Jailed for Freedom
Part 2 out of 8
clearer vision, the spiritual quality of one who has already set
out for another world. With infinite understanding and intense
faith in her mission, she was as one inspired. Her meetings were
described as `revival meetings,' her audiences as `wild with
enthusiasm.' Thousands acclaimed her, thousands were turned away
unable to enter . . .
"And she made her message very plain.
"She stood for no man, no party. She stood only for woman. And
standing thus she urged:
“`It is women for women now and shall be until the fight is won!
Together we shall stand shoulder to shoulder for the greatest
principle the world has-ever known, the right of self-government.
“`Whatever the party that has ignored the claims of women we as
women must refuse to uphold it. We must refuse to uphold any
party until all women are free.
“`We have nothing but our spirits to rely on and the vitality of
our faith, but spirit is invincible.
“'It is only for a little while. Soon the fight will be over.
Victory is in sight.'
"Though she did not live to see that victory, it is sweet to know
that she lived to see her faith in women justified. In one of her
last letters she wrote:
"`Not only did we reckon accurately on women's loyalty to women,
but we likewise realized that our appeal touched a certain
spiritual, idealistic quality in the western woman voter, a
quality which is yearning to find expression in political life.
At the idealism of the Woman's Party her whole nature flames into
enthusiasm and her response is immediate. She gladly transforms a
narrow partisan loyalty into loyalty to a principle, the
establishment of which carries with it no personal advantage to
its advocate, but merely the satisfaction of achieving one more
step toward the emancipation of mankind . . . . We are bound to
win. There never has been a fight yet where interest was pitted
against principle that principle did not triumph!'
" . . The trip was fraught with hardship. Speaking day and night,
she would take a train at two in the morning to arrive at eight;
then a train at midnight to arrive at five in the morning. Yet
she would not change the program; she would not leave anything
out . . .
"And so . . . her life went out in glory in the shining cause of
"And as she had lived loving liberty, working for liberty,
fighting for liberty, so it was that with this word on her lips
she fell. `How long must women wait for liberty?' she cried and
fell-as surely as any soldier upon the field of honor-as truly as
any who ever gave up his life for an ideal.
"As in life she had been the symbol of the woman's cause so in
death she is the symbol of its sacrifice. The whole daily
sacrifice, the pouring out of life and strength that is the toll
of woman's prolonged struggle.
"Inez Milholland is one around whom legends will grow up.
Generations to come will point out Mount Inez and tell of the
beautiful woman who sleeps her last sleep on its slopes.
"They will tell of her in the West, tell of the vision of
loveliness as she flashed through on her last burning mission,
flashed through to her death-a falling star in the western
"But neither legend nor vision is liberty, which was her life.
Liberty cannot die. No work for liberty can be lost. It lives on
in the hearts of the people, in their hopes, their aspira-
tions, their activities. It becomes part of the life of the
nation. What Inez Milholland has given to the world lives on
"We are here to-day to pay tribute to Inez Milholland Boissevain,
who was our comrade. Let our tribute be not words which pass, nor
song which flies, nor flower which fades. Let it be this: that we
finish the task she could not finish; that with new strength we
take up the struggle in which fighting beside us she fell; that
with new faith we here consecrate ourselves to the cause of
woman's freedom until that cause is won; that with new devotion
we go forth, inspired by her sacrifice, to the end that her
sacrifice be not in vain, for dying she shall bring to pass that
which living she could not achieve women, full democracy for the
"Let this be our tribute, imperishable, to Inez Milholland
Miss Anne Martin of Nevada, chairman of the Woman's Party,
presided over the services. Other speakers were Honorable George
Sutherland, United States Senator from Utah, representing the
United States Congress; and Honorable Rowland S. Mahany, former
member of Congress and lifelong friend of the Milholland family.
Mrs. William Kent of California, wife of Representative Kent,
presented two resolutions which the vast audience approved by
silently rising. One resolution, a tribute of rare beauty,
prepared by Zona Gale, a friend of Inez Milholland, was a
compelling appeal to all women to understand and to reverence the
ideals of this inspiring leader. The other was an appeal to the
Administration for action.
The pageantry of surpliced choristers and the long line of girl
standard-bearers retired to the strains of the solemn
recessional. The great audience sat still with bowed heads as the
voices in the distance dropped in silence. Instantly the strains
of the Marseillaise, filling the great dome with its stirring and
martial song of hope, were taken up by the organ and the strings,
and the audience was lifted to its feet singing as if in
anticipation of the triumph of liberty.
The women were in no mood merely to mourn the loss of a comrade-
leader. The government must be shown again its share of
responsibility. Another appeal must be made to the President who,
growing steadily in control over the people and over his
Congress, was the one leader powerful enough to direct
his party to accept this reform. But he was busy gathering
his power to lead them elsewhere. Again we would have to
compete with pro-war anti-war sentiment. But it was no time
Following the holiday season a deputation of over three hundred
women carried to the White House the Christmas Day memorial for
Inez Milholland and other memorials from similar
services. The President was brought face to face with the new
protest of women against the continued waste of physical and
spiritual energy in their battle. There is no better way to
picture the protest than to give you something verbatim from the
speeches made that memorable day. This was the first meeting of
suffragists with the President since the campaign against him in
the previous autumn. It was only because of the peculiar
character of the appeal that he consented to hear them.
Miss Younger presented the national memorial to him and
introduced Mrs. John Winters Brannan, who made no plea to the
President but merely gave him the New York memorial which read as
"This gathering of men and women, assembled on New Year's day in
New York to hold a memorial service in honor of Inez Milholland
Boissevain, appeals to you, the President of the United States,
to end the outpouring of life and effort that has been made for
the enfranchisement of women for more than seventy years in this
country. The death of this lovely and brave women symbolizes the
whole daily sacrifice that vast numbers of women have made and
are making for the sake of political freedom. It has made vivid
the `constant unnoticed tragedy of, this prolonged effort for a
freedom that is acknowledged just, but still denied.'
"It is not given to all to be put to the supreme test and to
accept that test with such gallant gladness as she did. The
struggle, however, has reached the point where it requires such
intensity of effort-relentless and sustained-over the whole vast
country, that the health of thousands of noble women is being
insidiously undermined. If this continues, and it will continue
until victory is won, we know only too surely that many women
whom the nation can ill spare will follow in the footsteps of
"We desire to make known to you, Mr. President, our deep sense of
wrong being inflicted upon women in making them spend their
health and strength and forcing them to abandon other work that
means fuller self-expression, in order to win
freedom under a government that professes to believe in
"There is only one cause for which it is right to risk health
and life. No price is too high to pay for liberty. So long as
lives of women are required, these lives will be given.
"But we beg of you, Mr. President, so to act that this ghastly
price will not have to be paid. Certainly it is a grim irony that
a Republic should exact it. Upon you at this moment rests a
solemn responsibility; for with you it rests to decide whether
the life of this brilliant, dearly-loved woman whose glorious
death we commemorate to-day, shall be the last sacrifice of fife
demanded of American women in their struggle for self-government.
"We ask you with all the fervor and earnestness of our souls to
exert your power over Congress in behalf of the national
enfranchisement of women in the same way you have so successfully
used it on other occasions and for far less important measures.
"We are confident that if the President of the United States
decides that this act of justice shall be done in the present
session of Congress, it will be done. We know further that if the
President does not urge it, it will not be done. . . "
A fraction of a moment of silence follows, but it is long enough
to feel strongly the emotional state of mind of the President. It
plainly irritates him to be so plainly spoken to. We are
conscious that his distant poise on entering is dwindling to
petty confusion. There is something inordinately cool about the
fervor of the women. This too irritates him. His irritation only
serves to awaken in every woman new strength. It is a wonderful
experience to feel strength take possession of your being in a
contest of ideas. No amount of trappings, no ' amount of
authority, no number of plainclothes men, nor the glamour of the
gold-braided attaches, nor the vastness of the great reception
hall, nor the dazzle of the lighted crystal chandeliers, and
above all not the mind of your opponent can cut in on your slim,
hard strength. You are more than invincible. Your mind leaps
ahead to the infinite liberty of which
yours is only a small part. You feel his strength in authority,
his weakness in vision. He does not follow. He feels sorrow for
us. He patronizes us. He must temper his irritation at our
undoubted fanaticism and unreason. We, on the other hand, feel so
superior to him. Our strength to demand is so much greater than
his power to withhold. But he does not perceive this.
In the midst of these currents the serene and appealing voice of
Sara Bard Field came as a temporary relief to the President-but
only temporary. Shy brought tears to the eyes of the women as she
said in presenting the California memorial resolutions:
"Mr. President, a year ago I had the honor of calling upon you
with a similar deputation. At that time we brought from my
western country a great petition from the voting women urging
your assistance in the passage of the federal amendment for
suffrage. At that time you were most gracious to us. You showed
yourself to be in line with all the progressive leaders by your
statement to us that you could change your mind and would
consider doing so in connection with this amendment. We went away
that day with hope in our hearts, but neither the hope inspired
by your friendly words nor the faith we had in you as an advocate
of democracy kept us from working day and night in the interest
of our cause.
