Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Susan B. Anthony. Those are the two names you most often hear when discussing the historical dawn of women’s rights and the fight for equality. But did you know there was actually a third person that was just as remarkable when it came to changing the course of women’s lives in the United States?
Meet Anne Dallas Dudley (1876-1955) – Nashville native, political activist, historical linchpin. She’s the woman whose final insistence led to the ratification of the 19th amendment giving all women the right to vote. The year was 1920. The month was August. The city was Nashville.
At the time, the support of 36 states were needed in order to adopt the amendment that stated all citizens would not be denied the right to vote on the account of gender. Washington (state #35) had signed on in mid-March 1920 but six long months had past and the last state needed had not officially come forth. Anne, 43 years old and already ten years into her fight for female equality, was working tirelessly, campaigning hard for the suffragist movement.
Coming from a politically-minded family (her grand-uncle, George Dallas was the 11th Vice President of the United States) Anne was very active in her community through various charities and organizations. Early on in her volunteerism, she witnessed on a daily basis what little attention was paid to problems surrounding domestic issues that affected the lives of women and children. Year after year these problems piled up with no solutions in sight. Needs were not being recognized and little regard was being given to the singular female voice.
Anne was determined to change all that. She felt that if women had the right to vote, just as men did, than many of the problems facing the day to day operations of the country could be erased and a more copacetic environment between the sexes encouraged. This was a long tedious battle not only waged against the mind-sets of most men but also against the mind-sets of some women. Anti-suffragists were some of Anne’s biggest troublemakers. Believing that men would be “feminized” if they succumbed to the power of women voters, anti-suffragists accused equality supporters of being un-ladylike, un-American and at its most dramatic times, downright hedonistic.
Between 1911 and 1920 Anne lived her beliefs, day in and day out, educating, encouraging and emulating the spirit of the modern-minded woman. Through her non-stop service and participation organizing rallies and parades, hosting conventions and meetings and serving as president on the boards of the Nashville Equal Suffrage League, the Tennessee Equal Suffrage League and the National American Woman Suffrage Association Anne kept hammering her ideas of political freedom home.
Her relentless and dedicated efforts attracted a mass of supporters that eventually turned her state of Tennessee into the collective voice needed to twist the fate of voting history. If Anne had not climbed the political mountain and shouted from the highest peaks the importance of equality for all, women would not have been able to vote in the 1920’s. Her crusade, along with the valiant efforts of many kindred spirits and supporters of the cause made the ability for all women’s opinions to be heard.
This 2016 election year might just go down in history as one of the most controversial and complicated presidential campaigns ever presented. Of course, politics always yield mixed emotions and passionate beliefs, but this year in particular it seems there are more people torn apart by indecision rather than fervor. If you find yourself falling into the murky waters of who to vote for and why, Ms. Jeannie wants to remind you of one luxurious little fact:
Today we can vote. Today we have the opportunity to vote.
Anne took care of that for all of us. So we owe it to her to go out and exercise our very rights that she fought so hard to realize. Go out and vote. If you don’t want to advertise your decision with a political party campaign button on your lapel than in its place, pin a yellow rose. That was the symbol the suffragists used to express their support for women voters. That’s the symbol you can use to express your gratitude to Anne and all that she has enabled us to do and say both publicly and politically.
Happy election day dear readers and cheers to Anne for giving all women a voting voice.