Virginia Minor

Lived:March 27, 1824—August 14, 1894 (aged 70)

Virginia Louisa Minor was a suffragist leader in Missouri.

Minor was born on March 27, 1824, in Virginia. After her 1843 marriage, she and her husband moved to St. Louis, later purchasing a farm there just before the start of the Civil War. During war, Minor volunteered in area hospitals and provided produce from her farm for soldiers stationed nearby.

Minor was the first woman in Missouri to publicly state that women should be given the right to vote. In 1867, she helped to found the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri and served as its president until 1871, when that organization became affiliated with the American Women's Suffrage Association rather than the National Women's Suffrage Association.

In February 1869, Minor and several others members of the Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri unsuccessfully petitioned the Missouri legislature for the right to vote. At the woman suffrage convention held in St. Louis in October 1869, Minor gave an opening address and her husband, a lawyer, drafted a set of resolutions asserting the right of woman suffrage under the U.S. Constitution based on the 14th Amendment, which were then distributed nationally as a pamphlet. In 1872, as part of a nation-wide effort to register women to vote, Minor tried to register in St. Louis but was turned away. She and her husband then filed a civil suit against the registrar. The Minors lost their case but appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1879, Minor was elected president of a newly-formed branch of NWSA in Missouri, and in 1890 she became president of the Missouri branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which was formed from the merger of NWSA and AWSA. She resigned for health reasons in 1892.

Minor died on August 14, 1894, leaving $1,000 in her will to Susan B. Anthony for her suffrage work.

Photo from the Library of Congress.