Suffragettes March on Washington - History

Suffragettes March on Washington - History


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Preceding the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, there was a near riot as 8,000 women marched, demanding the vote for women. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns led the march.


The fight for women suffrage their right to vote had begun at the Seneca Conference in 1848. The organization that was leading the efforts was the National American Suffrage Associations. As more an more women entered the workforce, they redoubled their efforts. The organization that was led Anna Howard Shaw strategy was focused on receiving approval by individual states for women suffrage. The efforts were meeting a modest success and by 1912 six states had granted women the full right to vote, while additional states allowed women to vote in local elections.

Two of the leaders of the movement Alice Paul and Lucy Burns believed the time had come for a more active national strategy. Despite some initial opposition, the N.A.S.A. supported the organizing of a march in Washington the day before the inauguration of President Wilson. Women descended from throughout the United States included a group of 16 who literally walked from New York. One of the potential issues that developed was the march of African American women, and there was an attempt to segregate the marchers, but that did not, in fact, take place.

On March 3, 1913, 8,000 marchers set off down Pennslyvania Avenue. Leading the march was attorney Inez Milholland riding on a white horse. The march began uneventfully with thousands of friendly spectators. However, as the parade moved forward, some spectators became unruly and blocked the path. Scuffles broke out, and Massachusetts and Pennsylvania had to step in to protect the marchers. Over 200 people were injured, but none seriously.

The march was considered a success and put the issue of national suffrage on the American agenda.


1913 Woman Suffrage Procession

Cover of program for the National American Woman Suffrage Association procession, showing woman, in elaborate attire, with cape, blowing long horn, from which is draped a "votes for women" banner, on decorated horse, with U.S. Capitol in background.

"Miles of Fluttering Femininity Present Entrancing Suffrage Appeal"

On March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson's presidential inauguration, thousands of women marched along Pennsylvania Avenue--the same route that the inaugural parade would take the next day--in a procession organized by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Designed to illustrate women's exclusion from the democratic process, the procession was carefully choreographed by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, the newly-appointed chairs of NAWSA's Congressional Committee. The committee was tasked with winning passage of the Susan B. Anthony amendment to the U.S. Constitution which was first proposed in 1878. The amendment reads:

"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."

In the 35 years since the amendment was first proposed, it had only come up for a vote in Congress once and had failed. Paul and Burns were determined to bring new energy to the campaign for women's suffrage and to push for passage of the amendment.

Inez Milholland rides Grey Dawn as the herald of the Woman Suffrage Procession, March 3, 1913

Harris & Ewing, photographer. Records of the National Woman's Party, Library of Congress

The New Woman

Inez Milholland rode a white horse named Grey Dawn at the front of the procession. Astride the horse rather than sidesaddle, she wore a white dress, a cape, and a golden tiara with the star of hope on top. Inez was famous as an activist, speaker, and lawyer. She was also very photogenic and was known as "the most beautiful suffragist." She rode as the herald of the future, an example of the New Woman of the twentieth century. This was the generation of suffragists who challenged society's expectations of what it meant to be a woman and the restrictions those ideas placed on the way women dressed and behaved. They called themselves feminists and were fighting not just for the vote but for full equality.

The "Great Demand" float in the Woman Suffrage Procession, March 3, 1913

Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

The Great Demand

Behind Inez in the procession was the first of over twenty floats. This float displayed a banner with the slogan that would become known as "The Great Demand."

"We demand an amendment to the Constitution of the United States enfranchising the women of this country."

Alice Paul and the other organizers were declaring a new strategy. No longer content with incremental progress, with accepting limited voting rights won in bits and pieces one state or jurisdiction at a time, this new generation of suffragists were on a mission to secure their rights to the ballot across the country under the same terms as men. They chose their language deliberately to be somewhat shocking. In the past, American women advocating for suffrage tended to do so while remaining respectable and gracious. But to demand their rights was to step out of the expectations of women as demure and gentle. The Great Demand was meant to be provocative.

Women marchers organized by country, state, occupation, and organization, led by Miss Inez Milholland and Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, during the suffrage march, March 3, 1913, Washington, D.C.

Windsor McKay, artist/Library of Congress

"We march today to give evidence to the world of our determination, that this simple act of justice shall be done."

The procession was designed present an argument, section by section, about the accomplishments of women in the nation and around the world. Women marched in delegations from their states, or with others from their professions, or in their academic regalia from the universities they attended. It demonstrated that women's participation in the public sphere was dignified and in keeping with America's moral values. Behind the marchers, bands played patriotic songs and elaborate floats illustrated the beauty and competence of women.

But very few of the spectators got to see the full demonstration as Paul had envisioned it. The crowd of at least 250,000 people did not stay on the sidewalk but began to stream into the streets and block the parade route. Police stationed along Pennsylvania Avenue were unable or unwilling to control the crowds. The marchers tried their best to continue. Those in cars or on horseback tried to drive the throng of people back and clear the street, but the crowd would simply fill back in behind them. Progress slowed and then stopped.

The marchers found themselves trapped in a sea of hostile, jeering men who yelled vile insults and sexual propositions at them. They were manhandled and spat upon. The women reported that they received no assistance from nearby police officers, who looked on bemusedly or admonished the women that they wouldn't be in this predicament if they had stayed home. Although a few women fled the terrifying scene, most were determined to continue. They locked arms and faced the ambush, some through tears. When they could, they ignored the taunts. Some brandished banner poles, flags, and hatpins to ward off attack. They held their ground until the U.S. Army troops arrived about an hour later to clear the street so that the procession could continue.

Crowd converging on marchers and blocking parade route during March 3, 1913, inaugural suffrage procession, Washington, D.C.

Leet Brothers, photographer. National Woman's Party Records, Library of Congress

African American Women in the Procession

Black women felt like they were under attack long before the crowds descended upon the marchers. They had to fight just to be included in the procession. As described in the NAACP's newspaper:

“The women’s suffrage party had a hard time settling the status of Negroes in the Washington parade. At first, Negro callers were received coolly at headquarters. Then they were told to register, but found that the registry clerks were usually out. Finally, an order went out to segregate them in the parade, but telegrams and protests poured in and eventually the colored women marched according to their State and occupation without let or hindrance.” The Crisis, vol 5, no. 6, April 1913, page 267.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett traveled to Washington, D.C. with the Illinois delegation and fully expected to march with them. As the group was lining up to begin the procession, the white suffrage leaders suddenly asked Wells-Barnett not to march with her fellow suffragists from Illinois and instead assume a place in the back of the procession. Wells-Barnett refused and left the area. Instead, she waited along the side of Pennsylvania Avenue until the Illinois group marched by. Then she and two white allies stepped in front of the Illinois delegation and continued in the procession.

Although it is sometimes reported that African American women marched in the back of the procession, The Crisis reported that more than forty Black women processed in their state delegations or with their respective professions. Two were reported to have carried the lead banners for their sections. Twenty-five students from Delta Sigma Theta sorority from Howard University marched in cap and gown with the university women, as did six graduates of universities, including Mary Church Terrell.

