Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragist, 1890-1920
Biography of Martha Cook Landis Sanner, 1858-1944
By Deborah Bloom, Local History Manager, Richland (S.C.) Library
Martha (Mattie) Landis Sanner was born and raised in Atlanta, the daughter of Solomon and Mary. She married Alfred Sanner, from Pennsylvania, in 1880. The marriage ended in divorce following an unusual tryst, dramatically played out in the local newspaper, between Mattie, Alfred and Mattie's sister, Birdie. Prior to their 1894 divorce, the Sanners' marriage produced three daughters: Fannie, Lucy and Minnie.
In 1894, Mattie Sanner again was prominently featured in Atlanta newspaper headlines after she accused a young black Atlantan, Adolphus Duncan, of violently attacking and raping her. Following two guilty convictions, Duncan faced a death-by-hanging sentence. Governor William Atkinson pardoned Duncan in 1896 after accusations of perjury surfaced as to the testimony of Martha and Martha's brother and sister-in-law.
Sanner, along with nine Georgia women, represented the Georgia Women's Suffrage League during the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, DC, March 3, 1913. Marching between delegations from Illinois and Florida the Georgia suffragists carried a yellow banner featuring the Georgia coat of arms on one side and “Votes for women” on the other. Jeering and violent crowds marred the daylong parade. Nationwide, newspapers criticized the District of Columbia police force including the Evening Star, which reported, “From every side yesterday and today came the most bitter denunciations of the police ‘protection' afforded the suffragists.” Following the DC march, the Georgia suffragist league issued resolutions denouncing the mob violence they experienced.
“Sanner-Landers” Atlanta Journal Constitution, April 20, 1882, p.5.
“Libel for divorce” Atlanta Constitution, Dec 13, 1892, p. 9.
“For Duncan's Pardon” Atlanta Constitution, March 19 1896, p.8.
“In Duncan's Favor” The Constitution, July 17 1896, p.8.
“Score the police for inefficiency” Evening Star (Washington, DC), March 4, 1913, p. 1.
“Suffragists roast two congressmen” Atlanta Journal Constitution, March 13, 1913, p.9.
“Mortuary” Atlanta Constitution, Nov 9, 1944, p. 22.