top of page

From Cowgirl to Congress: Mila Johansen

In August 1920 it took one vote to change the American political landscape. That vote hinged on a Tennesee State Senator named Harry T. Burn, a man. What changed his mind? Well, his mother of course.

Photo of Author Mila Johansen

However, this article isn't about Harry T. Burn or even a decedent of his. This article is about one of the many women, countless women, who lobbied for their right to vote for any and all political offices.

100 years after its ratification the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution has not only changed the political landscape for women but it has also changed the lives for future generations of women. This is one woman's story and her journey from Cowgirl to Congress as told by her granddaughter author Mila Johansen.

Mila Johansen is from Nevada City, California, a place better known for gold mining. At 66-years-young she is a memoir, fiction, non-fiction, writer who is open to composing other genres too. Mila told the blog that everything around her, especially other people's stories, inspire her authorship.

Her husband and their four dogs are this author's biggest supporters. "Everything about the Suffrage Movement," Mila informed us captivated her attention. If the vote to ratify the amendment had never been won in Tennessee, a state which played a very significant role in the movement, Mila said she felt "it would have happened eventually. Switzerland didn’t get the right to vote until 1971."

Even more stunning to learn from my own research is just how many overseas nations lagged behind the burgeoning United States, and many not receiving the right for women to vote until the '90s. The first Gulf country to allow women to vote was Qatar in 1999.

What brought on the 19th amendment? There were many notably religious, and moral reforms historians can point out. The best known is still the discussion at Seneca Falls in 1848. But there was one other movement that finally pushed a woman's right to vote into the 20th century. The Writing Wall Blog asked Mila if her grandmother had ever mentioned this particular campaign in United States history, "She spoke all over London with Bernard Shaw about Prohibition."

Photo of Mila's Grandmother

It was the Temperance movement that spurred women to causes of social equality and reform. While men drank their jobs, homes, and even families into poverty and despair, many died early leaving their families on hard times.

How did one become a suffragette? In Mila's grandmother's case, it took meeting prominent Suffrage leaders like Alice Paul and Carrie Catt. Alice Paul was a very vocal supporter of the movement, organizing parades and picket lines. Her most famous picket line was in front of the White House and holding a sign that read, "How long must women wait for liberty?"

Carrie Catt was herself a leader and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for several years. It was her voice that helped push the 19th Amendment through for women. Carrie was so famous that she was one of the most well-known women in the early part of the 20th Century.

Mila is working on another book and says her favorite genre to read is Historical Fiction especially anything by Philippa Gregory. However, it is probably her favorite quote from Glenda the Good that truly reflects her grandmother's and all the other suffragette's stories, "You've always had the power." It's a message that echoes even now, these 100 years later.

Her advice for writers seeking to self-publish is, "Just do it. Study it, get advice but just do it." Mila also told us that she coaches writers in both publishing and writing.

To mark the 100 years since the vote came down, Mila said she has given lots of lectures and been on podcasts discussing the event. The Writing Wall Podcast will feature her tonight at 6 pm EST. Please visit the links below to learn more about Mila, her grandmother's story, and her book From Cowgirl to Congress.

The Writing Wall Podcast Links



*Also accessible on Google Podcast, Pocket Cast, Breaker, Radio Public, and Overcast. Please allow 24 hours for podcasts to be available on other platforms.

Mila Johansen Links and Author Bio

Book Link:

Author Bio:

Mila Johansen is a public speaker, writing coach, teacher, and writer. She is the author of twenty-two plays and musicals that circle the globe along with five books.

Mila teaches social media, screenwriting, creative writing, herbology, and public speaking. She is also a writing coach and has a new book coming out—21 Surprising Tips to Promote Your Book. She loves giving people permission to write their Short Book and teaches them how to do it. The Short Book can be used by entrepreneurs to become the expert in their field, to be a calling card or the outline for a longer book. 

Mila has just finished a book, From Cowgirl to Congress, available on Amazon and in bookstores, about her famous suffragette grandmother, Jessie Haver Butler, for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in August 2020.

Jessie came from a tragic childhood on a cattle ranch to the front lines of the suffrage movement in Washington D.C. with Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul as the first woman lobbyist. Before that, in 1912, she helped organize the Pulitzer School of Journalism at Columbia University. She later spoke alongside Bernard Shaw, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, and Marlo Thomas. 

Mila lives on her organic citrus ranch in Northern California with her husband, four dogs, and a cat. 

A new Writer of the Week will be featured every Monday. Be sure to also follow The Writing Wall on Twitter @TheWritingWall, or on Instagram @writingsonthewall85 for the latest.

You can also listen to the podcast every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. Just search for The Writing Wall on Spotify, Google Cast, Breaker, and more.

18 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page