Women’s Suffrage and the Just Government League

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Some of the picket line of November 10, 1917
L to R: Catherine Martinette, Elizabeth Kent, Mary Bartlett Dixon, C.T. Robertson, Cora Week, Amy Jungling, Hattie Kruger, Belle Sheinberg, Julia Emory

While the national women’s suffrage movement began in the mid-19th century, Maryland started gaining ground at the end of the century. By 1910, there were three major statewide suffrage organizations for white women in the state. Black women were active in the movement, but they were largely excluded from these groups and formed their own organizations.

The most successful of the suffrage organizations in Maryland was the Just Government League established by Edith Haughton Hooker in 1907. They organized popular suffrage hikes, the first of which was held in January 1914, where they marched from Baltimore to Annapolis to deliver a suffrage petition to the Maryland General Assembly.

Despite their hard work and perseverance, Maryland suffragists were unable to convince the General Assembly to ratify the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Mary Bartlett Dixon Cullen (1873-1957)

Like Edith Haughton Hooker, Baltimore native Mary Bartlett Dixon graduated from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. After graduation, she relocated to Talbot County. She fought for suffrage at both the state and national level. Dixon became chair of the Woman’s Suffrage Association of Maryland and headed the legislative committee for the Just Government League. She also fought for nurses to receive officer rank during World War I. She remained a leader in the Easton community, founding the Talbot County League of Women Voters and helping to establish the Easton Memorial Hospital

Nannie V. Melvin (1865-1942)

Nannie Melvin was an accomplished writer and poet and a Caroline County native. As field secretary for the Just Government League, she established suffrage clubs throughout Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Traveling by boat to reach communities along the Shore, she gained the support of many women in these rural towns. In 1911, she established a League office in her hometown of Denton and the same year founded the Just Government League of Caroline County.

A Vote, A Voice
Women’s Suffrage and the Just Government League