"Since that day when we came to you, Mr. President, one of our
most beautiful and beloved comrades, Inez Milholland, has paid
the price of her life for this cause. The untimely death of a
young woman like this-a woman for whom the world has such bitter
need-has focussed the attention of the men and women of the
nation on the fearful waste of women which this fight for the
ballot is entailing. The same maternal instinct for the
preservation of life-whether it be the physical life of a child
or the spiritual life of a cause is sending women into this
battle for liberty with an urge which gives them no rest night or
day. Every advance of liberty has demanded its quota of human
sacrifice, but if I had time I could show you that we have paid
in a measure that is running over. In the
light of Inez Milholland's death, as we look over the long
backward trail through which we have sought our political
liberty, we are asking how long must this struggle go on.
"Mr. President, to the nation more than to women alone is this
waste of maternal force significant. In industry such a waste of
money and strength would not be permitted. The modern trend is
all toward efficiency. Why is such waste permitted in the making
of a nation?
"Sometimes I think it must be very hard to be a President, in
respect to his contacts with people as well as in the great
business he must perform. The exclusiveness necessary to a great
dignitary holds him away from that democracy of communion,
necessary to a full understanding of what the people .are really
thinking and desiring. I feel that this deputation to-day fails
in its mission if, because of the dignity of your office and the
formality of such an occasion, we fail to bring you the throb of
woman's desire for freedom and her eagerness to ally herself when
once the ballot is in her hand, with all those activities to
which you, yourself, have dedicated your life. Those tasks which
this nation has set itself to do are her tasks as well as man's.
We women who are here to-day are close to this desire of women.
We cannot believe that you are our enemy or indifferent to the
fundamental righteousness of our demand.
"We have come here to you in your powerful office as our helper.
We have come in the name of justice, in the name of democracy, in
the name of all women who have fought and died for this cause,
and in a peculiar way with our hearts bowed in sorrow, in the
name of this gallant girl who died with the word `liberty' on her
lips. We have come asking you this day to speak some favorable
word to us that we may know that you will use your good and great
office to end this wasteful struggle of women."
The highest point in the interview had been reached. Before the
President began his reply, we were aware that the high moment had
gone. But we listened.
"Ladies, I had not been apprised that you were coming here to
make any representations that would issue an appeal to me.
I had been told that you were coming to present memorial
resolutions with regard to the very remarkable woman whom your
cause has lost. I, therefore, am not prepared to say anything
further than I have said on previous occasions of this sort.
"I do not need to tell you where my own convictions and my own
personal purpose lie, and I need not tell you by what
circumscriptions I am bound as leader of a party. As the leader
of a party my commands come from that party and not from private
"My personal action as a citizen, of course, comes from no source
but my own conviction. and, therefore, my position has been so
frequently defined, and I hope so candidly defined, and it is so
impossible for me until the orders of my party are changed, to do
anything other than I am doing as a party leader, that I think
nothing more is necessary to be said.
"I do want to say this: I do not see how anybody can fail to
observe from the utterances of the last campaign that the
Democratic Party is more inclined than the opposition to assist
in this great cause, and it has been a matter of surprise to me,
and a matter of very great regret that so many of those who were
heart and soul for this cause seemed so greatly to misunderstand
arid misinterpret the attitude of parties. In this country, as in
every other self-governing country, it is really through the
instrumentality of parties that things can be accomplished. They
are not accomplished by the individual voice but by concerted
action, and that action must come only so fast as you can concert
it. I have done my best and shall continue to do my best to
concert it in the interest of a cause in which I personally
Dead silence. The President stands for a brief instant at
the end of his words as if waiting for some faint stir of
approval which does not come. He has the baffled air of a dis-
appointed actor who has failed to "get across." Then he turns
abruptly on his heel and the great doors swallow him up. Silently
the women file through the corridor and into the fresh
The women returned to the spacious headquarters across
the park all of one mind. How little the President knew about
women! How he underestimated their intelligence and penetration
of things political,! Was it possible that he really thought
these earnest champions of liberty would merely carry resolutions
of sorrow and regret to the President?
But this was not the real irony. How lightly he had shifted the
responsibility for getting results to his party. With what
coldness he had bade us "concert opinion," a thing which he alone
could do. That was pretty hard to bear, coming as it did when
countless forms of appeal had been 'exhausted by which women
without sufficient power could "concert" anything. The movement
was almost at the point of languishing so universal was the
belief in the nation that suffrage for women was inevitable. And
yet he and his party remained immovable.
The three hundred women of the memorial deputation became on
their return to headquarters a spirited protest meeting.
Plans of action in the event the President refused to help had
been under consideration by Miss Paul and her executive committee
for some time, but they were now presented for the first time for
approval. There was never a more dramatic moment at which to ask
the women if they were ready for drastic action.
Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a
powerful leader of women, voiced the feeling of the entire body
when she said, in a ringing call for action:
"We have gone to Congress, we have gone to the President during
the last four years with great deputations, with small
deputations. We have shown the interest all over the country in
self-government for women-something that the President as a great
Democrat ought to understand and respond to instantly. Yet he
tells us to-day that we must win his party. He said it was
strange that we did not see before election that
his party was more favorable to us than the Republican party. How
did it show its favor? How did he show his favor today to us? He
says we have got to convert his party . . . Why? Never before did
the Democratic Party lie more in the hands of one man than it
lies to-day in the hands of President Wilson. Never did the
Democratic Party have a greater leader, and never was it more
susceptible to the wish of that leader, than is the Democratic
Party of to-day to President Wilson. He controls his party, and I
don't think he is too modest to know it. He can mould it as he
wishes and he has moulded it. He moulded it quickly before
election in the matter of the eight-hour law. Was that in his
party platform? He had to crush and force his party to pass that
measure. Yet he is not willing to lay a finger's weight on his
party to-day for half the people of the United States . . . . Yet
to-day he tells us that we must wait more-and more.
"We can't organize bigger and more influential deputations. We
can't organize bigger processions. We can't, women, do anything
more in that line. We have got to take a new departure. We have
got to keep the question before him all the time. We have got to
begin and begin immediately.
"Women, it rests with us. We have got to bring to the President,
individually, day by day, week in and week out, the idea that
great numbers of women want to be free, wall be free, and want to
know what he is going to do about it.
"Won't you come and join us in standing day after day at the
gates of the White House with banners asking, `What will you do,
Mr. President, for one-half the people of this nation?' Stand
there as sentinels-sentinels of liberty, sentinels of self-
government-silent sentinels. Let us stand beside the gateway
where he must pass in and out, so that he can never fail to
realize that there is a tremendous earnestness and insistence
back of this measure. Will you not show your allegiance today to
this ideal of liberty? Will you not be a silent sentinel of
liberty and self-government?"
Deliberations continued. Details were settled. Three thousand
dollars was raised in a few minutes among these women, fresh from
the President's rebuff. No one suggested
waiting until the next Presidential campaign. No one even
mentioned the fact that time was precious, and we could wait
no longer. Every one seemed to feel these things without
troubling to put them into words. Volunteers signed up for
sentinel duty and the fight was on.
“I will write a song for the President, full of menacing signs,
And back of it all, millions of discontented eyes.”
Picketing a President
When all suffrage controversy has died away it will be the little
army of women with their purple, white and gold banners, going to
prison for their political freedom, that will be remembered. They
dramatized to victory the long suffrage fight in America. The
challenge of the picket line roused the government out of its
half-century sleep of indifference. It stirred the country to hot
controversy. It made zealous friends and violent enemies. It
produced the sharply-drawn contest which forced the surrender of
the government in the second Administration of President Wilson.
The day following the memorial deputation to the President,
January 10th, 1917, the first line of sentinels, a dozen in
number, appeared for duty at the White House gates. In retrospect
it must seem to the most inflexible person a reasonably mild and
gentle thing to have done. But at the same time it caused a
profound stir. Columns of front page space in all the newspapers
of the country gave more or less dispassionate accounts of the
main facts. Women carrying banners were standing quietly at the
White House gates "picketing" the President; women wanted
President Wilson to put his power behind the suffrage amendment
in Congress. That did not seem so shocking and only a few editors
broke out into hot condemnation.
When, however, the women went back on the picket line the next
day and the next and the next, it began to dawn upon the excited
press that such persistence was "undesirable" . . .
"unwomanly" ...dangerous." Gradually the people most hostile to
the idea of suffrage in any form marshaled forth the fears which
accompany every departure from the prescribed path. Partisan
Democrats frowned. Partisan Republicans chuckled. The rest
remained in cautious silence to see how "others" would take it.
Following the refrain of the press, the protest-chorus grew
"Silly women" . . : "unsexed" . . ." pathological" . . .
