Suffrage and League Timeline

Suffrage and League Timeline

Stars and Stripes Banner


  • Maria Stewart, an African American woman, gave the first known public speech by a woman about abolitionism and women’s rights in Boston, Massachusetts.



  • Virginia and North Carolina were the last states to eliminate property requirements for voting (with the exception of those convicted of certain crimes in North Carolina).



  • October 13, 1857 - The Constitution of the State of Minnesota was ratified by the residents of the Minnesota Territory in a special election  -  30,055 for acceptance and 571 for rejection.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in Dred Scott v. Sandford that blacks, free or slave, were not be citizens of the Unites States.


  • Mary Jackman Colburn gave a lecture the "Rights and Wrongs of Woman" in Champlin, the first public lecture on women’s rights in Minnesota.
  • May 11, 1858 - State of Minnesota admitted into the Union.


  • Jane Grey Swisshelm, a St. Cloud journalist, became  the first woman to present to the Minnesota House of Representative on “Women and Politics.”


  • Five states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Massachusetts) allowed free blacks to vote.


  • February 1861 - Seven southern states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas) and formed the Confederate States of America, electing Jefferson Davis as President
  • April 12, 1861 - Civil War begins and soon after Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas join the Confederacy.


  • Abraham Lincolm issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves but only in states that had seceded from the United States.


  • April 9, 1865 -  General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
  • June 19, 1865 - Juneteenth - Union General Gordon Granger and his regiment arrived in Galveston, Texas to spread the good news that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved African Americans had been freed by President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • November 1865 - proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution extending suffrage to all men was defeated by popular vote - 14,651 people against and 12,135 in favor of the amendment
  • December 6, 1865 - The 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States was ratified
  •  A Image iconPetition for Universal Suffrage 1895, signed by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone,  among others,  was delivered to Congress.


  • January 11, 1866 - Representative Anson R. Hayden presented the first known petition for woman suffrage in the Minnesota House of Representatives for Eva J. Spaulding and others
        • The petition made little progress beyond its referral to the joint committee on amendments to the constitution.
  • April 2, 1866 -  President Andrew Johnson declared that the insurrection that had existed in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, and Virginia, was at an end. The one exception was Texas.
  • August 20, 1866 - President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation announcing the end of the American Civil War, 16 months after General Lee's surrender
  • At the 11th National Women's Rights Convention, the first since the start of the Civil War, was held in New York City. Lucretia Mott presided over a merger between suffragists and the American Anti-Slavery Association creating the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) created to “secure Equal Rights to all American citizens, especially the right of suffrage, irrespective of race, color, or sex.”.


  • A second proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution extending suffrage to all men was narrowly defeated by popular vote - 28,794 against the amendment and 27,479 for it.
  • The 1867 Military Reconstruction Acts required the 10 former Confederate states to adopt constitutions guaranteeing suffrage to African-American men
  • Territorial Suffrage Act granted suffrage to African American men in the territories


  • Representative Alpheus B. Colton, on behalf of Mary A. Graves, presented a woman suffrage petition with more than 350 signatures to the Minnesota House of Representatives Election Committee
  • Minnesota male voters approved a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment, by a margin of 56.7 percent to 43.3 percent, extending suffrage to black men, Indian men, and mixed-blooded males over the age of 21.

  • July 9, 1868 - 14th Amendment to the US Constitution granting citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves, was ratified

  • John W. Menard, a black man, was elected to Congress from Louisiana but barred from taking his seat by white members of Congress.


