CUTLER, HANNAH MARIA CONANT TRACY (25 December 1815 – 11 February 1896) was the president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association and the AMERICAN WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION (AWSA). She was also an abolitionist and a leader of the temperance movement in Ohio.
Conant was born in Becket, Massachusetts in 1815 as the second child of John and Orpha Conant. The Conant family moved to Rochester, Ohio, in 1831. Two years later, Oberlin College opened its doors to women, prompting Conant to beg her father to pay for tuition. However, he was staunchly opposed to coeducation and refused to pay for her education. Not easily denied, Conant married Oberlin College theology student John Martin Tracy in 1834. Studying her husband’s theological and law texts, Conant Tracy discovered the extent to which women had limitations placed on them through common law. These discoveries prompted her husband to become an abolitionist speaker and activist. Their collaborative work ended when her husband died while Conant Tracy was pregnant with their second child.
Following his death, Conant Tracy moved back to her parents’ home with her children, and began writing articles for the CLEVELAND HERALD under the male pseudonyms “Cassius Marcellus Clay” and “Josiah A. Harris.” At the same time, she began teaching and helped create the Women’s Anti-Slavery Society as well as a temperance society. In 1847, Conant Tracy enrolled full time at Oberlin College and joined a women’s debating society with Lucy Stone, a famous abolitionist, suffragist, and orator, and also the first woman in Massachusetts to receive a college degree. During Conant Tracy’s time at Oberlin College, she also ran a boarding house and continued to write for newspapers.
Following her college career, Conant Tracy became the matron of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum in Columbus, OH, where she met abolitionist and feminist Frances Dana Barker Gage. Both would become active in the abolitionist FREE SOIL PARTY. In 1849, Conant Tracy became the principal of the “female department” in the Columbus public high school. In 1852, she spoke at the Free Soil Convention in Massillon, OH, where she was elected president of the Ohio Women's Rights Association. That same year, Conant Tracy met widower Colonel Samuel Cutler, who she married soon afterwards. They then moved to a farm in Dwight, Illinois.. While on the farm, she homeschooled her children and wrote what would become a famous article, “The Una,” which focused on the differences between men and women and examined how those differences created a rationale for giving women the right to vote, as differences create a more diverse voting outcome.
After her second husband died in 1886, she remained active in the AWSA. On December 21, 1887 she was appointed to lead the task force charged with merging the AWSA and the NWSA to create the NATIONAL AMERICAN WOMAN SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION (NAWSA). That merger took place on 18 February 1890.
After serving on the NAWSA for 6 years, Tracy Cutler died on 11 February 1896 at 80 years old while on a trip to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Ocean Springs.