Author: Sophie Meredith Sides Cowan


Sophie Gooding Rose Meredith (1851–1928)

Sophie Gooding Rose Meredith was a leader in the Virginia woman suffrage movement, cofounding Virginia branches of two national suffrage organizations. Her civic activism began early in the 1900s, when she joined the Richmond Education Association out of her concern for the condition of Richmond’s public schools. By 1909 she had turned her attention to woman suffrage, joining other socially prominent Richmond women to found the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. After the General Assembly repeatedly defeated proposals for a suffrage amendment to the state constitution, Meredith decided to focus instead on amending the U.S. Constitution. In 1915 she organized and became chair of the Virginia branch of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (later renamed the National Woman’s Party). In August 1918 Meredith was arrested for demonstrating across from the White House when the U.S. Senate refused to vote on the suffrage amendment. After the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in August 1920 Meredith—believing that securing the vote for women was not enough to ensure gender equality—supported Alice Paul’s campaign for an equal rights amendment. Meredith died in 1928.