Harry T. Burn – August 18, 1920

On this date in history, the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution was signed into law 100 years ago in 1920. This was the amendment that granted women the right to vote.

I was recently asked to illustrate an article in Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine that commemorates this story, which will appear in September’s issue (and who graciously allowed me to post this today on the 100th anniversary of the event). It’s a fascinating tale of a young 23 year-old Harry T. Burn, a Republican member of the Tennessee General Assembly.


Harry T. Burn on the steps of the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville in 1920 complete with mama’s letter in his pocket before going in to cast his historic vote. (Click on image to enlarge.)


For an amendment to be passed, 36 of the then 48 states had to ratify it. Thirty-five states had done so, but one more was needed. In Tennessee, it was a hot-button issue with passions raging on both sides. It came down to a 48-48 deadlock in the vote, and the young Harry had yet to make his decision.



Harry had received a letter from his mother urging him to vote in favor of the issue, a letter he kept in his suit coat pocket as he sat there in chambers while all the heated debates raged on. Ultimately he voted to ratify, which was the final approval needed for the amendment to be the law of the land, all thanks to a letter from mama.

The art is a bit of a mixed media endeavor. It is partially traditional with warm gray colored pencil outlines, black ink wash, and then color tinting was added within Photoshop to help give it an old-timey feel.