Elizabeth Thacher Kent, a matriarch in the founding family of Kentfield, is one of the few Marin County women to be elected posthumously to the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame. Kent was a distinguished proponent of women’s rights and international peace, and was instrumental in securing women’s right to vote.
Kent took up permanent residence in Marin in 1907 and immediately became a vocal activist in support of women’s’ suffrage. When her husband William was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Kent leveraged her position as a Congressman’s wife to support the national suffrage movement. She was a featured speaker at the 1913 and 1914 conventions of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and shortly thereafter assumed leadership of their Congressional Committee. By 1915, she helped form the Congressional Union (later renamed the Women’s Party), which picketed the White House in support of suffrage. Kent was arrested twice for her suffrage demonstrating. However, her cause prevailed, and in August 1920 the Susan B. Anthony Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed guaranteeing American women the right to vote.
In addition to supporting suffrage, Elizabeth Kent was committed to the cause of world peace. In the 1930s, she provided leadership to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She and her husband were also early supporters of the fledging conservation movement. They donated a large tract of land to the U.S. Government to preserve old-growth redwoods. Their gift, the Muir Woods National Monument, provides a lasting testimony to the Kents’ exemplary lives of public service.
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