Local Anti-Suffragists

Grace Alden Gregg

A leader of the Women’s Anti-Suffrage Association of Chemung County, Grace Alden Gregg spoke publicly against suffrage and hosted anti-suffrage gatherings. In 1917, she invited nationally-renowned anti-suffragist Lucy Price to visit and speak in Elmira. After the anti-suffragists defeat that same year, Gregg and other local anti-suffragists refused to give up the cause. Gregg, Mrs. M.H. Murphy, and Flora M. Gannett, represented Chemung County at the national meeting of the Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage in December 1917 in Washington, D.C. The local delegates were reportedly well-received for their efforts in turning Chemung County “anti” in the election.

Rev. Thomas K. Beecher

Rev. Thomas K. Beecher served as pastor at The Park Church from 1854 until his death in 1900. In many ways, he was a forward-thinking progressive. He supported abolition and temperance and believed in hands-on charity. He designed his church to be a community center complete with a billiard room, reading parlors, and the city’s first public library. Despite hiring a suffragist assistant pastor, Beecher did not support the movement. In an article for The Young Women’s Banner, Beecher wrote that granting women the right to vote was a decision that men would make when they felt it was necessary and women should maintain their role in the home.

Mary Potter

Mary Potter worked as a teacher and principal in Elmira from 1873 to 1913. She was well-educated and wrote columns for the Elmira Star-Gazette on cultural and historical topics. In two letters to the newspaper, Potter outlined her strong anti-suffrage stance. She claimed that women’s interests were represented by their male family members. She wrote that the suffragists, who were “standing at the White House gate to make faces at the president” and “tramping through dust and mud waving yellow banners,” did not represent the interests of most American women.

Anti-suffrage ad. Star-Gazette, October 26, 1917

Anti-suffrage ad. Star-Gazette, October 24, 1917

Anti-suffrage ad. Star-Gazette, November 3, 1917

Anti-suffrage ad. Star-Gazette, October 23, 1917

Anti-suffrage ad. Star-Gazette, October 25, 1917