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ESL at Capitol Square.

From its Richmond base, the league’s watchword from start to finish was respectability. Its early members particularly belonged to families of social prominence. Although the road was long and difficult, the involvement of these high-profile women paid off. In 1911, Lila Meade Valentine convinced an influential group of Richmond businessmen to start the Men’s Equal Suffrage League of Virginia, and four local chapters were formed.
   Rallies organized by the ESL, like this one on the State Capitol steps in May 1915, drew large crowds. Members wrote articles, gave speeches, and held rallies. The ESL often kept booths at the State Fair in October and at many county fairs; members also distributed mailings, gave out pro-suffrage buttons and literature, and collected signatures for petitions.