Home>Highlight>101 years ago today, New Jersey ratified the 19th amendment

A group of women and men from the National Woman’s Party (NWP) can be seen picketing President Woodrow Wilson outside of the International Amphitheater in Chicago, where he was delivering a speech. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

101 years ago today, New Jersey ratified the 19th amendment

State Assembly voted to ratify despite opposition by Essex, Camden machines

By David Wildstein, February 09 2021 12:01 am

101 years ago today, New Jersey became the 29th state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote.

The New Jersey Senate passed a resolution to ratify the amendment on February 3, 1920 by a vote of 18-2.  Republicans had a 15-6 majority in the Senate.

The two senators to oppose ratification where Joshua Haines (R-Camden) and Edward Sturgess (R-Glassboro).

The Assembly passed it by a 34-24 vote on February 9, 1920 — just three more than needed for a majority in the 60-member lower house.

Republicans had a 33-27 majority in the lower house.

Of the 34 assemblymen who voted yes, 20 were Republicans and 14 were Democrats.

The 24 members of the State Assembly who voted against ratification, 13 were Republicans and 11 were Democrats.

Hudson County voted to ratify, while Camden and Essex opposed it.  Passaic split: 3 for it, 2 against it.

Assembly Minority Leader Hugh Barrett (D-East Orange) led the opposition to ratification, at the direction of Essex County Democratic boss James Nugent and Camden County Republican boss David Baird.

Barrett sought to punt the decision of ratifying the 19th amendment to the voters by putting the issue up for a referendum during the April 1920 New Jersey presidential primary.

Lillian Ford Feickert, the leader of the New Jersey Suffrage movement, called Barrett’s tactic a joke, as only men would be able to vote on the measure.

New Jersey voters defeated suffrage amendment considered by voters in 1915 by 51,108 votes, 58%-42%.  The measure failed in 20 counties; only Ocean, which has elected just two women freeholders since 1850, voted to pass the suffrage amendment.

Jennie Tuttle Hobart, the widow of Vice President Garret Hobart, led the grassroots movement against ratification.

Gov. Edward I. Edwards was a strong supporter of ratification.  He had defeated Nugent in the 1919 Democratic gubernatorial primary by a 54%-42% margin in an epic battle with Jersey City mayor Frank Hague, the Hudson County Democratic boss.

During the battle for ratification, Nugent leaned on the owner of the Hotel Sterling, one of Trenton’s top hotels, that he would face retribution if he didn’t evict a group of suffrage activists.  The owner, Emil Mielke, removed suffrage banners from the hotel.

The senator from Essex County was a Republican, Charles Clarke Pilgrim (R-Newark), an opponent of the Nugent machine.  He voted to ratify.

In April 1920, the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association became the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

In 1920, the Senate had 21 members with one seat for each county.  The Assembly had 60 members, apportioned by population; each county had at least one seat.

Here are the vote tallies in the State Assembly:

A New Jersey Senate Resolution to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

YES (34)

Atlantic: William Blair (R-Mullica); Joseph Corio (R-Atlantic City)

Bergen: Irving Glover (R-Englewood); John Dater (R-Ramsey); William St. John Tozer (R-Bogota)

Burlington: Emmor Roberts (R-Moorestown)

Cape May: Andrew Boswell (R-Ocean City)

Cumberland: David Blizzard (R-Port Norris)

Gloucester: Horace Fooder (R-Williamstown)

Hudson: James Bowen (D-Jersey City); John Coppinger (D-Jersey City); Michael Donovan (D-Bayonne);  Henry Gaede (D-Hoboken); William George (D-Jersey City); Lewis Hansen (D-Jersey City); James McAteer (D-Kearny); Andrew Muro (D-Jersey City); William Schultz (D-Hoboken); Louis Silver (D-Union City); Francis Stanton (D-Hoboken); Edward Sullivan (D-Jersey City);

Hunterdon: David Agans (D-Readington)

Mercer: William Blackwell (R-Hopewell)

Middlesex: Albert Appleby (R-Old Bridge); Fred DeVoe (R-New Brunswick); Raymond Lyons (R-New Brunswick)

Passaic: Henry Hershfield (R-Pompton Lakes); William Rogers (R-Paterson); Grover Heinzmann (R-Passaic).

Salem: William Stiles (R-Oldmans)

Somerset: David Hastings (R-Bound Brook)

Sussex: Hugh Baldwin (R-Sussex)

Union: Arthur Warner (R-Elizabeth)

Warren: Thomas Shields (D-Hackettstown)

NO (24)

Camden: Harry Rowland (R-Camden); Joseph Wallworth (R-Haddonfield); Huelings Coles (R-Camden).

Essex: Hugh Barrett (D-East Orange); James Cross (D-Newark); Joseph Finley (D-Newark); Felix Forlenza (D-South Orange); Louis Freund (D-Newark); Elroy Headley (D-East Orange); James Hyland (D-Newark); Michael Judge (D-East Orange); Louis Lewis (D-Newark); Joseph Siegler (D-Newark); James Whelan (D-Newark).

Mercer: George Guthrie (R-Trenton); William Moore (R-Trenton)

Monmouth: Richard Stout (R-Neptune); Dallas Young (R-Keyport)

Morris: Fletcher Fritts (R-Dover); David Young (R-Montville)

Passaic: William Evans (R-Paterson);  Frederick Tattersall (R-Paterson)

Union: Sidney Eldridge (R-Elizabeth);  Arthur Pierson (R-Westfield)


Essex: Charles Casale (D-Newark)
Ocean: Woodburn Cranmer (R-Stafford)


New Jersey women voted for the first time in 1920 and turnout jumped by 81% over the presidential election four years earlier.

Republicans won 59 of 60 seats in the State Assembly in 1920 on the coattails of Warren Harding’s 68% victory in New Jersey.

The Republican landslide eclipsed any backlash on the February ratification vote.

Only Essex County Republicans nominated women to run for the State Assembly.  The GOP won all twelve seats and elected New Jersey’s first women legislators: Margaret Laird (R-Newark) and Jennie Van Ness (R-East Orange).  Essex also elected Walter Gilbert Alexander, the first African American to serve on the New Jersey Legislature.

None of the Essex County Democrats who voted against ratification sought re-election in 1920.

Two of the Camden Republicans who opposed ratification were re-elected.  The third, Joseph Wallworth (R-Haddonfield), won a State Senate seat.

Assemblyman George Guthrie (R-Trenton) won re-election despite his vote against ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment.  So did the four GOP assemblymen from Passaic and Union counties.

Five other anti-ratification legislators did not run again in 1920.

Assemblyman Thomas Shields (D-Hackettstown), who voted in support of ratification, did not seek re-election.   He was succeeded by Harry Runyon (D-Belvidere), the only Democrat to win anywhere in the state that year.

New Jersey did not elect a woman to the State Senate until 1965.

A delegation of 73 women from New Jersey which waited upon President Wilson in November 1913 to ask him to give his support to the national woman suffrage amendment then pending before Congress. The President replied that he was interested in the subject and would give it his consideration.” Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.


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