  • Mary Jackman Colburn  fromed a suffagist society in Champlin and Sarah Burger Stearns  formed a suffragist society of 50 women in Rochester, Minnesota's first two suffragist societies.
  • petition with 605 signatures seeking women’s suffrage the Minnesota House of Representatives was the first to be petition to actually become a bill -  House File 91 – the first bill supporting women’s rights in the state of Minnesota.
  • February 26, 1869 - Congress passed the 15th Amendment 
  • The American Equal Rights Assscociation split into two groups - the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association - after the 15th Amendment was passed.
  • May 15, 1969 - The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) founded in New York by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony on 
      • NWSA was a female lead organization which advocated for a constitutional amendment to secure the vote for women, supported a variety of reforms that aimed to make women equal members of society and opposed the Fifteenth Amendment due to its failure to include women.
      • Sarah Burger Stearns, who had moved to Duluth, was one of the founding vice presidents.
      • Constitution of NWSA
  • The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) founded in Boston by by Lucy Stone, Henry Brown Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe.  
      • AWSA focused solely on the vote to attract as many supporters as possible.  AWSA included male leaders, pursued a state-by-state strategy and supported the Fifthteen Amendment.
  • December 10, 1869 - Women in Wyoming Territory become the first in the US to be granted full suffrage.
  • Indians and people of color in Massachusetts were granted citizenship in the Commonwealth and entitled to all the rights, privileges and immunities of a citizen.


  • February 3, 1870 - The 15th Amendment, granting African American men the right to vote, was ratified.
  • March 9, 1870 - Minnesota Governor Horace Austin vetoed a constitutional amendment bill which extended suffrage to all citizens, male and female, aged 21 and over, as well as  immigrants and Native Americans, who agreed to live by US laws and customs, including the adoption of the English language.
      • Governor Austin believed the bill to be unconstitutional as the bill also stated that both men and women who met all necessary qualifications would be permitted to vote on the amendment, although women's votes would be placed in "separate and distinct ballot boxes."   
  • The Utah Territorial Legislature approved full suffrage for women
  • The Naturalization Act excluded Chinese men from citizenship and voting. It also prohibited the wives of Chinese laborers from entering the United States



  • Almira W. Anthony (whose husband was a cousin of Susan B. Anthony), Mary Powell Wheeler and Hattie M. White formed a suffragist society in Kasson, Minnesota.
  • On November 5, 1872, Susan B Anthony and 7 other women voted in Rochester, New York in the Presidential Election 
  • Sojourner Truth also tried to vote but was refused a ballot in Battle Creek, Michigan
  • On November 18, 1872, Susan B Anthony was arrested for illegal voting. 
      • She successfully used her arrest and trial to bring attention to woman's suffrage


  • The Minnesota Suffrage in School Affairs Amendment, also known as Amendment 2, authorized the Minnesota legislature to grant women suffrage in school affairs 
  • Susan B. Anthony proposed wording for a U.S. Constitutional Amendment 
      • “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”



  • Minnesota male voters rejected a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment allowing women the right to vote on the “whiskey question.” 
  • Legislature allowed women to be admitted to the Bar Association


  • The Susan B. Anthony Amendment was first introduced to the US Congress introduced by Senator A.A. Sargeant of California.
  • Image icon1878 Petition for Woman's Suffrage from African American citizens of Washington DC, including two of Frederick Douglas' children, was delivered to Congress. 



  • May 6, 1882  - The Chinese Exclusion Act suspended Chinese immigration and declared Chinese immigrants ineligible for naturalization


  • Helen E. Gallinger began editing a woman suffrage column in State Temperance Review,  
  • MWSA organizer L. May Wheeler formed committees for suffrage work in Anoka, Armstrong, Blakely, Brooklyn Center, Champlin, Frontenac, Long Prairie, Long Lake, and Wabasha.
  • MWSA organizer L. May Wheeler formed formed Suffrage Societies in Wayzata, Farmington, Red Wing, Mantorille, Excelsior, Rochford, Lake City, Shakopee, and Jordan
  • The Kasson Suffrage Society became an auxiliary of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association
  • Women in the Washington territory were granted full voting rights


  • November 3, 1884 - The US Supreme Court ruled in Elk v. Wilkins that Native Americans had no claim to citizenship and could not vote. 



  • January 25, 1887 - The U.S. Senate took the first vote on woman suffrage, where it was defeated 34 to 16, with 25 members absent 


  • On February 18, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) was formed from a merger of National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) with the single goal of obtaining the right to vote for women 
  • November 18-19, 1890 - the Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in St. Paul.  Julie B. Nelson was elected president.
  • The Indian Territory Naturalization Act required Native Americans to complete an application to gain US citizenship 


  • Minnesota suffragists were successful in lobbyng to raise the age of consent from age 10, to age 16, less than their goal of age 18.
  • The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in Blue Earth.


