(Yes, the title is a Hamilton reference.)
Several years ago I came across the name Virginia Minor when researching my historical novel, Madame Presidentess, which is about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President in the U.S. in 1872. Because Virginia wasn’t who I was writing about at the time, I noted her as an interesting figure (she is the one from whom Victoria got the idea that the 14th amendment already gave women the right to vote) and moved on.
But Virginia wouldn’t let me go. I kept thinking about her and wondering how a woman could come up with such an intelligent and unorthodox theory during a time when college-level education was reserved for men (and a few rich women.) I started researching her and found a few profiles and the more I learned the more I wanted to know. But there was no biography for her.
Well, in 2023 there will be!
I am so thrilled to be sharing her “forgotten” story with the world. The biography is really a dual biography of her and her husband, Francis, because they were “partners in crime” on the subject of suffrage–and equal in all things (which was unusual for their time). However, there is far more information available on Virginia, but I was able to reconstruct a good portion of Francis’ career as a lawyer, as well as his suffrage work.
One of the reasons this book is so important to me is that the way we’re taught about the Suffrage Movement in school is that is was pretty much taken care of by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a handful of other women. But that is far from the truth. The movement was actually progressed by thousands of women of all races and class levels. Writing them back into history is so important to a fuller understanding of the movement and its repercussions to us today.
America’s Forgotten Suffragists is a cradle to grave biography because it is the first one ever written about Virginia and Francis. Among the things you’ll learn about them:
- Their early lives, education, courtship and wedding.
- Virginia’s work during the Civil War in the health department and Francis’ work as a war claims agent.
- Virginia’s founding of the Woman’s Suffrage Association of Missouri two years before Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Stone formed their national organizations.
- How Virginia and Francis came up with the New Departure (the 14th amendment theory) and argued it through the court system all the way to the Supreme Court.
- Virginia’s tax revolts (refusing to pay her taxes until women get the vote)
- Her work with Susan B. Anthony to campaign for women’s suffrage in Nebraska
- Virgina’s unorthodox funeral and will.
- Posthumous honors for both
And if you want a little preview, you can visit virgniaminor.com, which is the companion website to the book.
If you had told me four years ago that I would write and publish a biography, I would have told you you were crazy. I didn’t think I was a good enough writer for non-fiction much less that I had research skills to write a biography from scratch. But when an idea seizes you and doesn’t let go, you follow. And this one gave me two amazing people who now feel like grandparents (a few times great) to me. I hope they will to everyone who reads about them, too.