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Mississippi Legislature approves 19th Amendment

By
ANDREW REESE

JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi -- 64 years late -- has officially sanctioned women's right to vote in what legislators called a 'housekeeping measure.'

The all-male Senate, without dissent or debate, gave its unanimous approval Thursday to a House-passed resolution ratifying the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which became the law of the land in August 1920.

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'It's simply a housekeeping measure,' said Rep. Frances Savage of Brandon, a sponsor of the ratification resolution and one of three women in the Mississippi House.

'Some of the men in the House have been telling me my votes on the floor will now be legal,' she said.

Mississippi's Legislature was the last in the nation to approve the amendment.

Delaware, according to Delaware Historical Society librarian Barbara Benson, approved the amendment in 1923, although she said the ratification was never duly noted in Washington.

Sen. Howard Dyer of Greenville was asked why it took so long for Mississippi to come around.

'We gave it due consideration,' Dyer joked before adding hastily that 'This was a symbolic affirmation of the total commitment of the Mississippi Legislature to equal rights to women.'

The resolution says the right of women to vote is 'universally recognized throughout the country' and accepted throughout the stateof Mississippi.

'It is important that our state be on record not only as recognizing and abiding by said amendment but as having taken formal action to ratify it.'

No one knows why it took so long for Mississippi to ratify the amendment, but Mrs. Savage suggested it got pushed aside as relatively unimportant in the depression years and World War II, as well as during the racial strife of the 1960s.

'I think it's a good thing that we've cleared the books on that,' said Barbara Powell, president of Jackson's League of Women Voters. 'It was an embarrassment to continue to have it there, even though it was not effective and didn't keep women from voting.'

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