"In spite of the apparent reluctance of the local suffrage committee to encourage the colored women to participate," reported The Crisis, "and in spite of the conflicting rumors that were circulated and which disheartened many of the colored women from taking part, they are to be congratulated that so many of them had the courage of their convictions and that they made such an admirable showing in the first great national parade.”

1911 photo of Marie Bottineau Baldwin, from her personnel file.

Records of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. National Archives, St. Louis.

"Dawn Mist" and Native American Women

Before the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession, newspapers announced that one of the marchers would be “Dawn Mist, the beautiful daughter of Chief Three Bears of the Glacier National Park Indians.” The papers reported that Dawn Mist and her friends would ride their Indian ponies in their buckskin dresses in the parade, and camp on the National Mall in their teepees. They would “represent the wildest type of American womanhood” side by side with white women like Inez Milholland, who represented “the highest type of cultured womanhood.”

But Dawn Mist wasn’t a real person.

She was a character created by the public relations department of the Great Northern Railroad. The railroad hired Native American women to perform as Dawn Mist – at least three of them. They used images of the women posing as Dawn Mist in advertising and on postcards. In 1913, Daisy Norris, a Blackfoot woman, was working in the role of Dawn Mist for the Railroad. But she wasn’t in D.C. for the Suffrage Procession. It was all a publicity stunt.

There was, however, at least one native woman in the 1913 parade. Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin marched with the lawyers contingent in the procession. Of mixed French and Ojibway heritage, she was the first native woman to become a lawyer. She had moved to D.C. with her father to fight for tribal sovereignty and became a federal civil servant, working for the Federal Indian Bureau. She later advocated for Native American suffrage in her work with the Society for American Indians.

College section of the March 3, 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C.

National Woman's Party Records, Library of Congress

The Suffrage Movement Re-energized

Liberty and her Attendants - (Suffragette's Tableau) in Front of Treasury Bldg. March 3, 1913 - Washington, D.C.

L & M Ottenheimer, Publisher/National Woman's Party Records, Library of Congress

Sources:

Cahill, Cathleen. Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement. UNC Press, 2020.

Rabinovitz-Fox, Einav. "New Women in Early Twentieth-Century America." Oxford Research Encyclopedias, August 2017.

Ware, Susan. Why They Marched: Untold STories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote. Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2019.

Zahniser, J. D. and Amelia R. Fry. Alice Paul: Claiming Power. Oxford University Press, 2014.


Suffragette & Suffragist: The Influence of the British Suffrage Movement

Emmeline Pankhurst. Collections of the Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2014691830/) “I am what you call a hooligan,” Emmeline Pankhurst announced to the standing-room only crowd of women packed into Carnegie Hall in October 1909. Hundreds more gathered outside, hoping to hear the famous “suffragette” speak. The American suffrage and labor activists in attendance cheered as Mrs. Pankhurst regaled the audience with stories about the fight to win the vote for British women. Although the tactics of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), led by Pankhurst and her daughters, were often discredited in the United States as too militant, on that night, her testimony met with approval.[1] While the crowd at the New York City event applauded and sang suffrage anthems, across the Atlantic a young American named Alice Paul was gaining national attention for her participation in the WSPU’s confrontational demonstrations.

Alice Paul was first inspired to join the suffrage cause while in graduate school in England. In November 1907, when she was a student at Birmingham University, she attended a rousing lecture by Christabel Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline, in support of women’s enfranchisement. Paul was particularly inspired by Christabel’s grace and poise in response to the taunts of male students.[2] Alice then enrolled at the London School of Economics she participated in two suffrage marches that summer. The first was planned by the more reserved National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) led by Millicent Fawcett. Although Alice enjoyed the pageantry of the NUWSS procession, it was the larger WSPU march a week later that made her a recruit. She was thrilled by the military precision of the event. Battalions of marchers wearing white and carrying banners, flags, and pennants of purple and green set out from points around the city and converged at Hyde Park. Presenters stationed around the park electrified the crowds of more than 30,000. At the sound of triumphant bugles, the participants all joined together in a final cry of “Votes for Women! Votes for Women!” Even the anti-suffrage New York Times praised the “genius for organization” on display.[3] Alice Paul was in she became a suffragette.

Over the next several months, Alice participated in increasingly risky activities in support of women’s suffrage in Britain. She started by selling the WSPU’s newspaper Votes for Women on street corners, which often meant enduring verbal abuse. She moved on to giving speeches at outdoor meetings. Speakers were regularly assaulted and pelted with stones for transgressing social norms governing women’s behavior in public.[4] As her confidence as a speaker increased, so did her willingness to face greater danger. She was arrested for the first time during a massive WSPU protest on June 29, 1909, in which thousands of women in multiple deputations approached Parliament Square. As police halted each group and arrested the women, the next deputation stepped up with the same demands to be heard.[5] Alice continued to plan and participate in demonstrations across England and Scotland, enduring five more arrests that year and three prison terms.[6]

Official program of the 1913 Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC. Collections of the Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbpe.20801600/?sp=1) Although the American press mistakenly credited Alice with the innovation of the hunger strike, suffragette Marion Dunlop was the first to refuse food after demanding political prisoner status.[7] Alice and her fellow suffrage prisoners followed suit during their incarcerations, refusing to eat or to wear prison clothes. Alice spent at least one 5-day sentence in solitary confinement, naked except for a blanket. Initially, British officials released the hunger strikers as their health began to fail. By the time of her final U.K. imprisonment in November 1909, however, Alice and her comrades faced a new terror: forcible feeding.[8]

While Emmeline Pankhurst toured the United States in the fall of 1909, American newspapers carried stories about the horrors that Alice Paul was facing in London’s Holloway prison. Women who had been incarcerated with her shared harrowing stories of Alice’s cries echoing through the prison as she was force-fed more than fifty times.[9] Upon her release, Alice gave her own account to reporters. “Twice a day for the month that I spent in Holloway prison in London I was strapped and bound round with sheets until I could not move a muscle,” she reported. “Then another sheet was bound round my throat to keep my neck rigid and the torture began. A long glass tube, bent at the end and as thick as my thumb, was forced through my nostrils and the liquid food poured in. The pain was intense, but I would not give in.”[10]

When Alice Paul returned to the United States in 1910, she used her experiences as a British suffragette to re-energize the American suffrage movement. She began by recreating the sense of pageantry she had experienced during the 1909 WSPU march. The 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession down Pennsylvania Avenue on the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration announced a new focus on a federal amendment to win the vote. Alice Paul used the organizational skills she developed while planning similar events for the WSPU to bring thousands of women from around the country to participate.[11] Through the years, she continued to design campaigns and publicity stunts with the same kind of political savvy that the Pankhursts had mastered.

