Jailed for Freedom
Part 7 out of 8
action discipline and enhanced the effectiveness of everything
they attempted; their aptitude at tasks to which they had never
before set their hands; their utter self-sacrifice alike in what
they did and in what they gave? Their contribution to the great
result is beyond appraisal. They have added a new luster to the
annals of American womanhood.
"The least tribute we can pay them is to make them the equals of
men in political rights, as they have proved themselves their
equals in every field of practical work they have entered,
whether for themselves or for their country. These great days of
completed achievement would be sadly marred were we to omit that
act of justice. Besides the immense practical services they have
rendered, the women of the country have been the moving spirits
in the systematic economies in which our people have voluntarily
assisted to supply the suffering peoples of the world and the
armies upon every front with food and everything else we had,
that might serve the common cause. The details of such a story
can never be fully written but we carry them at our hearts and
thank God that we can say that we are the kinsmen of such."
Again we looked for action to follow this appeal. Again
we found that the President had uttered these words but had made
no plan to translate them into action.
And so his second appeal to the Senate failed, coming as it did
after the hostility of his party to the idea of conferring
freedom on women nationally, had been approved and fostered by
President Wilson for five solid years. He could not overcome with
additional eloquence the opposition which he himself had so long
formulated, defended, encouraged and solidified, especially when
that eloquence was followed by either no action or only half-
It would now require a determined assertion of his political
power as the leader of his party. We made a final appeal to him
as leader of his party and while still at the height of his world
power, to make such an assertion and to demand the necessary two
The President Sails Away
No sooner had we set ourselves to a brief, hot campaign to compel
President Wilson to win the final votes than he sailed away to
France to attend the Peace Conference, sailed away to consecrate
himself to the program of liberating the oppressed peoples of the
whole world. He cannot be condemned for aiming to achieve so
gigantic a task. But we reflected that again the President had
refused his specific aid in an humble aspiration, for the rosy
hope of a more boldly conceived ambition.
It was positively impossible for us, by our own efforts, to win
the last 2 votes. We could only win them through the President.
That he had left behind him his message urging the Senate to act,
is true. That Administration leaders did not consider these words
a command, is also true. It must be realized that even after the
President had been compelled to publicly declare his support of
the measure, it was almost impossible to get his own leaders to
take seriously his words on suffrage. And so again the Democratic
Chairman of the Rules Committee, in whose keeping the program
lay, had no thought of bringing it to a vote. The Democratic
Chairman of the Woman Suffrage Committee assumed not the
slightest responsibility for its success, nor could he produce
any plan whereby the last votes could be won. They knew, as well
as did we, that the President only could win those last 2 votes.
They made it perfectly clear that until he had done so, they
could do nothing.
Less than fifty legislative days remained to us. Something had to
be done quickly, something bold and offensive enough to threaten
the prestige of the President, as he was riding in sublimity to
unknown heights as a champion of world liberty; something which
might penetrate his reverie and shock him into concrete action.
We had successfully defied the full power of his Administration,
the odds heavily against us. We must now defy the popular belief
of the world in this apostle of liberty. This was the feeling of
the four hundred officers of the National Woman's Party, summoned
to a three days' conference in Washington in December, 1918. It
was unanimously decided to light a fire in an urn, and, on the
day that the President was officially received by France, to burn
with fitting public ceremonies all the President's past and
present speeches or books concerning "liberty", "freedom" and
It was late afternoon when the four hundred women proceeded
solemnly in single file from headquarters, past the White House,
along the edge of the quiet and beautiful Lafayette Park, to the
foot of Lafayette's statue. A slight mist added beauty to the
pageant. The purple, white and gold banners, so brilliant in the
sunshine, became soft pastel sails. Half the procession carried
lighted torches; the other half banners. The crowd gathered
silently, somewhat awe-struck by the scene. Massed about that
statue, we felt a strange strength and solidarity, we felt again
that we were a part of the universal struggle for liberty.
The torch was applied to the pine-wood logs in the Grecian Urn at
the edge of the broad base of the statue. As the flames began to
mount, Vida Milholland stepped forward and without accompaniment
sang again from that spot of beauty, in her own challenging way,
the Woman's Marseillaise. Even the small boys in the crowd,
always the most difficult to please, cheered and clapped and
cried for more.
Mrs. John Rogers, Jr., chairman of the National Advisory Council,
said, as president of the ceremony:
"We hold this meeting to protest against the denial of liberty to
American women. All over the world to-day we see surging and
sweeping irresistibly on, the great tide of democracy, and women
would be derelict in their duty if they did not see to it that it
brings freedom to the women of this land . . . .
"Our ceremony to-day is planned to call attention to the fact
that President Wilson has gone abroad to establish democracy in
foreign lands when he has failed to establish democracy at home.
We burn his words on liberty to-day, not in malice or anger, but
in a spirit of reverence for truth.
"This meeting is a message to President Wilson. We expect an
answer. If the answer is more words we will burn them again. The
only answer the National Woman's Party will accept is the instant
passage of the amendment in the Senate."
The few hoots and jeers which followed all ceased, when a tiny
and aged woman stepped from her place to the urn in the brilliant
torch light. The crowd recognized a veteran. It was the most
dramatic moment in the ceremony. Reverend Olympia Brown of
Wisconsin, one of the first ordained women ministers in the
country, then in her eighty-fourth year, gallant pioneer, friend
and colleague of Susan B. Anthony, said, as she threw into the
flames the speech made by the President on his arrival in France:
" . . . I have fought for liberty for seventy years, and I
protest against the President's leaving our country with this old
fight here unwon."
The crowd burst into applause and continued to cheer as she was
assisted from the plinth of the statue, too frail to dismount by
herself. Then came the other representative women, from
Massachusetts to California, from Georgia to Michigan, each one
consigning to the flames a special declaration of the
President's on freedom. The flames burned brighter and brighter
and leapt higher as the night grew black.
The casual observer said, "They must be crazy. Don't they know
the President isn't at home? Why are they appealing to him in the
park opposite the White House when he is in France?"
The long line of bright torches shone menacingly as the women
marched slowly back to headquarters, and the crowd dispersed in
silence. The White House was empty. But we knew our message would
be heard in France.
Watchfires of Freedom
December came to an end with no plan for action on the amendment
assured. This left us January and February only before the
session would end. The President had not yet won the necessary 2
votes. We decided therefore to keep a perpetual fire to consume
the President's speeches on democracy as fast as he made them in
And so on New Year's Day, 1919, we light our first watchfire of
freedom in the Urn dedicated to that purpose. We place it on the
sidewalk in a direct line with the President's front door. The
wood comes from a tree in
Independence Square, Philadelphia. It burns gaily. Women with
banners stand guard over the watchfire. A bell hung in the
balcony at headquarters tolls rhythmically the beginning of the
watch. It tolls again as the President's words are tossed to the
flames. His speech to the workingmen of Manchester; his toast to
the King at Buckingham Palace: "We have used great words, all of
us. We have used the words `right' and `justice' and now we are
to prove whether or not we understand these words;" his speech at
Brest; all turn into ignominious brown ashes.
The bell tolls again when the watch is changed. All Washington is
reminded hourly that we are at the President's gate, burning his
words. From Washington the news goes to all the world.
People gather to see the ceremony. The omnipresent small boys and
soldiers jeer, and some tear the banners. A soldier rushes to the
scene with a bucket of water which does not extin-
guish the flames. The fire burns as if by magic. A policeman
arrives and uses a fire extinguisher. But the fire burns on! The
flames are as indomitable as the women who guard them! Rain
comes, but all through the night the watchfire burns. All through
the night the women stand guard.
Day and night the fire burns. Boys are permitted by the police to
scatter it in the street, to break the. urn, and to demolish the
banners. But each time the women rekindle the fire. A squad of
policemen tries to demolish the fire. While the police are
engaged at the White House gates, other women go quietly in the
dusk to the huge bronze urn in Lafayette Park and light another
watchfire. A beautiful blaze leaps into the air from the great
urn. The police hasten hither. The burning contents are
overturned. Alice Paul refills the urn and kindles a new fire.
She is placed under arrest. Suddenly a third blaze is seen in a
remote corner of the park. The policemen scramble to that corner.
When the watchfires have been continued for four days and four
nights,, in spite of the attempts by the police to extinguish
them, general orders to arrest are sent to the squad of
Five women are taken to the police station. The police captain is
outraged that the ornamental urn valued at $10,000 should have
been used to hold a fire which burned the President's words! His
indignation leaves the defendants unimpressed, however, and he
becomes conciliatory. Will the "ladies promise to be good and
light no more fires in the park?"
Instead, the "ladies" inquire on what charge they are held. Not
even the police captain knows. They wait at the police station to
find out, refusing to give bail unless they are told. Meanwhile
other women address the crowd lingering about the watchfire. The
crowd asks thoughtful questions. Little knots of men can be seen
discussing "what the whole thing is about anyway."
Miss Mildred Morris, one of the participants, overheard
the following discussion in one group composed of an old man, a
young sailor and a young soldier.
