Re-enactment honors first woman to vote in Tennessee

CAMDEN, Tenn. — The first woman to vote in Tennessee cast her ballot 100 years ago Monday.

“She voted on April the 22nd of 1919, so it’s the 100th anniversary,” said Jenna Cole-Wilson, the executive director of the Benton County Chamber of Commerce.

On that day, Mary Cordelia Beasley-Hudson walked to the Benton County Courthouse to vote for Camden mayor.

“It followed the General Assembly giving women limited suffrage in Tennessee,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn said.

Beasley-Hudson, known as Aunt Cord, was the first woman in Tennessee to cast a vote in any election.

“Just imagine how it felt, how liberating it felt, for her to be able to walk to the court square as a woman who had been oppressed from voting for so many years,” Cole-Wilson said.

As the first female senator from Tennessee, Blackburn says this is an important moment that needs to be recognized.

“It’s because there were women who were suffragists, who fought, who stayed united in that fight. It wasn’t a quick fight — it was a 72-year battle,” Sen. Blackburn said.

It was an even longer battle for a woman to be elected to the senate.

“Ninety-nine years — that’s how long it took for a woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Tennessee,” Sen. Blackburn said. “I am so pleased that I can shatter some glass ceilings and break some barriers for women who will come behind me.”

Beasley-Hudson died a month before she would have been allowed to vote in her first national election in 1920.

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