Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Amanda Davison Seaver, 1861-1915
By Kelly Rafferty, student, and Melanie Gustafson, professor, University of Vermont
Vice President, Vermont Woman Suffrage Association/Vermont Equal Suffrage Association
Amanda Davison was born on the October 21, 1861 in Craftsbury, Vermont to A. Augusta Williams Davison and Amory Davison, a banker, politician, and assistant judge for the Orleans County Court. She attended St. Johnsbury and Morrisville Academies. In 1885, Davison married Harley T. Seaver, who started out in the hardware business with his father and brother in North Troy, Vermont, before establishing his own general hardware business in Barton, Vermont. They had two children, Clemma (born 1888) and Amory (born 1893), and were active in Barton's Congregational church, where Amanda played the organ and sang in the choir. She was also active in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and attended the 1914 annual convention of the local WCTU when it was held in Barton.
The area of Barton and Barton Landing (later Orleans) were known as the most active areas of woman suffrage activism in the state and one reason was the activism of the Seavers. The first and third annual meetings of the Vermont Woman's Suffrage Association (VWSA) were held in Barton Landing in 1885 and 1887, while Barton hosted the meetings in 1894 and 1903. Mrs. M. D. Seaver of Barton was head of the Local Committee for Barton from 1895 to 1906 and served as a VWSA vice president from 1903 to 1910. At the 1898 meeting following her death, Mrs. Eliza E. Seaver of Barton was praised for her work in the VWSA. Gilman Warren Seaver, Harley's father, was praised in 1891 for raising funds that allowed the VWSA to become a National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) auxiliary. G. W. Seaver also served on the 1892 VWSA committees of finance and membership. When Harley T. Seaver became a Republican member of the state Senate in 1902, he presented a petition to the state legislature signed by 78 citizens of Barton, including his father, supporting municipal and presidential suffrage for women.
Amanda Seaver's participation in Vermont's suffrage politics seems to have begun around 1913. These were years of change for the suffrage forces in Vermont. The VWSA changed its name to the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association (VESA) in 1907. No conventions were held in 1910 and 1911 because, according to Harper's History of Woman Suffrage, the association was "so sadly bereft by death." In 1913, Seaver became corresponding secretary of the VESA, joining a new generation of state suffragists. At the 26th Annual Convention held in Rochester, Vermont, in 1913, Seaver gave an address titled "The Equal Suffrage Outlook in Northern Vermont." In 1914, as the VESA readied itself for the next legislative season, Seaver was appointed Legislative Chair. She declined because she was in ill health but, because her husband was then in the legislature and she would be living in Montpelier, she agreed to serve on a new three-member legislative committee. The History of Woman Suffrage said she served as the "watchman on the tower" during the legislative session.
Seaver died on October 3, 1915.
Vermont Equal Suffrage Association Papers, 1883-1927, MSC 144-146, Leahy Library, Vermont History Center, Barre, Vermont.
Ida Husted Harper, History of Woman Suffrage, 6:662-663.[LINK]
The Brattleboro Daily Reformer. (Brattleboro, Vt.), November 3, 1914, p. 3 Chronicling America
Middlebury Register. (Middlebury, Vt.), September 17, 1915 p, 7. Chronicling America
The Bennington Evening Banner. (Bennington, Vt.), June 17, 1913, p. 1. Chronicling America
Orleans County Monitor. (Barton, Vt.), February 26, 1894, p. 4; May 15, 1905, p. 1; 20 May 1907, p. 1; March 11, 1914, p. 8; September 15, 1915, p. 6; October 6, 1915, p. 1. Chronicling America
The Barre Daily Times. (Barre, Vt.), 11 Dec. 1906, p. 8. Chronicling America
Hiram Carleton, comp., Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation (New York: Lewis Publishing, 1903), 1:611-12.