"But whatever you think of them," the sailor was telling the
soldier, "you have to admire their sincerity and courage. They've
got to do this thing. They want only what's their right and real
men want to give it to them."
"But they've got no business using a sidewalk in front of the
White House for a bonfire," declared the soldier. "It's disloyal
to the President, I tell you, and if they weren't women I'd slap
"Listen, sonny," said the old man, patting the soldier's arm,
"I'm as loyal to the President as any man alive, but I've got to
admit that he ain't doing the right thing towards these women.
He's forced everything else he's wanted through Congress, and if
he wanted to give these women the vote badly enough he could
force the suffrage amendment through. If you and I were in these
women's places, sonny, we'd act real vicious. We'd want to come
here and clean out the ,whole White House."
"But if the President doesn't want to push their amendment
through, it's his right not to," argued the soldier. "It's
nobody's business how he uses his power."
"Good God!" the sailor burst out. "Why don't you go over and get
a job shining the Kaiser's boots?"
The women were released without bail, since no one was able to
supply a charge. But a thorough research was instituted and out
of the dusty archives some one produced an ancient statute that
would serve the purpose. It prohibits the building of fires in a
public place in the District of Columbia between sunset and
sunrise. And so the beautiful Elizabethan custom of lighting
watchfires as a form of demonstration was forbidden!
In a few days eleven women were brought to trial. There was a
titter in the court room as the prosecuting attorney read
with heavy pomposity the charge against the prisoners "to wit:
That on Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, in the District of
Columbia they did aid and abet in setting fire to certain
combustibles consisting of logs, paper, oil, etc., between the
setting of the sun in the said District of Columbia on the sixth
day of January and the rising of the sun in the said District of
Columbia o f the sixth day o f January, 1919, A. D."
The court is shocked to hear of this serious deed. The prisoners
"Call the names of the prisoners," the judge orders. The clerk
calls, "Julia Emory."
"Julia Emory," he calls a second time.
The clerk tries another name, a second, a third, a fourth. Always
there is silence!
In a benevolent tone, the judge asks the policeman to identify
the prisoners. They identify as many as they can. An attempt is
made to have the prisoners rise and be sworn. They sit.
"We will go on with the testimony," says the judge.
The police testify as to the important details of the crime. They
were on Pennsylvania Avenue they looked at their watch-they
learned it was about 5:30-they saw the ladies in the park putting
wood on fires in urns. "I threw the wood on the pavement; they
kept putting it back," says one policeman. "Each time I tried to
put out the fire they threw on more wood," says another. "They
kept on lighting new fires, and I'd keep putting them out," says
a third with an injured air.
The prosecuting attorney asks an important question, "Did you
command them to stop?"
Policeman-"I did sir, and I said, `You ladies don't want to be
arrested do you?' They made no answer but went on attending to
The statute is read for the second time. Another witness is
called. This time the district attorney asks the policeman, "Do
you know what time the sun in the District of Columbia set on
January 5th and rose on January 6th?"
At this profound question, the policeman hesitates, looks
abashed, then says impressively, "The sun in the District of
Columbia set at 5 o'clock January 5th, and rose at 7:9.8 o'clock
The prosecutor is triumphant. He looks expectantly at the judge.
"How do you know what time the sun rose and set on those days?"
asks the judge.
"From the weather bureau," answers the policeman.
The judge is perplexed.
"I think we should have something more official," he says.
The prosecutor suggests that perhaps an almanac would settle the
question. The judge believes it would. The government attorney
disappears to find an almanac.
Breathless, the prisoners and spectators wait to hear the
important verdict of the almanac. The delay is interminable. The
court room is in a state of confusion. The prisoners, especially,
are amused at the proceedings. It is clear their fate may hang
upon a minute or two of time. An hour goes by, and still the
district attorney has not returned. Another half hour! Presently
he returns to read in heavy tones from the almanac. The policeman
looks embarrassed. His information from the weather bureau
differs from that of the almanac. His sun rose two minutes too
early and continued to shine twelve minutes too long! However, it
doesn't matter. The sun shone long enough to make the defendants
The judge looks at the prisoners and announces that they are
"guilty" and "shall pay a fine of $5.00 or serve five days in
jail." The Administration has learned its lesson about hunger
strikes and evidently fears having to yield to another
strike. And so it seeks safety in lighter sentences. The judge
pleads almost piteously with them not to go to jail at all, and
says that he will put them on probation if they will promise to
be good and not light any more fires in the District of Columbia.
The prisoners make no promise. They have been found guilty
according to the almanac and they file through the little gate
into the prisoners' pen.
Somehow they did not believe that whether the sun rose at 7 :26
or 7:28 was the issue which had decided whether they should be
convicted or not, and it was not in protest against the almanac
that they straightway entered upon a hunger strike.
Meanwhile the watchfires continued in the capital. January
thirteenth, the day the great world Peace Conference under the
President's leadership, began to deliberate on the task of
administering "right" and "justice" to all the oppressed of the
earth, twenty-three women were arrested in front of the White
Another trial! More silent prisoners! They were to be tried this
time in groups. A roar of applause from friends in the courtroom
greeted the first four as they came in. The judge said that he
could not possibly understand the motive for this outburst, and
added, "If it is repeated, I shall consider it contempt of
court." He then ordered the bailiff to escort the four prisoners
out and bring them in again.-Shades of school days!
"And if there is any applause this time . . ."
With this threat still in the air, the prisoners reentered and
the applause was louder than before. Great Confusion! The judge
roared at the bailiff. The bailiff roared at the prisoners and
Finally they rushed to the corners of the courtroom and evicted
three young women.
"Lock the doors, and see that they do not return," shouted
the angry judge. Thus the dignity of the court was restored. But
the group idea had to be abandoned. The prisoners were now
brought in one at a time, and one policeman after another
testified that, "she kep' alightin' and alightin' fires."
Five days' imprisonment for each woman who "kep' alightin"'
On January 25th, in Paris, President Wilson received a delegation
of French working women who urged woman suffrage as one of the
points to be settled at the Peace Conf6rence. The President
expressed admiration for the women of France, and told them of
his deep personal interest in the enfranchisement of women. He
was `honored' and `touched' by their tribute. It was a great
moment for the President. He had won the position in the eyes of
the world of a devout champion of the liberty of women, but at
the very moment he was speaking to these French women American
women were lying in the District of Columbia jail for demanding
liberty at his gates.
Mrs. Mary Nolan, the eldest suffrage prisoner, took to the
watchfire those vain words of the President to the French women.
The flames were just consuming-"All sons of freedom are under
oath to see that freedom never suffers," when a whole squadron of
police dashed up to arrest her. There was a pause when they saw
her age. They drew back for an instant. Then one amongst them,
more "dutiful" than the rest, quietly placed her under arrest. As
she marched along by his side, cheers for her went up from all
parts of the crowd.
"Say what you think about them, but that little old lady has
certainly got pluck," they murmured.
At the bar Mrs. Nolan's beautiful speech provoked irrepressible
applause. The judge ordered as many offenders as could be
recognized brought before him. Thirteen women were hastily
produced. The trial was suspended while the judge
sentenced these thirteen to "forty-eight hours in jail for
contempt of court."
And so, throughout January and the beginning of February, 1919,
the story of protest continued relentlessly. Watchfires-arrests-
convictions-hunger strikes - release - until again the nation
rose in protest against imprisoning the women and against the
Senate's delay. Peremptory cables went to the President at the
Peace Conference, commanding him to act. News of our
demonstrations were well reported in the Paris press. The
situation must have again seemed serious to him, for although
reluctantly and perhaps unwillingly, he did begin to cable to
Senate leaders, who in turn began to act. On February 2d, the
Democratic Suffrage Senators called a meeting at the Capitol to
"consider ways and means." On February 3d, Senator Jones
announced in the Senate that the amendment would be-brought up
for discussion February 10th. The following evening, February
4th, a caucus of all Democratic Senators was called together at
the Capitol by Senator Martin of Virginia, Democratic floor
leader in the Senate. This was the first Democratic caucus held
in the Senate since war was declared, which would seem to point
to the anxiety of the Democrats to marshal two votes.
Several hours of very passionate debate occurred, during which
Senator Pollock of South Carolina announced for the first time
his support of the measure.
Senator Pollock had yielded to pressure by cable from the
President as well as to the caucus. This gain of one vote had
reduced the number of votes lacking to one.
Many Democratic leaders now began to show alarm lest the last
vote be not secured. William Jennings Bryan was one leader who,
rightly alarmed over such a situation, personally consulted with
the Democratic opponents. The argument which he presented to them
he subsequently gave to the press.
"Woman suffrage is coming to the country and to the world. It
will be submitted to the states by the next Congress, if it is
not submitted by the present Congress.