Alice Paul. Collections of the Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2004670382/). After Alice Paul returned to the United States, the WSPU tactics in Britain grew more violent. Suffragettes set fires, slashed paintings, broke windows, and committed other acts of property destruction. Alice Paul and her suffrage organization, the National Woman’s Party (NWP), were considered militant and radical although they never engaged in that level of violence. Alice was willing to confront power, violate social expectations of proper womanly behavior, and face arrest, just as she had during her time with the WSPU. Although many scholars attribute Alice’s reluctance to use more destructive tactics to her religious upbringing as a Quaker, Alice credited her strategy to political calculations. “Here men do not throw stones through windows to accomplish their purpose. They organize and form a machine. And that is what we must do to accomplish the establishment of equal suffrage,” she told her fellow suffragists. When a reporter pressed her about her history in the U.K., she declared “If it becomes necessary to fight to win, I believe in fighting.”[12]

Alice Paul also drew upon the example of the less-violent Women’s Franchise League (WFL) when designing strategies to win the vote. The 1917 Silent Sentinel picket campaign of the White House resembled the WFL’s “Siege of Westminster” in 1909. During the Siege, women stood peacefully outside Parliament and 10 Downing Street and were arrested for blocking the entrance.[13] When the NWP continued the 1917 protest at the White House after the U.S. entered World War I, the pickets, including Alice Paul, were arrested for “obstructing the sidewalk.” [14]

Like the suffragettes in the U.K., NWP prisoners also demanded political prisoner status and went on hunger strikes to protest their conditions. The hunger strikers, including Alice Paul, endured forced feedings. The NWP organized a protest of Alice Paul’s imprisonment on November 10, 1917, using a similar playbook as the 1909 WSPU petition of Parliament. A delegation of 41 demonstrators, organized by state into five divisions, marched to the White House carrying banners demanding the President’s support for the Constitutional amendment. The first group approached the east gate and were ordered by the police to "move on." The women refused and were arrested. A second group advanced to the west gate and were also detained. The march continued, alternating between the two gates, until all 41 were taken into custody. The publicity surrounding the demonstration, as well as reports of the brutality the suffragists endured in prison, kept the issue of women’s suffrage on the front pages even during wartime.[15]

When Woodrow Wilson began to support passage of the federal women’s suffrage amendment in 1918, he denied that the NWP campaigns had influenced his decision.[16] Whether or not she was responsible for his change of heart, Alice Paul had successfully adapted the militant strategies of the British suffragettes to convince Americans of the urgency of “Votes for Women!”

This article was originally published by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC) on May 20, 2020 as a part of the WSCC blog, The Suff Buffs. The Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission was created by Congress to commemorate 100 years of the 19th Amendment throughout 2020 and to ensure the untold stories of women’s battle for the ballot continue to inspire Americans for the next 100 years.

Author Biography

Susan Philpott is a Park Ranger with the National Park Service at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, historic headquarters of the National Woman’s Party. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in Historical Studies, with a focus on Public History, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Her areas of study include the long Civil Rights Movement and Black freedom struggle, especially in Washington, D.C. She continues her research into strategies used by those who demand social, political, and economic equality.


Footnotes
[1] Christine Bolt, “America and the Pankhursts,” in Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited, ed. Jean H, Baker (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 148-149 J. D. Zahniser and Amelia R. Fry, Alice Paul: Claiming Power (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 97 “Great Throng Hears Mrs. Pankhurst,” New York Times, 26 Oct 1909, 1.

[7]“Two Americans in Guildhall Exploit,” New York Times, 12 Nov, 1909, 1 Zahniser and Fry, 72.

[8] Zahniser and Fry, 82-85, 93.

[9] “Suffragettes’ New Fashion: Refuse to Put on Prison Garb, and Hence They Wear Nothing,” Washington Post, 19 Nov 1909, 1 “Harsh to Yankee Girl: Women Warders Call Men to Put Her in Prison Garb, Feed Her Through Pump,” Washington Post, 21 Nov 1909, 13 Zahniser and Fry, 98-101.

[10] “Girl’s Ordeal in Jail: Miss Paul Tells Horrors of the Feeding Tube,” Washington Post, 6 Feb 1910, A7.

[11] Zahniser and Fry, 86, 89-90, 144-146.

[12] Alice Paul, quoted in Zahniser and Fry, 107, 110.

[14] Linda Ford, “Alice Paul and the Politics of Nonviolent Protest,” in Votes for Women, 179-181 Zahniser and Fry, 255-257, 281.

[15] Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (New York: Boni & Liveright, Inc., 1920), 192-6 Zahniser and Fry, 291-2.


Bibliography

Bolt, Christine. “America and the Pankhursts,” in Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited. Ed. Jean H, Baker. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Ford, Linda. “Alice Paul and the Politics of Nonviolent Protest,” in Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited. Ed. Jean H, Baker. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

“Girl’s Ordeal in Jail: Miss Paul Tells Horrors of the Feeding Tube,” Washington Post, 6 Feb 1910, A7.

“Great Throng Hears Mrs. Pankhurst,” New York Times, 26 Oct 1909.

“Harsh to Yankee Girl: Women Warders Call Men to Put Her in Prison Garb, Feed Her Through Pump,” Washington Post, 21 Nov 1909, 13.

Stevens, Doris. Jailed for Freedom. New York: Boni & Liveright, Inc., 1920.

“Suffragettes’ New Fashion: Refuse to Put on Prison Garb, and Hence They Wear Nothing,” Washington Post, 19 Nov 1909, 1.

“Two Americans in Guildhall Exploit,” New York Times, 12 Nov, 1909.

Zahniser, J. D. and Amelia R. Fry. Alice Paul: Claiming Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.


Contents

American suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns spearheaded a drive to adopt a national strategy for women's suffrage in the National American Woman Suffrage Association. [1] : 362 [2] Paul and Burns had seen first-hand the effectiveness of militant activism while working for Emmeline Pankhurst in the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Britain. Their education included rallies, marches, and demonstrations, knowledge of which the two would put to work back in America. They already had first-hand experience with imprisonment as a backlash against suffrage activism. They had gone on hunger strikes and suffered force-feeding. [3] They were not afraid to be provocative, even knowing the potential consequences. The procession would be their first foray into moving into militant mode on a national stage. [1] : 365 [4]

Paul and Burns found that there were many suffragists who supported the WSPU's militant tactics, including Harriot Stanton Blatch, Alva Belmont, Elizabeth Robins, and Rhetta Child Dorr. [1] : 363–364 [5] Burns and Paul recognized that the women from the six states that had full suffrage at the time comprised a powerful voting bloc. They submitted a proposal to Anna Howard Shaw and the NAWSA leadership at their annual convention in 1912. The leadership was not interested in changing the state-by-state strategy and rejected the idea of holding a campaign that would hold the Democratic Party responsible. Paul and Burns appealed to prominent reformer Jane Addams, who interceded on their behalf, resulting in Paul being appointed chair of the Congressional Committee. [1] : 362 [6]

