All of the examples below retain their original structure, spelling, grammar, and emphasis, even if they are not in keeping with modern rules.

Francis Minor to The Revolution 

January 22, 1868

Editors of The Revolution: In order to show the steady progress that the grand idea of equal rights is slowly but surely making among the people of these United States, I think it would be well, in the beginning, at least, to make a record in The Revolution of the fact of each successive State organization; and for that purpose I send you the list of officers for the association in Missouri not yet a year old; as also their petition to the legislature for a change in the organic law, and a brief address to the voters of the State, in support of the movement:

To the Voters of Missouri: The women of this State, having organized for the purpose of agitating their claims to the ballot, it becomes every intelligent and reflecting mind to consider the question fairly and dispassionately. If it has merits, it will eventually succeed; if not, it will fail. I am of the number of those who believe that claim to be just and right, for the following, among other reasons:

Taxation and Representation should go hand in hand. This is the very corner-stone of our government. Its founders declared, and the declaration cannot be too often repeated, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure those rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The man who believes in that declaration, cannot justly deny to women the right of suffrage. They are citizens, they are tax-payers; they bear the burdens of government—why should they be denied the rights of citizens? We boast about liberty and equality before the law, when the truth is, our government is controlled by one-half only of the population. The others have no more voice in the making of their laws, or the selection of their rulers, than the criminals who are in our penitentiaries; nay, in one respect, their condition is not as good as that of the felon, for he may be pardoned and restored to a right which woman can never obtain. And this, not because she has committed any crime, or violated any law, but simply because she is, what God made her—a woman! Possessed of the same intelligence—formed in the same mold—having the same attributes, parts and passions—held by her Maker to the same measure of responsibility here and hereafter, her actual position in society to-day is that of an inferior. No matter what her qualifications may be, every avenue of success is virtually closed against her. Even when she succeeds in obtaining employment, she gets only half the pay that a man does for the same work. But, it is said, woman’s sphere is at home. Would giving her the right to vote interfere with her home duties any more than it does with a man’s business? Again it is said, that for her to vote would be unfeminine. Is it at all more indelicate for a woman to go to the polls, than it is for her to go to the court-house and pay her taxes? The truth is, woman occupies just the position that man has placed her in, and it ill becomes him to urge such objections. Give her a chance—give her the opportunity of proving whether these objections are well founded or not. Her influence for good is great, notwithstanding all the disadvantages under which she at present labors; and my firm belief is, that that influence would be greatly enhanced and extended by the exercise of this new right. It would be felt at the ballot-box and in the halls of legislation. Better men, as a general rule, would be elected to office, and society in all its ramifications, would feel and rejoice at the change.

A Voter.

To the General Assembly of the State of Missouri:

Gentlemen: The undersigned women of Missouri, believing that all citizens who are taxed for the support of the government and subject to its laws, should have a voice in the making of those laws, and the selection of their rulers; that, as the possession of the ballot ennobles and elevates the character of man, so, in like manner, it would ennoble and elevate that of woman by giving her a direct and personal interest in the affairs of government; and further, believing that the spirit of the age, as well as every consideration of justice and equity, requires that the ballot should be extended to our sex, do unite in praying that an amendment to the constitution may be proposed, striking out the word “male” and extending to women the right of suffrage.

And, as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

On behalf of the Missouri Woman Suffrage Association.

[Signed:] President, Mrs. Francis Minor; Vice-President, Mrs. Beverly Allen; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs. Wm. T. Hazard; Recording Secretary, Mrs. Geo. D. Hall; Treasurer, Mrs. N. Stevens, St. Louis, Missouri.

Copies of the petition, and information furnished upon addressing either of above named officers. Formation of auxiliary associations in every county requested. Petitions when completely signed, to be returned to the head office.

These papers will serve to show that the idea has taken root in other States beyond the Mississippi besides Kansas; and may also be somewhat of a guide to others, who may desire to accomplish the same purpose elsewhere. A work of such magnitude requires, of course, time for development; but the leaven is working. The fountains of the great deep of public thought have been broken up. The errors and prejudices of six thousand years are yielding to the sunlight of truth. In spite of pulpits and politicians, the great idea is making its way to the hearts of the people; and woman may rejoice in believing that the dawn of her deliverance, so long hoped for and prayed for, is at last approaching.

F. M.[1] 

Virginia Minor to Elizabeth Cady Stanton

St. Louis

May 4, 1868

Mrs. E.C. Stanton—Dear Friend: Our gentlemen friends urge us to memorialize Congress on the question of Suffrage in the District. Well knowing how a single petition is suffocated, would it not be well for all the states to unite, and be presented at the same time?

New York, being the banner state, must head the move and be spokesman. Our list of names is waiting the interminable Impeachment to be handed in (oh, for old Ben. Wade in the White House,) but it seems to be that one state should not go it along, if all the state organizations were notified to send in their lists immediately to whoever you think will be mostly likely to do justice to the cause, we could make quite a formidable display combined.

