This is the third and final part of our series on the Daughters of Charity and the Women’s Suffrage Movement throughout the 1910s, leading up to the Presidential Election of November 1920. The year 2020 marks 100 years since women in the United States won the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here
After the statements made in prior years by bishops at St. Joseph’s College against suffrage and then the sudden turnaround in response to the rising nativist movements and their attempts to eliminate parochial schools, two entries in October 1920 in the Provincial annals of the Daughters of Charity illustrated the fact that the Daughters and women’s suffrage were now of a like mind, as far as Cardinal Gibbons was concerned:
The “certain bill” mentioned in the second entry was part of a rising nativism in the aftermath of World War I, where individuals and groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, demanded a type of proper Americanness that they considered corrupted and corruptible by Catholicism. Similar bills gained momentum in Michigan and other states. Notably, one of the greatest triumph of this movement occurred in Oregon in 1922 with the passage of the Compulsory Education Act, although the Supreme Court struck it down a few years later.
After the long movement for women’s suffrage, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution became law of the land on August 26, 1920, with the final ratification by the state of Tennessee. When the Daughters voted for the first time on November 2, 1920, the depiction of the day is almost anti-climactic:
The next year on election day, a similar story illustrates the persistence of the issue, yet presents it as almost mundane occurrence:
Throughout the remainder of the 1920s, no mention of election days can be found, almost as if voting had become a routine event for women, no longer a question of debate.
Daughters of Charity certainly participate in voting today, facing the same concerns that all Americans do regarding the economy, foreign policy, the environment, social justice, roads, parks, religion, and good governance. Too many issues are on the table to avoid voting. Too many people have crusaded in the United States for the right to vote to abdicate that responsibility.
Follow through. Participate in democracy. Make your voice heard. Vote.