Marching to Victory

East Tennessee's Role in Votes for Women
August 18, 2020 to November 29, 2020
East Tennessee Streetscape

“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.”
–Abigail Adams to John Adams, March 31, 1776

Future First Lady Abigail Adams expressed this sentiment to her husband, John, as he and other members of the Continental Congress were laying the groundwork for the United States. She was rightly concerned that women’s rights would be left out of the new nation’s laws. At that time, only a white woman without the “guardianship” of a man could own property, sign contracts, and file lawsuits. As soon as she married, her rights were forfeit. Yet, marriage was almost inevitable for women, as it was a societal expectation and quite often a financial necessity. Despite Mrs. Adams’ plea, it took 144 years and a “rebellion” before the federal government “remember[ed] the ladies” with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution.

The final “march to victory” for this historic piece of legislation took place in Tennessee. Experience the suffragists' steps at the Museum of East Tennessee History through November 29, 2020.

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Based on the research of Hannah Rexrode, ETHS Education & Volunteer Programs Manager

Dedicated to Wanda Sobieski for her tireless efforts to promote the history of woman suffrage