One of the more remarkable moments of the Democratic convention this week came early in the roll call of the delegates, the process by which Hillary Clinton officially became the first female major-party nominee for president.
Delegates from Alabama, Alaska and American Samoa had offered up their delegate totals to start the counting, leading to the next state alphabetically, Arizona. The ceremonial reading of the results was split between two people. The delegates for Clinton were read out by Geraldine Emmett.
What makes Emmett's presentation interesting isn't only her obvious glee at reading the results. It's the fact that when she was born, in 1914, women weren't even allowed to vote.
America is young, as we've noted before. Two of President John Tyler's grandsons are still alive; Tyler was born in 1790 (a year into the very first Congress) and was president before the Civil War. And so it is that Geraldine "Jerry" Emmett could have been born during the fight for women's suffrage and help nominate the first woman presidential candidate — or the first president.
As it turns out, there are no fewer than 400,000 such women in the United States. In the Census Bureau's 2015 estimates, some 428,000 women were born in 1920 or earlier. The 19th Amendment was ratified in August 1920. Of course we've lost some of those women who were alive in 2015, but there are still hundreds of thousands — more than 1 out of every 1,000 people in the country — who predate suffrage and can vote for Clinton.
(There are only about 140,000 men that old, since women usually live longer.)
When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, there were 1.3 million black Americans who were old enough to have been born before the end of segregation who could also vote for the first black president. The United States is young enough that its history is often shorter than an American lifetime.