"They must be crazy" . . . "Don't they know anything about
politics?" . . . "What can Wilson do? He does not have to sign
the constitutional amendment." . . . So ran the comment from the
wise elderly gentlemen sitting buried in their cushioned chairs
at the gentlemen's club across the Park, watching eagerly the
"shocking," "shameless" women at the gates of the White House. No
wonder these gentlemen found the pickets irritating! This
absorbing topic of conversation, we are told, shattered many an
otherwise quiet afternoon and broke up many a quiet game. Here
were American women before their very eyes daring to shock them
into having to think about liberty. And what was worse-liberty
for women. Ah well, this could not go on,-this insult to the
President. They could with impunity condemn him and gossip about
his affairs. But that women should stand at his gates asking for
liberty that was a sin without mitigation.
Disapproval was not confined merely to the gentlemen in their
Club. I merely mention them as an example, for they were our
neighbors, and the strain on them day by day, as our beautiful
banners floated gaily out from our headquarters was, I am told, a
Yet, of course, we enjoyed irritating them. Standing on the icy
pavement on a damp, wintry day in the penetrating cold of a
Washington winter, knowing that within a stone's throw of our
agony there was a greater agony than ours there was a joy in
There were faint rumblings also in Congress, but like so many of
its feelings they were confined largely to the cloak rooms.
Representative Emerson of Ohio did demand from the floor of the
House that the "suffrage guard be withdrawn, as it is an insult
to the President," but his protest met with no response whatever
from the other members. His oratory fell on indifferent ears. And
of course there were always those in Congress who got a vicarious
thrill watching women do in their fight what they themselves had
not the courage to do in their own. Another representative, an
anti-suffrage Democrat, inconsiderately called us "Iron-jawed
angels," and hoped we would retire. But if by these protests
these congressmen hoped to arouse their colleagues, they failed.
We were standing at the gates of the White House because
the American Congress had become so supine that it could not
or would not act without being compelled to act by the Presi-
dent. They knew that if they howled at us it would only afford
an opportunity to retort "Very well then, if you do not like
us at the gates of your leader; if you do not want us to `insult'
the President, end this agitation by taking the matter into
your own hands and passing the amendment." Such a sug-
gestion would be almost as severe a shock as our picketing.
The thought of actually initiating legislation left a loyal Demo-
cratic follower transfixed.
The heavy dignity of the Senate forbade their meddling much in
this controversy over tactics. Also they were more interested in
the sporting prospect of our going into the world war. There was
no appeal to blood-lust in the women's fight. There were no
shining rods of steel. There was no martial music. We were not
pledging precious lives and vast billions in our crusade for
liberty. The beginning of our fight did indeed seem tiny and
frail by the side of the big game of war, and so the senators
were at first scarcely aware of our presence.
But the intrepid women stood their long vigils, day
by day, at the White House gates, through biting wind and driving
rain, through sleet and snow as well as sunshine, waiting for the
President to act. Above all the challenges of their banners rang
this simple, but insistent one:
How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?
The royal blaze of purple, white and gold-the Party's tricolored
banners-made a gorgeous spot of color against the bare,
There were all kinds of pickets and so there were all kinds of
reactions to the experience of picketing. The beautiful lady, who
drove up in her limousine to do a twenty minute turn on the line,
found it thrilling, no doubt. The winter tourist who had read
about the pickets in her home paper thought it would be "so
exciting" to hold a banner for a few minutes. But there were no
illusions in the hearts of the women who stood at their posts day
in and day out. None of them will tell you that they felt
exalted, ennobled, exhilarated, possessed of any rare and exotic
emotion. They were human beings before they were pickets. Their
reactions were those of any human beings called upon to set their
teeth doggedly and hang on to an unpleasant job.
"When will that woman come to relieve me? I have stood here an
hour and a half and my feet are like blocks of ice," was a more
frequent comment from picket to picket than "Isn't it glorious to
stand here defiantly no matter what the stupid people say about
"I remember the thousand and one engaging things that would come
to my mind on the picket line. It seemed that anything but
standing at a President's gate would be more diverting. But there
And what were the reflections of a President as he saw the
indomitable little army at his gates? We can only venture to
say from events which happened. At first he seemed amused and
interested. Perhaps he thought it a trifling incident staged by a
minority of the extreme "left" among suffragists and anticipated
no popular support for it. When he saw their persistence through
a cruel winnter his sympathy was touched. He ordered the guards
to invite them in for a cup of hot coffee, which they declined.
He raised his hat to them as he drove through the line. Sometimes
he smiled. As yet he was not irritated. He was fortified in his
With the country's entrance into the war and his immediate
elevation to world leadership, the pickets began to be a serious
thorn in his flesh. His own statements of faith in democracy and
the necessity for establishing it .throughout the world left him
open to attack. His refusal to pay the just bill owed the women
and demanded by them brought irritation.
What would you do if you owed a just bill and every day
some one stood outside your gates as a quiet reminder to the
whole world that you had not paid it?
You would object. You would get terribly irritated. You would
call the insistent one all kinds of harsh names. You
might even arrest him. But the scandal would be out.
Rightly or wrongly, your sincerity would be touched; faith
in you would be shaken a bit. Perhaps even against your will you
But you would yield. And that was the one important fact
to the women.
This daily sight, inspiring, gallant and impressive, escaped no
visitor to the national capital. Distinguished visitors from the
far corners of the earth passed by the pickets on those days
which made history. Thousands read the compelling messages
on the banners, and literally hundreds of thousands learned the
story, when the visitors got "back home."
Real displeasure over the sentinels by those who passed was
negligible. There was some mirth and joking, but the vast
majority were filled with admiration, either silent or expressed.
"Keep it up." . . . "You are on the right track." . . .
"Congratulations." . . . "I certainly admire your pluck-stick to
it and you will get it." . . . This last from a military officer
. . . . "It is an outrage that you women should have to stand
here and beg for your rights. We gave it to our women in
Australia long ago:" . . . This from a charming gentleman who
Often a lifted hat was held in sincere reverence over the heart
as some courteous gentleman passed along the picket line. Of
course there were some who came to try to argue with the pickets;
who attempted to dissuade them from their persistent course. But
the serene, good humor and even temper of the women would not
allow heated arguments to break in on the military precision of
their line. If a question was asked, a picket would answer
quietly. An occasional sneer was easy to meet. That required no
A sweet old veteran of the Civil War said to one of my comrades:
"Yous all right; you gotta fight for your rights in this world,
and now that we are about to plunge into another war, I want to
tell you women there'll be no end to it unless you women get
power. We can't save ourselves and we need you . . . . I am 84
years old, and I have watched this fight since I was a young man.
Anything I can do to help, I want to do. I am living at the Old
Soldiers' Home and I ain't got mach money, but here's something
for your campaign. It's all I got, and God bless you, you've
gotta win." He spoke the last sentence almost with desperation as
he shoved a crumpled $2.00 bill into her hand. His spirit made it
a precious gift.
Cabinet members passed and repassed. Congressmen by the hundreds
came and went. Administration leaders tried to conceal under an.
artificial indifference their sensitiveness to our strategy.
And domestic battles were going on inside the homes
throughout the country, for women were coming from every state in
the Union, to take their place on the line. For the first time
good "suffrage-husbands" were made uncomfortable. Had they not
always believed in suffrage? Had they not always been
uncomplaining when their wife's time was given to suffrage
campaigning? Had they not, in short, been good sports about the
whole thing? There was only one answer. They had. But it had been
proved that all the things that women had done and all the things
in which their menfolk had cooperated, were not enough. Women
were called upon for more intensive action. "You cannot go to
Washington and risk your health standing in front of the White
House. I cannot have it."
"But the time has come when we have to take risks of health or
"Well, then, if you must know, I don't believe in it. Now I am a
reasonable man and I have stood by you all the way up to now, but
I object to this. It isn't ladylike, and it will do the cause
more harm than good. You women lay yourselves open to ridicule."
"That's just it-that's a fine beginning. As soon as men get tired
laughing at us, they will do something more about it. They won't
find our campaign so amusing before long."
"But I protest. You've no right to go without considering me."
"But if your country called you in a fight for democracy, as it
is likely to do at any moment, you'd go, wouldn't you?"
"Why, of course."
"Of course you would. You would go to the front and leave me to
struggle on as best I could without you. That is the way you
would respond to your country's call, whether it was a righteous
cause or not. Well, I am going to the front too. I am going to
answer the women's call to fight for democracy. I would be
ashamed of myself if I were not willing to
join my comrades. I am sorry that you object, but if you will
just put yourself in my place you will see that I cannot do
It must be recorded that there were exceptional men of sensitive
imaginations who urged women against their own hesitancy. They
are the handful who gave women a hope that they would not always
have to struggle alone for their liberation. And women passed by
the daily picket line as spectators, not as participants.
