Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Rose Morgan French, 1859-1929
By Kenya Chavez, Undergraduate, San Jose State University
Member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (San Francisco Chapter), member of the Board of Directors of the California Girls' Training Home, President of the Women's Federation of Public Good (San Francisco), Member of the California Equal Suffrage Association, Delegate at the Women's Peace Conference (Holland)
Rose E. Morgan was born on June 15, 1859 in Oswego, New York. Her parents were immigrants from Ireland and England. French married Hayes Clifton French, who was also an English immigrant, on August 5, 1878 in Cleveland, Ohio. By 1880, the couple had moved to California where they raised their two daughters: Victoria and Davida. Hayes Clifton French passed away in 1902.
French was very active in local reform organizations in San Francisco. She was a leader in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and served on the Board of Directors of the California Girls' Training Home. French advocated for better conditions for women in prison and also worked to have women appointed as matrons in the city prison. As President of the Women's Federation of Public Good in San Francisco, French fought against the white slave trade and advocated for the protection for young girls against violence and sexual assault. She insisted on the full prosecution of assailants. French expressed frustration with her inability to gain justice for women and girls. In a 1911 speech before the Equal Suffrage League of Detroit French explained how she turned this frustration into a commitment to fight for women's suffrage: "If every woman knew the other woman's story she would hold her hand across the chasm to her . . . We have the brotherhood of man-what we need sadly is the sisterhood of woman . . . I believe this can only be accomplished by means of political equality." She joined the suffrage movement to fight for women's political rights.
In the 1911 campaign for the vote in California, French served as the chairman of the literature committee for the California Equal Suffrage Association helping to educate the public about women's suffrage. She was a popular speaker on behalf of women's suffrage across the state. Following the victory of the women's suffrage amendment in the October 1911 California election, French traveled around the United States giving speeches about the tactics of the California campaign to help inspire suffragists fighting for the vote in other states.
After the outbreak of World War I, French turned her attention to the peace effort. In 1915, she traveled to Holland as a delegate to the Women's Peace Congress representing the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the California Suffrage Association. The Women's Peace Congress not only worked for peace but for an end to the suffering resulting from the effects of war. In 1919, French was in Budapest, Hungary serving as a representative of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
French continued her reform work and peace activism until the end of her life. She passed away on January 9, 1929, in Los Angeles, California from fatal car crash injuries. She was seventy years old at the time of her death.
1.)"American Women Will Play Big Part" The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania). April 28, 1915, 3.
2.)"Help for Young Women." San Francisco Call. September 27, 1895, 14.
3.)Lochner, Louis P. "The International Peace Congress of Women." The Advocate of Peace (1894-1920) 77, no. 7 (1915): 173-75;.
4.)"League of Equal Suffrage Societies." Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan). December 3, 1911, 52.
5.)"Mrs. Rose Morgan French declines the Presidency." The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) 10 March 1896.
6.)"Mrs. R. M. French of State Equal Suffrage Society." San Francisco Call. September 30, 1911, 13.
7.)"Noted S.F. Welfare Worker Dead." Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California). January 11, 1929, 6.
8.)United States Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900.
9.)United States Bureau of the Census. Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910.
10.)"Women Weep as She Tells Story." Detroit Free Press. December 2, 1911, 5.
Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "Rose Morgan French, 1919."
New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 14, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-76aa-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99