"I hope the Democrats of the South will not handicap the
Democrats of the North by compelling them to spend the next
twenty-five years explaining to the women of the country why
their party prevented the submission of the suffrage amendment to
"This is our last chance to play an important part in bringing
about this important reform, and it is of vital political concern
that the Democrats of the Northern Mississippi Valley should not
be burdened by the charge that our party prevented the passage of
the suffrage amendment, especially when it is known that it is
coming in spite of, if not with the aid of, the Democratic
As we grew nearer the last vote the President was meeting what
was perhaps his most bitter resistance from within. It was a
situation which he could have prevented. His own early hostility,
his later indifference and negligence, his actual protection
given to Democratic opponents of the measure, his own reversal of
policy practically at the point of a pistol, the half-hearted
efforts made by him on its behalf, were all coming to fruition at
the moment when his continued prestige was at stake. His power to
get results on this because of belated efforts was greatly
weakened. This also undermined his power in other undertakings
essential to his continued prestige. Whereas more effort, at an
earlier time, would have brought fairer results, now the
opponents were solidified in their opposition, were through their
votes publicly committed to the nation as opponents, and were
unwilling to sacrifice their heavy dignity to a public reversal
of their votes. This presented a formidable resistance, indeed.
Therefore the Democratic blockade continued.
And so did the watchfires !
Burned in Effigy
The suffrage score now stood as follows: One vote lacking in the
Senate, 15 days in which to win it, and President Wilson across
the sea! The Democrats set February 10 as the date on which the
Senate would again vote on the amendment, without any plan as to
how the last vote would be won.
We were powerless to secure the last vote. That was still the
President's problem. Knowing that he always put forth more effort
under fire of protest from us than when not pressed, we decided
to make as a climax to our watchfire demonstrations a more
drastic form of protest. We wanted to show our contempt for the
President's inadequate support which promised so much in words
and which did so little in deeds to match the words.
And so on the day preceding the vote we burned in effigy a
portrait of President Wilson even as the Revolutionary fathers
had burned a portrait of King George.
This is the inscription on a tablet at the State House, Dover
Green, Dover, in commemoration of Delaware's revolutionary
Signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Caeser Rodney-Thomas McKain-George Read
At the urgent request of Thomas McKain, Caesar Rodney being then
in Delaware, rode post haste on horseback to Philadelphia and
reached Independence Hall July 4, 1776.
The following day news of the adoption of the Declaration of
Independence reaching Dover a portrait of King George was burned
on Dover Green at the order of the Committee of Safety. The
following historic words being uttered by the chairman:
"Compelled by strong necessity thus we destroy even the shadow of
that king who refused to reign over a free people."
A hundred women marched with banners to the center of the
sidewalk opposite the White House. Mingling with the party's tri-
colored banners were two lettered ones which read:
ONLY FIFTEEN LEGISLATIVE DAYS ARE LEFT IN THIS CONGRESS.
FOR MORE THAN A YEAR THE PRESIDENT'S PARTY HAS BLOCKED SUFFRAGE
IN THE SENATE.
IT IS BLOCKING IT TODAY.
THE PRESIDENT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BETRAYAL OF AMERICAN
WHY DOES NOT THE PRESIDENT INSURE THE PASSAGE OF SUFFRAGE IN THE
WHY DOES HE NOT WIN FROM HIS PARTY THE ONE VOTE NEEDED?
HAS HE AGREED TO PERMIT SUFFRAGE AGAIN TO BE PUSHED ASIDE?
PRESIDENT WILSON IS DECEIVING THE WORLD.
HE PREACHES DEMOCRACY ABROAD AND THWARTS DEMOCRACY HERE.
As the marchers massed their banners, and grouped themselves
about the urn, a dense crowd of many thousand people closed in
about them, a crowd so interested that it stood almost motionless
for two hours while the ceremonies continued. The fire being
kindled, and the flames leaping into the air, Miss Sue White of
Tennessee and Mrs. Gabrielle Harris of South Carolina dropped
into the fire in the urn a figure of President Wilson sketched on
paper in black and white -a sort of effigy de luxe, we called it,
but a symbol of our contempt none the less.
Mrs. Henry O. Havemeyer of New York, life-long suffragist and
woman of affairs, said as master of the ceremonies, "Every
Anglo-Saxon government in the world has enfranchised its women.
In Russia, in Hungary, in Austria, in Germany itself, the women
are completely enfranchised, and thirty-four women are now
sitting in the new Reichstag. We women of America are assembled
here to-day to voice our deep indignation that . . . American
women are still deprived of a voice in their government at home.
We mean to show that the President . . . ." She was caught by the
arm, placed under arrest, and forced into the waiting patrol
Thereupon the police fell upon the ceremonies, and indiscriminate
arrests followed. Women with banners were taken; women without
banners were taken. Women attempting to guard the fire; women
standing by doing nothing at all; all were seized upon and rushed
to the patrol. While this uproar was going on, others attempted
to continue the speaking where Mrs. Havemeyer had left it, but
each was apprehended as she made her attempt. Some that had been
scheduled to speak, but were too shy to utter a word in the
excitement, were also taken. When the "Black Marias" were all
filled to capacity, nearby automobiles were commandeered, and
more patrols summoned. And still not even half the women were
The police ceased their raids suddenly. Orders to arrest no more
had evidently been given. Some one must have suggested that a
hundred additions to the already overcrowded jail and workhouse
would be too embarrassing. Perhaps the ruse of arresting some,
and hoping the others would scamper away at the sight of
authority, was still in their minds.
After a brief respite they turned their attention to the
fascinated crowd. They succeeded in forcing back these masses of
people half way across Pennsylvania Avenue, and stationed an
officer every two feet in front of them. But still women came to
keep the fire burning. Was there no end of this battalion of
women? The police finally declared a "military zone" between the
encircling crowd and the remaining
women, and no person was allowed to enter the proscribed area.
For, another hour, then, the women stood on guard at the urn, and
as night fell, the ceremonies ended. Sixty of them marched back
to headquarters. Thirty-nine had been arrested.
The following morning, February 10th, saw two not unrelated
scenes in the capital. Senators were gathering in their seats in
the senate chamber to answer. to the roll call on the suffrage
amendment. A few blocks away in the courthouse, thirty-nine women
were being tried for their protest of the previous day.
There was no uncertainty either in the minds of the galleries or
of the senators. Every one knew that we still lacked one vote.
The debate was confined to two speeches, one for and one against.
When the roll was called, there were voting and paired in favor
of the amendment, 63 senators; there were voting and paired
against the amendment 83 senators. The amendment lost therefore,
by one vote. Of the 63 favorable votes 62 were Republicans and 31
Democrats. Of the 33 adverse votes 12 were Republicans and 21
Democrats. This means that of the 44 Republicans in the Senate,
32 or 73 per cent voted for the amendment. Of the 52 Democrats in
the Senate 31 or 60 per cent voted for it. And so it was again
defeated by the opposition of the Democratic Administration, and
by the failure of the President to put behind it enough power to
Meanwhile another burlesque of justice dragged wearily on in the
dim courtroom. The judge was sentencing thirty-nine women to
prison. When the twenty-sixth had been reached, he said wearily,
"How many more are out there?"
When told that he had tried only two-thirds of the defendants, he
dismissed the remaining thirteen without trial!
They were as guilty as their colleagues. But the judge was tired.
Twenty-six women sent to jail is a full judicial day's work, I
There was some rather obvious shame and unhappiness in the Senate
because of the petty thing they had done. The prisoners in the
courtroom were proud because they had done their utmost for the
principle in which they believed.
Senator Jones of New Mexico, Chairman of the Committee, and his
Democratic colleagues refused to reintroduce the Susan B. Anthony
amendment in the Senate immediately after this defeat. But on
Monday, February 17, Senator Jones of Washington, ranking
Republican on the Suffrage Committee, obtained unanimous consent
and reintroduced it, thereby placing it once more on its way to
Boston Militants Welcome the President
It was announced that the President would return to America on
February 24th. That would leave seven days in which he could act
before the session ended on March 3d. We determined to make
another dramatic effort to move him further.
Boston was to be the President's landing place. Boston, where
ancient liberties are so venerated, and modern ones so abridged.
No more admirable place could have been found to welcome the
President home in true militant fashion.
Wishing the whole world to know that women were greeting
President Wilson, why they were greeting him, and what form of
demonstration the greetings would assume, we announced our plans
in advance. Upon his arrival a line of pickets would hold banners
silently calling to the President's attention the demand for his
effective aid. In the afternoon they would hold a meeting in
Boston Common and there burn the parts of the President's Boston
speech which should pertain to democracy and liberty. These
announcements were met with official alarm of almost unbelievable
extent. Whereas front pages had been given over heretofore to
publishing the elaborate plans for the welcome to be extended to
the President, eulogies of the President, and recitals of his
great triumph abroad, now the large proportion of this space was
devoted to clever plans of the police to outwit the suffragists.
The sustained publicity of this demonstration was unprecedented.
It actually filled the Boston papers for all of two weeks.
A "deadline," a diagram of which appeared in the press, was to be
established beyond which no suffragist, no matter how
enterprising, could penetrate to harass the over-worked President
with foolish ideas about the importance of liberty for women. Had
not this great man the cares of the world on his shoulders? This
was no time to talk about liberty for women! The world was
rocking and a great peace conference was sitting, and the
President was just returning to report on the work done so far.