Up until this time, the woman's suffrage movement had relied on oratory and written arguments to keep the issue before the public. Paul believed that it was time to add a strong visual element to the campaign, even grander than what she had planned for the NAWSA 1912 conference. [7] While her tactics were non-violent, Paul exploited elements of danger in her events. [8] Her plan for using visual rhetoric was intended to have lasting impact. [9] She felt it was time for women to stop begging for suffrage and demand it with political coercion instead. [10] [11] Though the suffragists had staged marches in many cities, [12] this would be a first for Washington, D.C. It would also be the first large political demonstration in the nation's capital. The only previous similar demonstration was made by a group of 500 men known as Coxey's Army, who had protested about unemployment in 1894. [4]

At the time Paul and Burns were assigned to lead the Congressional Committee of the NAWSA, it was merely a shadow committee headed by Elizabeth Kent, wife of a California congressman, with an annual budget of ten dollars that mostly went unspent. [1] : 362 [13] With Paul and Burns in charge, the committee revived the push for a national suffrage amendment. [14] At the end of 1913, Paul reported to the NAWSA that the committee had raised and expended over $25,000 on the suffrage cause for the year. [1] : 377 [15]

Paul and Burns persuaded NAWSA to endorse an immense suffrage parade in Washington, D.C., to coincide with newly elected President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration the following March. The NAWSA leadership turned over the entire operation to the committee. [16] They organized volunteers, planned, and raised funds in preparation for the parade with little help from the NAWSA. [17]

Committees and recruiting Edit

Once the board approved the parade in December 1912, it appointed Dora Lewis, Mary Ritter Beard, and Crystal Eastman to the committee, though they all worked outside of Washington. All money Paul collected had to be directed through the NAWSA, though she did not always comply. [17] [18]

Paul arrived in Washington, D.C. in December 1912 to begin organizing the event. By the time the Congressional Committee had its first meeting on January 2, 1913, in its new Washington headquarters, more than 130 women showed up to start work. [18] Using the list of former committee members, Paul found few still alive or in the city, but she did find assistance. [13]

Among local suffragists, she was aided by attorney Florence Etheridge and teacher Elsie Hill, daughter of a congressman. Kent, the former committee chair, was instrumental in opening doors in Washington to Paul and Burns. From the NAWSA, Paul recruited Emma Gillett and Helen Hamilton Gardener to be treasurer and publicity chair, respectively. [19] Belva Lockwood, who had run for president in 1884, also attended the initial meeting. [13] [20] Paul recruited Hazel MacKaye to design professional floats and allegorical tableaux to be presented simultaneously with the procession. [21] The parade was officially named the Woman Suffrage Procession, and the stated purpose per the event program was to "march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded." [22] : cover3 Doris Stevens, who worked closely with Paul, stated that ". the procession was to dramatize in numbers and beauty the fact that women wanted to vote - that women were asking the Administration in power in the national government to speed the day." [23]

The timing of the date for the procession, March 3, was important, because incoming president Woodrow Wilson, whose inauguration was to take place the following day, would be put on notice that this would be a key issue during his term, and Paul wanted to put pressure on him to support a national amendment. It also ensured that the procession would enjoy a large audience and publicity. [1] : 364 [20] Many factors deterred Paul regarding her selected date: District suffragists worried about the weather the superintendent of police objected to the timing even Paul herself was concerned about the need to attract a large number of marchers in a short time frame and get them organized. [7] Fortunately, Washington had congressional delegations from all the states, and some of their wives could be counted on to represent those states. Likewise, the embassies could provide marchers from distant countries. [24]

In order to maximize the use of funds for publicity and building a national network, the Congressional Committee made it clear that participating organizations and delegations would need to fund their own travel, lodging, and other expenses. [1] : 368 [25]

Parade route and security Edit

Just as the timing of the parade was tied to the inauguration, so too, was the route that Paul preferred in order to have the maximum impact on public perception. She requested a permit to march down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Peace Monument to the Treasury Building, then on to the White House before ending at Continental Hall. [26] District superintendent of police, Major Richard H. Sylvester, offered a permit for Sixteenth Street, which would have taken the procession through a residential area, past several embassies. [27] He later claimed he had thought the suffragists wished to hold the parade at night and the police could not have provided sufficient security if they marched from the Capitol. [26] Sylvester pointed out the rough character of lower Pennsylvania Avenue and the type of people likely to attend the inauguration. Paul was not satisfied with his alternative route. She took her request to the District commissioners and the press. Eventually they relented and granted her request. [28] Elsie Hill and her mother had also put some pressure on Sylvester by appealing to Elsie's father in Congress. Congress had the ultimate responsibility and funding control over the District police department. [26]

The presidential inauguration brought a huge influx of visitors from around the country. Media estimated crowds of a quarter to a half million people. Anticipating that most of these people would come to observe the suffrage parade, Paul was concerned about the ability of the local police force to handle the crowd her disquiet proved to be justified by events. [29] [30] Sylvester had only volunteered a force of 100 officers, which Paul considered inadequate. [31] She attempted to get intervention from President William Howard Taft, who referred her to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. [29] The week before the parade, Congress passed a resolution directing district police to halt all traffic from the Peace Monument to 17th Street from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the day of the parade and prevent any interference with the procession. [32] [33] Paul recruited a woman with political connections to intervene. Elizabeth Selden Rogers contacted her brother-in-law, Secretary Stimson, to request cavalry to provide additional security. He first claimed that it was prohibited to use the soldiers for that purpose, but later agreed to place troops on standby in case of emergency. [34]

Countering anti-suffrage sentiments Edit

Paul strategically chose to emphasize beauty, femininity, and traditional female roles in the procession. Her chosen theme for the procession was "Ideals and Virtues of American Womanhood". [35] These characteristics were perceived by anti-suffragists as being most threatened by giving women the vote. She wanted to show that women could be all those things and still intelligent and competent to not only vote, but also to fill any other role in society. Attractiveness and professional talent were not mutually exclusive, and these ideals were embodied in the selection of the parade's herald, Inez Milholland, a labor lawyer from New York City who had been dubbed "the most beautiful suffragette". [36] Milholland had served in the same role in a suffrage march in the city the previous year. [37]

The line-up of marchers Edit

According to the media, the suffrage parade had become the primary draw over the inauguration itself. [34] Special suffrage trains were hired to bring spectators from other cities, adding to the crowds in Washington. The novelty of the procession attracted enormous interest throughout the eastern U.S. [38] As the parade participants gathered near the Peace Monument around noon, the police began roping off part of the parade route. [38] [39] : 9 Even before the parade began, the ropes were badly stretched and coming loose in places. [40] The procession drew such a crowd that President-elect Wilson was mystified about why there were no people to be seen when he arrived in town that day. [23]

