Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Florence Hoge, 1873-1951
By Elizabeth Wemlinger, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy (Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Women's suffrage activist and leader
Florence Hoge was born on February 28, 1873, to William V. Hoge and Virginia Hyland Hoge. She was born in Wheeling, West Virginia and remained there for the majority of her life. She died on March 24, 1951, in Clearwater, Florida. She was one of seven children and never married. Her father was a lawyer and her mother died when Florence was 13 years old.
Florence was active in the women's suffrage movement in West Virginia, representing the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association (WVESA) and later the West Virginia National Women's Party (NWP). She served as an officer of the Women's Municipal League, formed in Wheeling in 1905, as suffragists mobilized in a campaign to secure municipal suffrage. National officers of NAWSA visited Wheeling to lend support, but the amendment was defeated. Hoge continued to be active in this early movement, and was elected vice president of the League in 1913. The suffrage movement mobilized to advocate for the passage of the state-level women's suffrage amendment in 1916. Hoge was also part of a coordinated campaign by the WVESA to sell a special suffrage issue of The Wheeling Intelligencer on May 1, 1916, focused on this suffrage campaign. This issue included articles by numerous figures, including Governor Hatfield, national suffrage leaders, and community leaders advocating for the passage of the amendment. Florence was among several suffragists in Wheeling selling newspapers from cars to help increase support for the amendment. While the amendment in 1916 received a significant amount of public support by politicians and community groups it was defeated by unexpected margins. This state level amendment, that would have allowed West Virginia women to vote, was defeated by a nearly 3 to 1 margin, with only the two northernmost counties voting to extend the vote to women.
Florence would continue her work advocating for suffrage over the next several years, yet disconnecting herself from the WVESA and becoming the West Virginia Chairman for the National Woman's Party (NWP). She also served as an advisory council member for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and yet moved away from the traditional war efforts engaged in by the members of NAWSA to focus on support of the NWP picketing at the White House.
She supported the NWP's picketing of the White House and in a letter urged Senator Howard Sutherland of West Virginia to also support the picketers. She sent a series of letters to Senator Sutherland asking for his assistance supporting the picketers. She stated in the first of these on August 17, 1917, that "I can't understand why when we are engaging in a war to make 'democracy safe' women who call attention to their disenfranchised condition by merely holding banners should be treated so badly . . . it seems to me disgraceful." Sutherland in several exchanges responded that these efforts by the picketers hurt the women's suffrage cause and that this type of public advocacy was "bordering on treason" (August 18, 1917). She responded stating that "My dear Senator Sutherland when you consider how long women have been waiting for justice don't you think it rather remarkable that they have done nothing more 'militant' than to hold banners calling attention to our disenfranchised condition."
She continued her NWP work, moving away from the more conservative position of the WVESA. She sent a telegram to the US House of Representatives' Women's Suffrage Committee in early January 1918 requesting that the Committee pass the amendment by "Asking favorable action."
Florence Hoge, Wheeling Intelligencer, May 1, 1916
"Action Soon on Suffrage." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia.], January, 31, 1920, p. 4. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1920-01-31/ed-1/seq-4/
Ancestry.com. 1910-1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Ancestry.com. West Virginia, Deaths Index, 1853-1973 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
"Equal Suffrage Meeting Ends." Pioneer press. [Martinsburg, West Virginia], April, 17, 1915, p.2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025146/1915-04-17/ed-1/seq-2/
"Extending the Right of Suffrage to Women," (1918). Hearings Before the Committee on Woman Suffrage, House of Representatives, Sixty-fifth Congress, Second Session on H. J. Res 200. January 3, 4, 5, and 7, 1919.
"Fighting the Good Fight, Chapter 5." West Virginia Archives and History. http://www.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage5.html
Ford, L. (1991). Iron-jawed angels: the suffrage militancy of the National Woman's Party, 1912-1920. University Press of America
Hoge, Florence (1917). [Letter to Senator Howard Sutherland dated August 17, 1917]. "Fighting the Good Fight, Chapter 5." West Virginia Archives and History. http://www.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage38.html
Hoge, Florence (1917). [Letter to Senator Howard Sutherland undated]. "Fighting the Good Fight, Chapter 5." West Virginia Archives and History. http://www.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage38.html
"Plans Completed for Suffrage Meet." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia.], April, 6, 1915, p. 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1915-04-06/ed-1/seq-3/
"Temple Lecture Closes Meeting of Suffragists." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, W. Va.], April, 10, 1915, p. 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1915-04-10/ed-1/seq-1/
Sutherland, Howard (1917). [Letter to Florence Hoge dated August 18, 1917]. "Fighting the Good Fight, Chapter 5." West Virginia Archives and History. http://www.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage38.html
Sutherland, Howard (1917). [Letter to Florence Hoge date September 7, 1917]. "Fighting the Good Fight, Chapter 5." West Virginia Archives and History. http://www.wvculture.org/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffrage38.html
"Washington News." The West Virginian. [Fairmont, West Virginia], December, 15, 1915, p. 4. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072054/1915-12-15/ed-1/seq-4/
Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK].
"Fighting the Long Fight: West Virginia Women and the Right to Vote," online exhibit at http://18.104.22.168/history/exhibitsonline/suffrage/suffragewheelinggroup.html