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Courageous Women Throughout History: Virginia Minor

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Spring at the Gateway Arch

This March, Gateway Arch Park Foundation proudly celebrates women of the past, present, and future. Throughout history, women have boldly blazed their own paths, opening doors for so many others to follow, like Virginia Minor, a leader in the women’s rights movement. In 1872, Minor attempted to register to vote in the upcoming election, but was refused by Reese Happersett, St Louis’ sixth district registrar, because she was female. Her action was part of a nation-wide pattern in which hundreds of women attempted to vote. Minor, through her husband, sued the registrar alleging that women were U.S. citizens under the 14th Amendment, which “nowhere gives [states] the power to prevent” a citizen from voting.

The Old Courthouse was the site of Minor’s initial petition, which was eventually appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Court ruled that citizenship did not guarantee the right to vote. Despite the Court’s ruling, Minor persevered. Her work helped lay the foundation for the passage and adoption of the 19th Amendment granting voting rights to women. Today, tomorrow, and always, we honor women for their contributions to American history and their courage, determination, and strength to push past all barriers to moving us closer to equity and equality for all. Happy Women's History Month!