Elizabeth Crozier “Lizzie” French, photograph, courtesy of Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library

“I wish I could say ‘Fellow Citizens,’ but since I am not accepted as a citizen by the government, I must say ‘Citizens and Fellow Servants.’”

Elizabeth Crozier French to the Tennessee Bar Association, 1912

In East Tennessee, ELIZABETH CROZIER FRENCH was among the first outspoken suffragists. By the 1880s, “Lizzie” was highly regarded as a speaker and is credited with being the first woman to speak before the Tennessee Bar Association and to deliver a public address on Knoxville’s Gay Street. French also founded the Knoxville Equal Suffrage League in 1910 and was involved in the 1916 Race Congress in Knoxville, which aimed to address race relations in the city.

At Knoxville’s Race Congress, which had the “object of bringing about a better understanding between the races,” Elizabeth Crozier “Lizzie” French spoke on “human suffrage;” excerpt taken from “Race Congress Comes to Close,” The Journal and Tribune, July 13, 1916

She was an active part of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), president of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association, and, later, an ardent supporter of the National Woman’s Party (NWP), with which she participated in the White House protests in 1917. French, who was in her late 60s when the 19th Amendment finally passed, was the only Tennessee suffragist in good standing with both NAWSA and NWP.

At the time of her death in 1926, French was at the NWP headquarters in Washington, DC, where a room was being named in her honor. She is buried in Knoxville’s Old Gray Cemetery.

See Elizabeth Crozier “Lizzie” French’s scrapbook, Digital Collection, Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection, Knox County Public Library

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