Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I thank my colleague, Senator CAPITO from West Virginia, who, in the spirit of today, has allowed me to take her place, and she will go next. I rise to join my colleagues to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment. I thank Senator COLLINS and Senator FEINSTEIN for taking the lead in bringing us together today. Just think. One hundred years ago today, the Senate voted to guarantee and protect a woman’s constitutional right to vote, marking an important milestone in our democracy.
My home State of Minnesota was the 15th State to ratify the 19th Amendment, and women like Dr. Mary Jackman Colburn, Sarah Burger Stearns, Clara Ueland, and Sarah Tarleton Colvin fought to make it happen. By the way, on a historical note, when President Wilson refused at first to support a constitutional amendment to grant women equal voting rights, suffragists like Sarah Colvin of Minnesota chained themselves to the fence of the White House and burned an effigy of the President. After weeks of similar protest fires and intense pressure to support equal rights, he announced his support of a constitutional amendment.
We also must remember, in addition to people like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony, the African-American suffragists who were in the league—Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, and Margaret Murray Washington. The women’s suffrage movement encountered strong opposition. It doesn’t feel like that would have happened now, but it did back then, and those who opposed equality came up with creative reasons to keep women from voting.
The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was a real organization and published a pamphlet full of propaganda. The pamphlet read that if women were granted the right to vote, some States would be under ‘‘petticoat rule.’’ The pamphlet also provided a list of household cleaning tips for women, such as not needing a ballot to clean out your sink spout and that there is no method known by which a mud-stained reputation may be cleaned after bitter political campaigns. Posters were scattered across cities that depicted men at home taking care of babies and cooking and cleaning because they had been abandoned by their voting wives.
One hundred years later, I think we can safely say that none of the dire warnings described in the propaganda came to pass and that the United States of America did not perish under the ‘‘petticoat rule.’’ What did happen is, in 1920, in the first Federal election in which women could vote, the total popular vote increased dramatically from 18.5 million to 26.8 million by 1920. When I arrived in the Senate, there were only 16 women, led by the dean of the women Senators, who is here with us today, Senator Barbara Mikulski. As noted by my colleagues, we now have 25 women Senators.
That is an all-time high because, when you look at the history of the Senate, there have been nearly 2,000 male Senators and only 56 women. I was on the Trevor Noah show a few months ago, and he said that if a nightclub had that kind of ratio, they would shut it down. Yet, in fact, we are at an all-time high with 25 women Senators and with more to come. Someone once said that women should speak softly and carry a big statistic. Well, I don’t agree with the ‘‘speak softly’’ part, but there is some merit to the big statistic. Maybe because it was harder for them to get where they are, I have found women Senators to be accountable, to say what they are going to do, and to get it done. There was actually a study from Harvard—the University of Minnesota of the East—that showed that it was, in fact, true.
My colleagues have mentioned the challenges ahead. We have to make sure that more people can vote and that we don’t suppress votes. We need to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. We need to make sure that we have equal pay. There are many, many challenges ahead. We celebrate today because we all stand on the shoulders of those before us. In our case, we stand on the very broad shoulders of our friend Barbara Mikulski, who once said—and I still remember this—when we took up a woman’s issue on the floor, to put on your suits, square your shoulders, put on your lipstick, and get ready for a revolution. I don’t know what revolution she was talking about, but hers was the voice of those before us. We all stand on their shoulders, and we are happy to take up their torch. I yield the floor.