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Suffrage pioneer has McMinnville ties
Neil Schultz.jpg

Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment 100 years ago on Aug. 18, 1920. 

Grace Eastland was a 16-year-old sophomore attending Livingston Academy. In February 1914, she became an advocate for a woman’s right to vote through her school newspaper The Mountain Echo, which published monthly.

She wrote: “Should women vote? There is no more vital question in our political lives. There are many rights; then there are those blessed rights called ‘women’s rights.’ It is not unwomanly to vote! True, the woman is not as strong as the man; but give her a chance and she will crown the world with love, for the man’s love is not as great as the woman’s love. Why didn’t I say victory? Ah, love is even greater than victory!”

Who was this teen? 

“Grace Eastland would later become Mrs. Earl K. Schultz of McMinnville, a community worker and my mother,” said Neil Schultz. “I came across this school paper and thought it was very fitting to share given that 2020 marks 100 years since Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment.”

Eastland was born in 1898. She married Earl Schultz in 1923. The couple moved to McMinnville in 1942. 

Among her writings, Eastland said, “The Constitution of America reads thus: ‘We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union.’ Now this, ‘we, the people’ means every person in the United States. American women are citizens of this great country, and they should have the right to make laws, vote and help to make the country better. No one dares to say the American woman is not a citizen of this country.”

Eastland pointed out the motto of her movement declared:

“For the long work day,

For the taxes we pay,

For the laws we obey,

We want something to say.”

Neil Schultz admits his mother was brave and outspoken.

“My mother was very spunky,” he said. “She was a good mother. The first memory I have is of her putting me to bed and teaching me a simple prayer. She said, ‘If you ever need anything, this is where you’ll find it.’ She was right.” 

Motherly advice, with words of wisdom and encouragement, would aid women like Eastland in their pursuit. 

When members of the Tennessee state legislature debated on whether to ratify the 19th Amendment, the state Senate voted to ratify, but in the state House of Representatives, the vote resulted in a tie. A young man named Harry Burn cast the tie-breaking vote. He acted on advice from his mother, Phoebe. Burn voted to ratify the amendment.

With Tennessee’s ratification, the 19th Amendment became law, ensuring the right to vote could not be denied base on gender.