Thursday, January 11, 2018

Today -100: January 11, 1918: A question of evolution

The House of Representatives votes 274 to 136 in favor of the women’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution, which is exactly the 2/3 vote required. All very dramatic. Democrats were 104 to 102 in favor, Republicans 165 to 33 in favor. A proposal for a 7-year deadline for ratification, such as the one attached to the prohibition amendment, fails. The opening speech is made by the first and only woman congresscritter, Jeanette Rankin (R-Montana). “We are facing a question of evolution,” she says. She argues that during the war, when American soldiers are dying for lack of a woolen shirt, women, who unlike men think in terms of human needs, might have something to contribute.

The House of Lords, which is usually firmly against evolution, rejects Lord Loreburn’s amendment to remove women’s suffrage from the Representation of the People Bill by an astonishing 134 to 71, despite warnings from Lord Curzon that it would lead to socialism and disturb home life and that in a future war men might resist being conscripted by the female vote. The Lord Chancellor added that pacifists might work on politically inexperienced women and force an inconclusive peace. Every bishop and archbishop who voted supported the women’s suffrage provision.

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