Elizabeth Avery Meriwether

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From a modern statue - Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial

Elizabeth Avery Meriwether (January 19, 1824 – November 4, 1916) was an author, publisher and prominent activist in the women's suffrage movement in the United States.

Early life[edit]

She, her brother and three sisters moved to Memphis, Tennessee with parents, Nathan Avery and Rebecca Rivers Avery in 1835 to find a better economic situation.


In 1852, she married Minor Meriwether who became a Confederate Major in Oct. 1861, serving as an Engineer constructing defenses and railroads. During her husband's absence, Elizabeth had to flee with her children from Memphis due to conflict with the Federal forces. She later argued with Union General Hurburt in an effort to regain family property confiscated by the US.

Minor Meriwether never served under Nathan Bedford Forrest during the war, but they knew each other as former Confederate officers and railroadmen. One of the organizational meetings of the Ku Klux Klan took place in her kitchen in the Meriwether's Memphis home, which stood on the site of what is now the Peabody Hotel.

In post-war Memphis, she became involved with the suffrage movement and the Women's Christian Temperance Union specifically. Despite it being illegal, she both registered and voted in the 1872 presidential election.[1] She presented (unsuccessful) suffrage petitions at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 1880.


  • The Refugee (Short story - 1863)
  • The Master of Red Leaf (1872)
  • Black and White (1883)
  • The Ku Klux Klan, or The Carpetbagger in New Orleans (1877)
  • Facts and Falsehoods About the War on the South (1904) (pseudonym: George Edmonds)
  • Sowing of the Swords: The Soul of the Sixties (1910)


Meriwether is depicted in a life-size bronze statue in the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Memorial in Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee, along with Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville and Lizzie Crozier French of Knoxville. The sculpture is by Alan LeQuire.[2]


  1. ^ Parsons, Elaine Frantz. Manhood Lost: Fallen Drunkards and Redeeming Women in the Nineteenth-Century United States, Baltimore: JHU Press, 2010.
  2. ^ Tennessee Woman's Suffrage Memorial website, accessed April 6, 2010

External links[edit]