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tv   Call-in with Elaine Weiss The Womans Hour  CSPAN  November 11, 2019 9:30am-10:15am EST

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and died in the korean war in 1950 and i just, i heard him talking about the book on npr, sounds like a great read and it was. just and listen to other people as well. if they're reading something interesting they'll usually talk about it. no systemic way, but i usually end up with a pretty good book. >> where do you enjoy reading? >> everywhere. probably get more reading done on airplanes than anyplace else. you can either read policy papers or have a really good book. you've got a couple of hours there or more, usually more. and so, do a lot of that, but then i try to read something every day, read at least a little bit if i've got a book that i've reading, knock off 10 or 20 pages at night when i get home, but i don't travel ever without a book. >> find out what other members of congress are reading by visiting book tv.org. and searching "what are you reading." >> elaine white is the author of this book, it's called "the women's hour." ms. white,
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nashville, august, 1920. what was it like? >> oh, it was bedlam. this is a sleepy southern city in the middle of sister. the legislature is usually in resource. it is a time when you drink tea and sit on your porch and nashville became the center of the political universe of the united states for several weeks in the summer of 1920 because tennessee might be the last and deciding state to ratify the 19th amendment and if the tennessee legislature did, then women across the country, in every state, in every election for the first time, all women, would have the right to vote. and it was all coming down to tennessee and it got really wild. >> how many women were in america at that point, voting
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age? >> about 27 million women were of voting age. now, of course, not all would vote and as we know for african-american women and for asian women and for native american women, they would not be allowed to vote under the 19th-- the 19th amendment did give the vote to all women, but jim crow laws in the south and other state laws denied the vote to quite a few women. quite a sizable minority, but 27 million women were eligible to vote and no one knew how they were going to vote and the politicians were worried about it. it was a presidential election, and so the presidential candidates were very worried about it. the governor is very worried about it, he's up for reelection, so it's a political free for all from the white house to congress in nashville.
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probably tennessee in august it wasn't 60 degrees and sunny-- or cool. >> no, it wasn't. the characters i write about in this political battle, men and women write in their memoirs how hot it is and especially for the northern women coming down to participate in this battle, that legislative battle of lobbying and filibustering and all of those things, they were not used to the heat. so, in fact, when i started my research in the summer of 2013, i purposely went down in august so i would feel the heat. i wanted to feel it baring down on me. it was sort of method acting for historical writers, and i did. i felt how it really can bear down and surround you and tried
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to imagine what it was like without any air conditioning and wearing ten pounds of clothes which women had to do. so it helped me understand how uncomfortable they could be. >> elaine weiss, first of all, why did it come down to tennessee? >> well, it -- the federal amendment, so, the suffrage cause had been going on for seven decades, 72 years at this point, if we mark it from the first organized meeting at seneca falls in 1848. that's not the first time it was discussed. it wasn't the first time women were advocating for it, but we market it as that, for various reasons. it's the first public call. so from that time to 1920, 72 years. the-- for various reasons that i explained in the book, women were working both at the state level and at the federal level.
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they finally got a federal amendment passed after 40 years. it has been stuck in congress for who years, since 1878 and finally, in 1919 after world war i and women participating in a different way than they'd ever participated before, congress finally relengths narrowly, narrowly passes it and it goes out to the state. three quarters of the states have to ratify, that's 36 states because there are 48 states in the union at that time, 35 have ratified by the summer of 1920, just one more if needed, and for various reasons, it turns out, tennessee is the sort of best hope for the suffragists. >> it had any other southern states ratified at that point? >> yeah, just two, most rejected the amendment, had not ratified, but texas and arkansas had, but it was clear that there were two other
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southern states in play at the beginning of the summer which were north carolina and florida. north carolina rejected it during the time tennessee was considering it, and then florida refused to call a special session. so, for various reasons, it came down to tennessee and it was a dangerous place to be thinking the entire enfranchisement of half of the population of the united states because tennessee was a southern state. there was a lot of ambivalence and opposition to suffrage there, but there was also a very vibrant women's suffrage organization, so what happens is they say to the national leaders, we can do it. come down help us, we can do it so the national leaders come down and you see this fascinating, almost ballet between the different wings of the suffrage movement because
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it was not a unified movement, and also working against the opposition that is very strong and has both corporate and political and religious opposition and leaders of those movements and then it also has women of different persuasions. so, it becomes a free for all and it's a fascinating mic microcosm of the political of the moment-- >> who was carrie? >> she was the leader of the suffrage movement. and pierson-- >> i've got my movements mixed up. >> and let's go to the leader
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of the --. >> what's interesting. i was shocked. i'm not a suffrage scholar, i hadn't been studying this for 40 years so when i encountered the concept that there were women organized all over the country who opposed women's suffrage and especially opposed the federal amendment. i was really shocked. i didn't comprehend that women could oppose their sisters getting the vote, but it does teach us that women do not speak monolithically, they don't think monolithically. >> one of the characters that i follow is josephine pierson. she's very well-educated. she's a dean of a small college. she is a professor and she comes from a very traditional, conservative background in southern tennessee, her father was a baptist minister.
