Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890 - 1920
Biography of Lena May Jones Wade Springs, 1883 - 1942
By April Akins, University Archivist
Lander University, Greenwood, South Carolina
First Woman nominated for United States Vice President, Democratic National Committeewoman, Chair of the Credentials Committee for the Democratic National Convention, Organizer of the Lancaster Red Cross, President of the South Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs, District Director of the South Carolina League of Women Voters, First Vice President of the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League
Lena May Jones was born March 23, 1883, in Pulaski, Tennessee to Thomas Meriwether Jones and May Buford Jones. She lived the first ten years of her life in Texas before returning to Tennessee. She attended public schools followed by Sullins College (Bristol, Virginia) and post- graduate work at Virginia College in Roanoke, Virginia. She was the chairman of the English Department at Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina. Lena married Henry P. Wade who died in 1910. On November 29, 1913, she married prominent businessman Col. Leroy Springs of Lancaster, South Carolina at her parents' home in Tennessee. Col. Springs was “one of the foremost pioneers in cotton manufacturing” and was “equally prominent in banking, cotton oil, rail and insurance.” He served as Colonel on the staff of Governor John P. Richardson from 1886 until 1890.
Mrs. Springs was active in the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League, serving as vice president in 1917. She was the president of the South Carolina Federation of Women's Clubs, 1918 - 1919, and district director of the South Carolina League of Women Voters, 1920 - 1925. Mrs. Springs was the first vice president for the South Carolina Equal Suffrage League at the time of their 7th convention in 1920.
In 1920, Lena Jones Wade Springs, enthusiastically cast her vote for the nominees of the Democratic party. In 1922, she became a Democratic National Committeewoman and continued to serve in that capacity until 1928. At the 1924 Democratic National Convention, she was the first woman to receive the nomination for Vice President of the United States through a major party. She was nominated to run with John W. Davis of West Virginia. From documentation in The New York Times during the convention, it was observed Mrs. Springs was taken completely by surprise when told of the plan for the nomination. She is quoted as saying, “It simply cannot be true, but it certainly is nice for all the good friends of mine to consider me worthy of such a compliment. Of course, I know it is just a delightful tribute. There isn't a chance in the world of my being nominated. Just the same I appreciate it very, very much.”
After the death of Col. Springs, Lena kept the house on Lancaster's Gay Street (now Lancaster City Hall) but spent more and more of her time at her New York City apartment in the Plaza Hotel. She died at the age of 59, on May 18, 1942, in her apartment. She is buried in the Maplewood Cemetery in Pulaski, Tennessee with her parents and first husband. The inscription on her headstone states, “Let it not be a death but completeness, let love melt into memory and pain into song.”
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Lena May Jones Springs. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/44197601/lena-may-springs. accessed 8 February 2018.
Lena Springs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lena_Springs. accessed 8 February 2018.
Col. Leroy Springs. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/86514872/leroy-springs. accessed 8 February 2018.
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unknown author. (1924, June 28). “To Present Woman for Vice President,” The New York Times. pp. 1, 3.
unknown author (1924, June 29).” Admirers Surround Mrs. Springs at Garden,” The New York Times.
Chapter 1: Suffrage for Women in South Carolina, by League of Women Voters of
South Carolina, Columbia, SC and Mary L. Bryan. In Proud Heritage: A History of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, 1920-1976, By Mary L. Bryan. (Columbia, SC: League of Women Voters of South Carolina, 1977). pp. 1-8