Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Martha Helen Haywood, 1872-1951
By Joyce Weaver, Director of Library & Archives
The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina
Journalist, President of the Wake County Equal Suffrage League (1916-1918), Raleigh, North Carolina, and Publicity Chairman of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League (1919-1920)
Martha Helen Haywood was born September 27, 1872 in Raleigh, North Carolina to Joseph Allen Haywood (1842-1908) and Mary Alice Boylan Haywood (1850-1890). She graduated from St. Mary's College in Raleigh in 1890. Martha Haywood never married and resided with her sister, Elsie Bryan Haywood (1886-1937) for many years at 210 South Boylan Street in Raleigh. She had an older sister, Katherine (Kate) Boylan Haywood Baker (1876-1973) and an older brother William who does not appear to have survived childhood. Martha Haywood died May 2, 1951 in Raleigh at the age of 78.
The Haywood and Boylan families were prominent, well-to-do, and civic-minded citizens of North Carolina. The Haywood family included judges, senators, a state treasurer, lawyers and doctors. Martha Helen Haywood was an active suffragist, a prolific journalist, as well as being involved in other civic and political organizations. While her first mention in local news was as a participant in the 1892 Bal Poudre (powdered wig ball)," a "brilliant social event" with dancing until 2 a.m., her subsequent activities were of a much different sort. Martha Haywood was a member of the Johnston Pettigrew Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy and in 1901 served on the collecting committee. As a member of the Daughters of the Revolution (similar but distinct from Daughters of the American Revolution), she conceived of and co-edited the publication The North Carolina Booklet to raise funds for the organization and specifically to commemorate the Revolutionary women signers of the Edenton Tea Party Resolves. As noted in a later interview with Mary Hilliard Hinton, her successor as editor, Martha Haywood "who has been gifted by nature with some rare intellectual endowments, conceived of a novel idea – to issue a monthly publication, confined to articles relating to great events in North Carolina history." The magazine was "issued by the 'Daughters,' edited by women, and proceeds used in commemorating the patriotism of women." (Mary Hilliard Hinton later became a leader in the anti-suffrage movement in North Carolina as president of the North Carolina branch of the Rejection League). While a delegate to the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the General Society Daughters of the Revolution in Baltimore in 1911, Martha Haywood visited Mount Vernon, and her subsequent tribute to George Washington was published by The Raleigh Times. In 1914, she was included in Woman's Who's Who of America: a Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada. Her entry concludes: "Favors woman suffrage."
In 1915, Martha Haywood served as an alternate delegate to the state suffrage league convention in Asheville. Then, in 1916 she was elected as president of the Wake County Equal Suffrage League. "The league considers itself fortunate in getting Miss Martha Haywood to take the presidency. No woman in the State perhaps has given more study to the question of woman suffrage than she has, and with her ability, the members of the local league feel confident that the work will be prosecuted with more vigor and effectiveness than ever in its history." Evidence of that vigor arose in July when Haywood argued extensively in the press in opposition to a judge's statements regarding suffrage during a grand jury and the depriving of the women of North Carolina their ability to become notaries public and deputy clerks of court and deputy registrars. In November, Martha Haywood was named as a delegate for the December annual meeting of the State Equal Suffrage League. In that same month, she was one of a number of community members whose "I am thankful for" quotes were included in the local paper at Thanksgiving. Haywood noted her gratitude, "I give thanks for the progress of democratic freedom throughout all the world; for the quickening of the conscience of the time, and I give thanks for that broadening vision of the few who are gifted to speak for the many; which in time shall lead the world to listen, and do justice to that most dumb and driven people of all the world's great dispossessed – the women of the poor."
In 1917, she was re-elected as President of the Wake County Equal Suffrage League, also known as the Raleigh chapter of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League. At the state annual meeting in Greensboro a call had been made to put forward a bill to the Legislature for presidential and municipal suffrage and the group arranged for a Suffrage School to be held February 3 – 7 under the auspices of the National American Woman Suffrage Association to "increase efficiency in suffrage work and more speedily bring the final victory for woman suffrage." Planned speakers included Mrs. Justin Leavitt Wilson, Mrs. T. T. Cotnam, and Miss Anne Doughty. Applications, free of charge, were to be made to Miss Martha Haywood, Raleigh. According to the school's program, participants would receive instruction in "Organization, Woman Suffrage History and Argument, Press and Publicity, Public Speaking, Parliamentary Law, and Money-raising." A reception organized by the Raleigh Equal Suffrage League held on February 11 to honor the instructors drew several notable state legislators.