The Boston descendants of the early revolutionists would do their
utmost to see that no untoward event should mar the perfection of
their plans. They would see to it that the sacred soil of the old
Boston Common should not be
It was a perfect day. Lines of marines whose trappings shone
brilliantly in the clear sunshine were in formation to hold back
the crowds from the Reviewing stand where the President should
appear after heading the procession in his honor. It seemed as if
all Boston were on hand for the welcome. A slender file of
twenty-two women marched silently into the sunshine, slipped
through the 'deadline," and made its way to the base` of the
Reviewing stand. There it unfurled its beautiful banners and took
up its post directly facing the line of marines which was
supposed to keep all suffragists at bay. Quite calmly and yet
triumphantly, they stood there, a pageant of beauty and defiant
appeal, which not even the most hurried passerby could fail to
see and comprehend.
There were consultations by the officials in charge of the
ceremonies. The women looked harmless enough, but had they not
been told that they must not come there? They were causing no
riot, in fact they were clearly adding much beauty. People seemed
to take them as part of the elaborate ceremony but officials
seldom have sense of humor enough or adaptability enough to
change quickly, especially when they have made
threats. It would be a taint on their honor, if they did not
"pick up" the women for the deed.
One could hear the people reading slowly the large lettered
MR. PRESIDENT, YOU SAID IN THE SENATE ON SEPTEMBER 20 "WE SHALL
NOT ONLY BE DISTRUSTED BUT WE SHALL DESERVE TO BE DISTRUSTED IF
WE DO NOT ENFRANCHISE WOMEN." YOU ALONE CAN REMOVE THIS DISTRUST
NOW BY SECURING THE ONE VOTE NEEDED TO PASS THE SUFFRAGE
AMENDMENT BEFORE MARCH 4.
The American flag carried by Miss Katherine Morey of Brookline
held the place of honor at the head of the line and there were
the familiar, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for
liberty?" and "Mr. President, what will you do for woman
suffrage?" The other banners were simply purple, white and gold.
"When we had stood there about three quarters of an hour," said
Katherine Morey, "Superintendent Crowley came to me and said, `We
want to be as nice as we can to you suffragette ladies, but you
cannot stand here while the President goes by, so you might as
well go back now.' I said I was sorry, but as we had come simply
to be there at that very time, we would not be able to go back
until the President had gone by. He thereupon made a final appeal
to Miss Paul, who was at headquarters, but she only repeated our
statement. The patrol wagons were hurried to the scene and the
arrests were executed in an exceedingly gentlemanly manner. But
the effect on the crowd was electric. The sight of `ladies' being
put into patrols, seemed to thrill the Boston masses as nothing
the President subsequently said was able to.
"We were taken to the House of Detention and there charged with
`loitering more than seven minutes'."
As Mrs. Agnes H. Morey, Massachusetts Chairman of the Woman's
Party, later remarked:
"It is a most extraordinary thing. Thousands loitered from
curiosity on the day the President arrived. Twenty-two loitered
for liberty, and only those who loitered for liberty were
Realizing that the event of the morning had diverted public
attention to our issue, and undismayed by the arrests, other
women entered the lists to sustain public attention upon our
demand to the President.
The ceremony on the Common began at three o'clock. Throngs of
people packed in closely in an effort to hear the speakers, and
to catch a glimpse of the ceremony, presided over by Mrs. Louise
Sykes of Cambridge, whose late husband was President of the
Connecticut College for Women. From three o'clock until six,
women explained the purpose of the protest, the status of the
amendment, and urged those present to help. At six o'clock came
the order to arrest. Mrs. C. C. Jack, wife of Professor Jack of
Harvard University, Mrs. Mortimer Warren of Boston, whose husband
was head of a base hospital in France, and Miss Elsie Hill,
daughter of the late Congressman Hill, were arrested and were
taken to the House of Detention, where they joined their
"Dirty, filthy hole under the Court House," was the general
characterization of the House of Detention. "Jail was a Paradise
compared to this depraved place," said Miss Morey. "We slept in
our clothes, four women to a cell, on iron shelves two feet wide.
In the cell was an open toilet. The place slowly filled up during
the night with drunks and disorderlies until pandemonium reigned.
In the evening, Superintendent Crowley and Commissioner Curtis
came to call on us. I don't believe they had ever been there
before, and they were painfully embarrassed. Superintendent
Crowley said to me, "If you were
drunk we could release you in the morning, but unfortunately
since you are not we have got to take you into court."
When the prisoners were told next morning the decision of Chief
Justice Bolster to try each prisoner separately and in closed
court, they all protested against such proceedings. But guards
took the women by force to a private room. "The Matron, who was
terrified," said Miss Morey, "shouted to the guards, `You don't
handle the drunks that way. You know you don't.' But they
continued to push, shove and shake the women while forcing them
to the ante room."
"As an American citizen under arrest, I demand a public trial,"
was the statement of each on entering the judge's private trial
While the trial was proceeding without the women's cooperation;
some were tried under wrong names, some were tried more than once
under different names, but most of them under the name of Jane
Doe-vigorous protests were being made to all the city officials
by individuals among the throngs who had come to the court house
to attend the trial. This protest was so strong that the last
three women were tried in open court. The judge sentenced
everybody impartially to eight days in j ail in lieu of fines,
with the exception of Miss Wilma Henderson, who was released when
it was learned that she was a minor.
The women were taken to the Charles Street Jail to serve their
sentences. "The cells were immaculately clean," said Miss Morey,
"but there was one feature of this experience which obliterated
all its advantages. The cells were without modern toilet
facilities. The toilet equipment consisted of a heavy wooden
bucket, about two and a half feet high and a foot and a half in
diameter, half filled with water. No one of us will ever forget
that foul bucket. It had to be carried to the lower floor-we were
on the third and fourth floors-every morning. I could hardly lift
mine off the floor, to say nothing of getting
it down stairs (Miss Morey weighs 98 pounds), so there it stayed.
Berry Pottier managed to get hers down, but was so exhausted she
was utterly unable to get it back to her cell.
"The other toilet facility provided was a smaller bucket of water
to wash in, but it was of such a strangely unpleasant odor that
we did not dare use it."
The Boston reporters were admitted freely-and they wrote columns
of copy. There was the customary ridicule, but there were
friendly light touches such as, "Militant Highlights-To be
roommates at Vassar College and then to meet again as cellmates
was the experience of Miss Elsie Hill and Mrs. Lois Warren Shaw."
. . . "Superintendent Kelleher didn't know when he was in
Congress with Elsie Hill's father he would some day have
Congressman Hill's daughter in his jail."
And there were friendly serious touches in these pages of
sensational news-such as this excerpt from the front page of the
Boston Traveler of February 25, 1919. "The reporter admired the
spirit of the women. Though weary from loss of sleep, the fire of
a great purpose burned in their eyes . . . .
"It was a sublime forgetting of self for the goal ahead, and
whether the reader is in sympathy with the principle for which
these women are ready to suffer or not, he will be forced to
admire the spirit which leads them on."
Photographs of the women were printed day by day giving their
occupations, if any, noting their revolutionary ancestors,
ascertaining the attitude of husbands and fathers. Mrs. Shaw's
husband's telegram was typical of the support the women got.
"Don't be quitters," he wired, "I have competent nurses to look
after the children." Mr. Shaw is a Harvard graduate and a
successful manufacturer in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Telegrams of protest from all over the country poured in upon all
the Boston officials who had had any point of contact with the
militants. All other work was for the moment sus-
pended. Such is the quality of Mrs. Morey's organizing genius
that she did not let a solitary official escape. Telegrams also
went from Boston, and especially from the jail, to President
Official Boston was in the grip of this militant invasion when
suddenly a man of mystery, one E. J. Howe, appeared and paid the
women's fines. It was later discovered that the mysterious E. J.
Howe alleged to have acted for a "client." Whether the "client"
was a part of Official Boston, no one ever knew. There were
rumors that the city wished to end its embarrassment.
Sedate Boston had been profoundly shaken. Sedate Boston gave more
generously than ever before to militant finances. And when the
"Prison Special" arrived a few days later a Boston theatre was
filled to overflowing with a crowd eager to hear more about their
local heroines, and to cheer them while they were decorated with
the already famous prison pin.
Something happened in Washington, too, after the President's safe
journey thither from Boston.
Democratic Congress Ends
It would be folly to say that President Wilson was not at this
time aware of a very damning situation.
The unanswerable "Prison Special"-a special car of women
prisoners-was touring the country from coast to coast to keep the
public attention, during the closing days of the session, fixed
upon the suffrage situation in the Senate. The prisoners were
addressing enormous meetings and arousing thousands, especially
in the South, to articulate condemnation of Administration
tactics. It is impossible to calculate the number of cables
which, as a result of this sensational tour, reached the
President during his deliberations at the Peace Table. The
messages of protest which did not reach the President at the
Peace Conference were waiting for him on his desk at the White
Even if some conservative Boston suffragists did present him with
a beautiful bouquet of jonquils tied with a yellow ribbon, as
their welcome home, will any one venture to say that that token
of trust was potent enough to wipe from his consciousness the
other welcome which led his welcomers to jail? Will any one
contend that President Wilson upon his arrival in Washington, and
after changing his clothes, piously remarked:
"By the way, Tumulty, I want to show you some jonquils tied with
a yellow ribbon that were presented to me in Boston. I am moved,
I think I may say deeply moved by this sincere tribute, to do
something this morning for woman suffrage.