Occasionally a woman came forward to remonstrate, but more often
women were either too shy to advance or so enthusiastic that
nothing could restrain them. The more kind-hearted of them,
inspired by the dauntless pickets in the midst of a now freezing
temperature, brought mittens, fur pieces, golashes, wool
-lined raincoats: hot bricks to stand on, coffee in thermos
bottles and what not.
Meanwhile the pickets became a household word in Washington, and
very soon were the subject of animated conversation in
practically every corner of the nation. The Press cartoonists, by
their friendly and satirical comments, helped a great deal in
popularizing the campaign. In spite of the bitter editorial
comment of most of the press, the humor of the situation had an
almost universal appeal.
At the Washington dinner of the Gridiron Club, probably the best
known press club in the world,--a dinner at which President
Wilson was a guest,-one of the songs sung for his benefit was as
"We're camping to-night on the White House grounds
Give us a rousing cheer;
Our golden flag we hold aloft, of cops we have no fear.
Many of the pickets are weary to-night,
Wishing for the war to cease; many are the chilblains and frost-
bites too; It is no life of ease.
Camping to-night, camping to-night,
Camping on the White House grounds."
The White House police on duty at the gates came to treat the
picketers as comrades.
"I was kinds worried," confessed one burly officer when the
pickets were five minutes late one day. "We thought perhaps you
weren't coming and we world have to hold down this place alone."
The bitter-enders among the opponents of suffrage broke into such
violent criticism that they won new friends to the amendment.
People who had never before thought of suffrage for women had to
think of it, if only to the extent of objecting to the way in
which we asked for it. People who had thought a little about
suffrage were compelled to think more about it. People who had
believed in suffrage all their lives, but had never done a,
stroke of work for it, began to make speeches about it, if only
for the purpose of condemning us.
Some politicians who had voted for it when there were not enough
votes to carry the measure loudly threatened to commit political
suicide by withdrawing their support. But it was easy to see at a
glance that they would not dare to run so great a political risk
on an issue growing daily more important.
As soon as the regular picket line began to be accepted as a
matter of course, we undertook to touch it up a bit to sustain
public interest. State days were inaugurated, beginning with
Maryland. The other states took up the idea with enthusiasm.
There was a College Day, when women representing 15 American
colleges stood on the line; a Teachers' Day, which found the long
line represented by almost every state in the Union, and a
Patriotic Day, when American flags mingled with the party's
banners carried by representatives of the Women's Reserve Corps,
Daughters of the Revolution and other patriotic organizations.
And there were professional days when women doctors, lawyers and
nurses joined the picket appeal.
Lincoln's birthday anniversary saw another new feature.
A long line of women took out banners bearing the slogans:
LINCOLN STOOD FOR WOMAN SUFFRAGE 60 YEARS AGO.
MR. PRESIDENT, WHY DO YOU BLOCK THE NATIONAL SUFFRAGE AMENDMENT
WHY ARE YOU BEHIND LINCOLN?
AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, WOMEN ASKED FOR POLITICAL FREEDOM. THEY WERE
TOLD TO WAIT--THIS WAS THE NEGRO'S HOUR. IN 1917 AMERICAN WOMEN
STILL ASK FOR FREEDOM.
WILL YOU, MR. PRESIDENT, TELL THEM TO WAIT-THAT THIS IS THE PORTO
A huge labor demonstration on the picket line late in February
brought women wage earners from office and factory throughout the
A special Susan B. Anthony Day on the anniversary of the birth of
that great pioneer, served to remind. the President who said,
"You can afford to wait," that the women had been waiting and
fighting for this legislation to pass Congress since the year
More than one person came forward to speak with true religious
fervor of the memory of the great Susan B. Anthony. Her name is
never mentioned nor her words quoted without finding such a
In the face of heavy snow and rain, dozens of young women stood
in line, holding special banners made for this occasion.
Thousands of men and women streaming home from work in the early
evening read words of hers spoken during the Civil
President Wilson had just advocated self-government for Porto
War, so completely applicable to the policy of the young banner-
bearers at the gates.
WE PRESS OUR DEMAND FOR THE BALLOT AT THIS TIME IN NO NARROW,
CAPIOUS OR SELFISH SPIRIT, BUT FROM PUREST PATRIOTISM FOR THE
HIGHEST GOOD OF EVERY CITIZEN, FOR THE SAFETY OF THE REPUBLIC AND
A3 A GLORIOUS EXAMPLE TO THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH.
AT THIS TIME OUR GREATEST NEED IS NOT MEN O$ MONEY, VALIANT
GENERALS OR BRILLIANT VICTORIES, BUT A CONSISTENT NATIONAL POLICY
BASED UPON THE PRINCIPLE THAT ALL GOVERNMENTS DERIVE THEIR JUST
POWERS FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED.
THE RIGHT OF SELF-GOVERNMENT FOR ONE-HALF OF ITS PEOPLE IS OF FAR
MORE VITAL CONSEQUENCE TO THE NATION THAN ANY OR ALL OTHER
During the reunion week of the Daughters and Veterans of the
Confederacy, the picket line was the center of attraction for the
sight-seeing veterans and their families. For the first time in
history the troops of the Confederacy had crossed the Potomac and
taken possession of the capital city. The streets were lined with
often tottering but still gallant old men, whitehaired and
stooped, wearing their faded badges on their gray uniforms, and
carrying their tattered flags.
It seemed to the young women on picket duty during those days
that not a single veteran had failed to pay his respects to the
pickets. They came and came; and some brought back their wives to
show them the guard at the gates.
One old soldier with tears in his dim eyes came to say, "I've
done sentinel duty in my time. I know what it is . . .
And now it's your turn. You young folks have the strength and the
courage to keep it up . . . . You are going to put it through!"'
One sweet old Alabamian came shyly up to one of the pickets and
said, "I say, Miss, this is the White House, isn't it?"
Before she could answer, he added: "We went three times around
the place and I told the boys, the big white house in the center
was the White House, but they wasn't believing me and I wasn't
sure, but as soon as I saw you girls coming with your flags, to
stand here, I said, `This must be the White House. This is sure
enough where the President lives; here are the pickets with their
banners that we read about down home."' A note of triumph was in
his frail voice.
The picket smiled, and thanked him warmly, as he finished with,
"You are brave girls. You are bound to get him, pointing his
shaking finger toward the White House.
President Wilson's second inauguration was rapidly approaching.
Also war clouds were gathering with all the increased
emotionalism that comes at such a crisis. Some additional
demonstration of power and force must be made before the
President's inauguration and before the excitement of our entry
into the war should plunge our agitation into obscurity. This was
the strategic moment to assemble our forces in convention in
Accordingly, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and the
Woman's Party, that section of the Congressional Union in
suffrage states made up of women voters, convened in Washington
and decided unanimously to unite their strength, money and
political power in one organization, and called it the National
The following officers were unanimously elected to direct the
activities of the new organization: Chairman of the National
Woman's Party, Miss Alice Paul, New Jersey; Vice-
chairman, Miss Anne Martin, Nevada; secretary, Miss Mabel Vernon,
Nevada; treasurer, Miss Gertrude Crocker, Illinois; executive
members, Miss Lucy Burns, Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont, Mrs. John
Winters Brannan, New York; Mrs. Gilson Gardner, Illinois; Mrs.
Robert Baker, Washington, D. C.; Mrs. William Kent and Miss Maud
Younger, California; Mrs. Florence Bayard Hilles, Delaware; Mrs.
Donald Hooker, Maryland; Mrs. J. A. H. Hopkins, New Jersey; Mrs.
Lawrence Lewis, Pennsylvania, and Miss Doris Stevens, Nebraska.
The convention came to a close on the eve of inauguration,
culminating in the dramatic picket line made up of one thousand
delegates who sought an interview with the President. The purpose
of the interview was to carry to him the resolutions of the
convention, and further plead with him to open his second
administration with a promise to back the amendment.
In our optimism we hoped that this glorified picket-pageant might
form a climax to our three months of picketing. The President
admired persistence. He said so. He also said he appreciated the
rare tenacity shown by our women. Surely "now" he would be
convinced! No more worrying persistence would be needed ! The
combined political strength of the western women and the
financial strength of the eastern women would surely command his
respect and entitle us to a hearing.
What actually happened?
It was a day of high wind and stinging, icy rain, that March 4th,
1917, when a thousand women, each bearing a banner, struggled
against the gale to keep their banners erect. It is always
impressive to see a thousand people march, but the impression was
imperishable when these thousand women marched in rain-soaked
garments, hands bare, gloves roughly torn by the sticky varnish
from the banner poles and the streams of water running down the
poles into the palms of their hands. It was a sight to impress
even the most hardened
spectator who had seen all the various forms of the suffrage
agitation in Washington. For more than two hours the women
circled the White House-the rain never ceasing for an instant-
hoping to the last moment that at least their leaders would be
allowed to take in to the President the resolutions which they
Long before the appointed hour for the march to start, thousands
of spectators sheltered by umbrellas and raincoats lined the
streets to watch the procession. Two bands whose men managed to
continue their spirited music in spite of the driving rain led
the march playing "Forward Be Our Watchword"; "The Battle Hymn of
the Republic"; "Onward Christian Soldiers"; "The Pilgrim's
Chorus" from Tannhauser; "The Coronation March" from Le Prophete,
the Russian Hymn and "The Marsellaise"
Miss Vida Milholland led the procession carrying her sister's
last words, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for
liberty?" She was followed by Miss Beulah Amidon of North Dakota,
who carried the banner that the beloved Inez Milholland carried
in her first suffrage procession in New York. The long line of
women fell in behind.
