“Suffragists Determined” (November 13, 1909)


This article, published November 13, 1909, by the News Leader, describes what would be the founding meeting of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia in Richmond. The article dramatically generalizes the social opposition and chaos resulting from the intention to establish this organization, which was formalizing the movement for women’s suffrage.


Thursday’s Meeting for Organization of Campaign Will Draw Them Together.

Mrs. Ben B. Valentine Defends ‘Mrs. Pankhurst’

English Suffragette Leader May Come Here, But Not to Introduce Violent Methods of the Sisters Across the Waters.

Mrs. Valentine’s Roll of Suffragist Pioneers

Mrs.Charles V. Meredith.

Mrs. Benjamin B. Valentine.

Mrs.Charles G. Bosher.

Mrs.Dabney Crenshaw.

Miss Mary Lyons.

MissRoberta Wellford.

MissEllen Glasgow.

Mrs.Cary Glasgow McCormick.

MissMary Johnston.

MissEloise Johnston.

Mrs. Edward R. Valentine.

MissBessie Chamberlayne.

MissAnna Furness.

Miss Aida Arundel.

Woman’s suffrage interest in Richmond, focused suddenly yesterday upon Mrs. Charles V. Meredith and Mrs. Ben B. Valentine, is to take definite aggressive form at the meeting of those interested, which has been called for Thursday afternoon.

Committees on membership, campaign methods, publicity will be appointed, and, while nothing will be done before the next legislature, it was learned this morning that before theassembly of 1912 is called to order the attempt will be made to make votes for women a Statewide issue.

Already a hundred names have been signed to petitions procured from theNational Women’s Suffrage Association in Washington. These petitions were sent to Mrs. Charles V. Meredith direct from Washington and by Mrs. Meredith were distributed among the most prominent women in Richmond.

Each petition provides for about fifty signatures, and as fast as filled they are being sent back to Washington, where they will be incorporated into a mammoth petition and presented to congress with the request that a recommendation be made to the legislatures of the several States suggesting that women be allowed the suffrage privilege.

Those conducting the movement in Richmond do not propose, however, to follow the methods of their English sisters. Mrs. Ben B. Valentine, who was seen this morning emphatically declared that the campaign would be conducted with the greatest dignity. There will be no bon-fires, no mobs, no suffragettes chained to the railing of the gallery of the legislative halls.

“We do not propose to do anything which can in any way injure our cause,” Mrs. Valentine declared, “but we are going to win. We are right and we know it. And when you are right you are bound to succeed.

“We own property and should have the privilege of saying how much taxes we are to pay. We will stand on an equal footing with the men, and I am of the belief that the women of Richmond will not make a bad showing when they appear at the qualification tests.

“At our meeting Thursday we are going to discuss the possibility of getting Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the movement in England. We are not going to ask her to suggest methods. We wish that very clearly understood and established. We merely wish her assistance in organizing. We think she can give us a splendid start.

“Our idea is to establish a Virginia branch of the national organization. Then each city will have its chapter. In this way we will be enabled to reach the intelligent women all over the State.”

Mrs. Valentine said that she believed a gross injustice had been done Mrs. Pankhurst by the recent publication of her picture along with a poem written by William Watson, the English radical, entitled, “The Woman With the Serpent’s Tongue.”

It is well understood, Mr. Valentine pointed out, that the poem in no way touches nor refers to Mrs. Pankhurst, whose life, she said, is at wide variance with the life and characteristics of the woman described in the poem, who, while her name has not been mentioned, is well known as prominently connected in the highest social and political circles in England.

Strong Opposition.

Though the club-room or private parlor in which the meeting will take place Thursday afternoon is hardly expected to hold the women who will gather there the leaders of the movement here have been suddenly brought to the realization that they will have to face strong opposition.

Heretofore only those have been ap-

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proached who favored the proposition and those holding views against the movement were not listed. The publicity given the matteryesterday afternoon by The News Leader, however, has caused many protests against the idea of women entering politics. Violent arguments have been precipitated, family rows are furious, and breaches of the peace are imminent.

Husband and wife are odds; brother and sister are no longer on speaking terms, while mother and daughter, all argument exhausted, view each other in cold and seething in silence. Friends pass on the street with scarcely a nod, and gossips are busy telling what others are saying about them.

All these things, however, the leaders say they are prepared to face. Mrs. Valentine was in no way disturbed when seen this morning, and discussed the coming campaign with calmness.

Fighting Hysteria.

“Of course there is going to be considerable hysteria,” she said. “We are prepared for it. Others will attempt to ridicule us, but we stand solidly upon our merits of our plans. We will fight hysteria with intelligent argument. We will educate the people who do not now understand what the movement means, and we even hope to inject faint rays of light into the eyes of those who are stubbornly blind.

“When Mrs. Pankhurst comes—if indeed we can get her—we will then be able to see just how we stand. Mrs. Pankhurst can outline the objects which we will seek to attain better than anyone else. She is the recognized leader of the movement, and the most complete, intelligent and logical speaker on woman’s suffrage to be found.”

APA Citation:
Leader, The News. “Suffragists Determined” (November 13, 1909). (2021, October 28). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Leader, The News. "“Suffragists Determined” (November 13, 1909)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (28 Oct. 2021). Web. 15 Apr. 2024
Last updated: 2021, October 28
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