The South Carolina Equal Suffrage League (SCESL) was formed by the Spartanburg New Era Club and other members of the white South Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs in Spartanburg in 1914. Hannah Hemphill Coleman was elected the first president of the organization, which was affiliated with the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The league sought to win over the South Carolina public through suffrage literature, petitions, speakers, and parades. By 1917 the membership of the SCESL had grown to twenty-five clubs with about three thousand members. The formation of a South Carolina branch of the more militant National Woman’s Party in that year presented a challenge to the mainstream SCESL, but most of the state’s suffragists remained with the league. From 1919 to 1920 the capable leadership of SCESL president Eulalie Chafee Salley enabled the league to actively inform more than ten thousand South Carolinians of the arguments for woman suffrage. The SCESL lobbied the Democratic Party and the General Assembly to put the question of woman suffrage before the voters and later to ratify the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. Although one U.S. senator and a few state legislators sided with the suffragists, the state failed to pass any resolutions supporting woman suffrage. South Carolina did not ratify the Nineteenth Amendment until 1969, but when the amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution in 1920, South Carolina women began voting and the SCESL became the South Carolina League of Women Voters.

Taylor, Antoinette Elizabeth. “South Carolina and the Enfranchisement of Women: The Later Years.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 80 (Octo- ber 1979): 298–310.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title South Carolina Equal Suffrage League
  • Author Monica Maria Tetzlaff
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • URL http://www.scencyclopedia.org/sce/entries/south-carolina-equal-suffrage-league/
  • Access Date March 31, 2020
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • Original Published Date August 1, 2016
  • Date of Last Update August 9, 2016