  • The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in Hastings.


  • Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) made it first annual attempt to remove the word "male" from the state's voting requirements - the Minnesota Senate passed the bill but the bill was never voted on by the Minnesota House (Mar 16, 1893 Star Tribune article)
  • August 24-25, 1893 - The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in Hastings.


  • Women's Day was celebrated at the Minnesota State Fair with the State Fair paying for suffrage speakers.  Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) began distributing suffragist material at a suffragist booths at the Minnesota State Fair, which they continued every year until passage of the 19th Amendment.
  • September 10-11, 1894 - The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in St. Paul.



  • October - Equal Suffrage National Conference held at First Baptist Church in Minneapolis.  Carrie Chapman Catt spoke at  the Wesley M. E. Church, Minneapolis and the following night  Susan B. Anthony, national president spoke. 
  • October - The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in Minneapolis at the same time  as the Equal Suffrage National Conference of national leaders
  • The Woman Suffrage Club of Minneapolis changed its name to the Political Eqality Club of Minneapolis to avoid name confusion with the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association 
  • In Montana, a one-year residency requirement effectively disenfranchised those living on Indian reservations because the reservation was not considered part of the state 


  • October 4-5, 1898 - The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in Minneapolis, with Carrie Chatman Catt attending.
  • The Minnesota Women Vote for Library Boards Constitutional Amendment, granting women the right to vote for and serve on library boards, was passed with  62 percent of the male public voting in favor.  
  • Minnesota Amendment to the Constitution approved which made it more difficult to approve a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment.  It required a majority of all voting in an election, not just the majority choosing to vote on the Amendment in question, in order to pass an constitutional amendment, effectively make it impossible to pass a full suffrage amendment.
  • The Everywoman Suffrage Club for African American women was founded in Minnesota by 25 women, electing Nellie Griswold Francis as president.
  • Mary Church Terrell, president of the National Association of Colored Women, spoke at the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in Washington, D.C about "The Progress of Colored Women"
  • The Supreme Court validated Mississippi's literacy test in Williams v. Mississippi


  • The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in Albert Lea, with Carrie Chatman Catt attending.
  • The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association held 98 suffragist meetings throughout the year.
  • In Idaho, the right to vote excluded Native Americans who were not taxed, who had not severed their tribal relations and who had not adopted the "habits of civilization".


  • The Minnesota Woman's Suffrage Association Annual Convention was held in Stillwater




  • The Women's Trade Union League coordinated a strike by 20,000 women workers in New York's garment district. Wealthy women supported the strike with a boycott.  Through the strike working class women connected with the suffrage movement.
  • In Minnesota, Ethel E. Hurd organized the Working Womens Equal Suffrage Club


  • On April 9, Anoka suffragist Dr. Flora Aldrich spoke in favor of women's suffrage in the Minneapolis Tribune 


  • March 3, 1913 - The first Image iconsuffragist parade aerial view 1913 the Woman Suffrage Procession, was held in Washington D.C., the day before President Wilson's inauguration, after being denied a place in the inauguration celebration
    • 5,000 to 10,000 women (and some men) marched in the parade while half a million watched
    • This was  also the first large, organized march on Washington for political purposes


  • May 2, 1914 - Women' Suffrage Day - parades and rallys held in almost all states
  • Clara Ueland becomes president of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA)


  • Suffrage was defeated by only one vote in the Minnesota Senate.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Guinn v. United States that Oklahoma's "grandfather clause," was unconstitutional.


  • National Woman's Party (NWP) founded
    • Copying British suffragettes, NWP used civil disobedience and protests to fight for the vote.


  • On May 2, Iowa minister Dr. Effie McCollum Jones, a field director for the National Woman Suffrage Association, spoke at Liberty Hall, Anoka but a suffragist society was not organized in Anoka due to poor attendance 
  • In January, the National Woman's Party began picketing outside the White House which lasted until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1919
      • Minnesotans Sarah Tarleton Colvin of St. Paul and Bertha Moller of Minneapolis joined the picketing,  Moller was arrested 11 times and jailed twice, and Colvinpresident of the Minnesota branch of the NWP, was jailed for five days after burning President Woodrow Wilson in effigy. 
  •  Native Americans in California who did not live on a reservation won the right to vote through a court case.
  • The Jones-Schafroth Act  gave the people of Puerto Ricans stauatory citizenship but Puerto Rican men could only vote in presidential primaries, not in the general election.


