Kentucky Woman Suffrage
Name of Historic Site:
Kentucky Capitol Building
Event(s)/Use associated with woman/group/site:
In 1920 Kentucky ratified the Susan B. Anthony Amendment and also passed a statewide law granting presidential suffrage to women
Kentucky Office of Historic Properties of the Finance and Administration Cabinet
Years of Importance:
On January 6, 1920, Kentucky became the 23rd state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, which stated: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." This took place in the new Kentucky Capitol building that had opened in 1910, and was the result of many years of lobbying by Kentucky activists determined to win their right to vote.
Then on March 29th, and with the leadership of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA) standing around him, Governor Edwin P. Morrow signed a bill giving women in Kentucky Presidential suffrage. This important event was captured in an iconic photograph archived in the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/97510716/. Kentucky Governor Edwin P. Morrow is seated and the First Lady Katherine W. Morrow (former president of the Pulaski County Equal Rights Association) is behind himand KERA President Madeline McDowell Breckinridge is standing at his right shoulder.
Despite the fact that Kentucky ratified the Nineteenth Amendment in January, the fate of the amendment is still in question, since one state was still needed to ratify it. This state law guaranteed that Kentucky women would be able to vote in the November 1920 Presidential election, regardless of the status of the federal amendment. Even though KERA (and Governor Morrow) opposed a state constitutional amendment - a goal that Laura Clay, with funding from her sister Sallie Clay Bennett, continued to lobby for - the General Assembly moved forward with a statewide suffrage bill.
Reference source of Information:
Melba Porter Hay, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge and the Battle for a New South (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009): 226-228. Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, Kentucky, The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6, Ida Husted Harper, ed. (New York: J.J. Little and Ives Company, 1922): 213-214. Governor Signs Suffrage Bill, (Louisville) Courier-Journal, March 30, 1920.