Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Lua Kendall Wallace, 1882-1948
By Beverly Wilson Palmer, History Department, Pomona College
Lua Kendall was born in Lathrop, Missouri, in 1882. In that city she met and married her husband, James Clark Wallace, a railroad auditor, some time before 1910. By 1910 the Wallaces were living in Washington, D.C., where James's occupation is listed as "Inter Com Com." They had no children and had moved by 1920 to Cincinnati where James worked as an "Assistant Auditor" in the railroad industry. Eventually they owned a home in the Cincinnati suburbs, where James continued his work with the railroads. In the mid-1930s the Wallaces moved to the New York City area, living in Yonkers and later Westchester. Both Wallaces died in New York City in 1948 and are buried in Lua Wallace's hometown, Lathrop, Missouri.
Lua Wallace played only a modest role in Ohio's organizations championing woman suffrage 1910-20. In 1912 Ohio became the first state east of the Mississippi to launch a women's suffrage campaign. This campaign, however, met regular opposition in a series of defeats at the polls in 1912, 1914 and 1916. Then, in 1917, the Ohio legislature passed the Reynolds Bill, granting women the right to vote in the next presidential election. A vote to approve this bill was slated for the upcoming November election in 1919, alerting Ohio suffragists to action. On January 18, 1919, Lua Wallace, as chairman of the Enrollment Committee of Cincinnati spoke at a convention of women suffragists held by the Women's Suffragist Party in Cleveland when "Enrollment and Organization" were the topics of the session. Yet later that year, once again, voters refused to pass the Reynolds bill, albeit with a smaller margin of defeat than previously.
Many suffragists in Ohio and elsewhere thus turned their efforts from amending state constitutions to a federal amendment which would give women the vote in every state. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment granting women suffrage on January 10, 1918, but the Senate was repeatedly unable to obtain the necessary favorable two-thirds vote. Activists were again disappointed when on February 10, 1919, the U.S. Senate again defeated the Nineteenth Amendment -- by just one vote. On February 26-27, 1919, the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association (OWSA) held an emergency convention in Columbus after this defeat to consider "what next." Increased enrollment in the campaign to broaden support for women's vote was considered crucial. Among the officers elected to spur this new effort was Lua K. Wallace as Third Vice President of the OWSA. The members vowed to forget the "humiliation" of the Senate outcome but not the adverse votes.
Finally, the U.S Senate joined the House to pass the Nineteenth Amendment on June 4, 1919, and suffrage became a possibility for Ohio women. Two days later, on June 6, 1919, by overwhelming margins, the Ohio legislature ratified the amendment, one of the first states to do so. As ratification took place, the National American Woman Suffrage Association planned what it hoped would be its last annual meeting, to be held in Chicago, February 12-18, 1920. Lua K. Wallace was named as one of approximately 22 delegates to attend this convention, joining Ohio suffragists like Florence Allen and Harriet Taylor Upton.
The movement for women's suffrage in Cincinnati was countered by an especially strong anti-suffrage contingent, voiced by the Anti-Woman Suffrage League, among other city organizations. These opponents of allowing women the vote argued that a constitutional amendment should not override a state's desire to deny women the vote, and called for a referendum on Ohio legislature's 1919 ratification of the women's suffrage amendment. A trio of Cincinnati lawyers argued the case before the Ohio Supreme Court, and when the case was turned down by that court, the lawyers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 1, 1920, the Supreme Court ruled that the Ohio legislature's ratification had been legal. Thus, women in Ohio and elsewhere anxiously awaited the steady but gradual ratification by the 36 states needed to place the Nineteenth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. The outcome has been depicted by a number of historians, most vividly by Elaine Weiss in The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, when Tennessee became that necessary state on August 18, 1920.
Hand, Greg. "Cincinnati's Suffragettes: More Polite Than England's But Frightening to Men," Cincinnati Magazine, March 28, 2016, accessed online at https://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/citywiseblog/cincinnatis-suffragettes-polite-england-frightening-cincinnati-men/
"Saving Suffrage for the Nation," Genius of Liberty Podcast, Episode 22, Cincinnati Mercantile Library, accessed online at https://soundcloud.com/thegeniusofliberty/episode-22-saving-suffrage-for-the-nation
Woman Citizen, volume 3, January 25, 1919, p. 719; March 15, 1919, p. 864
Woman's Journal, volume 4, January 31, 1920, p. 795
Thanks to Robert Lafkas, 3816 Broadview Terrace, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Professor Kristine Yohe, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky.