Mary Latimer McLendon, 1840-1921

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Woman Category: Activism & FeminismWoman Tags: 19th Amendment Centennial Anniversary, Atlanta Women, and Suffragist

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    Temperance and women’s suffrage leader, president of the Georgia Women’s Suffrage Association. Best known as “Mother of Suffrage Work in Georgia.”

    Mary Latimer was born in DeKalb County, Georgia. At age 16, she graduated from the Southern Masonic Female College, and at 20, she married Nicholas A. McLendon and moved to Atlanta, Georgia. In 1868, McLendon became involved in the Georgia Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) as well as at the Georgia Women’s Suffrage Association. In the 1880s, she founded the Francis Willard chapter of Georgia Women’s Christian Temperance Union, one of the union’s most active chapters. In 1894, she founded the Atlanta chapter of Georgia Women’s Suffrage Association – the second local woman suffrage organization in the state. Two years later, she was elected president of the organization, serving in this position for three years, and again from 1906 until she passed away in 1921.
     
    McLendon was a loud advocate for both causes, persuading WCTU members to endorse women’s right to vote. She argued that women would use their vote to pass social reforms, such as raising the age of consent for girls, abolishing child labor, hiring female guards for female prisoners, and instituting mandatory school attendance.
     
    McLendon witnessed the passage of both of her causes – the ratification of the 18th amendment in 1918 and the 19th amendment in August 1920. In November 1920 election, the state authorities denied women to exercise their right to vote because they did not register to vote by the deadline. And so, at the age of 80, in the last year of her life, she continued to work tirelessly to ensure that the women of Georgia could vote.
     


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • In 1913, at the age of 73, she began publishing a newspaper column in which she expressed her support of women’s right to vote and other reforms.
    • She was a Methodist.
    • She had one daughter and one grandson.
    • The GWSA and the WCTU placed a marble fountain with her image in the Georgia’s state capitol (1923). The inscription refers to her as “Mother of Suffrage in Georgia.”
  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Citations and Additional References:
    New Georgia Encyclopedia website.
    ATL2020 website.


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