The Texas Woman Suffrage Association was a state chapter of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which adopted its constitution at a convention in Huston in 1903. The association believed that barring women from voting was unjust and discriminatory, hence opposed the fifteenth amendment unless it gave women the rights to vote.
Governor James Ferguson who had been elected in 1914 as Texas governor opposed women's suffrage and squarely blocked the TWSA's efforts. Ferguson had vetoed the appropriation for the University of Texas as retaliation for the university refusal to dismiss certain faculty members whom he found objectionable. These included the dean of the university school of journalism, William Harding Mayers, who Ferguson accused of using his newspapers to spread negative information about Ferguson; this spurred the drive to impeach Ferguson. He was indicted on embezzlement of about $156 000 and nine other charges in July 1917.
When Cunningham, the first Woman to get a degree in pharmacy in Texas but was only able to serve in the profession for a period of twelve months became President of the TWSA (Texas Woman Suffrage Association) in the year 1915. In this position, she had succeeded Annette Finnegan, and her first goal was to pass a Primary Election Bill that would allow women to vote in primaries.
Minnie Fish approached the 1917 session of the Texas Legislature determined to extract from it the most pragmatic franchise possible. She informed Mrs Can of her strategy: "In as-much as our primary is the real election in Texas this is the big great thing we ("on /get by legislative enactment, Mrs Cunningham realized after canvassing political opinion that she did not have enough "clout" for passage of a proposed state constitutional amendment as had been proposed in 1915. However, she cleverly used the amendment in an educational campaign to poll the legislators and thereby discern their commitment to suffrage. Minnie Fish revealed her plans to Mrs Catt outlining the use, which she had made of the constitutional amendment, explaining.
The organized assault directed by Mrs Cunningham and carried out by her associates on the legislators assembled for the 1917 session could be a case study of successful lobbying. A suffrage headquarters was opened on the main street of Austin near the capitol and a luncheon was given in the city's largest hotel where the suffragists held a mock legislative conference in which the Suffrage Bill came up for the third reading and debate those against taking the style of our leading 'Antis' in the state. Only the impeachment of Governor Ferguson could take precedent over the women's quest for suffrage.
Ferguson was impeached a month later by the court of impeachment by a vote of twenty-five to three. The TWSA's work toward the impeachment garnered increased political connections and a higher public profile. Cunningham believed at that moment that there were more Suffragists in Texas than ever before.
Ferguson still ran for governor and failed in 1918 and was succeeded by William P Hobby. He also later failed in his bid for presidency in 1920 and the United States Senate in 1922. Later, he supported his wife and she was elected governor on two inconsecutive terms.
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