Your sincere friend,

Mrs. Francis Minor

President of the St. Louis Woman’s Suffrage Association.[2]

Virginia Minor to Woman’s Suffrage Association of Missouri Meeting
St. Louis, Missouri

January 15, 1869

Ladies of the Association: At our last two meetings, a fruitless effort was made to find some woman to represent us to the National Woman’s convention to be held in Washington. Feeling it to be impossible for me to go without great and serious inconvenience, I with deep regret declined the honor of being a delegate, which was tendered by many of your number. No woman being found, a gentleman present said it was possible, nay, almost certain, that he should be in Washington about that time, and rather than that we should be entirely unrepresented, he would do what he could for us there. This was accepted, many still hoping a woman might yet be found, even at the eleventh hour.

Pending this action of the association so extremely unpopular among our friends, and by our enemies imputed to want of earnestness in our work, with the approval of the officers of the association, there being no time for a more general consultation, I determined to represent you in person to the best of my ability, which action I hope may meet with your approval. I further desire to say that, in my opinion, it is not only right, but highly important that our German ladies should be represented in the delegation to Jefferson City, and I therefore propose the following named ladies be added to the list of delegates, earnestly hoping they will accept the appointment: Mrs. Fiala, Mrs. Finkelnberg, Mrs. [unreadable] Mrs. Rumbold and Miss Kehr.

Very respectfully,

Mrs. Francis Minor[3]

Francis Minor to Revolution

St. Louis, Missouri

December 30, 1869

Dear Revolution: So thoroughly am I satisfied that the surest and most direct course to pursue to obtain a recognition of woman’s claim to the ballot, lies through the courts of the country, that I am induced to ask you to republish the resolutions that I drafted, and which were unanimously adopted by the St. Louis convention. And I will here add, that to accomplish this end, and to carry these resolutions into practical effect, it is intended by Mrs. Minor, the president of the State Association, to make a test case in her instance at our next election; take it through the courts of Missouri, and thence to the Supreme Court of the United States at Washington. I think it will be admitted that these resolutions place the cause of woman upon higher ground than ever before asserted, in the fact that for the first time suffrage is claimed as a privilege based upon citizenship, and secured by the Constitution of the United States. It will be seen that the position taken is, that the States have the right to regulate, but not to prohibit, the elective franchise to citizens of the United States. Thus the States may determine the qualifications of electors. They may require the elector to be of a certain age, to have had a fixed residence, to be of a sane mind, and unconvicted of crime, etc., because these are qualifications or conditions that all citizens, sooner or later, may attain; but to go beyond this, and say to one-half the citizens of the State, notwithstanding you possess all these qualifications you shall never vote, is of the very essence of despotism. It is a bill of attainder of the most odious character.

A further investigation of the subject will show that the language of the constitutions of all the States, with the exception of those of Massachusetts and Virginia, on the subject of suffrage is peculiar. They almost all read substantially alike: “White male citizens, etc., shall be entitled to vote,” and this is supposed to exclude all other citizens. There is no direct exclusion, except in the two States above named. Now the error lies in supposing that an enabling clause is necessary at all. The right of the people of a State to participate in a government of their own creation requires no enabling clause; neither can it be taken from them by implication. To hold otherwise would be to interpolate in the constitution a prohibition that does not exist. In framing a constitution the people are assembled in their sovereign capacity; and being possessed of all rights and all powers, what is not surrendered is retained. Nothing short of a direct prohibition can work a disseizing of rights that are fundamental. In the language of John Jay to the people of New York, urging the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, “silence and blank paper neither give nor take away anything,” and Alexander Hamilton says (Federalist, No. 83), “Every man of discernment must at once perceive the wide difference between silence and abolition.”

The mode and manner in which the people shall take part in the government of their creation may be prescribed by the constitution, but the right itself is antecedent to all constitutions. It is inalienable, and can neither be bought, nor sold, nor given away. But even if it should be held that this view is untenable, and that women are disfranchised by the several State constitutions directly, or by implication, then I say that such prohibitions are clearly in conflict with the Constitution of the United States, and yield thereto. The language of that instrument is clear and emphatic: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the State wherein they reside.” “No State shall make, or enforce any law that shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” It would be impossible to add to the force or effect of such language, and equally impossible to attempt to explain it away.

