Suf­frage suf­fered in wringer of House

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - CELIA STOREY

Hav­ing thrilled every­one with Part One on Feb. 20, Old News to­day trots out the sec­ond half of a re­port that ap­peared in the Arkansas Gazette on March 3, 1917.

It de­scribes the wild scene in the state House as it voted to ac­cept state Se­nate amend­ments on a bill to grant women the right to vote in po­lit­i­cal pri­maries.

The House al­ready had ap­proved the bill, writ­ten by Rep. John An­drew Riggs, D-Gar­land County, and sent it to the state Se­nate, where — on this date 100 years ago, Feb. 27 — it was OK’d 17-15, with three amend­ments. The two-vote mar­gin of vic­tory was cred­ited to the ab­sence of two se­na­tors who stood ac­cused of bribery.

The Se­nate ac­tion sent the Riggs bill back to the House, where on March 2 the mi­nor­ity op­posed to suf­frage did their darn­d­est to kill it. Be­fore we re­sume the ac­count, here’s your score­card:

Suf­frag­ists, be­sides Riggs: House Speaker Lee Ca­zort of John­son County and Reps. Wil­son Card­well of Wash­ing­ton County, Claude B. Brin­ton of Craig­head County, Jo John­son of Se­bas­tian County, Wil­liam Burt Brooks and J.I. Traw­ick of Pu­laski County, Ben E. McFer­rin of New­ton County, S.A. Moore of In­de­pen­dence County and Dr. Henry B. Hardy of Faulkner County.

Op­po­nents: Reps. Josiah Hardage of Clark County, E. New­ton El­lis of Ran­dolph County, Usco Alonzo Gen­try of Hemp­stead County, Wil­liam Jayson Wag­goner of Lonoke County and James M. Coker of Mar­ion County.

As we saw last week, Hardage first called for restor­ing the words “and declar­ing an emer­gency” to the bill’s ti­tle. Of course Hardage did not see any emer­gent need to let women vote. Quite the op­po­site. But he knew tak­ing off that word­ing was a con­ces­sion that helped the bill through the Se­nate, and it was highly un­likely to gain Se­nate ap­proval a sec­ond time — which would be­come nec­es­sary could he fi­na­gle re­jec­tion of the Se­nate’s changes.

Af­ter more than an hour of ar­gu­ing on this one point, “a ges­tic­u­lat­ing and shout­ing throng of fren­zied men filled the aisles, and very few were in their seats.

“Speaker Ca­zort pounded his gavel in vain for or­der, and above the din it was im­pos­si­ble to rec­og­nize any one. …

“Mr. Wag­goner sud­denly sprung an un­ex­pected de­vel­op­ment when he shouted at the top of his sten­to­rian voice a de­mand that the rules be en­forced and the hall be cleared of all vis­i­tors and ev­ery one not en­ti­tled to the priv­i­lege of the floor. Mr. John­son moved that the rules be sus­pended and the women present be per­mit­ted to re­main, but Mr. Gen­try in­sisted that the rule be en­forced. He said he was tired and sick of see­ing the rules bro­ken, and of see­ing so many women on the floor to in­flu­ence

the mem­bers in their votes.

Suf­frag­ists leave

“At this point a party of well known Lit­tle Rock suf­frage lead­ers, who had been on the floor watch­ing the pro­ceed­ings, left. Among them were Mrs. Min­nie U. Ruther­ford-Fuller, Mrs. O.F. Elling­ton, Mrs. Clarence Rose, Mrs. DeMatt Hen­der­son, Mrs. F.W. Gibb, Mrs. John P. Al­mand, Mrs. Dren­nen Scott and Miss Norma Hut­ton.

“Af­ter their de­par­ture, Mr. John­son said they had be­come dis­gusted and had left the hall, and he with­drew his mo­tion. Speaker Ca­zort then said that since the rule had been in­voked, it would be en­forced, and di­rected ev­ery vis­i­tor on the floor to go to the gal­leries, and the sergeant-atarms to lock the doors. This was rigidly en­forced — for about 15 min­utes — when the vis­i­tors be­gan to drift back into the hall as the guests of mem­bers. The speaker also forced ev­ery mem­ber to his seat and re­fused to rec­og­nize any­one not at his seat.

