Chester Arthur went into his sudden presidency after the assassination of President Garfield as a widower. His beloved wife Ellen died of pneumonia in 1880, and the grieving president would gaze at a stained glass window that he donated in her honor at a church he could see from the White House. The president’s younger sister, Mary Arthur McElroy, would come to D.C. during the “busy season” to act as the official hostess. Although President Arthur never officially granted her the title of First Lady, she was well-liked during her events.

First lady trivia: Mary Arthur McElroy was an Anti-Suffragette
First lady trivia: Mary Arthur McElroy was an Anti-Suffragette

However, when Mrs. McElroy returned to her family home in Albany, New York during the “off-season”, she acted as a member of the Albany Association Opposed to Women’s Suffrage. In fact, Albany was a particular strong-hold for the anti-suffrage movement. The group first met in 1894, and again in 1915 and 1917. They sent A quote from one of their pamphlets read “There are still women enough left outside of the clique of female agitators, who believe that woman can always do her best work at home”, to which a suffragette publication responded “If a woman can always do her best work at home, why does the AntiSuffrage Association send Mrs. CranneI to conduct a political campaign hundreds of miles away from Albany?” Of course, the anti-suffrage movement ended in 1920, when the 19th amendment was passed giving American women the right to vote.

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