Very respectfully,

Francis Minor.[4]

Virginia Minor to Susan B. Anthony

St. Louis

February 6, 1869

DEAR MISS ANTHONY: It will not be feminine to say, yet I fear I must say the women of Missouri have stormed their capitol, and if it is not yet taken, the outworks are in our hands, and I believe a few more well-directed blows and the victory will be ours. On February 3 a large delegation of ladies, representing the Suffrage Association of Missouri, visited Jefferson City, for the purpose of laying before the legislature a large and influentially signed petition, asking the ballot for woman; and we were gratified to see the great respect and deference shown to the women of Missouri by the wisest and best of her legislators, in their respectful and cordial reception of their delegates. Both houses adjourned, and gave the use of the house for the afternoon, when eloquent addresses were made by Mrs. J. G. Phelps of Springfield, Dr. Ada Grennan of St. Louis, and the future orator of Missouri, Miss Phoebe Couzins, whose able and effective address the press has given in full. Of the brave men who stood up for us, it is more difficult to speak. To give a list would be impossible; for every name would require a eulogy too lengthy for the pages of THE REVOLUTION. We will, therefore, record them on the tablets of our memory, with a hand so firm that they shall standout brightly till time shall be no more. Of the small majority who oppose us, we will say nothing, but throw over them the pall of merciful oblivion.

I met your warm friend, Senator Harbine, who is inexhaustible in good words for THE REVOLUTION, and the cause, and spoke admirably of both.

Your sincere friend,


Francis Minor to The Revolution

St. Louis, Missouri

October 14, 1869

Dear Revolution:—I wish to say a few words about the action of the Woman’s Suffrage Convention just held here. It is everywhere spoken of as a complete success, both in point of numbers and the orderly decorum with which its proceedings were conducted. But I desire to call special attention to the resolutions adopted. When I framed them, I looked beyond the action of this Convention. These resolutions place the cause of equal rights far in advance of any position heretofore taken. Now, for the first time, the views and purposes of our organization assume a fixed purpose and definite end. We no longer beat the air—no longer assume merely the attitude of petitioners. We claim a right, based upon citizenship. These resolutions will stand the test of legal criticism—and I write now to ask, if a case can not be made at your coming election. If this were done, in no other way could our cause be more widely, and at the same time definitely brought before the public. Every newspaper in the land would tell the story, every fireside would hear the news. The question would be thoroughly discussed by thousands, who now give it no thought—and by the time it reached the court of final resort, the popular verdict would be in accord with the judgment that is sure to be rendered. If these resolutions are right, let the question be settled by individual determination. A case could not be made here for a year to come, but you could make one in New York at the coming election.


Francis Minor[6]

Virginia Minor to Susan B. Anthony

St. Louis

January 28, 1874

Miss Susan B. Anthony, President of the National Woman Suffrage Association:

Though circumstances, over which I have no control, prevent my attending the convention, I cannot deny myself the pleasure of wishing you all a hearty God speed in the work, and congratulating you on the great progress you have made during the past year, as no woman’s rights convention ever held has brought the subject so directly and clearly before the whole people as presided over by Judge Hunt Canandaigua, New York, in the trial of Susan B. Anthony. Previous conventions had only made assertions of injustice, while this furnished the confirmation.

In reply to the many inquiries made as to my own suit, I will briefly state that the case is now on the docket of the Supreme Court of the United States, and will probably be reached in about a year. As to my right, as a citizen, to vote under the Constitution, I have never had a doubt, and my expectations of success have been confirmed by a recent decision of the Supreme Court itself from which I quote:

“The negro having, by the 14th amendment, been declared to be a citizen of the United States, is thus made a voter in every state of the Union. ***

“We do not say that no one else but the negro can share in this protection. Both the language and the spirit of the articles are to have their fair and just weight in any question of construction.” Undoubtedly, while negro slavery alone was in the mind of Congress which “proposed the thirteenth article, it forbids any other kind of slavery now or hereafter. If Mexican peonage, or the Chinese coolie labor system, shall develop slavery of the Mexican or Chinese race within our territory, this amendment may safely be trusted to make it void. And so if other rights are assailed by the States which properly unnecessarily fall within the protection of these articles, that protection will apply though the party interested may not be of African descent. {Section 16, Wallace Rep., page 71.]

            The principles involved in this decision had virtually been announced by Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scott case, before the late amendments were proposed or thought of.

I, therefore, make my appeal to this tribunal in all confidence, with this decision in my hand, wherein they declare that citizenship carries with it the right to vote, and I ask if I, a native born American citizen, am not equally entitled to that ballot?

Yours truly,

Virginia L. Minor [7]

Virginia and Francis Minor to Susan B. Anthony

St. Louis

May 7, 1874

My Dear Miss Anthony,

I find it impossible to send you anything yet for the Convention there really has been nothing done in this State, except a few speeches by Miss Cousins, in some cases for the edification of empty benches. Will try & get Mr M to write a few lines just for the looks of the thing.

Thanks for your so called “Trial” I wish every woman in the land could read it. You defended yourself nobly & there is no better proof of it than the failure of the press to report it, the same thing is being repeated in the Mrs Lockwoods case. Make a note of the Court of claims acting as counsel before the Supreme Court in her case. Please send me another copy of the Trial, as it is impossible to get any one to buy, I shall circulate mine as soon as I have one in its place. I enclose my help towards the Convention, are you all not going to make some demonstration at the Centennial?