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pardon me, a methodist minister and she grows up in a house old where the idea of women moving out of the domestic sphere, doing something in public was just not accepted and she really fears what she calls the peril of feminism, which would elevate women to an equal status with men and she sees that as unnatural. she also has some religious opposition and she has racial opposition because one of the things we encounter, especially in the southern states, especially in this last battle is the idea that there's opposition because black women would be given the votes by constitutional law and in some of those jim crow states, that was not an accepted political concept. and so they are fighting against it. >> so, josephine pierson is the
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anti-leader. >> she's the leader of the tennessee anti-suffrage. >> a political pop significan-- >> she's anti-suffrage leader from those from washington and boston who come down to help her. so she's leading the tennessee contingent, she's the home team, but she's being assisted by very, very strong and well-funded women who are opposing it and have been opposing it in other states. she's also a little bit of friction with the national leaders who think they know best how to run this campaign in tennessee. >> before we leave miss pierson, describe how she kept her cool at the hermitage hotel. >> so, josephine was called
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into service, this is now in mid july of 1920, they realize that tennessee is going to deliberate on this. the legislature is going to be called and so she gets the summons to come to nashville from her home which is in the southern part of the state, we need you, come immediately, the suffra suffragettes are coming and they arranged for her to stay in the fansiest hotel, the hermitage at the time which is still a beautiful, beautiful hotel and she's not used to this luxury and of course, it's not air conditioned. it's hot. it's hotter than usual this weekend in july so she spends that first night in the bathtub, running cold water and using the telephone to call her colleagues and send telegrams
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saying come to nashville. we need to oppose this amendment, come quickly. so she's doing this from the bathroom. she writes about this in her memoir and i actually checked with the hotel, would she have been in a bathtub or did they have showers? yes, she was in the bathtub. >> elaine weiss, let's go to carr carr carrie catz, a leader of the suff, s-u-f-f, suffrage. >> she's an iowa farm girl, teacher, widowed, actually widowed twice and catches the eye of susan b. anthony in the 1880's and '90s. susan b anthony was a good mentor.
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she would spot young women of talent who she thought would be future leaders of the movement and she would train them and she would have them accompany her on the campaign trail because she was going across the country constantly, trying to get interest and enthusiasm in the hinterlands for suffrage. so she packed carrie and she says she has the fire and logistical mind to be able to lead the movement. so she becomes, see actually becomes susan anthony's successor. she literally is anointed by susan anthony to take over in 1900 as susan anthony is aging and she becomes president for a while. she leaves it for a while because her husband is ill and other things, comes back in 1916 and says, the woman's hour has struck and that's a title of my book, and she takes over as the master strategist.
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now, at this time, the suffrage movement is split and you have the third generation. they've been fighting for so long, a third generation has emerged of younger women and they're tired of waiting. they're tired of pleading and we see today this sort of impatience of the way things have always been so a young woman with a ph.d. from university of pennsylvania had volunteered to-- >> sue white. >> this is alice who starts a splinter movement, starts a more radical stream of the suffrage movement and attracts you young-- sow white the national women's party splitting off from the mainstream and we see this happening all the time in labor, in the labor movement, the civil rights movement, a young, more impatient wing that takes off.
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and so sue white, daughter of west tennessee wants to be a lawyer, and told women don't become layers and she joins the suffrage movement and then gradually gets impatient and joins alice paul's national women's party and becomes the head of it in tennessee, so those are my three characters that we follow. carrie catz the ahead of the establishment, two women who are affiliated with the national american suffrage association, her organization. she comes down from new york to run the strategy for getting the federal amendment through. sue white, who is running as lieutenants to alice paul. she's running the women's party. so you have two women's organizations, with the same goal, but working separately and working sometimes at odds
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at each other. and then you have josephine pierson who is leading the opposition and a whole constellation of men and politicians and corporate lobbyists. we don't think about that, but corporate lobbyists were a big part of this equation, all gathering in nashville and having fistfights. >> all right, we're going to continue to talk to elaine white. we want to make sure that you know that you can call in and participate in this segment if you have questions for her, 202 is the area code 202-748-8201, if you live in the mountain and pacific time zone go ahead and call in and we'll get to those in just a minute. josephine pierson, carrie catz and sue white did they ever meet each other at the e hermitage hotel?