Jane Walker Burleson on horseback, accompanying a model of the Liberty Bell brought from Philadelphia, led the procession as Grand Marshal, immediately followed by the herald, Milholland, on a white horse. A pale-blue cape flowed over her white suit, held on by a Maltese cross. [41] Her banner proclaimed "Forward into Light", a phrase originated by Pankhurst and later used by Blatch. Immediately behind the herald was a wagon that boldly stated "We Demand An Amendment To The Constitution Of The United States Enfranchising The Women Of This Country". [36] Next was the national board of the NAWSA, headed by Shaw. [42]

To add to the visual impact, Paul dictated a color scheme for each group of marchers. The rainbow of colors represented women coming into the light of the future out of the darkness of the past. [35] To add drama between groups of marching women, "Paul recruited 26 floats, 6 golden chariots,10 bands, 45 captains, 200 marshals, 120 pages, 6 mounted heralds, and 6 mounted brigades", according to Adams and Keene. [41] Estimates about the number of participants in the procession varied from 5,000 to 10,000. [43] [44]

The first section had marchers and floats from countries where women already had the vote: Norway, Finland, Australia and New Zealand. [22] : 5 The second section had floats depicting historic scenes from the suffrage movement in 1840, 1870, and 1890. Then came a float representing the state of the campaign in 1913 in a positive tableau of women inspiring a group of girls. A series of floats depicted men and women working side by side at home and in a variety of professions. They were followed by one with a man holding a representation of government on his shoulders while a woman with hands tied stood helpless at his side. [45]

A float depicted nurses, followed by a marching group of nurses. Groups of women representing traditional roles of motherhood and homemaking came next, in an effort to change the image of suffragists as being sexless working women. [46] There followed a carefully orchestrated order of professional women, beginning with various nursing groups, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the PTA, before finally adding in non-traditional careers such as lawyers, artists, and businesswomen. [47]

After a float depicting the Bill of Rights came a banner that showed the nine suffrage states in bright colors with the remaining states in black, a theme that was also graphically depicted using women dressed similarly. They carried a banner suggesting that vote-less women were slave to men with the vote, quoting Abraham Lincoln: "No Country Can Exist Half Slave and Half Free". Another Lincoln quote was featured at the top of the official program: "I go for all sharing the privilege of the government who assist in bearing its burdens, by no means excluding women." Women from the suffrage states displayed their colorful organization banners on chariots that preceded each group. [48]

One prominent group featured in the procession was the pilgrims led by "General" Rosalie Jones. The brown-caped hikers covered more than 200 miles (320 km) from New York City to Washington in sixteen days. Their journey received considerable press coverage, and a large crowd assembled to greet them upon their arrival in the city on February 28. [34]

Allegorical tableaux Edit

Simultaneous with the procession, an allegorical tableaux unfolded on the Treasury Building's steps. [49] The pageant was written by dramatist Hazel MacKaye and directed by Glenna Smith Tinnin. [50] These scenes were performed by silent actors to portray various attributes of patriotism and civic pride, ones that both men and women strove to emulate. The audience would recognize the presentation style from similar holiday events around the country. MacKaye set each scene using women clad in toga-style costumes and accompanied by symbolic parlor music that would also be familiar to the audience. [51]

The act began with a relay of trumpet calls from the Peace Monument to the Treasury Building. The first scene featured Columbia, who stepped forward on stage to the strains of "The Star-Spangled Banner". She summoned Liberty, Charity, Justice, Hope and Peace to join her. In the final scene, Columbia placed herself as guardian over all these others and they assembled to watch the approaching procession of suffragists. [22] By creating this stunning drama, Paul differentiated the American suffrage movement from Britain's "by fully appropriating the best possibilities of nonviolent visual rhetoric" per Adams and Keene. [52]

Notable participants Edit

Some of the women listed were well-known prior to the event, others became noteworthy later. Most names come from the official event program.

    Dr. Nellie V. Mark served as marshal of the professional women of Maryland in the Maryland portion of the parade. [39] : 475 , from Montana, marched under her state's sign she returned to Washington four years later as a U.S. Representative. [50] , who later became a political figure in her home state of California, served as NAWSA's 2nd vice president and marched with the officers. , of New York, also marched with the NAWSA board as corresponding secretary. , NAWSA recording secretary from Boston, later went on to serve in the Massachusetts legislature. , NAWSA treasurer, became a notable philanthropist and major funder of birth control research. , 1st auditor on the NAWSA board, was from New York and a political activist on many issues. , a D. C. resident and activist, organized the floats and marchers in the section for foreign countries. , 22 Founders of the sorority from Howard University. They were chaperoned by a male faculty member Dr. T.M. Gregory , born in South Africa, had an acting career in California, and organized the group of actresses in the procession. , chair and founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service, organized the nurse's group. , a pioneer in nursing education, assisted Delano with the nursing section of the parade.

Security failure Edit

The parade and tableaux at the Treasury Building were scheduled to begin simultaneously at 3 p.m. However, the trumpet call starting the procession did not sound until 3:25 p.m. At the lead were several police escort vehicles and six mounted officers in a wedge formation. By the time the front of the parade reached 5th Street, the crowd had completely blocked the avenue. At that point, the police escort seemed to vanish into the throng. [46] Milholland and others on horseback used the animals to help push back the crowds. Paul, Burns and other committee members brought a couple of automobiles to the front to help create a passage for the procession. The police had done little to open the parade route as they'd been ordered to do by Congress. Sylvester, who was at the train station awaiting Wilson's arrival, heard about the problem and put out the call to the cavalry unit on standby at Fort Myers. However, the mounted soldiers did not arrive on the scene until around 4:30 p.m. They were then able to usher the parade to its completion. [30]

Male and female spectators surged into the street, though men were in the majority. There were both hecklers and supporters, but parade-marshal Burleson and other women in the procession were intimidated, particularly by the hostile chants. [46] The Evening Star (Washington) published a review highlighting positive responses to the parade and pageant. [53] The crush of people led to trampling: over 200 people were treated for injuries at local hospitals. [54] At one point, Paul sympathetically acknowledged that the police were overwhelmed and not enough of them had been assigned to the parade, but she soon changed her stance in order to maximize publicity for her cause. [55] The police did actually arrest some spectators and fine them for crossing over the ropes. [39] : 174

Prior to the cavalry's arrival, other people began helping with crowd control. At times the marchers had been forced to go single file in order to move forward. [33] Boy Scouts with batons helped push back spectators. A group of soldiers linked arms to hold people back. Some of the black drivers from the floats also stepped in to help. [56] The Massachusetts and the Pennsylvania national guards stepped in, too. Eventually, boys from the Maryland Agricultural College created a human barrier protecting the women from the angry crowd and helping them progress forward to their destination. [57]

Rally at Continental Hall Edit

The final act was a meeting at the Memorial Continental Hall (later part of the expanded DAR Constitution Hall). Speakers were Anna Howard Shaw, Carrie Chapman Catt, Mary Johnston, and Helen Adams Keller. [29] Shaw, reflecting on the failure of police protection, stated that she was ashamed of the national capital, but she praised the marchers. She also recognized that they could use publicity about police failures to the suffragists' advantage. Blatch had used a similar security failure in New York in 1912 to the suffragists' advantage. [58]

