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00000174-a288-ddc3-a1fc-bedb7f240000On August 18, 1920, Congress ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.Women’s suffrage is a major event in American history and a milestone in the national aspiration of the equal right of every individual to participate in their government.To commemorate this historic event, the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the National Organization for Women has produced “One Hundred Years Ago,” 11 two-minute radio segments to highlight the decades of struggle in this movement. Three of these segments describe West Virginia’s dramatic role in the struggle.The production was based on extensive research conducted by Renate Pore (Ph.D. History, West Virginia University). Author, singer, songwriter, and graphic artist Colleen Anderson narrates the segments. The theme music “Possum Rag” was written by Geraldine Dobyns in 1907.Listen Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning at 6:42 a.m. and in the afternoon at 4:49 p.m. in February and March.The series is made possible by a grant from The West Virginia Humanities Council.For more information about the West Virginia Centennial Celebration of the 19th Amendment, including a growing list of events planned throughout the state, visit https://sos.wv.gov/about/Pages/WV19Amend.aspx. Read about Kanawha Valley NOW activities on Facebook.

West Virginia Ratifies 19th Amendment

Senator Jesse Bloch cast the deciding vote on West Virginia's ratification of the 19th Amendment
E-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.

In West Virginia, ratification came down to one vote. In February, 1920, when Governor Cornwall called a special session of the legislature to ratify suffrage, two state senators were missing. One had resigned the previous year and one was playing golf in California. The House of Delegates passed the amendment, but it failed in the Senate.

Undeterred, the leadership kept the Senate in session until the pro-suffrage senator from Wheeling, Jesse Bloch, was persuaded to abandon the golf course and travel cross-country. The Charleston Gazette dramatized the senator’s journey from California to Charleston in headlines. “Senator Bloch Is Said to Be on His Way.” “Where Is Senator Bloch?” “Senator Bloch Last Seen in New Mexico.” “Senator Bloch Coming by Airplane.”

Despite that exciting headline, he came by train. The national Republican Party shelled out $5,000 for a special train to get him to Charleston in time for the vote. Senator Bloch arrived in Charleston at 2 a.m. on March 10. After a short night’s sleep, he walked to the old state capitol in today’s Lee Street Triangle and cast his vote in favor of ratification.

This message is produced­­­­ by the Kanawha Valley Chapter of the National Organization for Women with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

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