In October of 1917, The Wilmington Morning Star reported on the upcoming appearances in Wilmington and Raleigh of Miss Maud Younger of the National Woman's Party and the lack of support for her from the Raleigh suffrage league due to the picketing of the White House by the Congressional Union and the Raleigh league's opposition to "militancy in any form." Haywood is quoted as stating that the Raleigh league aligned with the National American Woman's Suffrage Association, not the Congressional Union, and lamented the public's lack of distinction between the two. The North Carolina League planned to use their publicity booth at the North Carolina State Fair to define their position. In May, the Raleigh league hosted Mrs. Walter McNab Miller, first vice-president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Later in October, The News and Observer reported on a meeting of the Raleigh suffrage league in which the appearance of "Mrs. William Livingstone, National W. C. T. U. speaker" on November 6 was announced, "a stirring appeal for national women's suffrage" by Miss Martha Haywood was given, and the delegates to the State women's suffrage convention in Goldsboro were elected including Martha Haywood's sister, Miss Elsie Haywood.
In December 1917, Haywood wrote a column for the News and Observer which was the first in what became a regular series of columns running from 1918 into 1920. In these columns, Haywood reported and provided opinion on the status of suffrage in North Carolina, the nation, and in England. Topics ranged from the illogic of legislators citing states' rights in voting for Prohibition and against suffrage, to the support of the war effort by suffragists and protesting the legislative argument that the right to vote amendment interfered with the war effort. In her January 27, 1918 column, she argued "'That the Federal amendment is a patriotic necessity' is the contradiction given by progressive suffragists to those who maintain national suffrage has no place in war time. For national woman's suffrage during the war will mean integration in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of women have been working for suffrage for years – all these years. Are these sacrifices to count for nothing because some people think it is not patriotic to want to vote? Objectors of this type are loath to credit suffragist into any political vision. Now do they consider that suffrage has anything to do with applied and contemporary government. Suffrage to them is something the `suffragettes' want unreasonably, like a spoiled Nora demands her doll house. They have not considered the concrete and actual good that national woman's suffrage would do this country in a time of war."
In 1919, Haywood took on the role of publicity chairman (or press chairman) of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage Association. She held this position through 1920. Along with informing the press of the Association's activities, Haywood polled the press on their support of suffrage. One example is a February 23, 1919 letter on Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina letterhead to H. F. Woodhorse, editor of Signs of the Times of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, in which she asked for the newspaper to declare editorial support for woman suffrage and to publish press releases from the state association on suffrage news and progress. In March 1919, she was quoted in the press regarding the upcoming annual convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in St. Louis, "As a fitting memorial to half a century of progress, the National American Woman's Suffrage Association invites the woman voters of the 15 full suffrage states to attend the anniversary convention, and there to join forces into a league of women voters, one of whose objects will be to speed the suffrage campaign in our own and other countries."
The Greensboro Daily News of January 11, 1920 quoted Martha Haywood in "North Carolina Suffrage Notes" about the upcoming annual convention of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League. "Twenty-two states have ratified the XIX (suffrage) amendment, and the suffrage leaders having reliable information that a majority of the legislatures in 17 other states (three more than necessary) are pledged to ratify before the middle of next month, have called a great suffrage meeting to be held February 12-18 for the rejoicing over the complete success of the 50-year struggle for the equality of rights for women, and for the dissolution of the great organization that has achieved it. The amendment does not qualify a woman to vote when a man in like condition would not be eligible for the use of the ballot, but all signs look pretty good for an early removal of ancient discriminations of the rabbit school on account of sex. And with the hounds of their ambition long since 'rabbit-broke' the pertinent question 'Will the women vote in the June primaries?' persistently suggests itself to the practical politician of this state." Notice the phrasing here that would, in Haywood's view, continue to permit North Carolina and other Southern states to deny voting rights to African American women.
Later that same month, at the state annual convention in Greensboro, N.C., Haywood praised the Greensboro suffragists for the convention and Haywood was praised by speaker Miss Marjorie Shuler of the National Press Committee. Haywood is quoted as stating: "Miss Shuler was kind enough to say that she had found the attitude of the North Carolina press more friendly and favorable than that of any other State which had not gone for suffrage, and that she attributed that fact to the publicity chairman, myself. I could not afford to accept credit which did not belong to me, and I at once told the convention that the credit was not due me, but the North Carolina papers; that practically without exception they had shown the spirit of friendliness and co-operation, and that there had been no attitude of hostility or controversy. I felt that this acknowledgement was due the papers of the State."
