Mary Ann Sorden Stuart and Mary Ann Shadd Cary did not live long enough to cast a ballot, but they paved the way for women’s rights and equality in Delaware and beyond.
Mary Ann Shadd Cary was born in Wilmington, to a young African American couple working as leaders on the Underground Railroad. She was a teacher and a pioneering female news editor, and she graduated law school well ahead of her time. Ultimately, she joined the National Women’s Suffrage Association alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.
A native of Greenwood, Delaware, Mary Ann Sorden Stuart organized Delaware’s suffrage movement in the wake of the Civil War. She persistently lobbied the state legislature for women’s equality, first for property and earnings rights and later for women’s suffrage. In 1869, she organized the state’s first convention for Women’s Suffrage in Wilmington.
Both Mary Ann Sorden Stuart and Mary Ann Shadd Cary passed away in 1893, 30 years before Delaware ratified the 19th amendment—three full years after women’s suffrage became law in this country.
We firmly believe women must have equal representation in the halls of power. Since the Constitutional Congress, we have relied on men as surrogates for the causes of women. That must change.
At this historical moment, the greatest message we can send is a focused effort to even the scales. Delaware won't just be the first state to ratify the constitution, we will be the first to achieve parity in the legislature and governing bodies across our state.
We are Mary Ann's List and we will work together to muster resources, build coalitions, train candidates and ultimately elect pro-choice Democratic women from across the state of Delaware to represent us at every level of government.