News Release - November 2016

Women's suffrage movement recounted for

Republican women's club.

November 28, 2016

The Sussex County Republican Women's Club heard from guest speaker Chan Cosans of North East, MD., at their October 26 meeting.  Cosans is a member of The Heritage troupe, whose performers travel the area putting on patriotic skits and performing stand-up comedy.


Club members were treated to a rousing presentation of the important events of the movement known as women's suffrage.  Dressed in period garb, Cosans introduced herself as Elizabeth Bell Hammond, a Dover pb owner in 1777.  As Hammond, she brought to life the suffragette story as she recounted arrests, hunger strikes and the forced feeding that were endured by women in the movement such as Susan B. Anthony and her successor Carrie Chapman Catt.


With emotion shaking her voice, she quoted from a letter written by Abigail Adams to her husband Vice President John Adams, who later became the second President of the United States.  She implored her husband to be kind to the ladies lest they forment rebellion.  "Women will not hold themselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice." she said.


Eight Delaware women were recognized for their active participation in the movement.  Those sisters in suffrage were Mabel, Vernon, Florence Bayard Hilles, Annie Jump Cannon, Mary Ann Sorden Stuart, Vera Gilbride Davis, Mabel Lloyd Fisher Ridgely, Emalea Pusey Warner and Sallie Topkis Ginns.


With placards handed to audience participants, Cosans gave a timeline of the votes.  Much like today, many legislators were for the bill before they were against it.  As each state was named, its placard was held high in anticipation.  Time after time, cheers turned to jeers as states allowed women the vote, such as New Jersey in 1790, only to take it away in 1807.  When the bill finally passed, it still needed to be ratified.  The states were evenly split with most southern states opposed to ratification.


Delaware, the first state in the union, could have cast the decisive vote, but chose instead to walk out of the proceedings.  This left Tennessee, an opposition state, as the last hope for the cause before time ran out on the ratification cycle.  It would then be another seven years before another vote could be taken.  Tennessee Congressman Harry T. Burns, with a note in his pocket from his mother urging him "to be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt by putting the rat on ratification" cast the vote that put the amendment over the top.  The 19th Amendment was ratified Aug. 18, 1920 and certified Aug. 26, 1920.  Women were then and forevermore allowed to exercise the right afforded them by the Constitution, the right to vote.


The Sussex County Republican Women’s Club assists in the election of Republican candidates, acts as an advocate for the Republican Party’s principles, and empowers women to participate in the political process.  SCRWC, the largest Republican Women's Club in Delaware, has been actively engaging women in the political process for more than six decades.

The public is invited to attend the meetings.  To make a required reservation, contact Linda Rehm at 302-430-0329 or


Courtesy Cape Gazette​​​

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