New York State Assembly

Thomas V. Welch

Thomas Welch (1850-1903) was a prominent political figure in Western New York. He was associated with the Free Niagara Movement and advocated for the preservation of Niagara Falls’ natural beauty. He was elected to the State Assembly and served there for three terms. In 1885, he sponsored two bills creating the Niagara Reserve, New York’s first State Park, which passed the Legislature and were signed into law. That same year Welch was appointed Superintendent of the Niagara Reserve and served in that position until 1902.

Henry E. H. Brereton

Henry “Harry” E.H. Brereton was a farmer who lived in Warren County and was elected to the Assembly in 1911 and served there until 1917. He sponsored a resolution to extend suffrage to women on three different occasions, and was the sponsor of the resolution that finally passed in 1917. He left state government after women achieved the right to vote for a short while, before being elected to the State Senate in 1927. He remained in the Senate until 1932.

Petition in favor of women’s suffrage, 1912

On December 16, 1912, “Votes for Women” advocates in New York City rallied and marched on Albany, greeting Governor-elect William Sulzer with a petition urging “the speed passage of the Woman Suffrage Amendment.”

New York State Library

Alfred E. Smith, 1913

Alfred “Al” Smith (1873-1944) was a prominent political figure in New York. He was first elected to the Assembly in 1903. In 1911 he was named vice-chair of the Commission investigating the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire, which killed 146 people. As a result of his work on the Commission, Smith sponsored a number of bills aimed at improving worker safety and expanding worker rights. In 1913 he was elected Speaker of the Assembly and used his leadership position to pursue a progressive agenda. He was elected Governor four times; 1918, 1922, 1924 and 1926. In 1928 he became the first Roman Catholic to be nominated for President on a major party ticket. In 1932 he supported fellow New Yorker Franklin Roosevelt’s bid for the presidency. Much of Roosevelt’s New Deal was inspired by Al Smith’s policies as Governor of New York.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Concurrent Resolution 1917

This Concurrent Resolution put a referendum on the ballot to determine whether the State Constitution should be amended to extend suffrage to women. In November 1917, the resolution was passed and suffrage granted to the women of New York State.

Thaddeus C. Sweet

Thaddeus “T.C.” Sweet (1872-1928) was a prominent entrepreneur and political figure from Phoenix, NY. Sweet was president of the Sweet Paper Manufacturing Company when he was first elected to the Assembly in 1910. In 1914 he was elected Speaker and remained in that office until 1920. During his tenure as Speaker, the Assembly passed a concurrent resolution to amend the State Constitution by extending suffrage to women. The resolution later passed in the Senate and in 1917, women achieved the right to vote in New York. Sweet was then elected to Congress in 1923 and died while in office.

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