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Sponsor Trivia: A Tie-Breaking Vote
The summer of 1920 was one of intense pro- and anti-suffrage activity in Nashville. After the ratification resolution passed easily in the Tennessee State Senate, both sides lobbied furiously to secure votes in the House. When young Harry T. Burn of Niota changed his vote to support ratification, he broke a tie in the House and made history. As the story is told, Burn was influenced by a letter from his mother Febb Ensminger Burn in which she urged him to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt [national suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt] put the ‘rat’ in ratification.” In his floor speech supporting the amendment, Burn said, “I knew that a mother’s advice is always safest for a boy to follow and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification. I appreciated the fact that an opportunity such as seldom comes to a mortal man — to free 17 million women from political slavery — was mine.” Source: “Countdown in Tennessee” by Carol Lynn Yellin