The call of December 27, 1919: going forward
Votes for women bandwagon, cartoon by Clifford Kennedy Berryman.
Washington Evening Star, January 10, 1918.
Library of Congress Record: https://www.loc.gov/item/2016679510/
It was December 27, 1919, the President of the United States was Woodrow Wilson, and the number one song on the charts was “Christmas Time at Pumpkin Center,” by Cal Stewart and Ada Jones & The Peerless Quartet - a comedic skit and song not unlike the tone of SNL, were it to be heard today on vinyl or the radio . The Catholic Church was being led by Pope Benedict XV, and a political cartoon had circulated across the U.S., teasing at Congress even as it was hearing the last call to hop onto the suffrage “bandwagon” at the national level - for nearly two years. Meanwhile, women's suffrage had gained incredible support in so many communities that in most states women were already involved in some form of voting. As Congress dragged behind the people who’d sent them to Washington in the first place, federal law really had no choice but to succumb to the demand of the day: Support Women .
Yes, the ratification of the 19th Amendment was a certainty, and Carrie Chapman Catt was leading the march toward it. It was on this very day in 1919 that Mrs. Catt released The Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Proceedings of the Victory Convention and First National Congress of the League of Women Voters. Contained therein were the Articles of Incorporation, names of officers, a substantial outline of matters for the new League to take in hand, and a schedule of events for the convention itself which was set to take place in Chicago on February 12 through 18th, 1920 .
As fearless as the 28-word title of this booklet Mrs. Catt's bold call for the first Congress of the League of Women Voters spoke far and wide within its pages. “Come one and all," she began, "and unitedly make this last suffrage convention a glad memory to you, a heritage for your children and your children’s children and benefaction to our nation." Looking to the coming year to culminate the decades of women's suffrage efforts, she observed that, “Few people live to see the actual and final realization of hopes to which they have devoted their lives. That privilege is ours.” .
A complete digital copy of the handbook
released by Carrie Chapman Catt
on December 27, 1919 is available here.
And while 1920 did see the ratification of the 19th Amendment - an incredible success for many American women after 51 years of protest and agitation - history reminds us that suffrage for all American women did not end in that year. The last state to grant the Native American vote was Utah, in 1962 . Black Americans could not count on casting their votes in every state, legally and unhindered until 1965 . Asian Americans and Latinx Americans also had incremental successes on their way to the ballot box, and we still see a variety of methods to suppress and gerrymander the vote to this day.
So while we remain impressed and emboldened by the profound courage of One Carrie Chapman Catt on that day, perhaps it is the valiant presence of these Leaguers across the U.S. since 1920 that show us the way, today. We find ourselves in a similar environment now, with a majority of Americans opposing all-out abortion bans and a Congress that has not lifted a pen to honor this fact. We continue to have religious leaders abroad, including the current Pope, speaking out on topics concerning women and families. People today are not so different. We remain a nation full of possibilities and ideals that are not always realized by every individual in every circumstance.
How can we learn from the determination and courage of those who began the League of Women Voters? We can listen to Carrie Chapman Catt’s vivid call to propel us into the full realization of our ideals in our second century as we enter 2023.
 Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Columbia matrix 78485. Christmas time at Pumpkin Center / Ada Jones ; Peerless Quartet ; Cal Stewart," accessed December 22, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/index.php/matrix/detail/2000026262/78485-Christmas_time_at_Pumpkin_Center.
 Clifford Kennedy, Berryman. Artist. Votes for Women Bandwagon. Washington D.C. Washington, 1918. [Jan] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2016679510/.
 The Handbook of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Proceedings of the Victory Convention and First National Congress of the League of Women Voters. Chapman Catt, Carrie Dec 27 1919. Accessed Dec 26 2022. https://books.google.com/books id=pmMUaZ5dYkkC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ViewAPI#v=onepage&q&f=false
 When Did Native Americans Get The Right To Vote? Inside The Little-Known History Of Indigenous Voter Suppression, Ishak, Natasha. Nov 3 2020. Accessed Dec 26 2022. https://allthatsinteresting.com/native-american-voting
 Black suffrage. Last edited Nov 29 2022. Accessed Dec 26 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_suffrage