In the 1890s, Asheville became a hub for women’s suffrage activity. National events may have fostered the local interest. The decade saw the creation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the enfranchisement of women in the new state of Wyoming. On March 13, 1899, the United States Senate’s leadership appointed Zebulon Baird Vance, from nearby Hendersonville, as chair of the Select Committee on Woman Suffrage.
Amidst that landscape, Helen Morris Lewis led the formation of the North Carolina Equal Rights Association (NCERA) as the state’s NAWSA chapter in November 1894. Lewis spoke to the state legislature on women’s suffrage in February 1897. With no ensuing legislative action, and the next session two years away, interest in NCERA waned. Lewis unsuccessfully tried to revive the organization in November 1899.
From 1898 to 1900, events took place that impacted the women’s suffrage movement in North Carolina. In November 1898 white supremacists in Wilmington completed a coup d'état and Democrats reclaimed state government in that year's election. The 1899–1900 legislature then focused on passing a constitutional suffrage amendment that disenfranchised Black men.
Major activities and events are listed chronologically. Each item is designated as either primarily national or North Carolina (US or NC).