Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)
President of NAWSA and founder of ESCC
I regard the New York victory as the very greatest victory this movement has ever had in any country. – 1917
Carrie Chapman Catt was one of the key organizers for women’s suffrage in New York State and at the national level. She grew-up In Iowa where she worked as a teacher to pay for her college tuition. In 1885, she married newspaper editor, Leo Chapman, who died shortly after the couple wed. She soon became interested in suffrage, establishing Political Equality Clubs and serving as the state’s group organizer and secretary. Catt became involved with NAWSA at both the state and national levels. Susan B. Anthony took notice of her organizational and public speaking skills and tapped Catt to succeed her as president of the NAWSA in 1900. After one term in office, she stepped down to care for her ailing second husband, George Catt.
Catt travelled internationally on behalf of women suffrage and then settled in New York City where she became active at the local level. In 1907, she formed the Interurban Suffrage Council which brought together most of the suffrage groups in the City under one umbrella organization. This organization served as the model for Catt’s New York City Woman Suffrage Party which she organized in 1909. The Woman Suffrage Party was the basis for the Empire State Campaign Committee, which launched the unsuccessful campaign for a state constitutional amendment in 1915. This same year Carrie Chapman Catt returned as president of the NAWSA with what she called the Winning Plan to secure the vote in New York State and in turn, use New York’s win to propel the federal amendment forward.