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The Woman's Hour
Cover of The Woman's Hour
The Woman's Hour
The Great Fight to Win the Vote
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"Both a page-turning drama and an inspiration for every reader"—Hillary Rodham Clinton

Soon to Be a Major Television Event

The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.

"With a skill reminiscent of Robert Caro, [Weiss] turns the potentially dry stuff of legislative give-and-take into a drama of courage and cowardice."—The Wall Street Journal
"Weiss is a clear and genial guide with an ear for telling language ... She also shows a superb sense of detail, and it's the deliciousness of her details that suggests certain individuals warrant entire novels of their own... Weiss's thoroughness is one of the book's great strengths. So vividly had she depicted events that by the climactic vote (spoiler alert: The amendment was ratified!), I got goose bumps."—Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review

Nashville, August 1920. Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don't want black women voting. And then there are the "Antis"—women who oppose their own enfranchisement, fearing suffrage will bring about the moral collapse of the nation. They all converge in a boiling hot summer for a vicious face-off replete with dirty tricks, betrayals and bribes, bigotry, Jack Daniel's, and the Bible.
Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, along with appearances by Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Woman's Hour is an inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.
"Both a page-turning drama and an inspiration for every reader"—Hillary Rodham Clinton

Soon to Be a Major Television Event

The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.

"With a skill reminiscent of Robert Caro, [Weiss] turns the potentially dry stuff of legislative give-and-take into a drama of courage and cowardice."—The Wall Street Journal
"Weiss is a clear and genial guide with an ear for telling language ... She also shows a superb sense of detail, and it's the deliciousness of her details that suggests certain individuals warrant entire novels of their own... Weiss's thoroughness is one of the book's great strengths. So vividly had she depicted events that by the climactic vote (spoiler alert: The amendment was ratified!), I got goose bumps."—Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review

Nashville, August 1920. Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don't want black women voting. And then there are the "Antis"—women who oppose their own enfranchisement, fearing suffrage will bring about the moral collapse of the nation. They all converge in a boiling hot summer for a vicious face-off replete with dirty tricks, betrayals and bribes, bigotry, Jack Daniel's, and the Bible.
Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, along with appearances by Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Woman's Hour is an inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.
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  • Lexile:
    1250
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    9 - 12

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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    ...

    To Nashville

    Carrie Chapman Catt had spent a long night, day, and early evening on trains clattering over a thousand miles of track from New York City to Nashville. In the hours she wasn't reading field reports and legal documents, rimless eyeglasses perched on her nose, she read the newspapers and indulged in the guilty pleasure of a detective novel.

    By the time the train pulled into Nashville in the dusky twilight, it was hard to make out the copper-and-bronze statue of the messenger god Mercury perched atop the Union Station tower, greeting travelers to the bustling capital city. Minerva, the warrior goddess, might have been a more fitting figure for the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Susan B. Anthony's anointed heir, the supreme commander of its great suffrage army, the woman they called "the Chief." Carrie Catt had been summoned to lead her troops into the fray one last time. At least she dearly hoped this might be the last time.

    She'd already devoted half of her life to the Cause, three decades of constant work and travel. Her hair was silver and wavy, and she wore it short and brushed close, parted in the center, easy to groom on the run. Her face, once angular and strikingly handsome, was fleshier now. Her heavy eyelids drooped a bit, and the line of her jaw had softened, but she retained the same sly, thin-lipped smile, piercing blue eyes, and arched eyebrows that made her look either surprised, amused, or annoyed depending upon how she deployed them. She was definitely not amused this evening; she was worried, and she wasn't sure she could take the strain much longer.

    It was Catt's job-more precisely, her life's mission-to guide American women to the promised land of political freedom, securing for them the most basic right of democracy, the vote. For more than seventy years, since that first audacious meeting in Seneca Falls in 1848, generations of her suffrage sisters had faced public disdain, humiliation, rotten eggs, violent opposition, and prison as they petitioned, campaigned, lobbied, marched, and pleaded for their simple rights as citizens. Now the promise of the franchise, so long delayed, was within sight; the political emancipation of half of the United States' citizens was at stake. And here, of all places, where she'd never imagined it possible, in the South, in Nashville.Tennessee could become the elusive thirty-sixth state to ratify the federal woman suffrage amendment. Or it could end the quest in failure.