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>> they must have. i don't have documentation bus they were there for weeks and weeks. so you have both wings of the suffrage movement. at the hotel, the anti-suffrage ettes have headquarters and many of the lobbyists were staying there. and it's a crazy place, meeting in the lobby, in the dining room, and sometimes they pass and don't speak to each other, but i don't have -- and believe me, i looked, a confrontation altogether, but they certainly were bouncing off each other in the hallways. carrie is kept in her suite for most are the time. she's such a lightning rod, she's an outsider, considered a yankee and so she's not allowed to sort of be in public. she doesn't go lobby in the legislature. she runs things from her hotel suite. >> who owns the hermitage
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today? and were they helpful in your research? >> oh, yes, the hermitage is so helpful. it is a five-star hotel. it's been beautifully restored and many of the same elements are there. this mailbox that was-- is original, it was built in 1900's, only ten years old, the most luxurious place. when i stayed there for the dedication of the suffrage monument and i was just actually there last week to help them kick off the centennial year, they put me up in the room that was carrie's. and that's truly, truly, a thrill because one of the things she talks about in her letters is that the state house is right out her window, it's like a block and a half away and there i could see it and it really-- it looms in the window and that sense of seeing her entire regular
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regularsy-- legacy being played out in that beautiful state house so close, but she can't go down and she can't touch it. she has to wait for messengers to run between the hotel and the state house up on the hill, but that was really exciting and they actually-- the hermitage is now unveiled and i helped temp do that last week, an al cove in the lobby to that suffrage story in the hotel and a beautiful bust of carrie. >> let's take calls and hear from diane in texas. are' on with author elaine weiss. >> yes, about a month ago on c-span i heard a theory that i'd never heard before that a lot of white men wanted their wives to counter act the earlier black negro men who
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vote. is that true? >> thank you, ma'am. >> did you understand that question? a lot of white men wanted that i remember white wives to vote to counter act the black vote of black men. >> that's very true. that is very true. there was a sense, especially in the south, but in other places, too, that there were more white women than black women who could vote and-- or be eligible to vote. of course, they would be voting by i ntimidation, by crazy literacy requirements, but, yes, there were white men and you encounter that in my book, you encounter that from congressmen and senators to legislators in the southern states and they do say, this will give my wife, my daughter, the vote so more white women
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will be voting. so it's one of the racial uncomfortable racial aspects of the movement that we need to understand and confront and explain. >> it's funny, our next three callers are all men. i look forward to hearing what they have to say. >> jim from california. hi, jim. >> thank you very much for taking my call. my question is the intersection of the suffrage movement and the temperance movement and the prohibition at the same time as both the women's right to vote amendment. >> yes, indeed. that was an interesting intersection, from the very beginning in the 1870's and '80s, when the women's christian temperance union
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begins to organize, many of the leaders were activists of temperance. for some it was a moral question, but for some it was a question about domestic violence because women had very few legal ways to redress an abusive husband or father. police were not interested. they couldn't bring them to court, and so by stemming it at the source, so to speak, te temperance becomes an answer to domestic violence. the suffragettes were looking at the vote was a means of rights for women are aligned, not all, but many, with the temperance movement. and prohibition is already in effect and you'd say, well, it's all over, you know.
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why would the liquor lobby be interested. by the way the liquor lobby has been trying to apose suffrage in all the states and at the federal level for decades because they don't want women to get the vote because they fear they will want prohibition. and so prohibition is already in effect. they say why are they interested still? they were hoping if they could keep women from the ballot box, that perhaps prohibition would not be enforced quite so stringently. and so they were looking to congress and legislatures that were not going to enforce prohibition and that's why even in 1920, even in nashville. they are fighting to stop the federal amendment and so, there's this wonderful scene that i describe of something
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called the jack daniels suite, which was the liquor lobby's attempt to persuade legislators that they should not ratify and so, it was a speak easy on the floor of the hermitage hotel, dispensing liquor 24/7 and you have drunk legislators bouncing off the walls, singing keep the home fires burning, and this is all to keep the federal amendment from being ratified and perhaps helping the liquor industry not be affected as strongly by prohibition. >> let's go back to place and time, elaine weiss. this is august, 1920, three months away, two months in a little bit from the first election. >> and that's what happened a great deal in nashville, too. the political parties, democrats and republicans have
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been nervous of suffrage and the republicans have been better friends to suffrage at the state level and national level to the decades. >> why was that? >> it was interesting, we have to kind of move things around in our minds. republicans supported the progressive movement more strongly. they were for the most part supportive of reforms and fighting the trusts and also reforms like clean milk and maternal health. so, this he were-- they were actually the heroes in many states of the suffrage movement. so you have the political parties, very nervous about suffrage because it is a presidential election and then you have the candidates themselves who play a part in the-- in my story because the -- both
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the suffragettes want the president to support them. and one is running with a young franklin roosevelt as his vice-president partner. and we have warren g harding also from ohio and they're both being courted and pressed by the suffragetts and the anti-suffragettes. >> and robert is calling in from california. good morning, robert. >> good morning, sir. yeah, i just wanted to pass on from my late grandmother who was part of that whole suffrage movement out of minnesota back, back in the day.
