in 1920. This decision brought into the fold the last state needed for the three-quarters majority of states necessary to ratify constitutional amendments and give women nationwide the right to vote. Knowing that the outcome of the legislative vote was uncertain in the border state of Tennessee, Catt had been lobbying the state's delegates for weeks and was in Nashville during the vote. Victory left her overjoyed but exhausted and eager to return to her home in New York.

The second moment came when Catt returned to New York and was met at Grand Central Station by supporters who recognized her strategic contributions to victory. Many in the crowd were veterans of the movement who had fought the suffrage battle with her, while others were politicians, like New York's governor Al Smith, who came to pay homage. A photograph from the event shows a smile suffusing the face of the essentially shy and serious-minded Catt. It was the triumphant and joyous expression of victory by a woman who had long believed that without her “Winning Plan” there would have been no woman suffrage in 1920 or for many years after.


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