Yours truly,

Virginia L. Minor

Dear Miss Anthony—

I have really nothing to add as Mrs Minor thought I would, unless it be to say, that what she referred to in Mrs Lockwood’s case was, a paragraph we saw in the newspapers to the effect, that the Judges of the Court of Claims intended to consult with the Judges of the Supreme Court about her case—of course they would represent their view of the case, and adversely to Mrs L— I don’t think the S.C. Judges ought to know anything of a case outside the regular course of reaching them.

Wishing you every possible success, I am very truly yours,

            Francis Minor[8]

Virginia Minor to Gov. Charles H. Harden

St. Louis

December 3, 1875

To His Excellency Charles H. Hardin, Governor of Missouri,


I learned by the daily papers, that Anna Hallenscheid, has been tried with her husband, for the crime of murder, and is to suffer the extreme penalty of the law, on the 17th of this month, unless you should see fit to commute her punishment. I have no acquaintance with Mrs. Hallenscheid, and no desire to shield her from any just punishment, but I pray you consider her condition, and the circumstances by which she was surrounded.

Being a married woman, she is as you well know, placed by the law under coverture of her husband, and under obligation of obedience to him; so much so, that if through constraint of his will, she commits unlawful acts, she shall be excused, and whatever of a criminal nature the wife does in the presence of her husband, is presumed to be compelled by him. I am well aware that to this rule, of coercion by the presence of the husband, murder and some other offenses are exceptions; but how are ignorant women to know anything about the four legal exceptions, to the one unvarying law of marital obedience. Though legally without excuse for her obedience in this instance, how could she distinguish the technicalities of the law? The law, society, and the church unite in teaching to married women the duty of absolute obedience to their husbands. This woman’s husband was present committing the deed, and the presumption of the law is that she acted by his direction. As the head of the wife he was bound to prevent her unlawful action, his simple non absenting presence would have been no reason for exculpation for his neglect of duty, he was responsible; a femme covert is legally an infant and under such circumstances the extent of moral responsibility becomes a question of grave consideration, and when we recollect she is not a free agent in all things. If a ligature bound tightly on the one member of the body affects the whole system, may not the moral nature be similarly affected by this law of marital obedience and feeling of non responsibility of woman? While she is in reality subjected to the severest penalties which the law can inflict, it is impossible to estimate the influence which this dual condition may have had over her actions; and while this constitutes no legal justification for the crime, it forms the basis upon which I appeal to you to commute her punishment to imprisonment for life, and spare the state the disgrace of what would be, if she is hanged, a legal murder.

This is no question of “women’s rights,” it is simply a question of human rights. I ask you not for “rights,” but for a life, and because that life is a woman’s life, I ask it more earnestly more fervently. However fallen, however guilty, she is a woman she is our sister still for whom I appeal to you for mercy.

Very respectfully,

Mrs. Francis Minor [9]

Virginia Minor to the St. Louis Board of Freeholders

St. Louis, Missouri

June 8, 1876

An Open Letter to the Board of Freeholders.

GENTLEMEN: After reading from time to time the discussions before your honorable body, on the regulation of the franchise, and especially yesterday’s proceedings on making it compulsory, I beg leave to call your attention to a few facts bearing directly on the subject.

Your whole action on this question has been a concession of the vast importance of the ballot, not only to the individual but to the city, whose great peril is from irresponsible force. Yet you have utterly ignored the fact that a large proportion of the tax payers of the city are utterly disfranchised, and thus a large conservative element lost which should be wisely used for its protection.

I have now before me the names of (53) fifty-three women, joint owners of property, valued by your Assessor at one million nine hundred and sixty seven thousand nine hundred and thirty-two dollars ($9,967,932,) and also the names of 934 women who are sole owners and representative of nineteen million six hundred and forty-two thousand nine hundred and eighty-two dollars ($19,642,982). But far more numerous and important is the great body of women tax-payers, who own only a small amount of property not included in these figures, to whom every cent levied by your Assessor may be bread out of their mouths and that of their children. Yet these women are by law deprived of the birth-right of every American citizen—representation before taxation.

At the previous meeting of your Board, you have decided that you can not bestow this franchise, nor cause an individual to forfeit it for non-exercise; yet you are canvassing the right to punish him for not using it at all elections. The provision is excellent if it only applied to the tax-payer, but if adopted as amended it will be equally binding on that large class of citizens for whose benefit the poll-tax was abolished. After seeing that your honorable body has been so careful to secure the votes of all men, and if you possess the power to punish, may you not also remit punishment? I, therefore, pray you as an act of justice, and in conformity with the principles on which this government is founded, to exempt from city taxation the property of all women, as long as they are disfranchised.