Just what is the state of affairs? And does there seem to be any
great demand for it?" We do not know what, if anything, he did
say to Secretary Tumulty, but we know what he did. He hurried
over to the Capitol, and there made his first official business a
conference with Senator Jones of New Mexico, Chairman of the
Senate Suffrage Committee. After expressing chagrin over the
failure of the measure in the Senate, the President discussed
ways and means of getting it through.
An immediate result of the conference was the introduction in the
Senate, February 28th, by Senator Jones, of another resolution on
suffrage. Senator Jones had refused to reintroduce the original
suffrage resolution immediately after the Senate defeat, February
10th. Now he came forward with this one, a little differently
worded, but to the same purpose as the original amendment.
This resolution was a concession to Senator Gay of Louisiana,
Democrat, who had voted against the measure on February 10th, but
who immediately pledged his vote in favor of the new resolution.
Thus the sixty-fourth and last vote was won. The majority
instantly directed its efforts toward getting a vote on the new
On March 1st Senator Jones attempted to get unanimous consent to
consider it. Senator Wadsworth, of New York, Republican anti-
suffragist, objected. When consent was again asked, the following
day, Senator Weeks of Massachusetts, Republican anti-suffragist,
objected. On the last day of the session, Senator Sherman of
Illinois, Republican suffragist, objected. And so the Democratic
Congress ended without passing the amendment.
On the face of it, these parliamentary objections from
Republicans prevented action, when the Democrats had finally
This amendment, although to the same purpose as the original
amendment, was not as satisfactory because of possible
controversial points in the enforcement article. The original
amendment is of course crystal clear in this regard.
secured the necessary votes. As a matter of fact, however, the
President and his party were responsible for subjecting the
amendment to the tactical obstruction of individual anti-suffrage
Senators. They waited until the last three days to make the
supreme effort. That the President did finally get the last vote
even at a moment when parliamentary difficulties prevented it
from being voted upon, proved our contention that he could pass
the amendment at any time he set himself resolutely to it. This
last ineffective effort also proved how hard the President had
been pushed by our tactics.
But it seems to me that President Wilson has a pathetic aptitude
for acting a little too late. The fact that the majority of the
Southern contingent in his party stood stubbornly against him on
woman suffrage, was of course a real obstacle. But we contended
that the business of a statesman who declared himself to be a
friend of a measure was to remove even real obstacles to the
success of that measure. Perhaps our standard was too high. It
must be confessed that people in general are distressingly
patient, easily content with pronouncements, and shockingly inert
about seeing to it that political leaders act as they speak.
We had seen the President overcome far greater obstacles than
stood in his way on this issue. We had seen him lead a country
which had voted to stay out of the European war into battle
almost immediately after they had so voted. We had seen him
conscript the men of the same stubborn South, which had been
conspicuously opposed to conscription. We had seen him win
mothers to his war point of view after they had fought
passionately for him and his peace program at election time. He
had taken pains to lead men and women influential and obscure to
his way of thinking. I do not condemn him-I respect him for being
able to do this. The point is that he dirt overcome obstacles
when his heart and head were set to the task.
Since our problem was neither in his head nor his heart, it was
our task to put it there. Having got it there, it was our -
responsibility to see that it churned and churned there, until he
had to act. We did our utmost.
For six full years, through three Congresses under President
Wilson's power, the continual Democratic resistance, meandering,
delays, deceits had left us still disfranchised. A world war had
come and gone during this span of effort. Vast millions had died
in pursuit of liberty. A Czar and a Kaiser had been deposed. The
Russian people had revolutionized their whole social and economic
system. And here in the United States of America we couldn't even
wrest from the leader of democracy and his poor miserable
associates the first step toward our political liberty-the
passage of an amendment through Congress, submitting the question
of democracy to the states!
What a magnificent thing it was for those women to rebel! Their
solitary steadfastness to their objective stands out in this
world of confused ideals and half hearted actions, clear and
lonely and superb!
A Farewell to President Wilson
The Republican Congress elected in November, 1918, would not sit
until December, 1919-such is our unfortunate system-unless called
together by the President in a special session. We had polled the
new Congress by personal interviews and by post, and found a safe
two-thirds majority for the amendment in the House. In the new
Senate we still lacked a fateful one vote.
Our task was, therefore, to induce the President to call a
special session of Congress at the earliest possible moment, and
to see that he did not relax his efforts toward the last vote.
"He won't do it!" . . ."President Wilson will never let the
Republican Congress come together until the regular time." . . .
"Especially with himself in Europe!" The usual points of
objection were raised. But we persisted. We felt that the
President could win this last vote. And the fear that a
Republican Congress might, if he did not, was an accelerating
One feature of the campaign to force a special session was a
demonstration in New York, on the eve of President Wilson's
return to Europe, at the time he addressed a mass meeting in the
Metropolitan Opera House on behalf of his proposed League of
Nations. The plan of demonstration was to hold outside of the
Opera House banners addressed to President Wilson, and to consign
his speech to the flames of a torch at a public meeting nearby.
It was a clear starry night in March when the picket line of 26
women proceeded with tri-colored banners from New York
headquarters in Forty-first street to the Opera House. As we
neared the corner of the street opposite the Opera House and
before we could cross the street a veritable battalion of
policemen in close formation rushed us with unbelievable
ferocity. Not a word was spoken by a single officer of the two
hundred policemen in the attack to indicate the nature of our
offense. Clubs were raised and lowered and the women beaten back
with such cruelty as none of us had ever witnessed before.
The women clung to their heavy banner poles, trying to keep the
banners above the maelstrom. But the police seized them, tore the
pennants, broke the poles, some of them over our backs, trampled
them underfoot, pounded us, dragged us, and in every way behaved
like frantic beasts. It would have been so simple quietly to
detain our little handful until after the President's speech, if
that seemed necessary. But to launch this violent attack under
the circumstances was madness. Not a pedestrian had paid any
except friendly attention to the slender file of women. But the
moment this happened an enormous crowd gathered, made up mostly
of soldiers and sailors, many of whom had just returned from
abroad and were temporarily thronging the streets of New York.
They joined forces with the police in the attack.
Miss Margaretta Schuyler, a beautiful, fragile young girl, was
holding fast a silken American flag which she had carried at the
head of the procession when a uniformed soldier jumped upon her,
twisted her arms until she cried in pain, cursed, struggled until
he had torn her flag from its pole, and then broke the pole
across her head, exulting in his triumph over his frailer victim.
When I appealed to the policeman, who was at the moment occupied
solely with pounding me on the back, to intercept the
soldier in his cruel attack, his only reply was: "Oh, he's
helping me." He thereupon resumed his beating of me and I cried,
"Shame, shame! Aren't you ashamed to beat American women in this
brutal way?" I offered no other resistance. "If we are breaking
any law, arrest us! Don't beat us in this cowardly fashion!"
"We'll rush you like bulls," was his vulgar answer, "we've only
Another young woman, an aviatrice, was seized by the coat collar
and thrown to the pavement for trying to keep hold of her banner.
Her fur cap was the only thing that saved her skull from serious
injury. As it was, she was trampled under foot and her face
severely cut before we could rescue her with the assistance of a
sympathetic member of the crowd. The sympathetic person was
promptly attacked by the policeman for helping his victim to her
feet. There were many shouts of disapproval of the police conduct
and many cheers for the women from the dense crowd.
By this time the crowd had massed itself so thickly that we could
hardly move an inch. It was perfectly apparent that we could
neither make our way to the Opera House nor could we extricate
ourselves. But the terrors continued. Women were knocked down and
trampled under foot, some of them almost unconscious, others
bleeding from the hands and face; arms were bruised and twisted;
pocketbooks were snatched and wrist-watches stolen.
When it looked as if the suffocating melee would result in the
death or permanent injury to some of us, I was at last dragged by
a policeman to the edge of the crowd. Although I offered not the
slightest resistance, I was crushed continuously in the arm by
the officer who walked me to the police station, and kept
muttering: "You're a bunch of cannibals, cannibals,-Bolsheviks."
Upon arriving at the police station I was happily relieved
to find eve of my comrades already there. We were all impartially
cursed at; told to stand up; told to sit down; forbidden to speak
to one another; forbidden even to smile at one another. One ' by
one we were called to the desk to give our name, age, and various
other pieces of information. We stood perfectly silent before the
station lieutenant as he coaxingly said, "You'd better tell."-
"You'd better give us your name." "You'd better tell us where you
live-it will make things easier for you." But we continued our
Disorderly conduct, interfering with the police, assaulting the
police (Shades of Heaven! assaulting the police!), were the
charges entered against us.
We were all locked in separate cells and told that we would be
taken to the Woman's Night Court for immediate trial.