Most extraordinary precautions had been taken about the White
House. Everything had been done except the important thing. There
were almost as many police officers as marchers. The Washington
force had been augmented by a Baltimore contingent and squads of
plainclothes men. On every fifty feet of curb around the entire
White House grounds there was a policeman., About the same
distance apart on the inside of the tall picket-fence which
surrounds the grounds were as many more.
We proceeded to the main gate. Locked! I was marshalling at the
head of the line and so heard first hand what passed between the
leaders and the guards. Miss Anne, Martin addressed the guard
"We have come to present some important resolutions to the
President of the United States."
"I have orders to keep the gates locked, Ma'am."
"But there must be some mistake. Surely the President does not
mean to refuse to see at least . . ."
"Those are my only orders, Ma'am."
The procession continued on to the second gate on Pennsylvania
Avenue. Again locked. Before we could address the somewhat
nervous policeman who stood at the gates, he hastened to say,
"You can't come in here; the gates are locked."
"But it is imperative; we are a thousand women from all States in
the Union who have come all the way to Washington to see the
President and lay before him . . ."
"No orders, Ma'am."
The line made its way to the third and last gate the gate leading
to the Executive offices. As we came up to this gate a small army
of grinning clerks and secretaries manned the windows of the
Executive offices, evidently amused at the sight of the women
struggling in the wind and rain to keep their banners intact.
Miss Martin, Mrs. William Kent of California, Mrs. Florence
Bayard Hilles of Delaware, Miss Mary Patterson of Ohio, niece of
John C. Patterson of Dayton, Mrs. J. A. H. Hopkins of New Jersey,
Miss Eleanor Barker of Indiana, and Mrs. Mary Darrow Weible of
North Dakota,-the leaders -stayed at the gate, determined to get
results from the guard, while the women continued to circle the
"Will you not carry a message to the President's Secretary asking
him to tell the President that we are here waiting to see him?"
"Can't do that, Ma'am."
"Will you then take our cards to the Secretary to the president,
merely announcing to him that we are here, so that he may send
somebody to carry in our resolutions?"
Still the guard hesitated. Finally he left the gate and
carried the message a distance of a few rods into the Executive
offices. He had scarcely got inside when he rushed back to his
post. When we sought to ascertain what had happened to the cards-
-had they been given and what the answer was-he quietly confided
to us that he had been reprimanded for even attempting to bring
them in and informed us that the cards were still in his pocket.
"I have orders to answer no questions and to carry no messages.
If you have anything to leave here you might take it to the
entrance below the Executive offices, and-when I go off my beat
at six o'clock I will leave it as I go by the White House."
We examined this last entrance suggested. It, did not strike us
as the proper place to leave an important message for the
"What is this entrance used for?" I asked the guard.
"It's all right, lady. If you've got something you'd like to
leave, leave it with me. It will be safe."
I retorted that we were not seeking safety for our message, but
speed in delivery.
The guard continued: "This is the gate where Mrs. Wilson's
clothes and other packages are left."
It struck us as scarcely fitting that we should leave our
resolutions amongst "Mrs. Wilson's clothes and other packages,"
so we returned to the last locked gate to ask the guard if he had
any message in the meantime for us. He shook his head
Meanwhile the women marched and marched, and the rain fell harder
and as the afternoon wore on the cold seemed almost unendurable.
The white-haired grandmothers in the procession-there were some
as old as 84-were as energetic as the young girls of 20. What was
this immediate hardship compared to eternal subjection! Women
marched and waited-waited and marched,
under the sting of the biting elements and under the worse sting
of the indignities heaped upon them. It was impossible to believe
that in democratic America they could not see the President to
lay before him their grievance.
It was only when they saw the Presidential limousine, in the late
afternoon, roll luxuriously out of the grounds, and through the
gates down Pennsylvania Avenue, that the weary marchers realized
that President Wilson had deliberately turned them away unheard!
The car for an instant, as it came through the gates, divided the
banner-bearers on march. President and Mrs. Wilson looked
straight ahead as if the long line of purple, white and gold were
All the women who took part in that march will tell you what was
burning in their hearts on that dreary day. Even if reasons had
been offered-and they were not-genuine reasons why the President
could not see them, it would not have cooled the women's heat.
Their passionate resentment went deeper than any reason could
possibly have gone.
This one single incident probably did more than any other to make
women sacrifice themselves. Even something as thin as diplomacy
on the part of President Wilson might have saved him many
restless hours to follow, but he did not take the trouble to
exercise even that.
The women returned to headquarters and there wrote a letter which
was dispatched with the resolutions to President Wilson. In a
letter to the National Woman's Party, acknowledging the receipt
of them, he concluded by saying: "May I not once more express my
sincere interest in the cause of woman suffrage?"
Three months of picketing had not been enough. We must not only
continue on duty at his gates but also, at the gates of Congress.
The Suffrage War Policy
President Wilson called the War Session of the Sixty-fifth
Congress on April 2, 1917.
On the opening day of Congress not only were the pickets again on
duty at the White House, but another picket line was inaugurated
at the Capitol. Returning senators and congressmen were surprised
when greeted with great golden banners reading:
RUSSIA AND ENGLAND ARE ENFRANCHISING THEIR WOMEN IN WAR-TIME. HOW
LONG MUST AMERICAN WOMEN WAIT FOR THEIR LIBERTY
The last desperate flurries in the pro-war and anti-war camps
were focused on the Capitol grounds that day. There swarmed about
the grounds and through the buildings pacifists from all over the
country wearing white badges, and advocates of war, wearing the
national colors. Our sentinels at the Capitol stood strangely
silent, and almost aloof, strong in their dedication to
democracy, while the peace and war agitation circled about them.
With lightning speed the President declared that a state of war
existed. Within a fortnight following, Congress declared war on
Germany and President Wilson voiced his memorable, "We shall
fight for the things we have always carried nearest our hearts
for democracy-for the right of those who submit to authority to
have a voice in their own government." Inspir-
ing words indeed! The war message concluded with still another
defense of the fight for political liberty: "To such a task we
can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are
and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know
that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her
blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and
happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her,
she can do no less."
Now that the United States was actually involved in war, we were
face to face with the question, which we had considered at the
convention the previous month, when war was rumored, as to what
position we, as an organization, should take in this situation.
The atmosphere of that convention had been dramatic in the
extreme. Most of the delegates assembled had been approached
either before going to Washington or upon arriving, and urged to
use their influence to persuade the organization to abandon its
work for the freedom of women and turn its activities into war
channels. Although war was then only rumored, the hysterical
attitude was already prevalent. Women were asked to furl their
banners and give up their half century struggle for democracy, to
forget the liberty that was most precious to their hearts.
"The President will turn this Imperialistic war into a crusade
for democracy." . . . "Lay aside your own fight and help us crush
Germany, and you will find yourselves rewarded with a vote out of
the nation's gratitude," were some of the appeals made to our
women by government officials high and low and by the rank and
file of men and women. Never in history did a band of women stand
together with more sanity and greater solidarity than did these
1000 delegates representing thousands more throughout the States.
As our official organ, The Suffragist, pointed out editorially,
in its issue of April 21st, 1917: Our membership was
made up of women who had banded together to secure political
freedom for women. We were united on no other subject. Some would
offer passive resistance to the war; others would become devoted
followers of a vigorous military policy. Between these, every
shade of opinion was represented. Each was loyal to the ideas
which she held for her country. With the character of these
various ideals, the National Woman's Party, we maintained, had
nothing to do. It was concerned only with the effort to obtain
for women the opportunity to give effective expression, through
political power, to their ideals, whatever they might be.
The thousand delegates present at the convention, though
differing widely on the duty of the individual in war, were
unanimous in voting that in the event of war, the National
Woman's Party, as an organization, should continue to work for
political liberty for women and for that alone, believing as the
convention stated in its resolutions, that in so doing the
organization "serves the highest interest of the country." They
were also unanimous in the opinion that all service which
individuals wished to give to war or peace should be given
through groups organized for such purposes, and not through the
Woman's Party, a body created, according to its constitution, for
one purpose only-"to secure an amendment to the United States
Constitution enfranchising women."
