This year marks the 100th anniversary since the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution allowed women the right to vote in the United States. Although many states had allowed women this right after the Civil War, Susan B. Anthony and many like her did not live to see it finally come to fruition across the country in 1920.
Suwannee County’s participation in this monumental decision was partially documented by the local newspapers. A September 1920 Suwannee Democrat article discussed questions arising from the new-found rights of most (but not all, as you will read) women of Suwannee County:
“C. M. Bailey, Supervisor of Registration in Suwannee County, states that he has numerous inquiries from women who wish to participate in the general election, as to when they may register and he asks us to state to that it is his desire to show the women every courtesy and to assist them in registering, and that just as soon as Hon. H. Clay Crawford, secretary of state, gives him official notification to register the women of the county, he will publish it through this paper.
“It is the opinion of Mr. Bailey that the white women of the county should register and participate in the general election and he will publish the notice just as soon as he receives it in order that all may have an opportunity to register.”
Later in the same newspaper it was noted that, “Florida’s Attorney General Swearingen sent a telegram to Secretary of State Colby in Washington, D. C. today inquiring if all requirements have been complied with to make effective the nineteenth amendment to the constitution.”
Despite the inclusion of white women in the election, African-American women, like African-American men of the time, were generally excluded from voting due to the Jim Crow laws established after the Civil War and Reconstruction. It would not be until the 1960s that universal suffrage was really achieved throughout the United States. However, the Nineteenth Amendment was one more step in the right direction.
More history next time…
Eric Musgrove can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 386-362-0564.