  • Grace Randali, one of the founders of Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, visited Anoka to organize a Ratification Committee to advocate for the Nineteenth Amendment 
  • National Women's Suffrage Bill failed in Congress after white suffragists, including Minnesota suffragists, refused to agree to language which would exclude African American women
  • The Minnesota Supreme Court in Opsahl v. Johnson denied members of the Red Lake Chippewa Tribe the right to vote
  • March 1918 -  U.S. federal appeals court declares unconstitutional arrests and detainment of all White House suffrage pickets.


  • In March, the National Woman Suffrage Association created the League of Women Voters as an Auxiliary organization
  • March 20, 1919 -  Minnesota women were granted the right to vote for presidential electors
  • September 8, 1919  - Minnesota ratified the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution which passed 120–6 in the House of Representatives and 60–5 in the Senate during a special session.
    • The 30,000 Minnesotan women who belonged to suffragist organizations lobbied for the special session
  • October 29, 1919 -  Minnesota Women Suffrage Association reincorporated as League of Women Voters, Minnesota at aPDF iconconference held at the Minneapolis Radisson Hotel.  National League of Women Voters President Carrie 


  • February 14, 1920 - The National League of Women Voters became an independent organization
  • April 21, 1920 - The  National League of Women Voters chair, Mrs. Maud Wood Parker and State and District League officers visited Anoka to organize a local League in Anoka
  • August 18, 1920 - The Nineteenth Amendment became part of the US Constitution using the exact words proposed by Susan B. Anthony in 1875
  • August 28, 1920 – 90 women of South St. Paul  are the first women to cast their vote after the passage of the 19th Amendment, in a special election on a water bond referendum
  • Anoka County League of Women Voters President, Mrs. Gus Peterson, quoted in the Anoka Union celebrating Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and encouraging women to vote
  • Anoka League of Women Voters conducted a one day political school for women voters at the Anoka County Fair
  • November 2, 1920 -  women vote in the presidential election with women composing 40% of all voters in Minnesota 
  • Swift v. Leach allowed Native Americans in North Dakota to vote without having to first abandon their tribal connections.


  •  April 19, 1921 -  Minnesota eliminated all gender qualification from jury service
  • May 7, 1921 - Minnesota anti-lynching bill, introduced by Nellie Griswold Francis,  passed by Legisllature.


  • PDF iconMinnie Hill Beatty, future Charter Member of the Anoka League of Women Voters, served as first female election judge chair in her ward 
  • Four women elected to the Minnesota House 
  • The Cable Act removed citizenship from any woman who married an alien ineligible for citizenship 


  • Columbia Heights League of Women Voters founded


  • Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 granted Native American women and men citizenship and the right to vote 
  • League of Women Voters organized its first Get Out the Vote campaign


  • League of Women Voters hosted “Meet the Candidates,” the first national radio broadcast of a candidate forum.

  • The Arizona Supreme Court determined that Native Americans living on reservations in Arizona were residents of the state, but as persons under guardianship, were not entitled to vote. 


  • Cecelia Keys, Charter Member of the Columbia Heights League of Women Voters, became a Member of the State Board of League of Women Voters 


  • On May 18, Mary Hensler Spurzen held a tea, attended by 25 women, to permanently re-establish League of Women Voters in Anoka 


  • League efforts resulted in city wide garbage collection for City of Anoka
  • League successfully raised funds for the Anoka Library
  • League established Future Voters Club at Anoka Junior and Senior High Schools
  • League held candidate meetings for all elections 


  • Congress removed racial bars to naturalization for Chinese because China was a an allie during World War II


  • In Smith v. Allwright, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Texas Democratic Party could not restrict membership to whites only and bar blacks from voting in the party's primary.


