Stirring up memories
Eighty-Five Years at the Polls
August 17, 2005
My grandmother was
a great American. She loved her country, loved her flag, and sent two beloved
sons to fight in the Second World War.
I did whatever she
told me. And the day I turned
went right out and made sure that I was registered to vote. (That was the legal
voting age in those long-ago days.)
Why was it so
important to my grandmother?
Because when she had that eventful birthday, she didn’t go and
register to vote. She
couldn’t. In 1911, the
my grandmother turned 21, few women citizens of the United
States could—only those in Wyoming,
changed. Tomorrow marks the eighty-fifth
anniversary of that change. For
over 50 years, many Americans, both men and women, had campaigned vigorously
for women’s suffrage—the right to vote. In May, 1919 the men in the United
States Senate agreed and sent the text of the nineteenth amendment to the
Constitution to the states for ratification.
naturally, had the choice not to ratify—Georgia jumped right on that
bandwagon. It was the first state
in the nation to reject the amendment.
They didn’t waste time, doing it in July, 1919.
voted for the amendment. In the summer
of 1920, the contest narrowed down to Tennessee.
It would take 36 states to ratify, and 35 had. The contest was close. Proponents of the amendments wore
roses; opponents red. Supporters
and opponents flooded into Nashville
from all over the country. Carrie
Chapman Catt led the forces in favor of the amendment. And she was worried it
wasn’t looking good.
came down to the vote. On the first two ballots—a tie. Then on the third vote, the
legislature’s youngest member, twenty-four-year-old, red-rose wearing
Burn rose to cast his vote.
“Aye!" Wild celebration. American women had won the right to
Tennessee ratified and within days the
nineteenth amendment became the law of the land.
Everyone asked Harry the same question once the excitement died down. He explained that as he cast his final vote
he had in his coat pocket a letter he’d just received from his mother, Febb Ensminger Burn, of
“Dear Son: Hurrah, and vote for
suffrage! Don't keep them in doubt. I noticed some of the speeches against.
They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not
noticed anything yet. Don't forget to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put
'rat' in ratification. Signed, Your Mother."
for Febb Burn and her son Harry!
in Georgia? Women weren’t able to vote in the
November elections because of a state requirement of six month’s
registration. But in 1922, Georgia
joined the ranks of American voters.
the legislature wasn’t quite so quick on the uptake on ratification. The Georgia Legislature ratified the
amendment on February 20, 1970. But
we weren’t the last. Louisiana and North
Carolina followed. On March 22, 1984, Mississippi became the final state to
what to make on August 18 to honor Febb and Harry Burns? One recipe that has a long history
American elections is the traditional “Election Day Cake,” served
throughout New England, particularly in Hartford,
first recipe I found was a bit staggering.
quarts of flour, three dozen
a quart of yeast, a pint of wine and a quart of brandy are among the
ingredients listed by Amelia Simmons in her 1796 cookbook, American Cookery. I
don’t think so.
to women’s suffrage predicted dire consequences. Women would start running around,
running for office, getting jobs.
They might quit cooking. With a recipe like
Amelia’s—who would wonder?
did find a more modern and streamlined version, but it’s still a lot
New England Election Day Cake
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup raisins
In a large mixing
bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, and nutmeg. In a saucepan, heat
milk, granulated and brown sugars, and butter just till warm (115-120 degrees),
stirring constantly. Add to dry mixture in bowl. Add egg; beat at low speed of
electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3
minutes at high speed. Stir in remaining flour and raisins by hand. Cover, let
rise in warm place till doubled (about1 1/2 hour). Stir dough down. Spoon into
greased 9x5x3 inch baking loaf pan. Let rise till doubled (about 1 hour). Bake
at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Makes one loaf.
good, but I like getting out of the
kitchen and running around. I finally
I found a recipe worthy of Febb and Harry.
I modified it a little and served it to a panel of registered voters for
landslide victory. A great way to
celebrate 75 years at the polls for American women.
Febb Burn Voters’ Cake
(to be served every August 18)
3/4 cup water
1 (13-3/4oz.) pkg. hot roll mix
1 package spice cake mix
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup golden raisins
2 1/3 cups water
1/3 cup cooking oil
In large bowl,
combine 3/4 cup warm (not hot)
water and yeast from hot roll mix. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Add eggs
hot roll mix. Blend. Add remaining water, spice cake mix, raisins and almonds.
Grease and flour a ten-inch tube cake pan. Pour batter into pan and let rise
for 1 hour in warm place. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until it tests
done. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to complete cooling.
a glaze using one cup sifted confectioner’s sugar and two tablespoons
lemon juice. Pour over the cooled
cake and garnish with whole almonds.
used the amount of water and cooking oil called for on the Duncan Hines Spice
Cake Mix. Quantities may vary
depending on the brand of cake mix you select.
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network