Alice Paul's response Edit

Though at first she sympathized with the overwhelmed police force at the parade, Paul quickly capitalized on the verbal abuse the marchers had endured. She blamed the police for colluding with violent opposition to the non-violent demonstration. She asked participants to write affidavits about negative reactions they'd experienced, which Paul used to request Congressional action against Chief Sylvester. She also used these statements to generate press releases in Washington and around the country, garnering additional publicity for the suffrage procession. The resulting publicity also brought in additional donations that helped Paul cover the event's cost of $13,750. [59]

Paul's publicity campaign stressed that the marchers had demonstrated bravery and non-violent resistance to the hostile crowd. Several of the suffragists pointed out in the media that a government that couldn't protect its female citizens could not properly represent them. Paul's deft handling of the situation made woman's suffrage one of the most-discussed subjects in America. [59] [60]

Paul also orchestrated a meeting, primarily of political men who were suffrage supporters, at the Columbia Theater. The purpose was to add pressure on Congress to hold hearings about police misconduct. Key participants included activist attorney Louis Brandeis (who became a Supreme Court justice in 1916) and Minnesota senator Moses Edwin Clapp. She kept her role in organizing the event out of the spotlight. [60]

Congressional response Edit

The Senate Committee on the District of Columbia quickly organized a subcommittee hearing to determine why the crowds at the parade had gotten out of hand. [33] They listened to testimony and read numerous affidavits. Hearings were held March 6–13, and April 16–17. Sylvester defended his own actions and blamed individual policemen for disobeying his orders. In the end, Sylvester was exonerated, but public opinion about him was unfavorable. [1] : 371 When he was finally forced to resign in 1915 due to an unrelated incident, the mishandling of the 1913 parade was seen as instrumental in his ouster. [61]

President Wilson Edit

Alice Paul and the Congressional Union asked President Wilson to push Congress for a federal amendment, beginning with a deputation to the White House shortly after the parade and in several additional visits. He responded initially by saying he had never considered the matter, though he told a Colorado delegation in 1911 that he was indeed pondering the subject. Though he assured the women he would consider it, he did not act on the issue eventually he flatly remarked there was no room for suffrage on his agenda. [62] The deputation wished for Wilson to press his party to support suffrage legislation. He asserted that he had no influence over his party's actions in Congress, but for issues he considered important, he did use his leverage in a partisan manner, such as with repealing the Panama Canal tolls act. [63]

When asked if it had been unwise for her to push Wilson for his stance on woman's suffrage, Paul responded that it was important to make the public aware of his position so they could use it against him when the time came to put pressure on the Democrats during an election. [64] It took until 1918 for Wilson to finally change his stance on the suffrage amendment. [65] [66]

Impacts on the suffrage movement Edit

Paul inaugurated her leadership in the American suffrage movement with the 1913 procession. This event revived the push for a federal woman's suffrage amendment, a cause that the NAWSA had allowed to languish. [2] Little more than a month after the parade, the Susan B. Anthony amendment was re-introduced in both houses of Congress. [67] For the first time in decades it was debated on the floor. [1] [68] The demonstration on Pennsylvania Avenue was the precursor to Paul's other high-profile events that, along with actions by the NAWSA, culminated in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1919 and its ratification in 1920. [69] [1] : 425–428

Paul's focus on a federal amendment contrasted sharply with the NAWSA's state-by-state approach to suffrage, leading to a rift between the Constitutional Committee and the national board. The committee disassociated from the NAWSA and became the Congressional Union. [70] The Congressional Union eventually became subsumed by the National Woman's Party, also led by Paul, in 1916. [71]

In film Edit

The Woman Suffrage Procession was featured in the 2004 film Iron Jawed Angels, which chronicles the strategies of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and the National Woman's Party as they lobby and demonstrate for the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would assure voting rights for all American women. [72]

United States currency Edit

On April 20, 2016, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced plans for the back of the new $10 note to feature an image of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession that passed the steps of the Treasury Department where the allegorical tableaux took place. It is planned also to honor many of the leaders of the suffrage movement, including Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul. The front of the new $10 note is to retain the portrait of Alexander Hamilton. Designs for new $5, $10 and $20 bills were to be unveiled in 2020. [73] Later, it was said that the new note would not be ready for circulation until 2026. [74]

Anti-black racism Edit

The woman's suffrage movement, led in the nineteenth century by stalwart women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had its genesis in the abolitionist movement, but by the dawn of the twentieth century, Anthony's goal of universal suffrage was eclipsed by a near-universal racism in the United States. [75] [76] While earlier suffragists had believed the two issues could be linked, the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment forced a division between African American rights and suffrage for women by prioritizing voting rights for black men over universal suffrage for all men and women. [77] In 1903, the NAWSA officially adopted a platform of states' rights that was intended to mollify and bring Southern U.S. suffrage groups into the fold. The statement's signers included Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt and Anna Howard Shaw.

With the prevalence of segregation throughout the country, and within organizations such as the NAWSA, blacks had formed their own activist groups to fight for their equal rights. Many were college educated and resented their exclusion from political power. The fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 also fell in 1913, giving them even further incentive to march in the suffrage parade. [78] Two groups from Howard University, including the new Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, requested to join, and Paul assigned them to the college section of the parade, where she and Burns planned to march. [79] The Howard University group included the former president from the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs (NACWC), Mary Church Terrell. [58]

As part of the planning, Paul discussed participation with at least one local African American in the District and had reserved space in the parade for the NACWC and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). [24] [80] But the Virginia-born Gardener tried to persuade Paul that including blacks would be a bad idea because the Southern delegations were threatening to pull out of the march. Paul had attempted to keep news about black marchers out of the press, but when the Howard group announced they intended to participate, the public became aware of the conflict. [81] A newspaper account indicated that Paul told some black suffragists that the NAWSA believed in equal rights for "colored women", but that some Southern women were likely to object to their presence. A source in the organization insisted that the official stance was to "permit negroes to march if they cared to". [81] In a 1974 oral history interview, Paul recalled the "hurdle" of Terrell's plan to march, which upset the Southern delegations. She said the situation was resolved when a Quaker leading the men's section proposed the men march between the Southern groups and the Howard University group. [82]

While in Paul's memory, a compromise was reached to order the parade as southern women, then the men's section, and finally the Negro women's section, reports in the NAACP paper, The Crisis, depict events unfolding quite differently, with black women protesting the plan to segregate them. [69] What is clear is that some groups attempted, on the day of the parade, to segregate their delegations. [38] For example, a last-minute instruction by the chair of the state delegation section, Genevieve Stone, caused additional uproar when she asked the Illinois delegation's sole black member, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, to march with the segregated black group at the back of the parade. Some historians claim Paul made the request, though this seems unlikely after the official NAWSA decision. [81] [38] Wells-Barnett eventually rejoined the Illinois delegation as the procession moved down the avenue. In the end, black women marched in several state delegations, including New York and Michigan. Some joined in with their co-workers in the professional groups. There were also black men driving many of the floats. [58] The spectators did not treat the black participants any differently. [58]


HistoryLink.org

At 10:00 a.m. on June 28, 1909, a Northern Pacific Railroad train carrying suffragists en route to the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in Seattle arrives at the Northern Pacific Depot in Spokane. They are greeted by Washington Equal Suffrage Association president Emma Smith Devoe (1848-1927), leading Spokane suffragists May Arkwright Hutton (1860-1915), La Reine Baker, and other Spokane suffrage proponents. The upcoming convention will take place during Washington's first world's fair, the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held on the University of Washington campus. The exposition will sponsor a Suffrage Day and the confluence of the widely publicized convention and the world's fair will help win supporters for women's right to vote.

