Missouri women had been involved in the fight for women’s suffrage since the 1860s. Sedalia women organized, participated in discussions of women’s suffrage, and wrote to legislators about the issue. One woman from Sedalia participated in the movement in a surprisingly public manner.
Annie Kimball was born in Croyden, New Hampshire. Little can be found about her early life, but she had a good musical education and taught music as well as writing several light operas. In the early 1880s, she was living in Sedalia, where she married William A. Sloane.
More is known about William Sloane. He was born in Rockford, Illinois, in 1854. His brother John Sloane came to Missouri in 1870 and to Sedalia in 1872. He practiced law and held city and county offices. In 1881, he and his brother William Sloane, also an attorney, bought the Sedalia Eagle-Times, a consolidation of the Sedalia Eagle and the Sedalia Times.
The Eagle-Times represented the views of the Republican Party, and was described by the 1882 History of Pettis County as “fearless in the expression of its principles.” Sloane and his wife were known to be ardent supporters of both temperance and of women’s rights, two very controversial issues of the time.
In 1887, William and Annie Sloane moved to California, where he established a law office in San Diego. He held several judicial offices and in 1911 was appointed a judge of the California Supreme Court.
The women’s suffrage movement was strong in California, and the Sloanes became involved. The Equal Suffrage Association, under the direction of its president Dr. Charlotte Baker and secretary Mrs. R. C. Allen, included a group of leaders that included Annie Sloane. One of the group’s strongest male supporters was Judge William Sloane.
In 1910, the California legislature sent a series of amendments to the California Constitution to the people for a vote. One of the issues was women’s right to vote. The Equal Suffrage Association participated in a variety of activities designed to guarantee passage of the women’s suffrage amendment to the California Constitution.
One of the move flamboyant activities drew attention to one of the underlying issues of the movement. The women noted that many of them were employed and supported themselves, and that many owned property in their own names. They noted that the laws of the time offered little protection for women or respect for issues important to women. They also noted that they paid taxes. However, they could not vote to elect a candidate to represent their interests in the state of national legislatures. Following the rhetoric of the American Revolution, they proclaimed, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.
The organization presented a float in a public parade celebrating the groundbreaking for its new building at 312 Granger Street. The float, drawn by six horses draped with yellow fabric, consisted of a wagon dressed as a sea of greenery on which “floated” a boat with yellow sails decorated with flowers. In the boat were women dressed as colonists and as Indians, reenacting the Boston Tea Party of December 1773. A placard declared the float to represent “The Modern Boston Tea Party” and reminded viewers that “taxation without representation is tyranny now just as it was in 1773.”
The amendment passed and California women were allowed to vote. A Sedalia woman had a role in this very important election. The Equal Suffrage Association then worked to assure that women’s suffrage became the law of the land.
Next week’s column continues to discuss the role of Sedalia women in the women’s rights movement.
Rhonda Chalfant is the president of the Pettis County chapter of NAACP and the Pettis County Historical Society.