Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Anna Brawley (Mrs. Walter C.) Jackson, 1881-n.d.
By Margaret Spratt, Ph.D., Consultant, Making History, Southport, Maine
Anna Brawley was born in January 1881 to James and Mary Harris Brawley in Chester, South Carolina. Her father had served four years in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The Brawley family was active in Democratic politics in the state, and Anna's uncle, William H. Brawley, was in the United States Congress for 18 years and was appointed a federal judge by President Grover Cleveland. She married Walter C. Jackson in Shelby, Tennessee on April 18, 1910, and the couple settled on Church Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Jacksons moved to Memphis in 1921 where Walter continued to be involved in the freight hauling business.
Anna Jackson was the epitome of the urban clubwoman. She was a member of the local women's club and attended a convention of the State Federation of Women's Clubs in 1914. Jackson was also a stalwart member of the Daughters of the American Revolution where she ran for regent in 1917, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, continuing her father's legacy. As recording secretary of the UDC, she held statewide office for two years. In 1922, she was honored by the national organization by being named a hostess for the United Confederate Veterans reunion held in Dallas in May of that year.
Given Jackson's loyalty to the Old South and the D.A.R., it might seem incongruous to recognize her real passion- suffrage politics. Whatever the motive might have been, Jackson dedicated a huge part of her life to the suffrage movement between 1915 and 1920. She used her position as the suffrage chair of the fifth congressional district to cover the state on speaking tours, recruit members, and attend meetings and demonstrations. She spoke at the organizational campaign meeting of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association held in May 1915 in Chattanooga. This event kicked off the suffrage campaign for the next election year, 1916. Using her publicity acumen, Jackson stopped off at the offices of the Atlanta Constitution on her way from Chattanooga to visit family in South Carolina and provided an interview for the paper. It appeared on May 29, 1915. She spent the summer months traveling from one end to the other of the Volunteer State opening county campaigns and speaking in school gymnasiums, city parks, and the steps of county courthouses. Jackson quickly gained a reputation as a persuasive orator and was in demand by suffrage groups all over the state.
On September 16, 1915, the Southern Labor Congress met in Chattanooga. The delegates represented approximately 150,000 workers across the southern states. Jackson had been invited to speak by the president of the organization. She urged the all-male members to adopt a resolution endorsing women's suffrage, but to their surprise, she went one step further. She asked that each member lobby for their state conventions to include a suffrage plank in its platform. Upon conclusion of her speech, the hall erupted in applause. Ten to twenty men jumped up to speak in favor of a resolution. When brought to a vote, only two delegates voted in the negative. The resolution read:
Whereas, a very large number of our citizens are deprived of their right of suffrage; and,
Whereas, the Southern Labor congress believes that the doctrine of taxation without representation is against and out of harmony with a democratic form of government; and,
Whereas, a large percentage of the element thus denied the expressing of their protest against existing conditions at the ballot box;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the Southern Labor congress places itself square on record as favoring woman's suffrage.
The newspapers credited Jackson with this "victory" and described the event as an audience of men who were visibly impressed by her enthusiasm when she declared her cause was their cause.
Jackson continued her speaking tour throughout the fall and on November 16, she along with dozens of other Tennessee suffragists. participated in a national congressional demonstration. Some groups invited their congressmen to a "party" where they presented pro-suffrage petitions. Jackson circulated petitions in Murfreesboro, Fayetteville, Manchester, Tullahoma, and Shelbyville to be presented to Rep. W.C. Houston, a Democrat, of the fifth district. The year ended with a trip to Washington, D.C. for the annual convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Unlike past events, this convention held few plenary sessions and instead, encouraged the women to participate in training sessions on publicity, campaigning, and other skills needed for the fight ahead. Jackson was one of eleven voting members from Tennessee.
The hard work of persuading federal officials to pass and then state representatives and senators to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment fell on many shoulders over the next few years. Because of Jackson's fame as an orator, she was dispatched to many communities, primarily instate but some beyond Tennessee such as her hometown of Chester, South Carolina. She had put immense pressure on Rep. Houston who represented the fifth district in Congress, but he was no longer in office when the amendment came up for vote in May 1919. A new Democratic congressman, Ewin Davis from Tullahoma, was installed in March. Two months later he voted in favor of women's suffrage. State ratification began, and Tennessee played a major role in the process by becoming the 36th state to ratify on August 18, 1920. The Tennessee suffragists had fought a long, exhausting battle. But for Jackson, ratification was not the end but just the beginning of her political ambitions.
Raised in a family of staunch Democrats, Jackson rejected their political leanings and considered herself a Republican long before she could vote. Jackson was named an alternate to the Republican National Convention held in June 1920 in Chicago. Alice Paul called for pickets to protest the weak suffrage plank in the platform, and Jackson chose to wear the white dress and carry the gold and purple standard of the suffrage movement in a silent march outside the hall rather than sit with her state's delegation inside. She stated to a newspaper reporter: "The eyes of the Republican women are now on the Republican party to see if they will continue their good record. I am picketing my own party, therefore, for its own good and for its own women."
