HERstory: Abby Crawford Milton
Abby Crawford Milton was born in 1881 in Milledgeville, Georgia. She moved to the city of Chattanooga in 1904 after she married George Fort Milton Sr., an editor of the pro-suffrage Chattanooga Newspaper.
While in the Scenic City, Milton received a law degree from the Chattanooga College of Law. She was the last president of the Tennessee Equal Suffrage Association and the first president of the League of Women Voters of Tennessee
During the height of the 1920 battle for the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to grant woman suffrage, Milton spent the entire month of August in Nashville lobbying members of the general assembly to secure pro-suffrage votes. Carrie Chapman Catt, the national president, praised Milton's efforts and depicted the Nashville battle as one of the fiercest waged on behalf of woman suffrage.
The ratification resolution passed easily in the Tennessee State Senate on August 13, but the House of Representatives was deadlocked. When young Harry T. Burn of Niota changed his vote to support ratification of the 19th Amendment, he broke a tie in the House of Representatives and made history.
With her growing notoriety, Milton decided to lend her name to other causes in the Tennessee region. She also worked to secure the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Founding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park took the dedicated efforts of numerous individuals and groups. Most of the hard working supporters were based in Knoxville and Asheville.
But the creation of the park was a constant uphill battle. Milton threw her name into the fight. She arranged for a train ride to take legislators to Gatlinburg, sure that the region's natural beauty would earn their voting nods.
Thanks to that strategic move the park was chartered by the United States Congress in 1934 and officially dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 2, 1940.
She attended Democratic national conventions as a delegate-at-large, and in 1924 she gave the seconding nomination speech for William Gibbs McAdoo in his unsuccessful run for the party's presidential nomination. In the late 1930s Milton ran unsuccessfully for the Tennessee State Senate, taking a stand in support of the Tennessee Valley Authority during a controversial period when the agency was involved in the takeover of local power companies.
Milton died in 1991 at the age of 110.