Nicole Evelina

Jul 26, 2023

America's Forgotten Suffragists

Virginia and Francis Minor

Two Dot Books 2023

After being forgotten for nearly 130 years, the “Mother of Suffrage in Missouri” and her husband are finally taking their rightful place in history.

St. Louisans Virginia and Francis Minor forever changed the direction of women’s rights by taking the issue to the Supreme Court for the first and only time in 1875, a feat never eclipsed even by their better-known peers Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Yet despite a myriad of accomplishments and gaining notoriety in their own time, the Minors’ names have largely faded from memory. In 1867, Virginia founded the nation’s first organization solely dedicated to women’s suffrage—two years before Anthony formed the National Woman’s Suffrage Association (NWSA). Virginia and Francis were also the brains behind the groundbreaking idea that women were given the right to vote under the Fourteenth Amendment, a philosophy the NWSA adopted for nearly a decade.

And their story doesn’t end there. After the court case, Francis went on to become a prolific writer on women’s rights and one of the first and strongest male allies of the suffrage movement. Virginia instigated tax revolts across the country and campaigned side-by-side with Anthony for women’s rights in Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.

America's Forgotten Suffragists: Virginia and Francis Minor (Two Dot Books, 2023) is the first biography of these suffrage celebrities who were unique for their time in being jointly dedicated to the cause of female enfranchisement. This book follows their lives from slave-holding Virginians through their highly-lauded civilian work during the Civil War, and into the height of the early suffrage movement to show how two ordinary people of like mind, dedicated to a cause, can change the course of history.

Jane Scimeca is Professor of History at Brookdale Community College. @JaneScimeca1

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