KERA Delegation Sent to Republican National Convention to Lobby for Woman Suffrage Plank

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According to a May 1916 press release published in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Equal Rights Association appointed a Suffrage Plank Committee for the Republican Party under the leadership of Virginia Lee Hazelrigg O'Rear of West Liberty. O'Rear was the wife of Edward C. O'Rear, formerly the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals who had resigned to run in a failed bid for governor in 1911. They were living at this time in Frankfort. Her committee members were experienced political agents:

The Republican National Convention met in Chicago June 7-10, 1916. On the first day of the convention, and in a terrible rainstorm, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) mobilized 5,000 women to parade down Michigan Avenue while the delegates watched from upper-story windows. The marchers were to wear white skirt and waist with black shoes, white sailor hat with yellow band and a yellow sash. (See a contemporary film reel of the parade on YouTube here.) Madeline McDowell Breckinridge had mentioned to friends that she was planning to go to Chicago for the parade, but her health - and the weather - may have kept her from participating. The delegates narrowly passed a suffrage plank which was a modified version of the language presented by the National American Woman Suffrage Association - adding a clause that asserted the states should determine the fate of woman suffrage.

*** Resources ***

Hay, Melba Porter. Madeline McDowell Breckinridge and the Battle for a New South (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2009): 196.

"Republican Party Platform of 1916," Republican Party Platforms. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project, UC Santa Barbara.

"United States," International Woman Suffrage, Jus Suffragii. Vol 2. Edited by Sybil Oldfield. (1 July 1916): 151-152.

"Women Prepare Platform Fight," Courier-Journal (16 May 1916). Transcribed on H-Kentucky at

N.B. This post contributes to the KWSP digital timeline of Kentucky women's fight for equal suffrage. To see the post in context, go to the KWSP Timeline at