A war of roses: How flowers became a symbol of women’s right to vote in Tennessee

In the early 1900s, the women’s suffrage movement used yellow roses to show support for women’s right to vote while anti-suffragists donned red roses to show their opposition to the movement.
Knoxville Burn Memorial
Knoxville Burn Memorial(WVLT)
Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In the early 1900s, the women’s suffrage movement used yellow roses to show support for women’s right to vote while anti-suffragists donned red roses to show their opposition to the movement.

Most notoriously, the member of the Tennessee House of Representatives who cast the deciding vote in favor of women’s suffrage wore a red rose to show he did not support the movement. Then, after receiving a letter from his mother which urged him to “be a good boy” and vote in favor of women’s suffrage, Harry Burn cast the vote that changed history on August 18, 1920.

Tennessee was the last state needed to ratify the amendment to grant women’s suffrage across the nation, earning it the nickname “The Perfect 36.”

The letter credited with changing Burn’s is now on display at the East Tennessee History Museum. Learn more about the exhibit here. The words are also displayed on the Burn Memorial located outside the East Tennessee History Museum.

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