While pondering on what was happening to our comrades and
wondering if they, too, would be arrested, or if they would just
be beaten up by the police and mob, a large, fat jail matron came
up and began to deliver a speech, which, ran something like this:
"Now, shure and you ladies must know that this is goin' a bit too
far. Now, I'm for suffrage alright, and I believe women ought to
vote, but why do you keep botherin' the President? Don't you know
he has got enough to think about with the League of Nations, the
Peace Conference and fixin' up the whole world on his mind?"
In about half an hour we were taken from our cells and brought
before the Lieutenant, who now announced, "Well, you ladies may
go now,-I have just received a telephone order to release you."
We accepted the news and jubilantly left the station house,
returning at once to our comrades. There the battle was still
going on, and as we joined them we were again dragged and cuffed
about the streets by the police and their aids, but there
were no more arrests. Elsie Hill succeeded in speaking from a
balcony above the heads of the crowd:
"Did you men turn back when you saw the Germans coming? What
would you have thought of any one who did? Did you expect us to
turn back? We never turn back, either and we won't until
democracy is won! Who rolled bandages for you when you were
suffering abroad? Who bound your wounds in your fight for
democracy? Who spent long hours of the night and the day knitting
you warm garments? There are women here to-night attempting to
hold banners to remind the President that democracy is not won at
home; who have given their sons and husbands for your fight
abroad. What would they say if they could see you, their comrades
in the fight over there, attacking their mothers, their sisters,
their wives over here? Aren't you ashamed that you have not
enough sporting blood to allow us to make our fight in our own
way? Aren't you ashamed that you accepted the help of women in
your fight, and now to-night brutally attack them?"
And they did listen until the police, in formation-looking now
like wooden toys-advanced from both sides of the street and
succeeded in entirely cutting off the crowd from Miss Hill.
The meeting thus broken up, we abandoned a further attempt that
night. As our little, bannerless procession filed slowly back to
headquarters, hoodlums followed us. The police of course gave us
no protection and just as we were entering the door of our own
building a rowdy struck me on the side of the head with a heavy
banner pole. The blow knocked me senseless against the stone
building; my hat was snatched from my head, and burned in the
street. We entered the building to find that soldiers and sailors
had been periodically rushing it in our absence, dragging out
bundles of our banners, amounting to many hundreds of dollars,
and burning them in the street, without any protest from the
One does not undergo such an experience without arriving
at some inescapable truths, a discussion of which would interest
me deeply but which would be irrelevant in this narrative.
"Two hundred maddened women try to see the President" . . . "Two
hundred women attack the police," and similar false headlines,
appeared the next morning in the New York papers. It hurt to have
the world think that we had attacked the police. That was a
slight matter, however, for that morning at breakfast, aboard the
George Washington, the President also read the New York papers.
He saw that we were not submitting in silence to his inaction. It
seems reasonable to assume that on sailing down the harbor that
morning past the Statue of Liberty the President had some trouble
to banish from his mind the report that "two hundred maddened
women" had tried to "make the Opera House last night."
President Wilson Wins the 64th Vote in Paris
The "Prison Special," which was nearing the end of its dramatic
tour, was arousing the people to call for a special session of
Congress, as the President sailed away.
Although a Republican Congress had been elected, President
Wilson, as the head of the Administration, was still responsible
for initiating and guiding legislation. We had to see to it that,
with his Congress out of ,power, he did not relax his efforts on
behalf of the amendment.
There was this situation which we were able to use to our
advantage. Two new Democratic Senators, Senator Harrison of
Mississippi and Senator Harris of Georgia, had been elected to
sit in the incoming Congress through the President's influence.
He, therefore, had very specific power over these two men, who
were neither committed against suffrage by previous votes nor
were they yet won to the amendment.
We immediately set ourselves to the task of getting the President
to win one of these men. From the election of these two men in
the autumn to early spring, constant pressure was put upon the
President to this end. When we could see no activity on the part
of the President to secure the support of one of them, we again
threatened publicly to resume dramatic protests against him. We
kept the idea abroad that he was still responsible, and that we
would continue to hold him so, until the amendment was passed.
Such a situation gave friends of the Administration con-
siderable alarm. They realized that the slightest attack on the
President at that moment would jeopardize his many other
endeavors. And so these friends of the President undertook to
acquaint him with the facts.
Senator Harris was happily in Europe at the time. A most anxious
cable, signed by politicians in his own party, was sent to the
President in Paris explaining the serious situation and urging
him to do his utmost to secure the vote of the Senator at once.
Senator Harris was in Italy when he received an unexpected
telegram asking him to come to Paris. He journeyed with all speed
to the President, perhaps even thinking that he was about to be
dispatched to some foreign post, to learn that the conference was
for the purpose of securing his vote on the national suffrage
Senator Harris there and then gave his vote, the 64th vote.
On that day the passage by Congress of the original Susan B.
Anthony amendment was assured.
Instantly a cable was received at the White House carrying news
to the suffragists of the final capture of the elusive last vote.
Following immediately on the heels of this cable came another
cable calling the new Congress into special session May 19th.
In the light of the President's gradual yielding and final
surrender to our demand, it will not be out of place to summarize
briefly just what happened.
President Wilson began his career as President of the United
States an anti-suffragist. He was opposed to suffrage for women
both by principle and political expediency. Sometimes I think he
regarded suffragists as a kind of sect-good women, no doubt, but
tiresome and troublesome. Whether he has yet come to see the
suffrage battle as part of a great movement embracing the world
is still a question. It is not an
important question, for in any case it was not inward conviction
but political necessity that made him act.
Believing then that suffragists were a sect, he said many things
to them at first with no particular care as to the bearing of
these things upon political theory or events. He offered,
successively, "consideration," an "open mind," a "closed mind,"
and "age-long conviction deeply matured," party limitations,
party concert of action, and what not. He saw in suffrage the
"tide rising to meet the moon," but waited and advised us to wait
with him. But we did not want to wait, and we proceeded to try to
make it impossible for him to wait, either. We determined to make
action upon this issue politically expedient for him.
When the President began to perceive the potential political
power of women voters, he first declared, as a "private citizen,"
that suffrage was all right for the women of his home state, New
Jersey, but that it was altogether wrong to ask him as President
to assist in bringing it about for all the women of the nation.
He also interested himself in writing the suffrage plank in the
Democratic Party's national platform, specifically relegating
action on suffrage to the states. Then he calmly announced that
he could not act nationally, "even if I wanted to," because the
platform had spoken otherwise.
The controversy was lengthened. The President's conspicuous
ability for sitting still and doing nothing on a controversial
issue until both sides have exhausted their ammunition was never
better illustrated than in this matter. He allowed the
controversy to continue to the point of intellectual sterility.
He buttressed his delays with more evasions, until finally the
women intensified their demand for action. They picketed his
official gates. But the President still recoiled from action. So
mightily did he recoil from it that he was willing to imprison
women for demanding it.
It is not extraordinary to resent being called upon to act,
for it is only the exceptional person who springs to action, even
when action is admitted to be desirable and necessary. And the
President is not exceptional. He is surprisingly ordinary.
While the women languished in prison, he fell back upon words-
beautiful words, too expressions of friendliness, good wishes,
hopes, and may-I-nots. In this, too, he was acting like an
ordinary human being, not like the statesman he was reputed to
be. He had habituated himself to a belief in the power of words,
and every time he uttered them to us he seemed to refortify
himself in his belief in their power.
It was the women, not the President, who were exceptional. They
refused to accept words. They persisted in demanding acts. Step
by step under terrific gunfire the President's resistance
crumbled, and he yielded, one by one, every minor facility to the
measure, always withholding from us, however, the main objective.
Not until he had exhausted all minor facilities, and all possible
evasions, did he publicly declare that the amendment should pass
the House, and put it through. When he had done that we rested
from the attack momentarily, in order to let him consummate with
grace, and not under fire, the passage of the amendment in the
Senate. He rested altogether. We were therefore compelled to
renew the attack. He countered at first with more words. But his
reliance upon them was perceptibly shaken when we burned them in
public bonfires. He then moved feebly but with a growing concern
toward getting additional votes in the Senate. And when, as an
inevitable result of his policy-and ours-the political
embarrassment became too acute, calling into question his honor
and prestige, he covertly began to consult his colleagues. We
pushed him the harder. He moved the faster toward concrete
endeavor. He actually undertook to win the final votes in the
There he found, however, that quite an alarming situation
had developed-a situation which he Should have anticipated, but
for which he was totally unprepared. Opposition in his own party
had been growing more and more rigid and cynical. His own
opposition to the amendment, his grant of immunity to those
leaders in his party who had fought the measure, his isolating
himself from those who might have helped-all this was coming to
fruition among his subordinates at a time when he could least
afford to be beaten on anything. What would have been a fairly
easy race to win, if he had begun running at the pistol shot, had
now become most difficult.
Perceiving that he had now not only to move himself, but also to
overcome the obstacle which he had allowed to develop, we
increased the energy of our attack. And finally the President
made a supreme assertion of his power, and secured the last and
64th vote in the Senate. He did this too late to get the
advantage-if any advantage is to be gained from granting a just
thing at the point of a gun-for this last vote arrived only in
time for a Republican Congress to use it.
