“[T]here must be a nucleus of people in each community who would carry a continuing responsibility for government and would give an intelligent and disinterested political leadership on issues as they arose.”
— Marguerite Milton Wells
Born this day in 1872: Marguerite Milton Wells (1872–1959), organizing force behind the League of Women Voters
Wells grew up in Dakota Territory, and became fascinated with democracy as she watched the development of statehood firsthand. She received a B.L. from Smith College in 1895. After college she traveled, cared for various family members, and was heavily involved in volunteer work, serving on many civic and charitable boards.
In 1917 she became active in the suffrage movement, to the exclusion of all other interests, and joined the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association. After the passage of the 19th Amendment, the National Woman Suffrage Association was transformed into the League of Women Voters. Wells took up the league’s mission with gusto and directed its course over the next 25 years. She was president of the Minnesota League of Women voters for ten years while also sitting on the board of the national league. She then went on to become president of the national league from 1934 to 1944. Wells guided the league in its mission to train women to participate in democracy with the knowledge and skills necessary to serve the public interest.
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