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Friday, July 27, 2018

One hundred years ago TODAY -- women voted in Texas

Note from Joe: 

I received the story below from my neighbor Marguerite Scott, and wanted to share it with you.  It tells of the first time women were allowed to vote in Kerr County (as well as the rest of Texas), in the 1918 Democratic Party primary.  It should be noted this election took place two years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, in the summer of 1920, which gave women the right to vote in our country.
Looking into this, I checked the only surviving newspaper from that month, the July 19, 1918 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun.  
Women voting in the Democratic primaries was not the big news in that edition.  State politics, with the Ferguson scandals, was a top story, as well as a list of a new group of Kerr County boys heading off to the first world war.
There were two mentions, however.  One, signed by the Kerr County Democratic party chair Wm. Nimitz, and its secretary J. M. Hamilton, reminding election judges that "in Kerr County the women are not required to register in order to vote. If any woman should desire to vote and is otherwise qualified under the law, you should permit her to vote."
The other, on the 'editorial page,' says "The women of Texas are registering in a way that threatens to make trouble for some of the candidates.  There is much uneasiness in certain quarters, but there can be little doubt that all State officials now in office will be re-elected -- Kosse Cyclone."  
Thanks, Ms Scott, for sending in this story.

From the League of Women Voters -- Hill Country:

Texas women voted for the first time on July 27, 1918, one hundred years ago.  This was before ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to our US Constitution on August 26, 1920 granting women the right to vote.  July 27, 1918 was the date of the Democratic Primary in Texas and women voted.  Interestingly, there was no Republican Primary in Texas at that time.  Here is a bit of history to consider as we cherish our right to vote.

In Texas women’s suffrage, the right to vote, was proposed, discussed, and voted down beginning with the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1868-69.  Resolutions for the enfranchisement of women, the right to vote, were proposed in the Texas Legislature several times in in the years to follow. 

There were several organizations in Texas seeking women’s suffrage that began in 1893, 1903, 1908, 1912, and then faded away.  In 1913 a meeting of 100 women from seven cities met in San Antonio and reactivated the state wide Texas Women Suffrage Association.  Mary Eleanor Brackenridge was the first president.  In 1916 they changed their name to Texas Equal Suffrage Association and elected Minnie Fisher Cunningham as their president.

Many men and some women consider women voting to be a threat to social order.   Then during WWI the suffragist organizations around the state supported the war effort.  Women’s participation in war efforts softened the opposition to women’s suffrage. Yet there was anti sentiment about women voting. Many women wrote letters and petitions to their state legislators to convince the legislators to vote for women’s suffrage. 

Once again in January 1917 in the Texas Legislature resolutions to enfranchise women were introduced.  The vote this time by the state representative was seventy-six for with fifty-six opposed.  However the bill did not make it through the senate and signature of the governor.  Governor James E. Ferguson was opposed to women voting.  During the summer of 2017 he was impeached and removed from office.  William P Hobby became Governor of Texas and he was pro women’s suffrage. 
There was called session of the legislature in March 1918 and a bill was introduced to permit women to vote in primary elections.  On March 26, 1918 Governor sign the bill for women to vote in Texas Primary Elections. 

These women’s organization went to work and in seventeen days registered 386,000 women who could then vote in the Democratic Primary on July 27, 1918.  The organizations were:
·         Texas Equal Suffrage Association – now the League of Women Voters of Texas
·         Mothers’ Congress – predecessor of Texas PTA
·         State Federation of Labor – merged into Texas AFL-CIO
·         State Federation of Women’s Clubs
·         Texas Press Women – now called Press Women of Texas
·         State Farmers’ Congress – predecessor of the 4-H Clubs
·         Texas Graduate Nurses’ Association – now Texas Nurses Association
.         Women's Christian Temperance Union, that no longer has a presence in Texas.

Our right to vote is a priceless treasure hard won by our fore mothers in Texas. 

Submitted by League of Women Voters – Hill Country.

References:
League of Women Voters of Texas

Women Suffrage by A. Elizabeth Taylor
Texas State Historical Association, an Independent Nonprofit since 1897

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