It seems to me that Woodrow Wilson was neither devil nor God in
his manner of meeting the demand of the suffragists. There has
persisted an astounding myth that he is an extraordinary man. Our
experience proved the contrary. He behaved toward us like a very
ordinary politician. Unnecessarily cruel or weakly tolerant,
according as you view the justice of our fight, but a politician,
not a statesman. He did not go out to meet the tide which he
himself perceived was "rising to meet the moon" That would have
been statesmanship. He let it all but engulf him before he acted.
And even as a politician he failed, for his tactics resulted in
the passage of the amendment by a Republican Congress.
Republican Congress Passes Amendment
The Republican Congress convened in Special Session May 19.
Instantly Republican leaders in control of the 66th Congress
caucused and organized for a prompt passage of the amendment. May
21st the Republican House of Representatives passed the measure
by a vote of 304 to 89-the first thing of any importance done by
the new House. This was 42 votes above the required two-thirds
majority, whereas the vote in the House in January, 1918, under
Democratic control had given the measure only one vote more than
Immediately the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution
calling on the legislatures of the various states to hold special
legislative sessions where necessary, to ratify the amendment as
soon as it was through Congress, in order to "enable women to
vote in the national elections of 1920."
When the 64th vote was assured two more Republican Senators
announced their support, Senator Keyes of New Hampshire and
Senator Hale of Maine, and on June 4th the measure passed the
Senate by a vote of 66 to 30,-2 votes more than needed.[l] Of the
49 Republicans in the Senate, 40 voted for the amendment, 9
against. Of the 47 Democrats in the Senate, 26 voted for it and
And so the assertion that "the right of citizens of the United
States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the
These figures include all voting and paired.
United States or by any state on account of sex," introduced into
Congress by the efforts of Susan B. Anthony in 1878, was finally
submitted to the states for ratification on June 4th, 1919.
I do not need to explain that the amendment was not won from the
Republican Congress between May 19th and June 4th, 1919. The
Republican Party had been gradually coming to appreciate this
opportunity throughout our entire national agitation from 1913 to
date. And our attack upon the party in power, which happened to
be President Wilson's party, had been the most decisive factor in
stimulating the opposition party to espouse our side. It is
perhaps fortunate for the Republican Party that it was their
political opponents who inherited this lively question in 1913.
However, the political advantage is theirs for having promptly
and ungrudgingly passed the amendment the moment they came into
power. But it will not be surprising to any one who has read this
book that I conclude by pointing out that the real triumph
belongs to the women.
Our objective was the national enfranchisement of women. A tiny
step, you may say. True! But so long as we know that this is but
the first step in the long struggle of women for political,
economic and social emancipation, we need not be disturbed. If
political institutions as we know them to-day in their
discredited condition break down, and another kind of
organization-perhaps industrial-supplants them, women will battle
for their place in the new system with as much determination as
they have shown in the struggle just ended.
That women have been aroused never again to be content with their
subjection there can be no doubt. That they will ultimately
secure for themselves equal power and responsibility
When a constitutional amendment has passed Congress it must be
ratified by a majority vote of 36 state legislatures and
thereupon proclaimed operative by the Secretary of State of the
United States before it becomes the law of the land. For
ratification data see Appendix 1.
in whatever system of government is evolved is positive. How
revolutionary will be the changes when women get this power and
responsibility no one can adequately foretell. One thing is
certain. They will not go back. They will never again be good and
It has been a long, wearying struggle. Although drudgery has
persisted throughout, there have been compensatory moments of
great joy and beauty. The relief that comes after a great
achievement is sweet. There is no residue of bitterness. To be
sure, women have often resented it deeply that so much human
energy had to be expended for so simple a right. But whatever
disillusionments they have experienced, they have kept their
faith in women. And the winning of political power by women will
have enormously elevated their status.
TEXT OF THE NATIONAL SUFFRAGE AMENDMENT
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States
extending the right of suffrage to women.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States o f America in Congress assembled (twothirds of each House
concurring therein), That the following articles be proposed to
the legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the
Constitution of the United States, which when ratified by three-
fourths of the said legislatures, shall be valid as part of said
"ARTICLE-SEC. 1. The right of citizens of the United States to
vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by
any State on account of sex.
"SEC. 2. Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation,
to enforce the provisions of this article."
RECORLD OF ACTION ON NATIONAL SUFFRAGE AMENDMENT
By Susan B. Anthony in 1875
January 10, 1878, by Hon. A. A. Sargent, in the Senate
Reported from Committee
In the Senate
1878, Adverse majority.
1879, Favorable minority.
1882, Favorable majority, adverse minority.
1884, Favorable majority, adverse minority.
1886, Favorable majority.
1890, Favorable majority.
1892, Favorable majority, adverse minority.
1896, Adverse majority.
1913, Favorable majority.
1914, Favorable majority.
1917, Favorable majority.
1919, Unanimously favorably.
In the House
1883, Favorable majority.
1884, Adverse majority, favorable minority.
1886, Favorable minority.
1890, Favorable majority.
1894, Adverse majority.
1914, Without recommendation.
1916, Without recommendation.
1917, Without recommendation.
1918, Favorable majority.
1919, Favorable majority.
In the Senate
January 25, 1887. Yeas 16, nays 94. Absent 25 (of whom 4 were
announced as for and 2 against).
March 19, 1914. Yeas 35, nays 34, failing by 11 of the necessary
two thirds vote.
October 1, 1918. Yeas 54, nays 30, failing by 2 of the two-thirds
February 10, 1919. Yeas 55, nays 29, failing by 1 of the
necessary two-thirds vote.
June 4, 1919. Yeas 56, nays 25, passing by 2 votes over necessary
In the House
January 12, 1915. Yeas 174, nays 204, failing by 78 of the
necessary two-thirds vote.
January 10, 1918. Yeas 274, nays 136, passing by 1 vote over
necessary two-thirds majority.
May 21, 1919. Yeas 304, nays 89, passing by 42 votes over
necessary two-thirds majority
State; Date of Ratification; Vote: Senate, House; Party of
Governor; Party Controlling Legislature
1 Wisconsin June 10, 1919 24-1 54-2 Rep. Rep.
2 *Michigan June 10, 1919 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
3 *Kansas June 16, 1919 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
4 *Ohio June 16, 1919 27-3 73-6 Dem. Rep.
5 *New York June 16, 1919 Unan. Unan. Dem. Rep.
6 Illinois June 17, 1919 Unan. 133-4 Rep. Rep.
7 Pennsylvania June 24, 1919 32-6 153-44 Rep. Rep.
8 Massachusetts June 25, 1919 34-5 184-77 Rep. Rep.
9 *Texas June 29, 1919 Unan. 96-21 Dem. Dem.
10 *Iowa July 2, 1919 Unan. 95-5 Rep. Rep.
11 *Missouri July 3, 1919 28-3 125-4 Dem. Div’d.
12 *Arkansas July 20, 1919 20-2 76-17 Dem. Dem.
13 *Montana July 30, 1919 38-1 Unan. Dem. Rep.
14 *Nebraska Aug. 2, 1919 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
15 *Minnesota Sept. 8, 1919 60-5 120-6 Rep. Rep.
16 *New Hampshire Sept. 10, 1919 14-10 212-143 Rep. Rep.
17 *Utah Sept. 30, 1919 Unan. Unan. Dem. Dem.
18 *California Nov. 1, 1919 Unan. 73-2 Rep. Rep.
19 *Maine Nov. 5, 1919. 24-5 72-68 Rep. Rep.
20 *North Dakota Dec. 1, 1919 38-4 103-6 Rep. Rep.
21 *South Dakota Dec. 4, 1919 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
22 *Colorado Dec. 12, 1919 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
23 Rhode Island Jan. 6, 1920 37-1 89-3 Rep. Rep.
24 Kentucky Jan. 6, 1920 30-8 72-25 Rep. Div’d.
25 *Oregon Jan. 12, 1920 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
26 *Indiana Jan. 16, 1920 43-3 Unan. Rep. Rep.
27 *Wyoming Jan. 27, 1920 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
28 *Nevada Feb. 7, 1920 Unan. Unan. Dem. Div’d.
29 New Jersey Feb. 10, 1920 18-2 34-24 Dem, Rep.
30 *Idaho Feb. 11, 1920 29-6 Unan. Rep. Rep.
31 *Arizona Feb. 12, 1920 Unan. Unan. Rep. Dem.
32 *New Mexico Feb. 19, 1920 17-5 36-10 Rep. Rep.
33 *Oklahoma Feb. 27, 1920 24-15 84-12 Dem. Dem.
34 *West Virginia Mar. 10, 1920 15-14 47-40 Dem. Rep.
35 *Washington Mar. 22, 1920 Unan. Unan. Rep. Rep.
36 *Tennessee Aug. 18, 1920 25-4 49-47 Dem. Dem.
* States ratifying at Special Session.
