Women in Missouri History: In Search of Power and Influence

By Leeann Whites; Mary C. Neth et al. | Go to book overview

The Tale of Two Minors

Women's Rights on the Border

LeeAnn Whites

On August 14, 1894, Virginia Louisa Minor died in St. Louis, Missouri. With her passing, the women of the state lost one of the most dedicated advocates of their rights, especially of their right to the vote. In 1867, she helped organize the Missouri Suffrage Association, the first organization dedicated solely to the pursuit of the vote for women in the country, and for years she was its only president. In 1875, she was the plaintiff in a pivotal Supreme Court case, Minor v. Happersett, which determined that women were not entitled to vote based on their status as citizens, and that it would indeed require an amendment to the Constitution for them to do so. Undaunted, Virginia Minor redoubled her efforts, organizing, lobbying, and petitioning the state legislature for the vote for women until the end of her life some twenty years later. As her obituary in the St. Louis Republican put it, “She is best known to the public in this connection, having lived out her long life in the furtherance of the women's suffrage movement, being hand-in-hand with Miss Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Lucretia Mott, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe and Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton.” 1.

Who was Virginia Louisa Minor? What motivated her to make the rights of women the centerpiece of her life? What opportunities of place, of time, of class, or of familial background empowered her to do what so many, indeed most, women could not? In 1845, when Virginia Minor first moved to Missouri with her husband, Francis Minor, she, like all other married

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1.
St. Louis Republican, August 16, 1894.

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