We declared officially through our organ that this held "as the
policy of the Woman's Party, whatever turn public events may
Very few days after we were put upon a national war basis it
became clear that never was there greater need of work for
internal freedom in the country. Europe, then approaching her
third year of war, was increasing democracy in the midst of the
terrible conflict. In America at that very moment women were
being told that no attempt at electoral reform had any place in
the country's program "until the war is over." The Demo-
crats met in caucus and decided that only "war measures" should
be included in the legislative program, and announced that no
subjects would be considered by them, unless the President urged
them as war measures.
Our task was, from that time on, to make national suffrage a war
We at once urged upon the Administration the wisdom of accepting
this proposed reform as a war measure, and pointed out the
difficulty of waging a war for democracy abroad while democracy
was denied at home. But the government was not willing to profit
by the experience of its Allies in extending suffrage to women,
without first offering a terrible and brutal resistance.
We must confess that the problem of dramatizing our fight for
democracy in competition with the drama of a world-war, was most
perplexing. Here were we, citizens without power and recognition,
with the only weapons to which a powerless class which does not
take up arms can resort. We could not and would not fight with
men's weapons. Compare the methods women adopted to those men use
in the pursuit of democracy; bayonets, machine guns, poison gas,
deadly grenades, liquid fire, bombs, armored tanks, pistols,
barbed wire entanglements, submarines, mines-every known
scientific device with which to annihilate the enemy!
What did we do?
We continued to fight with our simple, peaceful, almost quaint
device -a banner. A little more fiery, perhaps; pertinent to the
latest political controversy, but still only a banner inscribed
with militant truth!
Just as our political strategy had been to oppose, at elections,
the party in power which had failed to use its power to free
women, so now our military strategy was based on the military
doctrine of concentrating all one's forces on the enemy's weakest
point. To women the weakest point in the
Administration's political lines during the war was the
inconsistency between a crusade for world democracy and the
denial of democracy at home. This was the untenable position of
President Wilson and the Democratic Administration, from which we
must force them to retreat. We could force ,such a retreat when
we had exposed to the world this weakest point.
Just as the bluff of a democratic crusade must be called, so must
the knight-leader of the crusade be exposed to the critical eyes
of the world. Here was the President, suddenly elevated to the
position of a world leader with the almost pathetic trust of the
peoples of the world. Here was the champion of their democratic
aspirations. Here was a kind of universal Moses, expected to lead
all peoples out of bondage no matter what the bondage, no matter
of how long standing.
The President's elevation to this unique pinnacle of power was at
once an advantage and a disadvantage to us. It was an advantage
to us in that it made our attack more dramatic. One supposed to
be impeccable was more vulnerable. It was a disadvantage to have
to overcome this universal trust and world-wide popularity. But
this conflict of wits and brains against power only enhanced our
On the day the English mission headed by Mr. Balfour, and the
French mission headed by M. Viviani, visited the White House, we
took these inscriptions to the picket line:
WE SHALL FIGHT FOR THE THINGS WE HAVE ALWAYS CARRIED NEAREST OUR
DEMOCRACY SHOULD BEGIN AT HOME
WE DEMAND JUSTICE AND SELF-GOVERNMENT IN OUR OWN LAND
Embarrassing to say these things before foreign visitors? We
hoped it would be. In our capacity to embarrass Mr. Wilson in his
Administration, lay our only hope of success. We had to keep
before the country the flagrant inconsistency of
the President's position. We intended to know why, if
democracy were so precious as to demand the nation's blood and
treasure for its achievement abroad, its execution at home was so
"I tell you solemnly, ladies and gentlemen, we cannot any longer
postpone justice in these United States"-President Wilson.
"I don't wish to sit down and let any man take care of me without
my at least having a voice in it, and if he doesn't listen to my
advice, I am going to make it as unpleasant as I can President
Wilson,-and other challenges were carried on banners to the
Some rumblings of political action began to be heard. The
Democratic majority had appointed a Senate Committee on Woman
Suffrage whose members were overwhelmingly for federal action.
The chairman, Senator Andreas Jones of New Mexico, promised an
early report to the Senate. There were scores of gains in
Congress. Representatives and Senators were tumbling over each
other to introduce similar suffrage resolutions. We actually had
difficulty in choosing the man whose name should stamp our
A minority party also was moved to act. Members of the
Progressive Party met in convention in St. Louis on April 12, 13
and 14 and adopted a suffrage plank which demanded "the nation-
wide enfranchisement of women . . . ."
In addition to this plank they adopted a resolution calling for
the establishment of democracy at home "at a time when the United
States is entering into an international war for democracy" and
instructing the chairman of the convention "to request a
committee consisting of representatives of all liberal groups to
go to Washington to present to the President and the Congress of
the United States a demand for immediate sub-
mission of an amendment to the United States constitution
They appointed a committee from the convention to carry these
resolutions to the President. The committee included Mr. J. A. H.
Hopkins of the Progressive Party, as chairman; Dr. E. A. Rumley
of the Progressive-Republican Party and Vice President of the New
York Evening Mail; Mr. John Spargo of the Socialist Party; Mr.
Virgil Hinshaw, chairman of the Executive Committee of the
Prohibition Party; and Miss Mabel Vernon, Secretary of the
National Woman's Party. It was the first suffrage conference with
the President after the declaration of war, and was the last
deputation on suffrage by minority party leaders. The conference
was one of the utmost informality and friendliness.
The President was deeply moved, indeed, almost to the point of
tears, when Miss Mabel Vernon said, "Mr. President, the feelings
of many women in this country are best expressed by your own
words in your war message to Congress . . . . To every woman who
reads that message must come at once this question: If the right
of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own
government is so sacred a cause to foreign people as to
constitute the reason for our entering the international war in
its defense, will you not, Mr. President, give immediate aid to
the measure before Congress demanding self-government for the
women of this country?"
The President admitted that suffrage was constantly pressing upon
his mind for reconsideration. He added, however, that the program
for the session was practically complete and intimated that it
did not include the enfranchisement of women.
He informed the Committee that he had written a letter to Mr.
Pou, Chairman of the Rules Committee of the House, expressing
himself as favoring the creation of a Woman Suffrage Committee in
that body. While we had no objection to
having the House create a Suffrage Committee, we were not
primarily interested in the amplification of Congressional
machinery, unless this amplification was to be followed by the
passage of the amendment. The President could as easily have
written the Senate Committee on Suffrage or the Judiciary
Committee of the House, advising an immediate report on the
suffrage resolution, as have asked for the creation of another
committee to report on the subject.
He made no mention of his state-by-state conviction, however, as
he had in previous interviews, and the Committee of Progressives
understood him to have at least tacitly accepted federal action.
The House Judiciary Committee continued to refuse to act and the
House Rules Committee steadily refused to create a Suffrage
Hoping to win back to the fold the wandering Progressives who had
thus demonstrated their allegiance to suffrage and seeing an
opportunity to embarrass the Administration, the, Republicans
began to interest themselves in action on the amendment. In the
midst of Democratic delays, Representative James R. Mann,
Republican leader of the House, moved to discharge the Judiciary
Committee from further consideration of the suffrage amendment.
No matter if the discussion which followed did revolve about the
authorization of an expenditure of $10,000 for the erection of a
monument to a dead President as a legitimate war measure. It was
clear from the partisan attitude of those who took part in the
debate that we were advancing to that position where we were as
good political material to be contested over by opposing
political groups as was a monument to a dead President. And if
the Democrats could defend such an issue as a war measure, the
Republicans wanted to know why they should ignore suffrage for
women as a war measure. And it was encouraging to find ourselves
suddenly and spontaneously sponsored by the Republican leader.
The Administration was aroused. It did not know how far the
Republicans were prepared to go in their drive for action, so on
the day of this flurry in the House the snail-like Rules
Committee suddenly met in answer to the call of its chairman, Mr.
Pou, and by a vote of 6 to 5 decided to report favorably on the
resolution providing for a Woman Suffrage Committee in the House
"after all pending war measures have been disposed of."
Before the meeting, Mr. Pou made a last appeal to the Woman's
Party to remove the pickets . . . . "We can't possibly win as
long as pickets guard the White House and Capitol," Mr. Pou had
said. The pickets continued their vigil and the motion carried.
Still uncertain as to the purposes of the Republicans, the
Democrats were moved to further action.
The Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee,
meeting in Washington a few days later, voted 4 to 9. to
"officially urge upon the President that he call the two Houses
of Congress together and recommend the immediate submission of
the Susan B. Anthony amendment." This action which in effect
reversed the plank in the Democratic platform evidently aroused
protests from powerful quarters. Also the Republicans quickly
subsided when they saw the Democrats making an advance. And so
the Democratic Executive Committee began to spread abroad the
news that its act was not really official, but merely reflected
the "personal conviction" of the members present. It extracted
the official flavor, and so of course no action followed in
And so it went-like a great game of chess. Doubtless the
politicians believed they were moved from their own true and
noble motives. The fact was that the pickets had moved the
Democrats a step. The Republicans had then attempted to
take two steps, whereupon the Democrats must continue to move
more rapidly than their opponents. Behind this matching of
political wits by the two parties stood the faithful pickets
compelling them both to act.
