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Mahalo Mrs. Febb Ensminger Burn

August 24, 2010

The Nineteenth Amendment, Section 1:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919  | Ratified August 18. 1920 | Certified August 26th

Yellow Ribbon from 1911 Suffrage Parade

Debating politics on a public blog or even on my personal Facebook page is not really my style. (I’m generally of the opinion that conversations about religion, politics and philosophy are more constructive when they happen face-to-face.)

But, I do think that August is a good time for “us ladies” to remember that it really wasn’t that long ago that “talking politics” was strictly a “men’s sphere” activity.

Earlier this month, I attended the Yellow Rose Coffee Break in Waimea, not as a supporter of any particular candidate, but to discuss Twitter and social media with a few of those attending who were unfamiliar with these new communication tools.

In preparation for the afternoon, I spent a little time brushing up on the Yellow Rose story.  I remember reading in a class at UH-Hilo about the controversy surrounding the young Tennessee man who cast the deciding vote for women’s suffrage, but I needed to revisit the details.

Here’s a quick recap, from the West Hawaii Today:

The yellow rose theme recalls Tennessee’s “War of the Roses” in August 1920, when suffragists wore yellow roses — in contrast with the American Beauty red roses worn by anti-suffragists. When 24-year-old Harry Burn, the youngest member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, broke the 48-48 tie vote at the urging of his mother “to be a good boy,” the suffragists in the gallery above knew they had the votes to add 39 words — the 19th Amendment — to the U.S. Constitution. They spontaneously showered the delegates with their yellow roses.

So, my post today, falling neatly between the 90th anniversary of the date when Mrs. Febb Ensminger Burn’s son Harry cast his tie-breaking vote and the actual certification of the Tennessee vote, is a “shout-out” to one of the women who made it possible for me to have the legal right to vote. (Note the intentional inclusion of the word legal….we can talk moral, natural or human rights over coffee!) Mahalo, Mrs. Burn!


Interested in the Yellow Rose story? I found a few versions and there is some disagreement over details, but you can view this PDF for images of Harry, Mrs. Burn and her historic letter.

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