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28 1917 Suffragists Help Impeach Governor Ferguson Under Minnie Fisher Cunningham's leadership, the Texas suffragists joined forces with the coalition of legislators, prohibitionists, and University of Texas supporters working to impeach Governor James Ferguson. Ferguson was a staunch foe of woman suffrage, and Cunningham knew that he had to be removed in order to avoid a veto of any proposed primary suffrage bill. In her correspondence with Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Cunningham describes the suffragists' role in Ferguson's impeachment and removal from office. DOCUMENT* LETTERS Minnie Fisher Cunningham to Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt 31 July 1917 My Dear Mrs. Catt: The Texas Suffragists need some expert advice right now, and I am hoping you will be good enough to give it to us. We are again in the throes of endeavoring to impeach our Governor, and he has been indicted by the grand jury of Travis County (where the Capitol is located) for embezzlement of funds and eight other kinds of law breaking. The House has been called by the Speaker to prefer impeachment charges. Besides the technical grounds for impeachment , he has really done some of the most shocking and outrageous things imaginable, including an attempt to discharge from the University all professors who are prohibitionists, regardless of the distinguished service of many of them, and appointing on the exemption boards such men as are known to be unfit. The whole state is mightily aroused. But so great is the power of the liquor machine here we are none of us sure of conviction. Looking the whole thing over, it seemed to me the chance of a lifetime to break the power of corrupt politics in Texas so when they phoned me please to come to Austin and swing the woman's end of it, I came. We came into the campaign just at the time when everybody *From: Minnie Fisher Cunningham Collection, Houston Metropolitan Research Center , Houston Public Library. 159 160 CITIZENS AT LAST was worn to a frazzle and feeling discouraged and beaten; and our interest and enthusiasm and the immediate success of our first bits of work seemed to put new life and vigor into the men who were working . And now, even though we are afraid to say it out loud, it looks like we will WIN. The men are tremendously grateful as well as not a little surprised at the effectiveness of our work, and I believe we can get most anything we ask of them if we do win. This leads me to my need of advice. After we get impeachment, the Lieutenant Governor will call a special session of the Legislature and endeavor to right certain wrongs that have been done these men in the University and provide for the carrying on of that institution (Ferguson having vetoed the appropriation for the next two years' work.) It seems to me a wonderfully opportune moment to ask them to put through our primary suffrage bill. What do you think? Would you advise it? Our situation in Texas is a serious one—with the exemption boards planning to exempt Antis and send Pros to war; with the alien voting even though not a citizen of the United States; and with our boys disfranchised under the constitution when they become United States soldiers even if they happen to be training in their home town. And perhaps we can prove to them they need us even if they do not want us! That is the political situation. Now, our private Suffrage situation is of course money. We owe the National our entire pledge, and we owe about a thousand dollars beside. And we wonder if you would think it advisable to "go to it" in spite of our crippled financial state. I have not breathed a word of this idea to any except my two closest advisers, so there would be no backing up to do if you think best not to undertake it. But please let me hear from you at once. A telegram just yes or no would answer the purpose and not give anything away. Very truly yours, President. Address me here at Austin, Texas, 2002 San Antonio Street. Minnie Fisher Cunningham to Carrie Chapman Catt 28 August 1917 My Dear Mrs. Catt: The first half of our fight is over, and successfully over. The House of Representatives has adopted a resolution preferring impeachment charges against James E. Ferguson, and presented same to the...


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