Missouri History

The 19th Amendment was ratified by the State of Missouri on July 3, 1919

Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri & Virginia Minor

The Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri was the first political organization formed anywhere that was dedicated solely to the cause of women´s voting rights. In May 1867, Virginia Minor, Rebecca Hazard, Lucretia Hall, Penelope Allen and Anna Clapp held a meeting at the Mercantile Library and organized the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri. They elected Virginia Minor as president.

Virginia’s Lawsuit

On October 15, 1872, Virginia Minor attempted to register to vote in St. Louis. When election registrar Reese Happersett turned her down, Virginia (represented by her husband Francis) filed suit in the Missouri state courts. The trial court, Missouri Supreme Court, and United States Supreme Court all ruled in favor of the state of Missouri. The Supreme Court unanimously held “that the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one”, and that the decision of who should be entitled to vote was left to the legislative branch.

Virginia Minor later testified in support of women’s suffrage before the United States Senate in 1889, and was honorary vice president of the Interstate Woman Suffrage Convention in 1892. She died in St. Louis in 1894 and is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery.

St. Louis Branch of the National Woman Suffrage Association

In May 1879, the St. Louis Branch of the National Woman Suffrage Association was formed. The organization served as a counterpart to the Women’s Suffrage Association of Missouri (founded in 1867 as the first organization in history dedicated specifically to women’s suffrage) which had affiliated with the more conservative American Women’s’ Suffrage Association in 1871.[2] Partially due to the loss of local St. Louisan and noted suffragette Virginia Minor, who had petitioned all the way to the United States Supreme Court in 1874 in the case of Minor vs. Happersett to guarantee women’s’ right to vote through the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, no petitions to the Missouri legislature were made between 1901 and 1911 and there were no woman suffrage conventions in the state.

St. Louis Equal Suffrage League

On April 10, 1910, a group of about 80 women met to establish the St. Louis Equal Suffrage League. Mrs. Florence Wyman Richardson was elected president. Read the full Wikipedia article.

Missouri History Museum Photos

On July 3, 1919, then Governor Frederick Gardner, a Democrat, signed a bill making Missouri the 11th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. Courtesy of League of Women Voters of Missouri

A meeting of suffragists in Marthasville, Missouri in 1914. Missouri History Museum image.

History In News Sources

See this July 2, 2019 article in The News Tribune about celebrating the 100th year anniversary. Excerpt this Tribune article: “One century ago, on July 3, 1919, Missouri became the 11th state in the nation to ratify the Suffrage Amendment (later named the 19th Amendment) to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote in all elections.

See this brief article in The St. Louis Post Dispatch describing the Golden Lane demonstration and other interesting milestones: “Look Back 250 • Missouri suffragists make final push for right to vote, Sep 13, 2014.  Article by Tim O’Neil.

July 3, 2020 was celebrated by the League of Women Voters as the centennial of Missouri ratifying the 19th Amendment, including receiving a proclamation by Governor Parsons recognizing the League’s role.

See this article in The Missouri Times about this celebration.

The photo about show League of Women Voters members who traveled to Jeff City from Columbia, Kansas City, Moberly, Sedalia and St. Louis. Many dressed in suffragist white with Votes for Women sashes.

To recognize the Centennial of the League and Missouri’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft presented a proclamation signed by Governor Mike Parsons in the Capitol Rotunda on July 8, 2019.

The proclamation states:
“Whereas, the State of Missouri recognizes that the League of Women Voters of Missouri, which arose from the Missouri Woman Suffrage Association, has worked to educate and empower voters since its founding in October 1919, and Whereas, the citizens of Missouri appreciate the struggles of the Suffragists and others who fought for the right to vote by all citizens; Now, therefore, I, Michael L. Parson, Governor of the State of Missouri, do hereby recognize the 100th Anniversary of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment.”

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