Harriet Taylor Upton’s Change of Heart, by Shirley Wadja
This article originally appeared in the spring 2020 issue of Pathways.
Harriet Taylor Upton was a stalwart suffragist who played a large role in the the fight for passage of the 19th Amendment, conversing with presidents and congressmen and persuading them of women’s political equality.
She served as treasurer of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), which for four years she operated out of her home in Warren.
But she wasn’t always supportive of women’s right to vote, as historian Shirley Wadja writes:
Upton’s father Ezra Booth Taylor, a confirmed suffragist, could not persuade her, though he fought for women’s right to vote when he served as the Republican Congressman from Ohio’s 19th District from 1880 to 1893. He had even been elected in 1884 as the first president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association, a position he did not take due to his duties in Washington. Yet he didn’t sway his daughter’s stance as, in her terms, a “violent anti.” While Upton served as her father’s hostess in busy Washington society, she published her views against women having the franchise—even as she was befriending the great suffragist Susan B. Anthony.
In the course of writing a second article on the topic, however, Upton changed her mind. “How I labored!” she recalled in her reminiscences of her life and career. “I read and wrote, rested and wrote, revised and destroyed; and at the end of three weeks study, found myself believing that women as well as men should vote.”