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Susan B. Anthony Sends Letter to Kansas Suffragist Leader
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Susan B. Anthony addresses an envelope from the National Woman Suffrage Association headquarters in Philadelphia to prominent Kansas suffragist Mary Tenney Gray. The pointed questions on this envelope urged women’s claims to suffrage as an essential part of their being citizens of the Republic. On July 4, 1876, Susan B. Anthony read The Declaration for the Rights of Women from a podium in front of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to a cheering crowd.

SUSAN B. ANTHONY. National Woman Suffrage Association Centennial Headquarters envelope, addressed to “Mrs Judge Gray / Leavenworth / Kan,” with printed “Centennial Questions,” address, and officers, 1876. Philadelphia: National Woman Suffrage Association. 1 p., 5⅞ x 3⅜ in.

Inventory #22444.22       Price: $650

Excerpt:

1776.               CENTENNIAL QUESTIONS.            1876.

Are not women, citizens of this Republic,—part of the people?

Why then, should women more than men, be governed without their consent?

Why then, should women more than men, be taxed without representation?

By what right then, do men declare themselves invested with power to legislate for women in all cases whatsoever?

Historical Background

The Centennial International Exhibition was the first official World’s Fair in the United States and was held in Philadelphia from May 10 to November 10, 1876, to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. However, the issue of women’s suffrage was largely ignored in the preparations for celebrating the centennial of the nation. In response, the National Woman Suffrage Association opened “Centennial Headquarters” in Philadelphia to draw attention to the fact that women were still “denied the exercise of their natural right of self-government.”

In 1861, the first Kansas state legislature gave women the right to vote in school elections. Six years later, the legislature submitted a constitutional amendment to the electorate to enfranchise white women, making Kansas the first state to consider women’s suffrage, but the amendment is defeated. In 1887, Kansas granted women the right to vote in municipal elections. In 1911, the Kansas legislature approved a women’s suffrage amendment, and on November 5, 1912, Kansas voters approved the amendment, making Kansas the eighth state to grant full suffrage to women.

Mary Tenney Gray (1833-1904) was born in Pennsylvania as the daughter of a minister and his wife. She received her education partly in her father’s theological library and graduated from Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania in 1853. From 1854 to 1858, she was a preceptress at the Binghamton Academy in New York. In 1859, she married Judge Barzillai Gray and moved to Wyandotte, Kansas Territory, a town that he founded. He was appointed judge of probate in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1859, and judge of the criminal court in 1868. In 1876, they moved to Topeka, where he was private secretary to Governor George T. Anthony (1824-1896), who served as governor from 1877 to 1879. In 1859, Mary Gray was one of three women who attended the Wyandotte constitutional convention to attempt to have women’s suffrage included in the new state constitution. She was also a leader in women’s clubs in western Missouri and Kansas and was dubbed the “mother of the woman’s culture club movement in Kansas” for her work with the Kansas Federation of Women’s Clubs. She was also a prolific writer, contributing to many newspapers and magazines on a variety of issues, including suffrage. Mary Gray was one of the prominent leaders of Kansas during the Centennial Exposition of Philadelphia in 1876. The legislature of Kansas spent $30,000 to exhibit native Kansas agricultural products at the Exposition, which increased immigration to the state.


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