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A mother’s prodding led to women’s right to vote

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. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Last week marked the 90th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, the one that gave women the right to vote after a full century of organization, agitation and marching.

On Aug. 18, 1920, the Tennessee General Assembly became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, thus making it official.

Few folks remember, however, that the historic ratification occurred by just one single vote — a man’s, of course, in those days.

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It was Harry T. Burn, a lawyer and later a banker. He had settled on his opposition to this suffrage nonsense.

The General Assembly suffrage amendment vote came up a 48-48 tie. Burn’s vote would defeat it and postpone national ratification at least another month until the Connecticut Legislature vote.

But shortly before the historic legislative tally, Burn received a long letter from his mother back home in Niota.

She said, in part:

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“I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet. Don’t forget to be a good boy.”

Burn behaved himself. He changed his “nay” vote to “yea.”

The rest has become history.

A holy war in Nevada campaign

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It has been an undoubtedly strange campaign season here in the Silver State:

Nevada’s economy is in the toilet, and yet its Senate candidates keep sparring over theology.

Sharron Angle (R-Southern Baptist) has taken some hits for describing her campaign as a “calling” from God and dismissing federal entitlement programs as a form of idolatry.

On Monday, Angle and her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Mormon) — who are neck-and-neck in the polls — whacked each other over a proposed mosque near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, despite the fact that they are both opposed to the idea.

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This ongoing holy war caught the attention of Bill Roberts, a former editor of the Tonopah Times-Bonanza and Goldfield News. In a recent column, he detailed Angle’s role in an odd controversy in rural Nye County, where she served on the school board for several years.

In 1992, the Tonopah High School football coach was trying to rev up his Muckers (it’s a mining term, for any city readers here) for their homecoming game. They’d been walloped by opponents from Laughlin the prior year.

Because the coach referred to the loss as “the blackest day in Mucker history,” Roberts said, he suggested the players wear black jerseys.

Although some community members were riled up over the Muckers wearing anything besides red and white, Angle and others made a far different argument: that “black as a color was thoroughly evil, invoking the supernatural and especially the devil,” Roberts said.

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For whatever reason, school administrators banned the black jerseys.

“Nevada voters who did not know so before now are learning that religion is a big part of any Angle campaign, just as it was so many years ago,” Roberts wrote. Will that matter?

On one hand, Nevada is home to Sin City, which even Obama has famously advised people not to visit before clarifying his position to absolute adoration during a more recent fundraising visit.

Las Vegas therefore survives because of a libertarian tolerance for at least venial transgressions. Fiscal, not social, conservatism dominates the Republican message here, and even Democrats rarely utter the word “tax.”

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But the recession has dramatically slashed the profit margin of Las Vegas sin-peddling, and indirectly waters down a lot of mud that Democrats have tossed regarding Angle’s religious beliefs.

The Ticket asked Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen about the Muckers column. His reply: “The state has bigger things to worry about than high school football games from 20 years ago, like 14% unemployment, thanks to Sen. Reid. But I’m glad that they won their game.”

andrew.malcolm@latimes.com

ashley.powers@latimes.com

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Top of the Ticket (www.latimes.com/ticket), The Times’ blog on national politics, is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. These are selections from the last week.


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