LIBERTY — Missouri was the 11th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, which would give women the right to vote. Missouri Gov. Frederick Gardner signed a resolution ratifying the 19th Amendment on July 3. However, it wasn’t until August 1920 that two-thirds of the states ratified the amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the United States.
On Wednesday, July 3, on the southeast lawn of the Clay County Administration Building in downtown Liberty, Greg Canuteson, former mayor and the chief lead for the Great Americans project, greeted a crowd of about 200 in attendance for the unveiling of a suffragette statute to honor the important point in American history.
“As one of the first states to ratify the right to vote and on July 3, it is fitting that we are here today,” he said during the unveiling last week.
For more than a week, the bronze statue was covered to onlookers but Canuteson provided five names of possible women: Susan B. Anthony, Carrie C. Catt, Belva A. Lockwood, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ida B. Wells.
Clay County Eastern Commissioner Luann Ridgeway represented the women of county government and expressed her appreciation to those who paved the road before her during the event.
Former City Councilman Juarene Hester introduced the five women whose likeness may have been hiding under the heavy blanket. She too reiterated the efforts made by the suffragettes.
“And as women, we now have the duty to vote in all elections,” she said.
Canuteson initiated The Great Americans Project, which places statutes of key Americans in prominent locations around the city to honor men and women in American history and celebrate American exceptionalism.
”StudioEIS is exceptional too. They told me that Liberty is the smallest town they have worked with,” he said of the company who created the statute.In the end, the statute unveiled was that of Anthony. When the covering was removed, Anthony stood with her 1873 trial book in her hand.
In 1872, Anthony and 14 other women in her ward went to the polls to vote for president. The next year, Anthony was brought up on trial at the U.S. federal court level. She also protested the injustice of denying women the right to vote.
When Justice Ward Hunt sentenced Anthony to pay a fine of $100, Anthony said she wouldn’t pay. Hunt then announced Anthony would not be jailed for failure to pay the fine, a move that prevented her from taking her case to the Supreme Court.
The trial, which was closely followed by the national press, helped make women’s suffrage a national issue.
Evelyn Maddox, president of the League of Women Voters of Missouri, and other dignitaries from the state league, also attended the unveiling.
“I’m so pleased to be able to attend,” she said. “I’m quite impressed with Liberty and Clay County.”
“It’s great to have a national female figure. I didn’t know Susan B. Anthony spoke in Liberty across the street in 1876. It’s even better where her statue resides,” Canuteson said.