Article 10, section 6, of the Constitution allows you to exempt the homes of the dead, and women are, in law, equally dead and voiceless, as helpless to defend their homes as they; and, though I see by the same section, that the framers of it have secured to “charity” what they would not concede to justice. I doubt not that the Supreme Court will sustain you, as the language of the new Constitution is not more emphatic on this point than the old, if I recollect rightly. Yet, in one instance, at least, I am informed that Court allowed personal property to be exempt from taxation.

Very respectfully.

Mrs. Francis Minor[10]

Virginia Minor to David Powers, President of the Board of Assessors in St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

August 26, 1879

The Hon. David Powers, President Board of Assessors:

I honestly believe and conscientiously make oath that I have not one dollar’s worth of property subject to taxation. The principle on which this Government rests is representation before taxation. My property is denied representation, and therefore cannot be taxable. The law which you quote as applicable to me in your notice to make my tax return is in direct conflict with the thirteenth section of the bill of rights of the Constitution of the State, which declares, ‘No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.’ And that surely cannot be ‘due process of law’ wherein one of the parties only is law-maker, judge, jury and executioner, and the other stands silences, denied the power either of assent or dissent, a condition of ‘involuntary slavery’ so clearly prohibited in the thirty-first section of the same article, as well as in the Constitution of the United States, that no legislation or judicial prejudice can ignore it. I trust you will believe it is from no disrespect to you that I continue to refuse to become a party to this injustice by making a return of property to your honorable body, as clearly the duties of a citizen can only be expected where rights and privileges are equally accorded.


Virginia L. Minor[11]

Virginia Minor to Unknown Recipient

October 1882

Obtained by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and reprinted in their paper.

I find the work immense. There is a very large foreign vote here and things are by no means sure. The organization is too confident of success to succeed. I am to go down to the country tomorrow to speak at the school houses. I am very anxious to go into the “dug-out” district if possible, though some of them want me for parlor work in Omaha. I don’t believe in the parlor business as you know. We crossed the Platte river, which looked like a sand-bed. I really need an atlas, as I find I am in what is known as the Great American desert.Last Sunday I accompanied Miss Susan B. Anthony in a visit to the insane asylum, where we had been invited to dine. Dr. Mattison is in charge of the institution, a large and imposing stone building situated on a high point in the prairie, three miles from the Capitol in Lincoln. The eye has one unbroken sweep over miles and miles of rich prairie, with here and there a few cattle, just enough to give quite life to the scene and make one loth to leave it for the jars and contest of life. I must own up that I felt very much like the Queen of Sheba when she saw the magnificence of Solomon, away up here in the lap of the continent to find an insane asylum perfect in all its appointments, superior to our own in many things. Even in the violent wards the most beautiful cleanliness prevailed. The floors were as polished as mirrors and the cots in all the buildings were furnished with double hair matresses, double woven wire springs, and blankets and quilts as soft and white as any used for an infant’s crib. It did my heart good to see the smile with which the wife of the superintendent was greeted, to see these poor insane creatures come and put their arms around her, as though she were their mother and they children—she a refined and highly-cultured woman and they rough and homely, many of them daughters of toil, and bearing on their faces the scars of life. I fear I should have shrunk from the kisses, but I bowed in reverence to the woman who smilingly accepted them. In the afternoon the patients were all assembled in the chapel to sing, one of the inmates acting as organist. The singing, of course, was a little of the line sometimes. After it was over the Doctor invited Miss Anthony and myself to speak to them. Only think of the situation!

Miss Anthony declared it utterly impossible to think of such a thing, but I consoled myself with the thought that I then had the opportunity for the first of addressing my ‘political equals, my peers,’ so I took the floor and did my very best, and if you will believe it, when I got on the topic of suffrage, they absolutely laughed and some of the girls giggled just as naturally as those outside would have. Now, if anybody wants to laugh, let her or him do the thing as I did. After I sat down, Miss Anthony stood up. She declared she had not a thing to say, but finally she began one of her stories, which set them all off in such a fit of laughing that I felt quite nervous. She put the vote, as usual, and the ayes had a large majority. Not a woman noted ‘no.’ She then called on the women to speak, when one rose very quietly and with considerable dignity said:

‘I always did believe women should vote. If you will over there at that building (the Penitentiary) you will see one of the best arguments for woman suffrage. There are 200 men in the institution of and only one woman.’ I was informed later that her statement was true regarding the time she last visited the prison, but that at present here was not one woman inmate there.

Mrs. Elizabeth L. Saxon of Louisiana, who came west with me to assist the campaign got left in Omaha, and could not fill her appointments. So the railroad people hauled out an engine and put the superintendent’s car on and whirled her out to meet her engagements, not charging a cent. All the roads give half-far rates to all speakers on our platform.”[12]

Virginia Minor Interview with The St. Louis Post Dispatch

October 24, 1882

St. Louis, Missouri

Mrs. Minor was asked her opinion this morning regarding the result of the suffrage in Nebraska. 