Speaker Is Sus­tained

“Fi­nally, the Hardage mo­tion was put and de­feated, 26

ayes to 64 noes. Mr. Hardage gave no­tice that at 9:30 a.m. Mon­day he would move to re­con­sider the vote by which the mo­tion was lost. Mr. Brooks of Pu­laski raised the point of or­der that Mr. Hardage had voted with the mi­nor­ity and could not give such no­tice. The speaker ruled the point of or­der well taken and Mr. Hardage ap­pealed from the de­ci­sion. Mr. Brooks was called to the chair.

“Speaker Ca­zort said that it was com­mon sense that a man who had voted in the mi­nor­ity could not move to re­con­sider, and there­fore could not give no­tice. Mr. Traw­ick of Pu­laski moved to lay the ap­peal on the ta­ble. Mr. Gen­try

shouted that there was no rule that would per­mit lay­ing an ap­peal on the ta­ble, but Mr. McFer­rin and Mr. Traw­ick cited the rule.

“The mo­tion was put and de­clared adopted, when the fil­i­bus­ter­ers de­manded a roll call, and by a vote of 63 to 20 this ap­peal was tabled and Speaker Ca­zort sus­tained.

Hardage Ef­fort Again De­feated

“Mr. Wag­goner moved to post­pone fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion un­til next Tues­day, and Mr. John­son moved to ta­ble that mo­tion, which pre­vailed. By this time it was 11:33 and Mr. Hardage moved to re­cess un­til 2 p.m. Mr. Moore of In­de­pen­dence moved as

a sub­sti­tute that at 12 o’clock the house take a re­cess un­til 2 p.m. Mr. Hardage moved as an amend­ment to the sub­sti­tute that at 21 min­utes of 12 o’clock the house take a re­cess.

“The Hardage amend­ment lost by a vote of 55 to 29 and the Moore mo­tion pre­vailed.

“Mr. Brooks then moved the pre­vi­ous ques­tion on the other amend­ments, which Speaker Ca­zort de­clared adopted.

“Mr. Gen­try in­sisted that there should be a roll call on the mo­tion, and there were cries all over the hall of ‘roll call,’ ‘steam roller,’ ‘point of or­der,’ ‘czar,’ ‘rail­road,’ ‘Stay with Lee,’ ‘We are with you, Mr. Speaker,’ and some re­marks

made in the heat of pas­sion which the mem­bers would prob­a­bly re­nounce if they saw them in print.

Want Chap­lain to Pray

“Mr. McFer­rin in­voked the rule that the speaker might de­clare mo­tions dila­tory in his judg­ment, and Mr. Brooks sup­ported him. The speaker ruled sub­se­quent mo­tions and points of or­der dila­tory and or­dered the clerk to read the amend­ments.

“The read­ing pro­ceeded while pan­de­mo­nium pre­vailed, and above the stri­dent shouts a score of voices were heard singing, ‘How Dry I Am; No­body Knows How Dry I Am.’”

“The speaker ruled the sec­ond amend­ment adopted and Mr. Hardage ap­pealed again from his de­ci­sion, on some tech­ni­cal point. Mr. Brooks moved to lay the ap­peal on the ta­ble, which was adopted with a thun­der of ayes.

“Mr. Hardy of Faulkner, who has one of the strong­est voices on the floor, pleaded above the din and tur­moil for some­one to send for the chap­lain to pray for the house, and a dozen mem­bers gath­ered around him and fanned him with news­pa­pers while he shouted.

Amend­ments Are Adopted

“The read­ing of the amend­ments was com­pleted un­der these con­di­tions. The mem­bers knew by in­tu­ition that the speaker was putting the mo­tions, and at the sig­nals from the chair the friends of suf­frage thun­dered ‘aye.’

“The speaker de­clared all the amend­ments adopted. The bill was or­dered en­grossed, and will come up Tues­day morn­ing, next Se­nate day in reg­u­lar or­der, to pass as amended by the Se­nate.”

But no, the foes were not fin­ished.

Next week: Gov­er­nor Signs Suf­frage Mea­sure

Gov. Charles H. Brough (cen­ter, in a light suit and bow tie) poses with 83 men and 63 women suf­frag­ists on the steps of the state Capi­tol. State Capi­tol his­to­rian David Ware IDs the photo as hav­ing been taken Feb, 27, 1917, the day the state Se­nate ap­proved the bill that be­came Act 186 of 1917, grant­ing women the right to vote in pri­maries.

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