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>> oh. >> to get the vote and then she was an educator as well. and then she started this private organization at that time, a lot of the women, you know, they couldn't own property or cash a check or anything. >> right. >> so they had this private party called the peo, which nobody else knew. the guys didn't know this, but that was called pop's eating out. when they had their meeting. and they would collect money to send girls to school and i just wanted to pass that on. >> that's fascinating. >> that's back in the day. >> thank you for sharing that. yes, one of the great things as i've been touring around the country talking about my book, talking about the suffrage movement. i've been to minnesota and there was very vibrant grass roots activism there and there
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was a scandanavian women's suffrage association who actually would go to suffrage parades in native costume and it was -- so one of the things to understand is we think of the suffrage movement of maybe susan b anthony and elizabeth stanton and we don't have a sense of how large this movement was that in every city, in every state, in every town, there were suffragettes organizing. there were african-american women organizing. latino women organizing. one of the great things about the enis ten-- centennial. we're entering the centennial year, 2020, and every state is beginning their commemoration. one of the great things, it's spurring more research at the local level and so we're going into power times. we're going into places that
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were not looked at, perhaps, to get all of the voices into the story. like the black women's club. like the church records. all of these places that hold the story of ordinary women who really make a big sacrifice. they risked their reputations. they risked being condemned from the pulpit, their pastors are against them marching in the streets, very, very brave and they're at every level all through the country, and one of the great things is that we're getting a much larger, more complex, more colorful idea of what this suffrage movement was. it wasn't just two-ladies at the top. so your grandmother's part of that. >> from the women's hour, it's to easy to imagine that the enfranchisement of women simply arrived like some evolutionary
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imperative, the natural gradual step of progress or as a gift eventually besoed by wise men on their grateful wives, daughters and sisters and the women asked politely, had a few picturesque marches and picket signs and without much drama, votes for women were achieved. that's not mou it happened. ... particularly where do they go? >> i apologize, very difficult to understand you. if you're on speaker or on a cell phone, that will not work for us. speak very clearly into your phone. thank you.
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>> my question is, the women and how they evolved or did not evolve after the minute was passed, did they say i'm not going to vote on principle or do they ultimately evolve? >> thank you very much. the anti-after. >> that's a wonderful question and i do deal with that in the afterward of the book. one of the fascinating and unexpected result is after ratification when the women who fought so hard to word this meanamendment that would give a woman a vote. they take advantage of the political power and they do both. they learn to organize and while the suffragist dissipate, they go off in different directions and of course there are legacy organizations of the suffragist, carrie cat forms the legal
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voters which is at 100 years still going strong across the country, alice paul of the women's party for t forms the draft, the equals ben rights amendment which has been not ratified after 96 years. it was introduced in congressitw 1923. the anti-suffrages actually organized and used their newfound electrical power and organizational skills to try to oppose certain legislation in congress that they feel is a government overreach.vernment orreach and they call it socialist. this sounds t familiar. suffragt are still supporting of you turn the health, legislation, they evolve into the anti-communist
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activist of the mid-20th century. we see them working through training organizations, advocacy organizations and receive them in the mccarthy era and receive them again emerge in the 1970s and 80s as the eagle forum. we have conservative women who have learned to harness the political power and i think we still achieve the product of that organization. so yes they did. pearson felt that she could not after fighting this for so long, vote so she devised a very strange scheme which was, she would tell a man in her hometown
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how she wanted to vote and he would go and vote for her. that's how she solved this. >> so she never voted the rest of her life? >> that's how she describes it. i can't tell you if some point she relented but she had strong opinions but she let a man vote for her. >> jackie from texas. go ahead. >> hello thank you for taking my call. i was wondering do you see any parallels between the abortion issue in america in the suffrage issue as it played out in the 1900s? >> that's a very interesting question. i'm not sure i see a direct comparison but again the suffragist, many were also
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feminine. and they were working, not just for the vote but the vote as a tool to be able to be represented in congress and the state legislators to make sure that women have rights which they had been denied and many of them had to do with agencies and being able to make decisions on their own. you have to understand when the suffrage movement begins in the mid-19th century, not only women could not vote, they cannot own properties, married women did not have custodial rights to her children if she divorced, she cannot testify in a court of law, she could not serve on a jury and so a lot of the idea of suffrage as being the tool to guarantee women's rights of her own
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decision-making and agency, i think there are some parallels but i think it gets much more complicated as i'm sure you agree. so i hesitate to make a direct comparison but i think again, women working for their own rights to make decisions about whether it is their bodies or their legislators, it is part of the whole larger idea of suffrage as a tool for reading rights. >> how controversial was this in 2019. >> when congress finally got around to voting, in the house it passed somewhat comfortably. i think it was about a handful of votes.
