Virginia Durant Covington Young

Black and white photograph of Virginia Durant Covington Young

Virginia Durant Young. Uploaded by Find A Grave user Farnitano.

(1842-1906)  Virginia Young was born in Georgetown, SC to Colonel William Wallace and Julia Durant.  At age 16, Virginia married farmer Benjamin H. Covington.  During the Civil War she began writing short stories and novellas under various pseudonyms for magazines.  After her husband died she returned to Marion, SC where she married Dr. William Jasper Young.  

She was active in Baptist missionary societies and joined the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Suffrage appealed as an avenue to temperance goals. Young wrote magazine articles and lecturing at temperance forums across the country and eventually became the editor, and eventually owner, of the Fairfax Enterprise. 

Young help founded the South Carolina Equal Rights Association (SCERA), an affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), to break down prejudices against southern women among northern suffragists.  Young found an ally in Abbeville legislator and editor Robert R. Hemphill who introduced a joint resolution to the General Assembly granting women the right to vote and hold office. Although the resolution was rejected, Young petitioned the legislature for her personal enfranchisement.  Young and the SCERA campaigned vigorously for a woman-suffrage amendment.

Young’s proposal to allow women to vote in presidential elections found no support. The SCERA fell into disarray. NAWSA leaders criticized Young for not developing a more broad-based movement. Young soldiered on writing three novels with reform themes to promote woman's rights, correcting the wrongs done woman, and the advancement of good fellowship among all mankind.