Simultaneously with these moves and counter-moves in political
circles, the people in all sections of this vast country began to
speak their minds. Meetings were springing up everywhere, at
which resolutions were passed backing up the picket line and
urging the President and Congress to act. Even the South, the
Administration's stronghold, sent fiery telegrams demanding
action. Alabama, South Carolina, Texas, Maryland, Mississippi, as
well as the West, Middle West, New England and the East-the
stream was endless.
Every time a new piece of legislation was passed; the war
tax bill, food conservation or what not,-women from unex-
pected quarters sent to the Government their protest against
the passage of measures so vital to women without women's
consent, coupled with an appeal for the liberation of women.
Club women, college women, federations of labor; various
kinds of organizations sent protests to the Administration
leaders. The picket line, approaching its sixth month of duty,
had aroused the country to an unprecedented interest in suf-
frage; it had rallied widespread public support to the amend-
ment as a war measure, and had itself become almost univer-
sally accepted if not universally approved. And in the midst
of picketing ands in spite of all the prophecies and fears that
"picketing" would "set back the cause," within one month,
Michigan, Nebraska and Rhode Island granted Presidential
suffrage to women.
The leaders were busy marshaling their forces behind the
President's war program, which included the controversial
Conscription and Espionage Bills, then pending, and did not
relish having our question so vivid in the public mind. Even when
the rank and file of Congress gave consideration to questions not
in the war program, they had to face a possible charge of
inconsistency, insincerity or bad faith. The freedom of Ireland,
for example, was not in the program. And when 132 members of the
House cabled Lloyd George that nothing would do more for American
enthusiasm in the war than a settlement of the Irish question, we
took pains to ascertain the extent of the belief in liberty at
home of these easy champions of Irish liberty. When we found that
of the 132 men only 5'7 believed in liberty for American women,
we were not delicate in pointing out to the remaining "(5 that
their belief in liberty for Ireland would appear more sincere if
they believed in a democratic reform such as woman suffrage here.
The manifestations of popular approval of suffrage, the constant
stream of protests to the Administration against its delay
nationally, and the shame of having women begging at its gates,
could result in only one of two things. The Administration had
little choice. It must yield to this pressure from the people or
it must suppress the agitation which was causing such interest.
It must pass the amendment or remove the troublesome pickets.
It decided to remove the pickets.
The First Arrests
The Administration chose suppression. They resorted to force in
an attempt to end picketing. It was a policy doomed to failure as
certainly as all resorts to force to kill agitation have failed
ultimately. This marked the beginning of the adoption by the
Administration of tactics from which they could never extricate
themselves with honor. Unfortunately for them they were entering
upon this policy toward women which savored of czarist practices,
at the very moment they were congratulating the Russians upon
their liberation from the oppression of a Czar. This fact
supplied us with a fresh angle of attack.
President Wilson sent a Mission to Russia to add America's appeal
to that of the other Allies to keep that impoverished country in
the war. Such was our-democratic zeal to persuade Russia to
continue the war and to convince her people of its democratic
purposes, and of the democratic quality of America, that Elihu
Root, one of the President's envoys, stated in Petrograd that he
represented a republic where "universal, direct, equal and secret
suffrage obtained." We subjected the President to attack through
Russia also sent a war mission to our country for purposes of
cooperation. This occasion offered us the opportunity again to
expose the Administration's weakness in claiming complete
political democracy while women were still denied their political
It was a beautiful June day when all Washington was agog
with the visit of the Russian diplomats to the President. As
the car carrying the envoys passed swiftly through the gates
of the White House there stood on the picket line two silent
sentinels, Miss Lucy Burns of New York and Mrs. Lawrence
Lewis of Philadelphia, both members of the National Executive
Committee, with a great lettered banner which read:
TO THE RUSSIAN ENVOYS
PRESIDENT WILSON AND ENVOY ROOT ARE DECEIVING
RUSSIA WHEN THEY SAY "WE ARE A DEMOCRACY, HELP
US WIN THE WORLD WAR SO THAT DEMOCRACY MAY
WE THE WOMEN OF AMERICA TELL YOU THAT AMER
ICA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. TWENTY-MILLION AMERI'
CAN WOMEN ARE DENIED THE RIGHT TO VOTE. PRESI
DENT WILSON IS THE CHIEF OPPONENT OF THEIR NA
HELP US MAKE THIS NATION REALLY FREE. TELL OUR
GOVERNMENT IT MUST LIBERATE ITS PEOPLE BEFORE
IT CAN CLAIM FREE RUSSIA AS AN ALLY,
Rumors that the suffragists would make a special demonstration
before the Russian Mission had brought a great crowd to the far
gate of the White House; a crowd composed almost entirely of men.
Like all crowds, this crowd had its share of hoodlums and roughs
who tried to interfere with the women's order of the day. There
was a flurry of excitement over this defiant message of truth,
but nothing that could not with the utmost ease have been settled
by one policeman.
There was the criticism in the press and on the lips of men that
we were embarrassing our Government before the eyes of foreign
visitors. In answering the criticism, Miss Paul publicly stated
our position thus: "The intolerable conditions
against which we protest can be changed in the twinkling of an
eye. The responsibility for our protest is, therefore, with the
Administration and not with the women of America, if the lack of
democracy at home weakens the Administration in its fight for
democracy three thousand miles away."
This was too dreadful. A flurry at the gates of the Chief of the
nation at such a time would never do. Our allies in the crusade
for democracy must not know that we had a day-by-day unrest at
home. Something must be done to stop this expose at once. Had
these women no manners? Had they no shame? Was the fundamental
weakness in our boast of pure and perfect democracy to be so
wantonly displayed with impunity?
Of course it was embarrassing. We meant it to be. The truth must
be told at all costs. This was no time for manners.
Hurried conferences behind closed doors! Summoning of the
military to discuss declaring a military zone around the White
House! Women could not advance on drawn bayonets. And if they did
. . . What a picture! Common decency told the more humane leaders
that this would never do. I daresay political wisdom crept into
the reasoning of others.
Closing the Woman's Party headquarters was discussed. Perhaps a
raid! And all for what? Because women were holding banners asking
for the precious principle at home that men were supposed to be
dying for abroad.
Finally a decision was reached embodying the combined wisdom of
all the various conferees. The Chief of Police, Major Pullman,
was detailed to "request" us to stop "picketing" and to tell us
that if we continued to picket, we would be arrested._
"We have picketed for six months without interference," said Miss
Paul. "Has the law been changed?"
"No," was the reply, "but you must stop it."
"But, Major Pullman, we have consulted our lawyers and know we
have a legal right to picket."
"I warn you, you will be arrested if you attempt to picket
The following day Miss Lucy Burns and Miss Katherine Morey of
Boston carried to the White House gates "We shall fight for the
things we have always held nearest our hearts, for democracy, for
the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in
their own government," and were arrested.
News had spread through the city that the pickets were to be
arrested. A moderately large crowd had gathered to see the "fun."
One has only to come into conflict with prevailing authority,
whether rightly or wrongly, to find friendly hosts vanishing with
lightning speed. To know that we were no longer wanted at the
gates of the White House and that the police were no longer our
"friends" was enough for the mob mind.
Some members of the crowd made sport of the women. Others hurled
cheap and childish epithets at them. Small boys were allowed to
capture souvenirs, shreds of the banners torn from non-resistant
women, as trophies of the sport.
Thinking they had been mistaken in believing the pickets were to
be arrested, and having grown weary of their strenuous sport, the
crowd moved on its way. Two solitary figures remained, standing
on the sidewalk, flanked by the vast Pennsylvania Avenue, looking
quite abandoned and alone, when suddenly without any warrant in
law, they were arrested on a completely deserted avenue.
Miss Burns and Miss Morey upon arriving at the police station,
insisted, to the great surprise of all the officials, upon
knowing the charge against them. Major Pullman and his entire
staff were utterly at a loss to know what to answer. The
Administration had looked ahead only as far as threatening
arrest. They doubtless thought this was all they would have to
do. People could not be arrested for picketing. Picketing is a
guaranteed right under the Clayton Act of
Congress. Disorderly conduct? There had been no disorderly
I conduct. Inciting to riot? Impossible! The women had stood
as silent sentinels holding the President's own eloquent words.
Doors opened and closed mysteriously. Officials and subofficials
passed hurriedly to and fro. Whispered conversations were heard.
The book on rules and regulations was hopefully thumbed. Hours
passed. Finally the two prisoners were pompously told that they
had "obstructed the traffic" on Pennsylvania Avenue, were
dismissed on their own recognizance, and never brought to trial.
The following day, June 23rd, more arrests were made; two women
at the White House, two at the Capitol. All carried banners with
the same words of the President. There was no hesitation this
time. They were promptly arrested for "obstructing the traffic."