Forward Sisters!

May Awkwright Hutton was predominantly responsible for the many activities to which the visitors were treated during their busy hours in Spokane.The suffragists spent all day in the city, retraining at midnight. During the course of their visit, Spokane Mayor N. S. Pratt officially declared his support for woman suffrage. The Spokesman-Review reported another momentous event: "For the first time in the history of the west, the international hymn of the suffragists, adopted at the recent London convention, was heard, as it was pealed from the massive organ at the First Methodist Church and chorused from the 1000 men and women assembled" ("Suffrage Leaders Rule. ").

The International Convention had concluded in early May. A number of those aboard the Suffrage Special had attended, as had La Reine Baker. The New York Times reported a sample stanza of the suffrage hymn, which began "Forward, sisters, forward, Onward overmore! Bondage is behind you, Freedom is before" (May 16, 1909).

Washington Is Key

The Suffrage Special carried 37 presidents of state suffrage associations from around the country The Reverend Dr. Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association executive officers of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and many other leaders of national and international suffrage organizations.

The Northern Pacific Railroad provided the suffragists with train service from Chicago to Spokane, their first stop in the state of Washington. Between Spokane and Seattle their train, designated the Suffrage Special, made whistle stops in Pasco, North Yakima (now Yakima), and Ellensburg. At each stop stars of the suffrage movement addressed gathered crowds from the train's rear platform, enlisting the support of Washington's male voters and their female family members for the upcoming vote to amend the state constitution and grant women the voting franchise.

National suffrage leaders joined their Washington colleagues to push for the amendment's passage. Women could vote in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho, but the nation had been deadlocked on the suffrage issue since Idaho enfranchised women in 1896. Suffrage leaders viewed a victory in Washington as key to further progress in the long push toward a national suffrage amendment, and sought opportunities to participate in educational and non-threatening public relations.

Catching Flies With Honey

The day before the national suffragists arrived, the Spokesman-Review ran an interview with La Reine Baker, preparing the populace for what they might expect. Unlike the militant tactics employed by twentieth-century suffragists in England (also called suffragettes), whose methods included chaining themselves to fences, arrest and jail time, disrupting political meetings, hunger strikes, and other militant and flamboyant actions that were covered widely in the world press, the Washington campaign would be more civilized, the Spokesman-Review reported, " because American men are more tractable, more indulgent, and more gallant than their British brother" ("American Suffragists Taboo. "). The article went on to quote La Reine Baker:

"'The movement toward giving women the right to vote is progressing more gradually, with less friction in America than in England because here the battle is being fought separately in different states where there the contest covers the whole country. The suffragette movement is essentially an English development and is necessary there because it takes parades and demonstrations by English women to wake up Englishmen.'"

Headline writers at the Spokesman-Review extrapolated this as the sub-headline: "Our men can be coaxed, wheedled and cajoled, but forced? Nevaire! -- Voters of this state may prepare for an irresistible appeal by Women of Washington who hope to gain the ballot with winning smiles."

They Ruled This City

Portland resident Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915), the founding mother of the suffrage movement in the Pacific Northwest, echoed this appeasing tone in an interview the morning of June 28, 1909. Duniway, a guest of May Arkwright Hutton, told the Spokesman-Review, "Women can't rule men, and no wise suffragist will want to try it, and the man who is afraid of a woman does not amount to much as a man . equal suffrage is bound to come, and when it does, women will take it conservatively" ("Says Suffragists. "). Duniway stressed that women did not want the vote in order to then seek office, nor did they want the vote in order to pass temperance legislation, adding "every true suffragist puts her first care in the home. She doesn't want office and her one object is to better conditions in the home."

The Spokesman-Review's report the day after the suffragists' visit stated:

"Breathing for 18 hours every atom of hospitality that could be extended through the joint working of the Spokane business men and the Spokane Equal Suffrage club and its auxiliaries women suffragists from every corner of the United States to the number of 80 yesterday held sway in Spokane. While the majority represent states where they have not yet gained the ballot, in spirit alone yesterday they ruled this city . . Women whose names have circled the globe for their activities in the equal suffrage movement visited Spokane, many for the first time" ("Suffrage Leaders Rule. ").

As the suffragists boosted woman suffrage to Spokane, Spokane boosted its civic charms to the visiting suffragists. The Spokesman-Review opined, "When the curtain dropped on the 'boosting' drama the city had experienced something more than unusual in the way of publicity" ("Suffrage Leaders Rule. ")

Swimming, Supping, Speaking

At the Northern Pacific depot, the visitors were divided into private cars and driven to the Spokane Chamber of Commerce. From there they proceeded to tour the town. During a stop at the Spokane Amateur Athletic Club the suffragists were invited to use the swimming pool. May Arkwright Hutton entertained some visitors at her home. After these diversions, the party assembled in the Hall of the Doges, a lavish ballroom perched atop the Davenport Restaurant (after 1914 part of the Davenport Hotel), for a six-course dinner accompanied by orchestral music. The banquet was sponsored by the Spokane Board of Trade.

May Arkwright Hutton, president of the Spokane Equal Suffrage club and vice-president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association, served as toastmaster. Mayor Pratt gave the official welcome, calling women's right to vote "but the logical result of the progress on enlightenment and civilization" (quoted in "Suffrage Leaders Rule. "). Emma Smith Devoe, Anna Howard Shaw, La Reine Baker, Florence Kelley, Lottie Clay, and Frances Squire Potter (1887-1914) all spoke and Charlotte Perkins Gilman read several poems.

The Spokesman-Review stated:

"Mayor Pratt presented the Rev. Anna Shaw, president of the National Suffrage association, with a gold-bedecked gavel made from the wood grown in the four states which now have equal suffrage, namely Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho. The gavel was presented by the Washington suffragists and in the words of Mayor Pratt, 'when it calls to order the national convention in Seattle July 1 it will echo and reecho a movement which in importance and results will equal the shot heard round the world at the beginning of the American revolution'" ("Suffrage Leaders Rule . "). Although the Spokesman-Review described the gavel as "gold-bedecked," it may actually have been bound in silver. Hutton and her husband were major owners of the Hercules silver mine in Northern Idaho.