Once the amendment was ratified in August, Jackson believed her mission was to enroll female voters in the Republican Party. As she had for suffrage, Jackson spoke at public events all over the state. As the assistant secretary of the state party, she had legitimacy. Now considered a prominent Republican, she often met with an out-of-state congressman or party executive. Advertised as a forceful speaker with "national fame," Jackson drew a crowd. In Bristol, more than 600 citizens crammed the YMCA auditorium to hear her coax women to register and vote. Her efforts paid off. In November, Tennessee Republicans took the governorship, the state house, and the White House. She received the personal thanks of the president-elect, Warren Harding. Believing that her efforts for the Republican Party should pay off, Jackson decided in 1922 to seek the appointment of postmaster of Murfreesboro that was to be vacated in 1923. She traveled to Washington, D.C. to see the "powers that be." Newspapers reported that she was favored by Postmaster-General Hubert Work "who will probably have...the matter entirely in his hands by the time the appointment is made." However, her plans were thwarted when R. W. Vickers, former druggist and realtor from Murfreesboro, was named to the post. Although Jackson had the endorsement of President Harding and Governor Taylor, her marks on the job examination were low. Hence, the former county Republican chairman received the job, not the suffragist. Jackson and her husband left Murfreesboro and relocated to Memphis sometime during this process.
In February 1921, Alice Paul and the newly formed Woman's Party organized a convention in Washington, D.C. to discuss the efficacy of a separate party. In conjunction with the meeting was a ceremony to unveil the statue of pioneer suffragists sculpted by Adelaide Johnson to reside in the halls of Congress. Thirty-six women's organizations were present along with Mrs. Harding and the wives of dozens of congressmen. In addition, the most active among contemporary suffragists were awarded "picket pins." Seven women from Tennessee were honored; Anna Brawley Jackson wore hers with great pride.
Thanks to Prof. Joyce Weaver and her student, Noel Kincaid, of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro for their preliminary research.
"Boosts G.O.P. Ticket In East Tennessee." The Journal and Tribune. 15 Oct 1920. p.7.
"Forecast Success In Mrs. Jackson's Race." Nashville Banner. 27 June 1921. p.2.
"G.O.P. Lecturers Will Speak Here Tonight." Kingsport Times. 5 Oct. 1920. p. 1.
"In Favor of Equal Suffrage." The Journal and Tribune. 17 Sept. 1915, p. 5.
"In Historic Murfreesboro." Nashville Banner. 12 May 1915. p. 7.
"Labor Congress of South Declares for Woman Suffrage." The Leaf-Chronicle. 17 Sept. 1915 p. 8.
"Letter to the Editor." The Tennessean. 2 August 1920, p. 4.
"Local and Personal." The Semi-Weekly News. 21 Dec. 1915. p.6.
Marriage Bond. 19 Sep 1910, Shelby County, Tennessee. Familysearch.org.
"Militants to Glorify." The Chattanooga News. 8 February 1921. p. 6.
"Mrs. Jackson Makes Big Hit." The Journal and Tribune. 11 Oct. 1920. p.5.
"Mrs. Jackson Talks of Suffrage Work in Volunteer State." The Atlanta Constitution. 29 May 1915. p. 4.
"Mrs. Mary H Brawley". The Greenville News. 29 Oct 1937. p.6.
"Mrs. Walter C. Jackson, Murfreesboro. The Journal and Tribune. 15 Oct. 1920. p. 7.
"Mrs. Walter Jackson is Seeking Post office." The Tennessean. 16 February 1922. p. 9.
"Murfreesboro Lady Mentioned as Regent." The Chattanooga News. 30 May 1917. p. 6.
Nashville Banner. 16 Jan 1921. p. 30.
"Nat'l Association Meets Next Month." The Tennessean. 28 Nov. 1915. p. 23.
"Organizing New D.A.R. Chapter In Mountain City." The Journal and Tribune. 23 Oct 1920. p.5.
"Pickets Will Keep Up Fight." The Washington Times. 11 June 1920. p. 4.
"Republicans Open Campaign". The Journal and Tribune. 07 Oct 1920. p. 3.
"Southern Patriotism in U.D.C. Convention." Knoxville Sentinel. 13 May 1915. p. 6.
"Speakers Address Women Voters." The Bristol Herald Courier. 7 October 1920. p. 10.
"Suffrage Convention." The Journal and Tribune. 19 Sept. 1915. p. 38.
"Suffrage Speaking." The Fayette Falcon. 22 Oct 1915. p. 1.
"Suffrage Victory." The Johnson City Staff. 1 Oct. 1915. p. 3.
"Suffragists Will Move on 'Anti' Congressmen." Chattanooga Daily Times. 9 Nov. 1915. p. 6.
Taylor, A. Elizabeth. The Woman Suffrage Movement in Tennessee. Octagon Books: New York, 1978.
"Tennessee Republican Women Prominent at the National Convention Last Week." The Journal and Tribune. 15 June 1920. p. 5.
"Tennessee Women in Suffrage Meeting." The Tennessean. 14 Dec. 1915. p. 3.
"U.D.C. Convention." Knoxville Sentinel. 22 April 1915. p. 6.
"United States Census, 1940."1940 United States Federal Census. Familysearch.org
"United States Census, 1910."1910 United States Federal Census. Familysearch.org
"Vickers for Postmaster." The Chattanooga News. 21 Sept. 1922. p. 2.
"Woman Pushes Claims for P.O." The Chattanooga News. 16 Feb. 1922. p. 11.
"Women Members of Gen. Thomas Official Party Announced." The Tennessean. 16 May 1925. p. 6.
"Women to Play Part in State Convention." The Chattanooga News. 30 Dec. 1919. p. 4.