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again you would think by 1920 it would've been okay, women are equal to men in a political sense, let's get this done. but it was not. in the house actually votes on 1918 and the senate refuses to actually voted on twice in the next year end half and finally it passes by two votes. so the idea that this was a time i come in a political -- it is still very controversial. and woodward wilson has come around arguably and slowly to supported the idea of the suffrage amendment and the federal amendment so he does supported but that's an interesting evolution that i put in the book also.
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it was still tough, it was not an easy road even in 1920, even seven decades after the first asked for the boat. >> ruth from maryland. >> i just have a couple questions. one, in order to pass amendment you need to have two thirds of the vote in women i think voted about 31% in the first election and maybe men were more interested. and mostly that there is more for protection than it was for the national women's party of a small group in a little bit more average and things like that. thank you. >> okay, to answer the first question, it is true that in the
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first election in 1920 which the amendment is ratified only ten weeks before the election and so there was a big rush to register women. but it could not evolve or be a bush. some states like georgia refused to extend their deadlines and the deadline to pass and they refused because they do not want black women to vote. so only again as you said one in three eligible women voted in 1920 and we talked about that. she said, you have fought for all these years, how come only one in three women voted and she says voting is learned. it is something that you learn, you get used to doing and women are not accustomed to doing it yet. they will learn. it takes longer than i think she expected it takes about 40 years and that's until 1962 american
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women participation in a 1980 this passes but the participation of men were significantly more women votes than men. in today's election at the national level. the second question -- >> that there were other issues involved in the women's party. >> i think we are talking about the civil rights amendment. it is true that not all women who were in suffragist supported equal rights amendment. one of the things that has been accomplished in the decades before 1920 was that they had managed to past protection laws for women in industry. women are working in factories at this time in their working in sweatshops and they passed the
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legislation that says you can only work ten hours or 12 hours not 20 hours. and you cannot lift more than 2. this was protection for women's health. and this was the union which had emerged to predict women. so the equal rights amendment might jeopardize the special protections which they dirty one in congress for women. so there was actually a disagreement among these women about whether be equal rights of moment or be beneficial. that is also a history. in eleanor was about supported. it is a very interesting history of the amendment and you are right that there were issues of
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protection. but that was not what the suffrage movement. >> from arizona yet 30 seconds. go ahead. >> good morning. my question is, to what degree did men who understood the ability of their wives and sisters and daughters play a role in the suffrage movement? >> thank you. >> they played a large role and there was very important and supportive men champions and there is a great book that came out a year or two ago all the suffragist and it's about the meal in the league that has been supported and suffered. only men can make decisions. men had to be in men could only work in the legislators and only men in congress in 1918 as only
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women who was a first woman elected to congress and there's only one and when referendum at the state level or adjudication, it's only make a decision. so having male allies, we see some very praised male allies step up in nashville. and so, men were important. you have somebody in the series is a new panel. >> yes, executive producer's secretary hillary clinton, she read the book and really found it a story that we should know. . . .
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>> guest: she says let's bring this story to a wide audience, and that's what we're doing. >> host: how do you react when secretary clinton calls and says she wants to be involved in your book? >> guest: take a deep breath, i was thrilled, and she's been a wonderful, wonderful and supportive partner. >> host: and the women's hour is now out in paperback, here's the paperback cover, "the great fight to win the vote." elai >> here are some of the current best-selling nonfiction books.
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>> booktv continues now on c-span2, television for serious readers. [inaudible conversations] >> good afternoon. welcome to the taft museum of art. i'm the senior manager of adult

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