Harriet Taylor Upton (1853-1945) was a leading figure in the fight for women’s right to vote. She served as the treasurer of the National Women’s Suffrage Association from 1894 to 1910, and as president of the Ohio Woman’s Suffrage Organization from 1899 to 1908 and again from 1911 to 1920. Upton was also the first woman to serve on the Republican National Executive Committee.
Harriet Taylor was born on December 17, 1853, in Ravenna, Ohio. At seven years of age, her family moved to Warren, Ohio. Taylor graduated from Warren High School in 1873. In 1880 her father, Judge Ezra B. Taylor, was elected as a Republican representative to Congress, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of James A. Garfield. Harriet accompanied her widowed father to Washington, D.C., where she served as his hostess and companion. In Washington, she met George Upton. The couple were married in 1884.
While living in Washington, Upton became immersed in the women’s suffrage movement. Working closely with her mentor, Susan B. Anthony, Upton dedicated herself to securing the right for women to vote. In 1890 she joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The next year, she began Ohio Women in Convention, a group of women seeking equal rights — especially the right to vote –- for women.
Upton emerged as a leading women’s rights advocate during the 1890s. In 1894, members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association elected Upton treasurer of the organization. She served in that capacity until 1910. It was at Upton’s urging that the National American Woman Suffrage Association moved its national headquarters to Warren, Ohio for a short time. Upton also served as president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association from 1899 to 1908 and from 1911 to 1920.
Besides advocating for women’s rights, Upton played other roles in politics. In 1898 she became the first woman elected to the Warren Board of Education. A life-long member of the Republican Party, Upton was also the first woman to serve on the Republican National Executive Committee, becoming vice-chair in 1920. In 1928 she helped lead the Republican Party’s campaign in Ohio by becoming an assistant state campaign manager. Upton also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1926.
In addition to her work for securing women’s suffrage, she had numerous accomplishments to her credit, including being instrumental in the passage of the first child labor law, founding the Warren chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and founding and serving as the first president of the Warren American Red Cross Chapter.
Upton was also a prolific author. Besides writing several children books, she also authored several histories, including A History of the Western Reserve; The Early Presidents, Their Wives and Children; and History of Trumbull County.
Harriet Taylor Upton died on November 2, 1945, in Pasadena, California at the age of 90.
Resources for Harriet Taylor Upton:
- Harriet Taylor Upton House
- Harriet Taylor Upton at the Upton House
- Harriet Taylor Upton at Ohio History Central
- National Women’s History Museum: Harriet Taylor Upton
- Ohio Women of Note: Harriet Taylor Upton
- Women’s Suffrage in Ohio