“If woman’s enthusiasm can do it the amendment will be carried,” she replied. “At every meeting I attended the vote was almost always largely for suffrage, and sometimes unanimous All through the prairie country which I have visited the women showed great interest in our cause, and it was an exceptional case to find one who either did not understand the meaning of ‘woman suffrage’ or was not already in favor of it.”

“To what county were you assigned?”

“Fillmore, and it is one of the tiniest in the State. I had my choice of remaining in Omaha or going out into the precincts. I chose the latter because I wanted to see the people in their homes and learned by personal acquaintance what they thought of vital subjects but I found that even here Chicago was away ahead of St. Louis.”

“In what way?”

“Enterprise, push—whatever you wish to call the spirit which was immortalized by Oliver Twist’s cry of ‘more.’ In every dwelling, school house, store and hotel I entered in either village or country neighborhood hand-books or pamphlet advertising Chicago firms were in advance of me on tables, sewing machines, desks, chairs, benches, and even tacked on the walls. They are an important Part of the somewhat scant supply of reading matter which finds its way to the homes of farmers and the accompanying illustrations serve to amuse the children. Everything in that wide-awake city is advertised, down to fine combs and jewsharps, and the boy and girl just learning to read receive as one of their earliest impressions the belief that Chicago supplied the world—particularly Nebraska.”

“Wasn’t St. Louis represented in any way?”

“Not a line to show that such a city existed. I examined pamphlets, placards and roadway signs carefully, believing that our merchants must have in some way looked after their interests in such a fine country—and atmosphere, I assure you, which made me want to keep opening my mouth for the pure pleasure of inhaling its elasticity. “

“Were there no newspapers?”

“The Chicago bugaboo again—nothing but the Inter-Ocean, which everybody swears by. I don’t object to the paper because it advocates women suffered nobly, but I was sorry that the people did not seem to know that such great journals as the Post-Dispatch and Globe Democrat existed. They talk Chicago, buy from Chicago and think with Chicago, and, with St. Louis so much nearer, these facts are often a reproach to its enterprise.”

“How often did you speak?”

“Less than I intended on account of the wet weather which came on. Mrs. Yates, of Geneva, the county seat, drove me over to the country in a two-horse buggy to meet appointments, and as the mud was like black paste, and nearly a foot deep, it was slow traveling. We made from fourteen to eighteen miles a day this way. News is slow in getting over the prairie districts because there are no railroads there and in some instances we found that notice of our coming had been delayed. Still, there were enough people got together in some mysterious way to make a speech from me necessary. I used to wonder where they all came from, as their homes are scattered about over so much territory. The entire State hasn’t a much greater population than St. Louis itself, I believe it’s about 450,000. You know, too, that it out-ranks every state in the union for intelligence, based on the qualifications of reading and writing. While I admit the general intelligence in Nebraska of both men and women, I think that gauging by the ability merely to read and write is not a fair judgment, because some of the greatest fools I ever knew could write a copper-plate hand and read with the finish of a trained elocutionist. The school-houses are a feature of Nebraska, as you may surmise, and are all built on the same plan, comfortable and always a mile and a half from the nearest house. One evening we ended a fourteen miles drive through the rain by stopping at a farm house to which had been assigned. The man at the place said they had received no notice of our coming, but that we were welcome to remain over night. He added that he didn’t believe his wife approved of suffrage and anyway we would better not discuss the topic in her hearing. The school house at which I was to speak was the inevitable mile-and-half further on, and I am convinces that distances in that state have been measured by rubber strings, for, as usual, it was a tiresome drive and we could not wait for supper. The building was propped up on underpinning to permit some alterations in the foundation and we had to actually crawl in. There was a dingy lamp which we lighted. Nobody else was there. After a while the neighbors began to arrive and there were about thirty in all present during the evening, including our host and his sons. Somebody had brought a lantern, which was hung up on a nail to help light the building. It was equal to lecturing in the dark. I couldn’t tell whether my hearers were negroes or white people, and even those nearest me looked like spectres in the prevailing gloom. It is an odd sensation to be talking to people who hear you and yet whose faces you can not distinguish. However, I did the best possible under such peculiar circumstances, and was rewarded finally by a rousing vote in favor of the cause. Returning to the house we found a good supper awaiting us and the hostess very gracious.

