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Suffs vs Antis: The Long History of the Nineteenth Amendment (June 2020): Tennessee and the South

by Duncan R. Jamieson

Tennessee and the South

Elna C. Green’s Southern Strategies: Southern Women and the Woman’s Suffrage Question probes issues that divided southern women over suffrage issues, emphasizing marital status, education, and social class. Whether Suffs or Antis, the primary concerns were the relationship between woman suffrage and the two central issues of States’ Rights and race.

Divided into three sections, Votes for Women!: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee, the South and the Nation, edited by Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, includes essays focusing on the unique issues of the South, in the first section. Section two contains primary documents written by central figures in the debate, both those who supported and those who opposed women’s suffrage. Part three then collects broadsides and cartoons from both sides, including the final struggle in Tennessee and victory.

In The Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee, A. Elizabeth Taylor explores the history of the suffrage battle in Tennessee, which began in 1876 when Mrs. Napoleon Cromwell addressed Tennessee’s Democratic Convention, urging the delegates to support women’s suffrage to counter the impact of the Fifteenth Amendment. Nothing happened, however, until 1889 when local suffrage leagues formed pressure groups to grant women the vote. While granted incrementally, the battle for final victory remained bitter to the end. 

Elaine Weiss, in The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, examines the campaign’s final six weeks when both Suffs and Antis rushed to Nashville to influence the vote.  Both sides engaged in a variety of questionable tactics, from bribery to abandoning African American women in each side’s quest for victory.

Works Cited