North Dakota's Ratification of the 19th Amendment (Part 2) | Prairie Public Broadcasting

North Dakota's Ratification of the 19th Amendment (Part 2)

Dec 5, 2019

[Dakota Datebook: 100 Years of Women Voting is produced in cooperation with the North Dakota Woman Suffrage Centennial Committee.]

Governor Lynn Frazier had called a special session in late November 1919 that addressed, among other issues, the proposed 19th Amendment to the US Constitution to grant women the right to vote. The House and Senate both voted in favor by December 1st, and it was signed by both branches on December 4th.

With the legislature's vote, North Dakota became the 20th state to approve ratification. Sister State South Dakota also passed it, becoming the 21st state to approve ratification.

However, the vote was not unanimous. In the House, Legislator Herman Hardt, of Napoleon, who had been a dissenting voice, stated: "I wish to explain my vote. The reason I vote "no" on this is that four years ago, this same question was submitted to the people of the State of North Dakota, and it was then rejected, and as the majority of the people of my district are opposed to it unless they have a vote on it, ...I believe that it properly should be referended by the people at large."

This reason for dissenting had come up before but did not satisfy all in the debate for women's suffrage. The Dickinson Press reported a few years prior: "The politicians who say they believe in woman suffrage, but want it to come through state referenda, seem surprised that the suffragists are not entirely satisfied with such endorsement. It is a little bit like saying, 'If you put salt on a bird's tail, I will catch him for you.'"

Despite the debates, the women of North Dakota had been granted limited suffrage two years before. Governor Frazier had signed that first 1917 bill, and he would now sign another, for the 19th Amendment, as the women who would soon gain full voting rights looked on.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

North Dakota Senate Journal Special Session 1919

North Dakota House Journal Special Session 1919

https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=63

http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/womens-suffrage/pdf/teacher_guide.pdf

https://www.history.nd.gov/archives/stateagencies/conscon1889.html

https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/house-nineteenth-amendment