In leaving the next morning I told her that as all women had not such kind husbands as her’s was she should assist in their enfranchisement, though she herself cared nothing for it, and I think from her manner she is a promising convert. In the towns I was impressed with the fact that the women who advocated temperance would have to accept the woman suffrage plank, if they ever expected to make Prohibition a law. I had another experience in the country which I am likely to remember for some time. We reached a sod house, the only one I had seen, and one evening just as a woman came out and disappeared behind the corner of a corn crib, jerking an apron from a line as she went. I beckoned an finally shouted for her to come out and speak to us, because a Savage dog at the door was more than we dared face . She put her head out long enough to say that her name was not the one we mentioned as the family we were hunting.  A little further on we came to the right place, a comfortable frame house, and the people were ready for us. A strong wind was blowing, and after tea the farmer said he was afraid to trust going over to the school-house in buggies because they would probably be blown over. I advised that he put is mules in the wagon and take us all in that. This suited him, but on the way back a black cloud spread over the sky and after I had spoken a few minutes to the twenty or thirty people present it became evident that a storm was brewing which everybody dreaded.

We decided to adjourn and there was a rush for the door. If it hadn’t been for the vivid lightning, I shouldn’t have known where the wagon was. We sat down close in the straw because our host said we probably would be blown off the seats is we insisted on occupying them. The wind was like a cyclone, and our fears were increased by the statement that if it thundered the mules always considered it a personal insult, and accordingly I never saw so much brilliant and rapid lightning, but fortunately it did not thunder, and just as we reached the house it began to rain in torrents. I put my foot on the brake to climb out, but something turned and I found myself taking a direct route to China—flat on my on back on the ground and very near the heels of those peculiarly constituted mules. That thought hurried me up and into the dwelling, though by this time I was soaking wet, which besides being stunned by the fall, from which I am still suffering somewhat. As there was only one stove in the house there was not enough heat to dry my clothing, which was still wet when I dressed the next morning, but I accepted this as one of the inevitable things and went on my way damp, but enthusiastic. At a little town near Geneva, I was requested to address the anti-Monopolist Alliance in a session there, and, as they could not dodge my arguments—which was that suffrage was a monopoly they were to blame for—a woman suffrage plank was adopted I short order, though I would see that some of them did not really approve of suffrage for women.”

“Were you in Omaha when Miss Phoebe Couzins debated publicly with Mr. Hitchcock?”

“No; But during the convention which took us all out there the 26th of October, he rose in one of the meetings and declared himself opposed to woman suffrage. He refused to accept an invitation to speak on our platform as he was not ready to debate. We were renting the Opera House, and miss Anthony suggested that we hire a hall and invite some of our speakers to a dialectic contest. Then Phoebe cousins announced that she would meet him in debate, providing the committee which assigned her to the stump would let her return for that purpose. This was eventually agreed to. I wonder now that the debate should have resulted in a tie, for Mr. Hitchcock is a young lawyer, and very popular. The girls were all on his side, and Phoebe must have been at her best to carry the feeling against his arguments. When miss Anthony and Mr. Edward Rosewater of the Bee debated In the Opera-house there was such a crush that people were turned away in scores the tickets had been put at twenty-five cents a piece, but they were bought up by speculators and a great number disposed of at on dollar each. There was no time during convention when the hall was not crowded, and as regularly as myth miss Anthony put a vote a majority declared for suffrage. Considerable surprise was expressed because the woman suffrage delegates dress handsomely and in taste, a great many had expected to see a collection of Bloomer suits instead. The night Mrs. Gongar of Indianapolis lectured, the critics were scandalized because she wore a lace dress over blue silk which was cut square at the neck. They were inconsistent enough to blame her for doing what they before abused her for neglecting.”

“Did Miss Anthony indulgence the extravagance of a new dress?”

“Yes; a rich black satin which was forwarded from New York, because the dressmaker had made it too tight, and Miss Anthony left it to be altered. At Lincoln an impertinent student from the University declared himself an anti-suffragist in the convention and brought forward as an argument the statement that the evening before all the ladies speakers complained of taking cold on the platform. This brought a number of women in the audience to their feet, who said their husbands also never undertook public speaking without taking cold. He then went on that Miss Anthony couldn’t eat enough supper that night because her dress was so tight.”

“Did she retort?”

“She never replied to personal illusions, and she knew, too, that the student was misrepresenting the case, and she had said the dressmaker did not let out enough of the seams to give her free-arm movement. He tried to show that the University students were opposed to suffrage, but other students denied it and even brought papers to prove that the majority favored our cause.”[13]

Virginia Minor to the Editor of the Levenworth Times

St. Louis, Missouri

April 21, 1886

Editor Times—Someone has just sent me an article from your paper dated January 23rd, copied from a Saint Louis paper, which is such a perversion of the truth that I send you the article criticized with the request that you do me the justice to give it a place in your columns, so that your readers may judge of it for themselves.

I am quoted as saying: “the woman suffrage agitators will continue to oppose the Edmonds Bill for the suppression of polygamy because it takes away from them that accursed institution, the prop of the haram vote.”

You will see that I have made no such statement but on the contrary particularly state that suffrage women oppose and will continue to oppose the Edmonds Bill, because it disenfranchises the polygamous wife only, and leaves the ballot in the hands of far more guilty polygamists husbands and I may here add what my astute critic has overlooked, the fact that the Mormon wife has only one husband.


