Jessie Daniel Ames
(1883-1972)

Died aged 88

Ames was born in Palestine, Texas. She studied at Southwestern University, and thereafter, despite the objection to religion of her father, became a convert to Methodism. In 1905, she married Roger Post Ames, a doctor with the United States Army. Her husband spent most of their married life in Central America, fighting yellow fever with Walter Reed, before dying there in 1914. Ames, a single 31-year-old with three children to support, moved in with her mother and helped with the family business. She also became involved with several Methodist women's groups. This involvement was the impetus for her involvement in the women's suffrage movement. In 1916, she organized a local women's suffrage association in Texas and helped the state become the first one to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. In 1919, she was the founding president of the Texas League of Women Voters. She also served as a delegate to the Democratic National Conventions of 1920, 1924, and 1928. In 1929 she became the director of the women's committee of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC). In 1930 Ames founded the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, which obtained the signatures of 40,000 women to their Pledge (see below) Against Lynching. Despite hostile community opposition and physical threats, they conducted petition drives, lobbying and fundraising across the South to work against lynching. Pledge: We declare lynching is an indefensible crime, destructive of all principles of government, hateful and hostile to every ideal of religion and humanity, debasing and degrading to every person involved...[P]ublic opinion has accepted too easily the claim of lynchers and mobsters that they are acting solely in defense of womanhood. In light of the facts we dare no longer to permit this claim to pass unchallenged, nor allow those bent upon personal revenge and savagery to commit acts of violence and lawlessness in the name of women. We solemnly pledge ourselves to create a new public opinion in the South, which will not condone, for any reason whatever, acts of mobs or lynchers. We will teach our children at home, at school and at church a new interpretation of law and religion; we will assist all officials to uphold their oath of office; and finally, we will join with every minister, editor, school teacher and patriotic citizen in a program of education to eradicate lynchings and mobs forever from our land. Ames opposed a federal anti-lynching law, however, as she believed that it would be better to get state laws enforced than have the national government step in. Southern Senators filibustered the law, in any case, but Senator Tom Connally of Texas used a letter written to him by Ames to show widespread Southern opposition to the anti-lynching bill. Ames meant the letter to be private, and wanted to speak out in opposition to lynching when the bill failed. Despite this, the number of lynchings decreased, and the group disbanded in 1942 and merged back into the CIC. Jessie Daniel Ames died on February 21, 1972 in Austin, Texas.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Texas Historical Marker #13878

Jessie Daniel Ames. (1883-1972) A native of Palestine, Texas, Jessie Daniel came to Georgetown in 1893. She graduated from Southwestern University in 1902. In 1904 she moved to Laredo, where she married Roger Post Ames (d. 1914), and Army surgeon. They were the parents of three children. Following her husband's death, Jessie operated the Georgetown Telephone Company with her mother and became active in civic projects, including the Woman's Club. She joined the Texas Equal Suffrage Association and worked to acquire voting rights for women. She led a large group of women to the Williamson County Courthouse to register to vote for the first time in 1918. The Texas Equal Suffrage Association reorganized as the Texas League of Women Voters in 1919, and she served as its first president until 1924. A champion of civil rights causes, Ames was active in the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. Opposed to the use of chivalry as a justification for lynching, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and formed the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching in 1930. She retired in 1944 and moved to Tryon, North Carolina. Ames later returned to central Texas and died in an Austin nursing home in 1972. She is buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Georgetown. (1988) #13878

1004 Church St, Georgetown, TX, United States where they was