New Hampshire Honoring Suffragist With Statehouse Portrait
(ABC) --- The first New Hampshire woman to file papers to run for governor, only to be rebuffed because women in 1910 had yet to secure the right to vote, is finally making her way to the Statehouse.
Marilla Marks Ricker's portrait is being unveiled at the Statehouse on Monday after a 20-year campaign to raise funds and nearly a century after her death.
She was the first woman to practice law in the Granite State and the ninth to be admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. She paid her taxes under protest for 50 years because of her inability to vote in elections.
The Dover resident died three months after the 19th Amendment guaranteeing a woman's right to vote was ratified in 1920.
Ricker said she filed to run for governor at age 70 because she wanted "to get people in the habit of thinking of women as governors."
When she applied, then-Secretary of State Edward Pearson returned her $100 fee and said because she couldn't vote, he couldn't put her name on the ballot.
She demanded the right to vote in Dover in 1870 and did vote locally in 1871.
Jeanne Shaheen, the first woman elected governor of New Hampshire, signed the bill in 1997 to have her portrait hang in the Statehouse. But there was no money to commission it and the campaign, and Ricker slipped back into oblivion.
Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat and catalyst behind the original campaign, resurrected the effort in 2013, after an epiphany of sorts on the opening day of the session.
He said he watched as the House Speaker opened the session and called up the chief justice of the Supreme Court to swear in the new governor — all three positions were held by women at the time.
Cushing's bill that year directed the Joint Legislative Historic Committee to obtain and display Ricker's portrait. That guaranteed $10,000 to help underwrite the portrait.
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire and the New Hampshire Women's Bar Association spearheaded the fundraising efforts and the portrait came to fruition.