Margaret Cameron Topliff
(1878–1972) Margeret was a fearless leader and effective advocate for women’s suffrage. In 1912, she was president of the “Votes for Women Club” in Binghamton, New York. In that same year she attended the New York State Women’s Suffrage Convention in Utica. Due to her intense lobbying efforts, the convention was hosted in Binghamton the following year.
From 1913 to 1915 she and her colleagues, Ida Wales Gitchell, Catherine Bartoo, and Lillian Huffcut, kept the discussion uppermost in the minds of Broome County citizens. Debates (pro and con) and activities were reported in the local press. As a result of their efforts, Broome county voted “yes” on the 1915 referendum to add suffrage to the New York State constitution. It was one of only five counties to approve of the measure.
Unfortunately, the state-wide vote was rejected with 57.49% “No” and only 42.51 percent “Yes.” Even though the amendment was defeated, she remained undeterred. She, along with Ida, Catherine, and Lillian, formed the “The Broome County Woman Suffrage Party.” They raised funds, spoke at meetings, held dances, and parades. They also conducted a Suffrage School, which trained women on how to advocate for women’s suffrage. A newspaper article reported that she was “one of the best speakers of the city.”
Margaret demonstrated her fearlessness at one of Binghamton’s suffrage parades. A male trolley driver deliberately headed right for the marchers. As the leader of the parade, she continued marching straight into the path of the oncoming street car. The trolley driver backed down.
After passage of the 1917 New York State suffrage amendment, Margaret continued to remain active in civic affairs. She served as a Canteen Captain for the Red Cross in Broome County and participated in local social clubs. Margaret died at the age of 94.
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