Cunningham, Minnie Fisher (1882–1964)

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Cunningham, Minnie Fisher (1882–1964)

American politician and suffragist. Name variations: Minnie Fisher. Born Minnie Fisher in New Waverly, Texas, on March 19, 1882; died on December 9, 1964; seventh child of Captain Horatio White Fisher and Sallie (Abercrombie) Fisher; obtained teacher's certificate; attended the school of pharmacy of the University of Texas Medical Branch, becoming one of the first women to graduate in pharmacy in Texas; married Beverly Jean Cunningham (a lawyer), on November 27, 1902 (died 1927).

Known throughout Texas as "Mrs. Democrat," Minnie Cunningham grew up in a liberal household; her mother once commented that the freedom of the slaves took the white race out of bondage. Influenced by Annette Finnegan , one of the founders of the suffrage movement in Texas, Cunningham became president of the Galveston Equal Suffrage Association and began touring the state as a speaker.

In 1915, Cunningham replaced Finnegan as president of the Texas Equal Suffrage Association, and was active in the impeachment proceedings of anti-suffrage governor James Ferguson. (See Miriam A. Ferguson.) In 1918, with the passage of a Texas suffrage bill, Cunningham registered to vote. "You'll never know how I felt when I walked out with that piece of paper," she wrote a friend. She then became involved in passing federal suffrage and served as executive secretary on the National League of Women Voters.

In 1927, Cunningham ran for the U.S. Senate, though she only carried her home county in the primary. In 1944, at age 62, she ran in the primary for governor of Texas, challenging the views of the seated Democratic governor Coke Stevenson. Though defeated by a ratio of two-to-one, "her ability to carry the progressive banner through the gubernatorial race," wrote Crawford and Ragsdale, "and her headline-worthy speeches gave the liberal movement in Texas decided gains in their fight against the mounting conservative domination of state politics."


Crawford, Ann Fears, and Crystal Sasse Ragsdale. Women of Texas. Austin, TX: State House Press, 1992.

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Cunningham, Minnie Fisher (1882–1964)

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