They, too, were dismissed and their cases never tried. It seemed
clear that the Administration hoped to suppress picketing merely
by arrests. When. however. women continued to picket in the face
of arrest, the Administration quickened its advance into the
venture of suppression. It decided to bring the offenders to
On June 26, six American women were tried, judged guilty on the
technical charge of "obstructing the traffic," warned by the
court of their "unpatriotic, almost treasonable behavior," and
sentenced to pay a fine of twenty-five dollars or serve three
days in jail.
"Not a dollar of your fine will we pay," was the answer of the
women. "To pay a fine would be an admission of guilt. We are
The six women who were privileged to serve the first terms of
imprisonment for suffrage in this country, were Miss Katherine
Morey of Massachusetts, Mrs. Annie Arneil and Miss Mabel Vernon
of Delaware, Miss Lavinia Dock of Pennsylvania, Miss Maud Jamison
of Virginia, and Miss Virginia Arnold of
North Carolina. "Privileged" in spite of the foul air, the rats,
and the mutterings of their strange comrades in jail!
Independence Day, July 4, 1917, is the occasion for two
demonstrations in the name of liberty. Champ Clark, late
Democratic speaker of the House, is declaiming to a cheering
crowd behind the White House, "Governments derive their just
powers from the consent of the governed." In front of the White
House thirteen silent sentinels with banners bearing the same
words, are arrested. It would have been exceedingly droll if it
had not been so tragic. Champ Clark and his throng were not
molested. The women with practically a deserted street were
arrested and served jail terms for "obstructing traffic."
The trial of this group was delayed to give the jail authorities
time to "vacate and tidy up," as one prisoner confided to Miss
Joy Young. It developed that "orders" had been received at the
jail immediately after the arrests and before the trial, "to make
ready for the suffragettes." What did it matter that their case
had not yet been heard? To jail they must go.
Was not the judge who tried and sentenced them a direct appointee
of President Wilson? Were not the District Commissioners who gave
orders to prepare the cells the direct appointees of President
Wilson? And was not the Chief of Police of the District of
Columbia a direct appointee of these same commissioners? And was
not the jail warden who made life for the women so unbearable in
prison also a direct appointee of the commissioners?
It was all a merry little ring and its cavalier attitude toward
the law, toward justice, and above all toward women was of no
importance. The world was on fire with a grand blaze. This tiny
flame would scarcely be visible. No one would notice a few "mad"
women thrown into jail. And if the world should find it out,
doubtless public opinion would agree that the women ought to stay
there. And even if it should not agree,
this little matter could all be explained away before another
Meanwhile the President could proclaim through official channels
his disinterestedness. Observe the document, of which I give the
substance, which he caused or allowed to be published at this
time, through his Committee on Public Information.
"Published Daily under order of the President of the United
States, by the Committee on Public Information.
GEORGE CREEL, Chairman.
"Furnished without charge to all newspapers, post offices,
government officials and agencies of a public character for the
dissemination of official news of the United States Government."
"Washington, July 3, 1917. No. 46-Vol. i."
There follows a long editorial which laments the public
attention which has centered on the militant campaign, appeals to
editors and reporters not to "encourage" us in our peculiar
conduct by printing defies to the President of the United States
even when "flaunted on a pretty little purple and gold banner"
and exhorts the public to control its thrills. The official
bulletin concludes with:
"It is a fact that there remains in America one man who has known
exactly the right attitude to take and maintain toward the
pickets. A whimsical smile, slightly puckered at the roots by a
sense of the ridiculous, a polite bow-and for the rest a complete
ignoring of their existence. He happens to be the man around whom
the little whirlwind whirls-the President of the United States."
And finally with an admonition that "the rest' of the country ...
take example from him in its emotional reaction to the picket
From the Woman Citizen.
The Administration pinned its faith on jail--that institution of
convenience to the oppressor when he is strong in power and his
weapons are effective. When the oppressor miscalculates the
strength of the oppressed, jail loses its convenience.
It is Bastille Day, July fourteenth. Inspiring scenes and tragic
sacrifices for liberty come to our minds. Sixteen women march in
single file to take their own "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" to
the White House gates. It is the middle of a hot afternoon. A
thin line of curious spectators is seen in the park opposite the
suffrage headquarters. The police assemble from obscure spots;
some afoot, others on bicycles. They close in on the women and
follow them to the gates.
The proud banner is scarcely at the gates when the leader is
placed under arrest. Her place is taken by another. She is taken.
Another, and still another steps into the breach and is arrested.
Meanwhile the crowd grows, attracted to the spot by the presence
of the police and the patrol wagon. Applause is heard. There are
cries of "shame" for the police, who, I must say, did not always
act as if they relished carrying out what they termed "orders
from higher up." An occasional hoot from a small boy served to
make the mood of the hostile ones a bit gayer. But for the most
part an intense silence fell upon the watchers, as they saw not
only younger women, but whitehaired grandmothers hoisted before
the public gaze into the crowded patrol, their heads erect, their
eyes a little moist and their frail hands holding tightly to the
banner until wrested from them by superior brute force.
This is the first time most of the women have ever seen a
police station, and they are interested in, their surroundings.
They are not interested in helping the panting policeman count
them over and identify them. Who arrested whom? That becomes the
"Will the ladies please tell which officer arrested them?"
They will not. They do not intend to be a party to this outrage.
Finally the officers abandon their attempt at identification.
They have the names of the arrestees and will accept bail for
their appearance Monday.
"Well girls, I've never seen but one other court in my life and
that was the Court of St. James. But I must say they are not very
much alike," was the cheery comment of Mrs. Florence Bayard
Hilles, as we entered the court room on Monday.
The stuffy court room is packed to overflowing. The fat, one-eyed
bailiff is perspiring to no purpose. He cannot make the throng
"sit down." In fact every one who has anything to do with the
pickets perspires to no purpose. Judge Mullowny takes his seat,
looking at once grotesque and menacing on his red throne.
"Silence in the court room," from the sinister-eyed bailiff. And
a silence. follows so heavy that it can be heard.
Saturday night's both black and white-are tried first. The
suffrage prisoners strain their ears to hear the pitiful pleas of
these unfortunates, most of whom come to the bar without counsel
or friend. Scraps of evidence are heard.
JUDGE: "You say you were not quarreling, Lottie?"
LOTTIE: "I sho' do yo' hono'. We wuz jes singin'-we wuz sho' nuf,
JUDGE: "Singing, Lottie? Why your neighbors here testify to the
fact that you were making a great deal of noise so much that they
could not sleep."
Mrs. Hilles is the daughter of the late Thomas Bayard,
formerly America's ambassador to Great Britain, and Secretary of
State in President Cleveland's cabinet.
LOTTIE: "I tells yo' honor' we wuz jes singin' lak we allays do.”
JUDGE : "What were you singing?"
LOTTIE: "Why, hymns, sah."
The judge smiles cynically.
A neatly-attired white man with a wizened face again takes the
stand against Lottie. Hymns or no hymns he could not sleep. The
judge pronounces a sentence of "six months in the workhouse," for
And so it goes on.
The suffrage prisoners are the main business of the morning.
Sixteen women come inside the railing which separates "tried"
from "untried" and take their seats.
"Do the ladies wish the government to provide them with counsel?"
They do not.
"We shall speak in our own behalf. We feel that we can best
represent ourselves," we announce. Miss Anne Martin and I act as
attorneys for the group.
The same panting policemen who could not identify the people they
had arrested give their stereotyped, false and illiterate
testimony. The judge helps them over the hard places and so does
the government's attorney. They stumble to an embarrassed finish
An aged government clerk, grown infirm in the service, takes the
stand and the government attorney proves through him that there
is a White House; that it has a side-walk in front of it, and a
pavement, and a hundred other overwhelming facts. The pathetic
clerk shakes his dusty frame and slinks off the stand. The
prosecuting attorney now elaborately proves that we walked, that
we carried banners, that we were arrested by the aforesaid
officers while attempting to hold our banners at the White House
Each woman speaks briefly in her own defense. She de-
nounces the government's policy with hot defiance. The blame is
placed squarely at the door of the Administration, and in
unmistakable terms. Miss Anne Martin opens for the defense:
"This is what we are doing with our banners before the White
House, petitioning the most powerful representative of the
government, the President of the United States, for a redress of
grievances; we are asking him to use his great power to secure
the passage of the national suffrage amendment.
"As long as the government and the representatives of the
government prefer to send women to jail on petty and technical
charges, we will go to jail. Persecution has always advanced the
cause of justice. The right of American women to work for
democracy must be maintained . . . . We would hinder, not help,
the whole cause of freedom for women, if we weakly submitted to
persecution now. Our work for the passage of the amendment must
go on. It will go on."
Mrs. John Rogers, Jr., descendant of Roger Sherman, one of the
signers of the Declaration of Independence, speaks: "We are not
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