Time for a Toast: Women, Cast Your Ballots

Raise a Prohibition cocktail to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who drafted Amendment XIX. Enacted today in 1920, it gave American women the right to vote.

In 1878, Anthony and Stanton drafted an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would give American women the right to vote and introduced it to Congress, where it sat in limbo for over four decades.

Finally, on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment took effect and there was much rejoicing. However, alcohol was illegal at the time, with Prohibition having just gone into effect seven months earlier, so any "legal" celebratiions had to be dry. Of course, we all know that didn’t stop the booze from flowing. And although supporters of suffrage generally endorsed the temperance movement, the right to vote gave rise to a new brand of post-World War I feminists who threw off constricting Victorian corsets to embrace the frisky, fun-loving flapper lifestyle. And that meant cigarettes, the Charleston and fastening a flask to your inner thigh to sneak booze into speakeasies.

LET’S GET DRUNK AND MAKE LOVE

The emerging feminism found a voice in The New Yorker‘s "Tables for Two" column, penned by Lois Long, who Cambridge historian Joshua Zeitz described in his 2007 book Flapper as "one of the most insightful observers of sex and style in Jazz Age America." Looking back at her life in the 1920s, Long later summed up the flappers’ fast-living philosophy: "All we were saying was, ‘Tomorrow we may die, so let’s get drunk and make love.’"

But not all literary ladies of the Roaring Twenties were so keen on the flapper movement. Dorothy Parker (who turned 27 just a few days before the 19th Amendment was enacted) took a jab at the fad in her poem, "The Flapper," saying that their "manners cause a scene." The Algonquin doyenne also expressed a more moderate—and infinitely more sensible—approach to quenching one’s thirst:

“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.”

So cheers to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who gave America the 19th Amendment—and an excellent reason to tipple through the Roaring Twenties.

MIX IT UP: THE SOUTH SIDE COCKTAIL

For a perfect Prohibition cocktail during summer’s last gasp, you can’t go wrong with the South Side. Though named after the Chicago district where it was a favorite of mobsters during the dry years, the drink’s exact origin is still contested. New York’s illustrious 21 Club, for example, has laid claim to it. They use the following recipe.

Ingredients

2 oz. vodka, gin or white rum
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. fresh mint leaves

Method

Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well enough to bruise the mint leaves and release the mint oil.

Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice.

Garnish with mint leaves.

Enjoy!

BY THE NUMBERS

37 – Number of years the 19th Amendment lay dormant in Congress (a period known as "the doldrums")

31 – Number of votes by which the 19th Amendment won passage in the Senate

51 – Percent of U.S. population that is female

18 – Percent of Congressional seats currently held by women

10 – Amount, in dollars, in 1912, of the budget of the Washington, DC, office of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA)

41,368,000 – Number of Susan B. Anthony one-dollar coins minted

30,000 – Number of speakeasies in New York City during Prohibition

7,304,040 – Number of minutes Prohibition lasted

18,000,000 – Number of U.S. citizens who currently live in a dry county