Virginia L. Minor[14]

Francis Minor to the Editor of the St. Louis Post Dispatch

St. Louis, Missouri

March 22, 1887

To the Editor of the Post-Dispatch:

A morning paper informs us that ‘Princeton College is to open an institution for women at once, in which the educational facilities will be equal to those enjoyed by the men in the college,” etc.

A few years ago, when the Princeton Alumni first organized as an association in the city, I was present and was introduced to Dr. McCosh, to whom, in private conversation, I suggested the subject of the coeducation of the sexes, and asked him if he would not advocate the measure and thus place the institution abreast with the time, etc., but he declined to do so. As the oldest graduate of the college in the city, if not in the State, I am glad to learn that light is breaking at last even there.

Francis Minor[15]

Virginia Minor to Her Nephew John Douglas Woodward

Undated, but believed to be from 1884

St. Louis, Missouri

My Dear Boy,

You can’t think what a sunbeam your letter was in this dark home. It was a snowy melting, freezing raining day. I had just come in wet cold nasty and miserable, from welcoming out a tenant who has been the thorn in my flesh for four years.

From the first day they moved in they demanded that I should have the windows washed or they would move out. I advised them to move immediately. Once a month regularly was the threat made and same advice given. Finally the water inspection got them out, and I am out three hundred dollars in repairs of their wreckage.

I had half a mind to drop in and see your American Artist show. My plan is always to go to a hotel near everything where I can go when I please and see everything. And you and she being boarding I would be in no danger of disgracing the family. First I had no clothes then I made me two dresses which are entirely too fine to wear so that I am as bad off as ever. My trip to California has melted into thin air because I am just too lazy to go, so that from pleasant prospects I shall pack my baggage for the backyard and plant flowers in the coal ashes for the boys to dig up. Indeed I am missed of seeing fine things an attending high pretending clubs. So the other day I could not see to read and I took myself to the theater to see Peck’s Bad Boy. The theater is well – very nice but the people – I looked around and congratulated myself. Not a soul knew me and hardly had I settled down for a free and easy when an acquaintance of very nice young man traded seats with my next neighbor and devoted himself to make me have a pleasant time period I was very grateful, painfully so.

Was very glad to hear from Richmond. It’s a new generation as it were and I feel like my betters are like my company, more plague than profit. I fear I am letting go of society too much and every now and then make a desperate effort to do the society thing but it is an intolerable dose. I see by yesterday’s paper that W. Cole’s pictures are just shipped to N. York. Though only three squares from me and the public were invited to inspect, to use a Yankeeism “I did not get to go.” Looks rather odd to be sending art collections from the West to N. Y. By the way your friend W.B. Jones has a beautiful picture in Harpers Monthly. This is Sunday afternoon and this letter is not in the box yet so I will get to the end presently an start it on its journey on my way to the museum which is free Sunday until noon. I had been put on the free list and longed to come as an endorsement and have my nose counted by a lecturer on literature and Scripture, two things I make no pretensions. And I am no wise child to make conciliation as when the lecturer doubted that warships passed under the Colossus of Rhodes. I suggest that while our ocean greyhounds of today might have found it difficult the warships of the Greeks and Phoenicians were on the model of the Viking and two or three might have squeezed through. Of course my pronunciation of “Vi” was corrected to “Ve.” Of course I stood up for the American “i” and Webster. Had it been a French word I should have pronounced the “i” “e” as a matter of course. Now I don’t mind saying I don’t know any more than a cat what Webster says And nobody there did either.

Best love to you both. I hope you can make out some of this. Writing makes me so tired.

Your most affectionate aunt,

Virginia L. Minor[16]

[1] Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol 3, 599-600.

[2] Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol 2, 197.

[3] “Woman’s Suffrage.” Daily Missouri Democrat.

[4] Stanton et al., History of Women Suffrage, Vol. 3, 603.

[5] Stanton et al., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol 3. 601.

[6] Stanton, et al. History of Woman Suffrage, Vol 2., 407-408.

[7] “Female Suffrage.” The Clarion-Ledger

[8] Gordon, Anna D. The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Vol. 3, 74-75.

[9] Minor, Virginia. Letter from Mrs. Francis Minor to Charles Henry Hardin, December 12, 1875.

[10] “Public Opinion.”

[11] The New Northwest. September 18, 1879, 2.

[12] “Addressing Lunatics: The Women Suffrage Campaign in Nebraska.”

[13]Mrs. Minor’s Mission: Interesting Chat Concerning the Woman Suffrage Canvass in Nebraska.”

[14] “Obeyed Their Husbands.”

[15] Minor, Francis, “To the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.”

[16] Minor, Virginia. “Virginia Minor to Her Nephew John Douglas Woodward.”