  • Congress removed racial bars to naturalization for Asian Indians and Filipinos 


  • The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans were citizens and had a right to vote, overturning a previous decision


  • Circle Pines League of Women Voters founded
  • Minnesota voters rejected a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment clarifying that voters must be citizens of the United States.
  • The McCarran-Walter Act granted all Asian-American the right to naturalization.


  • League held forums for amendments to support revision of State Constitution 


  • League lobbied for permanent registration of voters in the Anoka area 



  • League observed United Nations Day by presenting a UN flag to Anoka High School 



  • Anoka LWV established a Charter Commission to review the Charter of the City of Anoka 
  • The March on Washington, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, called for the right to vote, among other civil-rights demands.


  • 24th Amendment to the US Constitution eliminated poll taxes in federal elections.


  • March 7, 1965 - Alabama State Police Attack Voting Rights Marchers in Selma,  Alabama
  •  August 6, 1965 -  The National Voting Rights Act was signed into law.  This “act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution” , signed into law 95 years after ratification of the 15th Amendment, eliminated literacy tests and  prohibited racial discrimination in voting.
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed.  The Act was intended to remove the racism of the 1924 quota system also limited immigration from countries in the southern hemisphere who could previously immigrate to the United States without restriction



  • League member PDF iconZilla Way elected as the first female Anoka City Commissioner (later called Anoka City Council)
  • League member PDF iconSusan Anderson began service on the Blaine Charter Commission
  • Blaine League of Women Voters published City Candidate Questionnaire in Blaine Life newspaper


  • Minnesota League of Women Voters 50th Anniversary
  • Cecelia Keys, former Suffragette and Charter Member of the Columbia Heights League of Women Voters, interviewed for 50th Anniversary in Sun newspaper
  • Blaine League of Women Voters studied the Rice Creek Watershed and published four articles in the Sun newspaper 
  • In Allen v. the State Board of Elections, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting must be approved by the federal government in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, most of Virginia and some counties and jurisdictions of California, Florida, New Hampshire, New York, Michigan, North Carolina and South Dakota.



  •  The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution lowers the voting age to 18



  • LWV Anoka sponsored "Ban the Can" recycling movement
  • National League of Women Voters welcomed men to full membership and Fred Strobel became the first man to join League in Anoka County 
  • Minnesota voters approve a Minnesota Constitutional Amendment to amend all the articles and reform its style structure and form.  The Amendment also lowered voting age to 18 and reduced residency requirement to 30 days in the precinct.


  • The 1975 Voting Rights Act extended the 1965 Voting Rights protections to American Indians, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives and people of Spanish heritage and added a requirement in certain jurisdictions with large numbers of English-illiterate language minorities to provide ballots and voting information in the language of the language minority group. 



  • Due to inability to find sufficient members willing to serve as officers, the PDF iconLeague of Women Voters Blaine disbanded and members merged with League of Woman Voters  Anoka - Coon Rapids. 




  • League recommended actions for a new correctional facility for women in Shakopee. 


  • League of Women Voters ABC and League of Women Voters Fridley created Booklets on Children's Issues 


  • League of Women Voters withdrew sponsorship of national presidential debates on televison due to manipulation of the process by the two major parties


  • Efforts by LWV ABC member PDF iconSandra Shanley resulted in passage of permanent absentee ballot legislation in Minnesota 
  • Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that individuals with disabilities can vote.


  • LWV ABC and Anoka-Hennepin District 11 sponsor education conversation with University of Minnesota President Nils Hasselmo



  • LWV ABC held a forum on judicial independence/legislation 
  • Help America Vote Act made improvements to voting systems and voter access.


  • Fridley LWV hosted a city government budget cut discussion


  • LWV ABC had a year long campaign called "Bee Safe" to educate about hazardous household products. 


  • LWV ABC joins the digital age by launching a website


  • LWV ABC began a local study on the availability of home health care options for seniors and disabled in the Anoka County area 


  • LWV ABC helped obtain a volunteer coordinator position for Anoka County funded via the Minnesota Legacy Fund 


  • LWV ABC celebrates 75th anniversary
  • June 2013 -  The Supreme Court  struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.