Minnie Fisher Cunningham: A Suffragist's Life in Politics by Judith N. McArthur, Harold L. Smith

By Judith N. McArthur, Harold L. Smith

The central orchestrator of the passage of women's suffrage in Texas, a founder and nationwide officer of the League of ladies citizens, the 1st girl to run for a U.S. Senate seat from Texas, and a candidate for that state's governor, Minnie Fisher Cunningham used to be one of many first American ladies to pursue a profession in celebration politics. Cunningham's specialist lifestyles spanned a part century, hence illuminating our realizing of ladies in public existence among the innovative period and the Nineteen Sixties feminist movement.
Cunningham entered politics during the suffrage circulate and women's voluntary organization paintings for future health and sanitation in Galveston, Texas. She speedy turned essentially the most potent country suffrage leaders, assisting to cross the invoice in a area the place competition to girls electorate was once most powerful. In Washington, Cunningham was once one of many center workforce of suffragists who lobbied the 19th modification via Congress after which traveled the rustic campaigning for ratification. After girls won the suitable to vote around the kingdom, she helped chanced on the nonpartisan nationwide League of girls electorate and arranged education colleges to coach ladies the abilities of grassroots organizing, developing exposure campaigns, and lobbying and tracking legislative our bodies. during the League, she grew to become accustomed to Eleanor Roosevelt, who credited one in all her speeches with stimulating her personal political activity.
Cunningham then grew to become to the Democratic occasion, serving as an officer of the Woman's nationwide Democratic membership and the Women's department of the Democratic nationwide Committee. In 1928 Cunningham turned a candidate herself, making an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate. An recommend of recent Deal reforms, Cunningham was once a part of the circulation within the Thirties to rework the Democratic celebration into the women's celebration, and in 1944 she ran for governor on a pro-New Deal platform.
Cunningham's upbringing in rural Texas made her rather conscious of the political wishes of farmers, girls, union hard work, and minorities, and she or he fought gender, type, and racial discrimination inside of a conservative energy constitution. within the postwar years, she was once known as the "very center and soul of Texas liberalism" as she helped construct an electoral coalition of ladies, minorities, and male reformers which can maintain liberal politics within the nation and convey to place of work applicants together with Ralph Yarborough and Bob Eckhardt.
A chief and position version for the post-suffrage iteration, Cunningham used to be no longer happy with easily attaining the vote, yet agitated all through her profession to exploit it to higher the lives of others. Her legacy has been carried on through the various ladies to whom she taught winning grassroots techniques for political organizing.

Minne Fisher Cunningham was once the winner of the Liz chippie Award of the Texas country historic organization, and of the T. R. Fehrenbach e-book Award of the Texas old fee.

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A photograph from that period shows a round-faced young woman with brown eyes, a finely etched mouth, and dark auburn hair. 51 Nothing is known about their courtship and little about B. J. Cunningham himself. Unlike Minnie, with her large extended family and deep Texas roots, he was alone and a newcomer. The son of English immigrants, he was born in Illinois in 1874, perhaps in White County, bordering Indiana in the southeastern tip of the state. He taught school there in the 1890s and may have then gone to St.

29 Her devotion to the cause notwithstanding, the GESA presidency put Cunningham at the helm of an organization in which she often felt frustrated and constrained. Southern suffragism grew out of the woman’s club movement, which was both its strength and, from the point of view of New Women like Cunningham, its weakness. Clubwomen’s tradition of genteel activism shaped the GESA’s approach to suffragism and manifested itself in events such as the Opera House evening, which raised operating money and brought a controversial subject before the public without giving offense.

J. decided to run for Walker County Attorney in 1904. He concentrated his electioneering in Huntsville, relying on her to campaign in the countryside and win over the farmers, the kind of people with whom she had grown up. “As a city man to a country girl, if you’ll hold up your end of the campaign, I’ll hold up mine,” was the bargain her husband proposed. She did, and B. J. 1 In 1905, however, the Cunninghams left East Texas so that B. J. could begin a new career as an insurance executive. They went first to Houston, where he managed a branch office of the Connecticut-based Travelers Insurance Company.

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