In March of 1920, multiple newspapers in the state ran Haywood's article "What do Suffragists Want?" The Independent from Elizabeth City, NC summarized, "North Carolina suffragettes, anticipating the early incorporation of women suffrage into the Constitution of the United States, are already asking for recognition at the hands of the Democratic State Convention. Miss Martha Haywood, publicity chairman of the North Carolina Equal Suffrage League, declares that the League wants women to go as representatives to the State convention, women nominated for the State Legislature, Mrs. T. P. Jerman, named as a delegate to the National convention, a woman as candidate for State auditor, and in the event of a vacancy on the Corporation, a woman on that body."
During 1920, Haywood penned a regular column for Carter's Weekly, a North Wilkesboro, N.C. publication and served as its "Associate Editor in charge of State Bureau, Raleigh, NC." One column, reprinted by reader demand in August, and signed by the Equal Suffrage Association of North Carolina, was "Who Started Suffrage? It Was the South, Not the North." It provides explicit documentation of the blatant and pervasive prejudice of Southern suffragists. In the column, Southern politicians are given credit for suffrage due to their chivalry and "vision of justice," noting that after the Civil War, "the vigor and effectiveness of the 'Klu Klux Klan' bore witness to the truth that the love of justice and fair play, with the unfaltering passion for self-determination were left everlastingly unimpaired." An entire section of the column is headlined "Woman Suffrage and White Supremacy in the South," in which the voting male population is reassured that suffrage for women does not mean a change in the "negro situation" but in fact, will assist in maintaining "white domination." Haywood states in the article, "If white domination is threatened in the South, it is therefore, doubly expedient to enfranchise the women quickly in order that it be preserved."
Less than a week later, the 19th amendment allowing women to vote was ratified by Tennessee, the thirty-sixth state, and became law. Afterwards, Martha Haywood focused on other interests. In 1919, she had been appointed by Governor Thomas Walter Bickett to the Board of Directors of the Confederate Soldier's Home. Her appointment was protested by some at the time, but it was upheld and subsequent governors reappointed her to this position. She served in this capacity through 1933. The home closed in 1938.
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- 1880 United States Federal Census, Heritage Quest Online, ancestryheritagequest.com accessed December 3, 2017.
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- Account book with draft of romantic novel, Martha A. Haywood, 1902-1903, in the John Haywood Papers, #1901, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. http://finding-aids.lib.unc.edu/01901/#folder_15#1 ,accessed December 24, 2017.
- "The Bal Poudre" News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) September 30, 1892, Newspapers.com, accessed December 4, 2017.
- Correspondence: Martha H. Haywood to H. F. Woodhorse, February 23, 1919 http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p16062coll19/id/611/rec/2 North Carolina Digital Collections digital.ncdcr.gov Accessed November 30, 2017.
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- Haywood, Martha Helen, ed. By John William Leonard in Women's Who's Who of America: a Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada 1914-1915, ed. by John Leonard. (New York, NY: American Commonwealth Company, 1914). pp. 375
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- "Outlines What the Suffragists Want, Miss Haywood Says Women Want to Get Down to Work Without Delay" by Martha Haywood, News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) March 14, 1920, Newspapers.com, accessed June 21, 2017.
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- "Progress in Suffrage," by Martha Haywood, President Wake County Equal Suffrage League, News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) January 13 1918, Newspapers.com, accessed June 21, 2017.
- "Public papers and letters of Angus Wilton McLean, Governor of North Carolina, 1925-29" DigitalNC, digital.ncdcr.gov, accessed December 4, 2017
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- "Row Looms Over Soldier's Home: Woman Named Board Member and Cain Is Raised – Idea of Miss Haywood Sitting in Colonel Boyden's Chair Doesn't Appeal to Wood," Salisbury Evening Post (Salisbury, NC) December 12, 1919, Newspapers.com, accessed June 21, 2017.
- "Suffrage Convention Declared Big Success, Greensboro Women Did Wonderful Work of Preparation, Says Miss Haywood," News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) January 30, 1920, Newspapers.com, accessed June 21, 2017.
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