Knoxville Has Witnessed Long Fight
By Women For 'Rights'
By MARGARET LIPSCOMBE
Women at the polls, women in politics—all but those who
strove for woman suffrage—today take for granted the freedom that a few decades ago was little more than a dream.
And Knoxville has had its share of women suffragists
and political leaders, some of them still active in politics.
Familiar were names of women's first political organizations, the old "Knoxville Equal Suffrage League," the "Margaret French Suffrage Group," "National Woman's Party"
and the "Woman's Educational and Industrial Union."
In the South, since early recon-
struction days after the War Between the States, and sooner in
the North, women have clamored
for a voice in government.
But the prim "rebellers" of
that day probably had no visions
of the situation as it has become
today, when women shout side by
side with the men at national
political conventions, assume
charge of campaigns, and when
politicians' "baby-kissing" campaigns are conducted to wheedle
the woman's vote.
A woman in Congress probably
was unthought-of except in wildest hopes of the most ambitious.
* * *
Chief complaints of women in
the fight for their rights were outlined by Margaret M. Craft, an
active suffragist of Knoxville, in
a leaflet she compiled to set forth
the worst of laws unfair to
In her compilation she charged
"laws of Tennessee concerning
women are among the most antiquated and unjust of any of the
states of the Union."
Listed were a law giving
fathers the privilege "to deed or
will away a child, even though
unborn, at the time of his death,
without the consent of the mother,"
and laws making "absolutely dependent the position of the wife,
owing to the possession by the
husband immediately upon marriage of all money and personal
property of both, whether acquired before marriage or after."
Among the early women leaders were Mrs. L. Crozier French,
Mrs. C. E. Lucky, Mrs. Sara
Henry Hood, Miss Margaret M.
Craft, Mrs. N. K. Cooper, Miss
Ada Fanz, and Mrs. Joel Tyler.
Mrs. French, who died July 16,
1926, was most active of the early
feminine leaders in Knoxville,
and she was known "not only in
Tennessee, but nationally, as an
energetic, tireless and able advocate of woman's suffrage and prohibition" according to an account
of her activities published in The
Knoxville Journal at the time of
She has been described as "the
most potent force in the successful
fight for emancipation of women
and enthronement of prohibition."
* * *
Mrs. French is the founder of
Ossoli Circle (1885), the Knoxville Equal Suffrage League (organized Jan. 1, 1910), was president Of the Tennessee Federation
of Women's Clubs, founded the
Woman's Educational and Industrial Union (1896), was a delegate
to the first General Federation of
Women's Clubs convention in Atlantic City, and was editor of "The
People," a short-lived publication
advocating women's rights.
She was the daughter of U. S.
Congressman John H. Crozier,
and the wife of the great-grandson
of the founder of Knoxville, Col.
The National Woman's Party
had set aside a room in her honor
at their headquarter's building in
The Knoxville Equal Suffrage
League was organized with 30
members by Mrs. French, "for ad-
I vocation of the educational, industrial, legal and political rights of
Mrs. French resigned soon as
MRS. SARA H.W©OD
president because of duties as
president of the Tennessee Federation of Women's Clubs. Mrs.
Cornelius Lucky was the second
president. Other first officers
were Mrs. Sara Henry Hood, vice-
president; Miss Margaret M. Craft,
corresponding secretary; Mrs.
N. K. Cooper, recording secretary,
and Miss Ada Fanz; treasurer.
* * *
Woman suffragists in 1911 set
forth as reasons for demanding a
voice in the government "(1) the
large number of women owning
valuable property and paying
taxes thereon, (2) the increasing
number of workers in all branches
of business, especially in educational departments—all vitally interested in legislation, (3) all
women are equally interested with
men in good government, since
they as well as men suffer from
bad government, and (4) women
are citizens in a democracy."
"During our fight for. suffrage,
editorial pages of The Knoxville
Journal were always open to us
when Capt. William Rule was editor," Miss Fanz said. The old
"Sentinel," with Wiley L. Morgan
as editor, also sympathized with
the suffragists, Miss Fanz said.
After women were given equal
suffrage, in August, 1920, the
League of Women Voters was organized in Nashville with a branch
in Knoxville, of which Mrs. Robert L. Cunningham was a leader.
The league was founded as a
non-partisan organization. But, as
some of the members said,
"women can't remain non-partisan."
* * *
So, in July, 1922, the Republican
Women's Club was organized, and
the Democratic Women's Club was
organized in 1925.
Mrs. E. T. McNew was first
president of the Republican women's organization, which was
founded at her home by 22
First political steps, which have
been continued until today, were
to engage in house-to-house canvasses to interest women in voting, to sponsor volunteer workers
in wards and precincts, and to
advance women in every possible
way in politics.
The group now has more than I
100 active members, "and we
don't depend on our husbands
to tell us how to vote," said Mrs.
Amos Caldwell, this year's president. "We try to meet the candidates in person, if possible, and
we always study their platforms."
Other presidents of the group
have been Mesdames Marion
Miller, Will Gilbert, T. P. Miller,
Ethel King, I. C. King, Mack New- man, Sylvia Hunter, Miss Nelle
Grammer, Mrs. Nicely, Mrs. Lucy
Dunn and Mrs. Levi York.
Active women in the Democratic Women's Club, of which
Mrs. Thomas Dowell is now president, have included Mrs. Sarah
Henry Hood, a charter member;
Miss Hattie Love, member of City
Council; Mrs. Charles Larew, Mrs.
Avon Acuff, Mrs. Walter Nash,
Mrs. W. W. Potter, Mrs. J. Gordon
Powers, Mrs. Richard Yearwood,
Mrs. J. B. Shinliever, Mrs. W. W.
Baird and Mrs. Charles Morse.
Mrs. Herman Schenk was first
president of the Democratic Women's Club, Mrs. Hood was first
vice-president; Mrs. J. C. Guinn,
second vice-president; Mrs. Frank
Hauer, third vcie-president; Mrs.
J. B. Shinliever, secretary; Mrs.
Emma Pate, treasurer, and Miss
Lucy Crozier, first parliamentarian.
"Uplift work and law enforcement was our first undertaking,"
Mrs. Shinliever said.
Both the women's organizations'
members agreed "many women
who should be still aren't interested in politics . . . but we've
taken a long step since 1920."
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