George A. Canale

In 1920 when 35 of 36 states had ratified the 19th Amendment the battle lines had been drawn and the deciding vote would come to the state of Tennessee. Those pro and those opposed to the women’s right to vote were in Nashville to see what they could do to change the minds of the legislators. The vote had been tied 48 for and 48 against and now it was time for Tennessee to make or break the new law. Edward Hull Crump, our local benevolent power broker, told Legislator George A. Canale to vote against the amendment as he didn’t want women to have the right to vote. Canale had to know that if he disobeyed Crump, his political future would be over.

Sometimes there are things more important than your political career.

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 19th Amendment and gave women the right to vote in US elections. George A. Canale was a lawyer, legislator, and a successful businessman. He was not re-elected to a second term, just as what was expected when you cross Mr. Crump, but it didn’t matter. He was a gifted speaker, well sought out for conventions and other public functions. He had won distinctions in many endeavors of his life and at the time of his sudden death at age 46 he was sales manager at D. Canale & Company. His pallbearers and honorary pallbearers included a who’s who of Memphis makers, who most of us would recognize even today.

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