COUNTRIES IN WHICH WOMEN VOTE
Azerbaijain (Moslem) Republic 1919
British East Africa 1919
Czecho Slovakia 1918
Isle of Man 1881
New Zealand 1893
United States 1920
Electoral Reform Bill as passed granted suffrage to widows who
have not remarried and mothers of soldiers killed in battle or
civilians shot by Germans.
Women over age of 80-Bill to reduce age to 21 has passed its
No sex qualification for voting in constitution. Women haze so
far not availed themselves of their right to note, but are
expected to do so in the coming elections.
To be confirmed, in 1920.
Resolutions Demanding Investigations
Resolution (171) to authorize an Investigation of the District of
Introduced in the House by Miss Jeannette Rankin, Representative
October 5, 1917.
Text of Resolution:
Resolved, That a select committee of seven Members of the House
of Representatives be appointed by the Speaker to investigate the
administration of the District of Columbia Workhouse at Occoquan,
Virginia, and to report thereon as early as possible during the
second session of the Sixty-fifth Congress. Said committee is
authorized to sit during the recess in Washington, District of
Columbia and elsewhere, to subpoena witnesses, and to call for
records relating to the said workhouse. To defray the necessary
expenses of such investigation, including the employment of
clerical assistance, the committee is authorized to expend not to
exceed 1,000 from the contingent fund of the House.
Resolution (180) to authorize an Investigation of Mob Attacks on
Introduced in the House by John Baer, Representative from North
August 17, 1917.
Text of Resolution:
WHEREAS, in the city of Washington, D. C., about 350 feet from
the White House premises is a building known as the Cameron
House, in which is located headquarters and main offices of a
woman's organization at which is continually congregated women of
character, courage and intelligence, who come from various
sections of the United States, and
WHEREAS, on three successive days, to wit: the 14th, 15th and
16th days of August, 1917, on said days immediately following the
closing of the day's work by the clerks and employees of the
Executive Departments, hundreds of these clerks and employees,
acting with sailors, then and now in the service of the United
States Navy and in uniform at the time, and soldiers, then and
now in the service of the United States Army, also in their
uniforms at the time,-and these clerks, employees, sailors and
soldiers, and others, formed themselves into mobs and
deliberately, unlawfully and violently damaged the said
headquarters and offices of the said woman's organization by
pelting rotten eggs through the doors and windows, shooting a
bullet from a revolver through a window, and otherwise damaging
said Cameron House, and also violently and unlawfully did strike,
choke, drag and generally mistreat and injure and abuse the said
women when they came defenseless upon the streets adjoining as
well as when they were in the said building; and
WHEREAS, the organized police of the City of Washington, District
of Columbia, made no attempt to properly safeguard the property
and persons of the said defenseless women, but, on the contrary,
said police even seemed to encourage the lawless acts of the mob;
WHEREAS, such lawlessness is in the Capital of the United States
and within a few hundred feet of -the Executive Mansion and
offices of the President of the United States; and
WHEREAS, these attacks upon defenseless women are not only an
outrage and crime in themselves, that prove the
perpetrators and those lending aid to the same to be cowards, but
in addition, create throughout the world contempt for the United
States and set a vicious example to the people throughout the
United States and the world at large, of lawlessness and
violence; and encourage designing cowards and manipulators
everywhere to form mobs to molest the innocent and defenseless
under any pretext whatever; and
WHEREAS, there seems to be no activity or attempt on the part of
any one in authority in the City of Washington, District of
Columbia, nor by the government officials to apprehend, arrest or
punish those perpetrating the violence, on account of which the
same may occur indefinitely unless Congress acts in the premises;
WHEREAS, the legal status upon the premises stated would excuse
the occupants of the Cameron House if they were so disposed in
firing upon the mobs aforesaid, and thus create a state of
greater violence and unlawless, to further injure the prestige
and good name of the United States for maintaining law and order
and institutions of democracy; therefore be it
Resolved, that the Speaker appoint a Committee of seven members
to investigate into all the facts relating to the violence and
unlawful acts aforesaid, and make the earliest possible report
upon the conditions, with the purpose in view of purging the army
and navy of the United States and other official departments, of
all lawless men who bring disgrace upon the American flag by
participating in mob violence, and also to inquire regarding the
conduct of all government employees and the police of the city of
Washington, District of Columbia, with a view to maintaining law
Note:-Scores of women were arrested but never brought to trial;
many others were convicted and their sentences suspended or
appealed. It has been possible to list below only those women who
actually served prison sentences although more than five hundred
women were arrested during the agitation.
MINNIE D. ABBOTT, Atlantic City, N. J., officer of the N.W.P.
[National Woman's Party]. Arrested picketing July 14, 1917,
sentenced to 60 days in Occoquan workhouse.
MRS. PAULINE ADAMS, Norfolk, Va., wife of leading physician,
prominent clubwoman and Congressional District Chairman of the
N.W.P. Arrested picketing Sept. 4, 1917. Sentenced to 60 days in
Occoquan workhouse. Arrested watchfire demonstration Feb. 9,
1919, but released on account of lack of evidence.
EDITH AINGE, Jamestown, N. Y., native of England, came to America
when a child, and has brought up family of nine brothers and
sisters. Worked for state suffrage in N. Y. 1915. Served five
jail sentences. Sentenced to 60 days in Occoquan for picketing
Sept., 1917, 15 days in Aug., 1918, Lafayette Sq. meeting, and
three short terms in District Jail in Jan., 1919, watchfire
HARRIET U. ANDREWS, Kansas City, Mo., came to Washington as war
worker. Arrested watchfire demonstration and sentenced to 5 days
in District Jail Jan., 1919.
MRS. ANNIE ARNEIL, Wilmington, Del., did picket duty from
beginning in 1917. One of first six suffrage prisoners. Served
eight jail sentences, 3 days, June, 1917; 60 days in Occoquan,
Aug.-Sept., 1917, picketing; 15 days, Aug., 1918, Lafayette Sq.
meeting and five sentences of 5 days each in Jan. and Feb., 1919,
BERTHE ARNOLD, Colorado Springs, Colo., daughter of prominent
physician. Educated at Colo. State Univ. Student of music Phila.;
member of D.A.R.; kindergarten teacher. Arrested Jan., 1919,
watchfire demonstration, sentenced to 5 days in District Jail.
VIRGINIA ARNOLD, North Carolina, student George Washington and
Columbia Univs., school teacher, later organizer and executive
secretary N.W.P, in Washington. Served 3 days June, 1917, with
first pickets sentenced.
MRS. W. D. ASCOUGH, Detroit, Mich. Former Conn. State Chairman,
N.W.P. Studied for concert stage London and Paris. Abandoned
concert stage to devote time to suffrage. Sentenced to 15 days
Aug., 1918, Lafayette Sq. meeting, and 5 days Feb., 1919, in
watchfire demonstration. Member "Prison Special" which toured
country in Feb., 1919.
MRS. ARMY Scorr BAKER, Washington, D. C., wife of Dr. Robert
Baker, and descendant long line of army officers. Three sons in
service during World War. Known as the diplomat of the N.W.P.,
and as such has interviewed practically every man prominent in
political life. Member executive committee of N.W.P. and has been
political chairman since 1918. Arrested picketing and sentenced
to 60 days in Occoquan, Sept., 1917.
MRS. CHARLES W. BARNES, Indianapolis, Ind., officer of Ind.
Branch, N.W.P. Arrested picketing Nov., 1917, sentenced to 15
days in jail.
MRS. NAOMI BARRETT, Wilmington, Del., arrested watchfire
demonstration Jan. 13, 1919. Sentenced to 5 days in District
MRS. W. J. BARTLETT, Putnam, Conn., leader Conn. State Grange.
Arrested Aug., 1917, picketing, sentenced to 60 days.
MRS. M. TOSCAN BENNETT, Hartford, Conn., wife of lawyer and
writer, member D.A.R. and Colonial Dames, has been active in
state suffrage work for many years. Member National Advisory
Council, N.W.P. and Conn. state treasurer. Arrested Jan., 1919,
watchfire demonstration. Sentenced to 5 days in District Jail.
HILDA BLUMBERG, New York City, native of Russia, one of youngest
prisoners. Educated and taught school in this country. Arrested
picketing, Sept., 1917; sentenced to 30 days in Occoquan;
arrested again Nov. 10, sentenced to 15 days.
MRS. KATE BOECKH, Washington, D. C., native of Canada, one of
first women aeroplane pilots. Arrested picketing Aug., 1917, case
appealed. Arrested applauding in court Jan., 1919, served 3 days.
MRS. CATHERINE BOYLE, Newcastle, Del., munitions worker during
World War. Arrested Jan., 1919, watchfire demonstration,
sentenced to 5 days in jail.
LUCY G. BRANHAM, Baltimore, Md., organizer N.W.P., graduate
Washington College, Md.; M. A., Johns Hopkins; graduate student
Univ. of Chicago and Ph.D. Columbia. Won Carnegie hero medal for
rescuing man and woman from drowning at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Arrested picketing Sept., 1917, sentenced to 60 days in Occoquan
and District Jail.
Back to Full Books