    The Tennessee legislature would soon be called into special session to vote on ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, popularly called "the Susan B. Anthony Amendment," one simple sentence stating that a citizen's right to vote could not be denied on account of sex. Nothing revolutionary, to Carrie Catt's mind. It was really just a clarification, an essential correction, of the Founding Fathers' damned shortsightedness.

    Just over a year earlier, in June 1919, the amendment had finally been pushed through both houses of the U.S. Congress-after forty years of willful delay. Catt had kicked up her heels and broken into a wild dance when that news arrived. The amendment then moved to the states for ratification. She knew it would be a tough slog: suffragists had to convince at least thirty-six state legislatures-three-quarters of the forty-eight states in the ...
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2017

    Women's battle to secure the vote began in Seneca Falls in 1948 and ended decades later when Tennessee approved the 19th Amendment. Award-winning journalist Weiss chronicles the final fight, pitting suffragists against conservative politicians, business magnates, and the "Antis"--women who feared the vote would undermine the country's moral fiber.

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 6, 2017
    Despite the story’s foregone conclusion, historian Weiss (Fruits of Victory) orchestrates a page-turning reconstruction of the last push to ratify the 19th Amendment in Tennessee in 1920. The drama reaches hair-raising heights in the last half of the book as support for the so-called “suffs” falls away under pressure from corporate lobbyists, outraged “antis,” and Tennessee’s unique state constitution. Weiss nimbly organizes a large ensemble of suffragettes, protesters, and politicians, and she smoothly punctuates her scenes of high-stakes action with history of the recent world war and the 70-year battle for legalizing votes for women. Weiss doesn’t flinch from depicting the political machinations on all sides. If suffragette leaders Carrie Catt of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Sue White of Alice Paul’s Women’s Party get more attention than Josephine Pearson and the antis, it is perhaps because the anti tactics of bribes, threats, intimidation, ruses, liquor, and relentless appeals to racism are less moving than the suffs’ pleas for real democracy. Readers will find in the political landscape of 1920 features familiar today: corporate shaping of legislation, bitter partisanship, and the intense effort by some groups to obstruct what looks from most angles like simple justice. Weiss’s remarkably entertaining work of scholarship provides a thorough and timely examination of a shining moment in the ongoing fight to achieve a more perfect union. Photos.

  • Kirkus

    December 1, 2017
    A history of the political battle in Tennessee in 1920 over the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.The approval by the Tennessee legislature would meet the requisite number of states to provide women the vote in all elections. The efforts by women--and plenty of men--to secure universal suffrage date back to the beginning of the Republic, and journalist Weiss (Fruits of Victory: The Woman's Land Army of America in the Great War, 2008) weaves useful historical context throughout the book. But the tight focus on a few weeks in Nashville makes for a compelling narrative, marred only by an overabundance of detail about the many battles between the suffragists and their opponents. What strengthens the narrative are the author's minibiographies of primary characters in this "furious campaign"--Carrie Chapman Catt ("it was [her] job--more precisely, her life's mission--to guide American women to the promised land of political freedom"), Alice Paul, Josephine Pearson, and Presidents Warren G. Harding and Woodrow Wilson--as well as of the less-well-known players (mostly Tennessee politicians and lobbyists). Pearson is the most visible of the women who opposed suffrage, believing that it posed a danger "to the American family, white supremacy, states' rights, and cherished southern traditions." Perhaps the most famous of the anti-suffragists was muckraking journalist Ida Tarbell, whom Weiss chronicles briefly. The author clearly explains how the opposition by women--a stance that will surprise some modern readers--derived partly from their desire to be sheltered from politics, partly from the negative influence of men in their lives, and partly from racism (providing ballots to white women would open the floodgates of black women voters).Although the outcome of the Tennessee drama is obvious--after all, we all know the amendment was ratified--Weiss expertly builds the suspense, and the closeness of the eventual vote by the Tennessee legislature adds to the drama.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Great Fight to Win the Vote
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