CHAPTER 2 4
WORK FOR RATIFICATION
After the wedding, Hattie began to focus extensively on her work for suffrage. She knew that the states must either ratify a federal amendment
during a convening session or in a specially called session. Because the South Carolina legislature was not currently meeting and the governor had stated that he would not call a special session, the earliest date the amendment could be considered would be January 1920.
The legislative committee of the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League wasted no time in launching a campaign to persuade the
legislators to vote in favor of the amendment when it came up in the January session. When Hattie was not writing letters and mailing
flyers at the local headquarters, she was on the road to Columbia to help Alice, who was serving on the legislative committee.
By December 1919, the amendment had been ratified by twenty-nine state legislatures and defeated by four—Alabama,
Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland.
In January, suffragists all over South Carolina poured into the capital for the annual meeting of the South Carolina Equal
Suffrage League, which was held at the Jefferson Hotel.
Only a block away, the General Assembly had begun to debate ratification. The women who attended the meeting were as hopeful and
energized by the prospect of the amendment being passed as the majority of the legislators proved to be recalcitrant and resistant
to yield their state’s rights to the federal government by passing it. Hattie and Pauline helped Alice, who was on the hospitality committee and responsible for greeting attendees and answering questions.
In the opening session, Governor Robert Cooper welcomed the women to Columbia and praised them for their work and dedication
on behalf of suffrage. He ended his remarks by stating unequivocally,“I am convinced that women will soon vote.”
Senator Pollock then rose and made a rousing speech in favor of suffrage.
“He certainly did his part,” said Alice, who was standing against the back wall with Hattie and Pauline to assist latecomers to their
seats. “Now it’s up to the state legislators.”
Eulalie Salley gave a president’s report on the past year’s work, which included the distribution of over ten thousand copies of
Senator Pollock’s speech for the amendment in Congress and the establishment of a new course of study on citizenship at the state
She called on Mrs. Bertha Munsell, chairman of the American Citizenship Committee, who added, “We now have a ten-day
course in citizenship at Winthrop summer school and summer classes at USC, Coker College in Hartsville, and Converse College
Mrs. Cathcart, who was now serving as chairman of the resolutions committee, read a statement of appreciation and thanks to
the members of the general assembly of South Carolina “who have fostered the cause.”
“We also want to commend William P. Pollock, who spoke and voted in the Senate for the federal suffrage amendment, for his
loyalty in his convictions and his belief in true democracy.”
President Salley rose and declared that the session would adjourn for lunch.
“When we resume this afternoon, Marjorie Shuler from the National Woman’s Party, will present the keynote speech.
And as we echo Governor Cooper’s prediction that women will soon be voting, we’ll be electing delegates to a meeting at Craven
Hall, to merge the Equal Suffrage League into the League of Women Voters.” The auditorium erupted in applause as the women rose to
Meanwhile, a block away at the statehouse, Senator Niels Christensen had introduced a resolution to ratify the proposed
suffrage amendment. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee and reported unfavorably. Senator Christensen then moved to lay
it on the table. The motion was defeated, and on January 28, it came to a vote and was soundly defeated in the Senate thirty-two
Earlier that week, a concurrent resolution had been introduced to reject the proposed amendment. A motion to refer it to the
Judiciary Committee was defeated eighty-five to twenty-six. The debate extended into the afternoon before the resolution to defeat
came to a vote and passed ninety-three to twenty-nine. South Carolina joined the four southern states that had previously defeated
ratification in their legislatures.
Charles Barton came to Columbia to pick Hattie up from the suffrage convention. They would spend the night with Alice and drive
back to Calhoun the next day. Charles had predicted the outcome of the ratification vote, but he knew that Hattie and Alice and
Pauline had been riding on a wave of hope that would be dashed upon the shore with the defeat of the amendment. Hattie could
always take the train home, but Charles thought that coming to get her would be one small way to lend support.
Alice’s cook and housekeeper, Lula, saw the despondent faces of the women when they returned home from the convention and
prepared a comforting dinner of chicken dumplings, which was sure to soothe their stomachs if not their disappointment.
Too exhausted to dress for dinner, they ate at the round table in the kitchen, where they conducted a postmortem on the legislative
“Father,” said Charles Jr., “my law professor said that even those opposed to ratification are denouncing the legislature for its unprecedented
“Yes, I expect they are. The measure had neither been referred to committee nor placed on the calendar before the vote. With so
much public sentiment in favor of the amendment, their actions could raise a strong enough point of order to cause the amendment
to be reconsidered.”
“It wouldn’t matter,” said Alice, whose usually erect posture had relaxed into a curved spine and rounded shoulders. “Those men
are so stubborn, they are prepared to ramrod their antisuffragist positions down our throats at any cost, and public sentiment be
damned! They couldn’t be gracious enough to support their women by giving us the endorsement of the state. Now their women will
have to depend on the generosity of the men of other states. So disappointing.”
“I know, Alice. That’s exactly how I feel,” said Hattie. “I really thought that if we could convince them that the tide had turned
in favor of suffrage, both nationally and locally, they would come around. But I was obviously wrong. I should have listened to you,
Charles. You always said this would be the outcome.”
“There, there,” said Charles, patting Hattie’s hand. “I take no satisfaction in being right, and I certainly don’t agree with the outcome.
Perhaps you can take some solace in the fact that the men in your life as well as many prominent and educated men across the
state will be dissatisfied with the outcome as well.”
“Unfortunately, not enough of those men are in the South Carolina legislature,” said Hattie.
“That’s exactly why I want to run for the legislature after I get out of law school,” said Charles. “To help tip the balance in favor of
justice and equality for all of the people in South Carolina and not just do what is best for white, privileged men—like Father and me.”
Pauline looked up at her young husband with adoring eyes. “And you’ll do just that, Charles.”
Charles Jr. put his arm around Pauline’s waist and pulled her close to him. “I can do anything if I have you by my side, Pauline.
And, Mama, I’m sorry they voted the suffrage amendment down. I know how hard you and Aunt Alice and Pauline have worked, and
I think it’s wrong you’ve had to wait so long to get equal rights to men.
Our state hasn’t done right by our women, and I’m going to do everything I can to change that. But we haven’t done right by
the colored people in our state, either. I went all the way through the war and was on my way home before I realized that.”
“What do you mean, Son?” said Charles.
END OF EXCERPT
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