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  • Writer's pictureJohn Thompson

Turn-of-The-Century Feminist: Anne Martin

Anne Martin, an internationally respected suffragette and the first woman to run for the U.S. Senate was lured to Carmel in 1921 by Mary Austin, a local poet and playwright who dreamed of turning Carmel into a center for progressive writers and artists. Martin, whose works appeared in numerous magazines and papers, was a role model for Carol Steinbeck and Beth Ingels, and other aspiring writers.

Carol and Beth loved to listen to Anne's colorful tales from the early days of the women's movement. One of Anne's favorite stories chronicled her arrest in London during the early part of the century for "disturbing the peace." Lou Henry Hoover, one of Anne's college friends (a Stanford graduate and ex Monterey schoolteacher), heard of Anne's plight and sent her husband scurrying down to the police station to bail her out. But Herbert Hoover, then living in London with Lou Henry, learned from the desk sergeant that someone else had already grabbed the honor of paying Anne's bail.

Back in America, Anne and Jane Addams disturbed the peace of American men by demanding the right to vote. In Chicago, 1916, Anne was elected Chairman of the National Women's Party and began organizing hearings before Senate and House Committees. Her strident lobbying before those committees, along with the testimony of other articulate and persuasive women, led to what became the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

In 1918 and again in 1920, Anne Martin was the first woman candidate to run for the U.S. Senate. Although she earned more than a quarter of the votes in her home state of Nevada, she did not achieve her goal, but the national publicity that her campaign generated inspired women throughout America to seek pubic office.

Responding to writer Mary Austin's invitation, Anne and her widowed mother moved to Carmel and built "Chinquapins" on Mission at Eleventh. Her home became a meeting place for the area's most progressive women writers, and the group evolved into the Carmel Women's Club. Between 1926 and 1931, Anne served as the western regional director of the Women's International League For Peace And Freedom (WILPF), a crusading group of visionaries who urged political rights for women, amnesty for political prisoners and an end to the male-dominated system worldwide. Old issues of the Carmel Cymbal indicate the topics debated by the WILPF, included ending American intervention in Nicaragua, the massacres of students in China, spillage of sewage into Monterey Bay, attempts to cut down trees to make way for more parking places and streets, poor city planning policies and the killing of local wildlife.

Until her death in Carmel in 1951, Anne Martin confronted opponents of women's rights with persuasive insights, a scholarly determination and great feminine charm. Community leaders today, such as Marjorie Lloyd who came to Carmel in 1933 and later edited the "Pine Cone," still speak reverently of the impressive contribution Anne Martin made to our heritage. Dr. Linda Coppens, though, feels that it is the young people in our community that need to honor the writings and teachings of Ms. Martin. Coppers, the director of the Local History Archive of the Carmel Library, sees a need to bring Anne's writings back into our community. Her goal is to reestablish Anne Martin's importance in the community she helped shape.

We wish to thank John Thompson for his contribution and it is reprinted as submitted without editorial comment or change.

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