An evening meeting at the First Methodist Church followed the dinner. The delegates entrained into the Suffrage Special (a different Northern Pacific train) for the journey across the state. Emma Smith Devoe had arranged for the train to be put at the suffragists' disposal. Their numbers were greatly enlarged by the Spokane delegates, including May Arkwright Hutton. The Spokane contingent had an entire train car to themselves. The Suffrage Special pulled out of Spokane at 2:30 a.m. on June 29, 1909.

May Arkwright Hutton (1860-1915)

Hall of the Doges, Davenport Hotel, Spokane, 1910s

The Reverend Dr. Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), n.d.

Courtesy Library of Congress (Neg. LC-USZ6220177)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), ca. 1904

Courtesy Library of Congress (Neg.rbcmil scrp1012802)

Emma Smith DeVoe (1848-1927)

Courtesy Tacoma Public Library, Richards Studio Collection (TPL-8717)

Northern Pacific Railroad's advertisement in Progress Magazine for Suffrage Special train taking delegates to July 1909 National American Woman Suffrage Convention in Seattle, March 1909


Marching for the Vote: Remembering the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913

MOB HURTS 300 SUFFRAGISTS AT CAPITAL PARADE 1

&ldquoThere would be nothing like this happen if you would stay at home.&rdquo 2

On Monday, March 3, 1913, clad in a white cape astride a white horse, lawyer Inez Milholland led the great woman suffrage parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation's capital. Behind her stretched a long line with nine bands, four mounted brigades, three heralds, about twenty-four floats, and more than 5,000 marchers. 3

Women from countries that had enfranchised women held the place of honor in the first section of the procession. Then came the &ldquoPioneers&rdquo who had been struggling for so many decades to secure women's right to vote. The next sections celebrated working women, who were grouped by occupation and wearing appropriate garb&mdashnurses in uniform, women farmers, homemakers, women doctors and pharmacists, actresses, librarians, college women in academic gowns. Harriet Hifton of the Library of Congress Copyright Division led the librarians' contingent. The state delegations followed, and finally the separate section for male supporters of women's suffrage. All had come from around the country to &ldquomarch in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded. 4

The procession began late, but all went well for the first few blocks. Soon, however, the crowds, mostly men in town for the following day's inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, surged into the street making it almost impossible for the marchers to pass. Occasionally only a single file could move forward. Women were jeered, tripped, grabbed, shoved, and many heard &ldquoindecent epithets&rdquo and &ldquobarnyard conversation.&rdquo 5 Instead of protecting the parade, the police &ldquoseemed to enjoy all the ribald jokes and laughter and part participated in them.&rdquo 6 One policeman explained that they should stay at home where they belonged. The men in the procession heard shouts of &ldquoHenpecko&rdquo and &ldquoWhere are your skirts?&rdquo As one witness explained, &ldquoThere was a sort of spirit of levity connected with the crowd. They did not regard the affair very seriously.&rdquo 7

Head of suffrage parade, Washington, D.C. Women suffragists marching on Pennsylvania Avenue led by Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson (center on horseback) U.S. Capitol in background. 1913. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Crowd breaking parade up at 9th St. Woman's suffrage procession in Washington, D.C. being stopped by a crowd. 1913. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

George Grantham Bain. Suffragette parade Mch. 3d 1913. Photograph shows nurses marching to support women's suffrage near the U.S. Capitol. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

But to the women, the event was very serious. Helen Keller &ldquowas so exhausted and unnerved by the experience in attempting to reach a grandstand . . . that she was unable to speak later at Continental hall [sic].&rdquo 8 Two ambulances &ldquocame and went constantly for six hours, always impeded and at times actually opposed, so that doctor and driver literally had to fight their way to give succor to the injured&rdquo 9 . One hundred marchers were taken to the local Emergency Hospital. Before the afternoon was over, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, responding to a request from the chief of police, authorized the use of a troop of cavalry from nearby Fort Myer to help control the crowd. 10

Despite enormous difficulties, many of those in the parade completed the route. When the procession reached the Treasury Building, one hundred women and children presented an allegorical tableau written especially for the event to show &ldquothose ideals toward which both men and women have been struggling through the ages and toward which, in co-operation and equality, they will continue to strive&rdquo. The pageant began with &ldquoThe Star Spangled Banner&rdquo and the commanding figure of Columbia dressed in national colors, emerging from the great columns at the top of the Treasury Building steps. Charity entered, her path strewn with rose petals. Liberty followed to the &ldquoTriumphal March&rdquo from &ldquoAida&rdquo and a dove of peace was released. In the final tableau, Columbia, surrounded by Justice, Charity, Liberty, Peace, and Hope, all in flowing robes and colorful scarves, with trumpets sounding, stood to watch the oncoming procession. 11 The New York Times described the pageant as &ldquoone of the most impressively beautiful spectacles ever staged in this country&rdquo. 12

At the railway station a few blocks away, president-elect Wilson and the presidential party arrived to little fanfare. One of the incoming president's staff asked, &lsquoWhere are all the people?&rsquo&mdash&lsquoWatching the suffrage parade,&rsquo the police told him.&rdquo 13 The next day Wilson would be driven down the miraculously clear, police-lined Pennsylvania Avenue cheered on by a respectful crowd.

The Washington march came at a time when the suffrage movement badly needed an infusion of vigor, a new way to capture public and press interest. Women had been struggling for the right to vote for more than sixty years, and although progress had been made in recent years on the state level with six western states granting women suffrage, the movement had stalled on the national level. Delegates from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA, and its predecessor associations) had arrived in the nation's capital every year since 1869 to present petitions asking that women be enfranchised. Despite this annual pilgrimage and the millions of signatures collected, debate on the issue had never even reached the floor of the House of Representatives. 14 In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party became the first major political party to pledge itself &ldquoto the task of securing equal suffrage to men and women alike.&rdquo 15 But the Progressives lost the election.

In November 1912, as suffrage leaders were casting about for new means to ensure their victory, Alice Paul arrived at the NAWSA annual convention in Philadelphia. A twenty-eight-year-old Quaker from New Jersey, she had recently returned to the United States fresh from helping the militant branch of the British suffrage movement. She had been arrested repeatedly, been imprisoned, gone on a hunger strike, and been forcibly fed, 16 an experience she described in an interview as &ldquorevolting.&rdquo Paul was full of ideas for the American movement. She asked to be allowed to organize a suffrage parade to be held in Washington at the time of the president's inauguration, thus ensuring maximum press attention. NAWSA accepted her offer when she promised to raise the necessary funds and gave her the title chairman of the Congressional Committee. 17 In December 1912, she moved to Washington where she discovered that the committee she chaired had no headquarters and most of the members had moved away or died. 18

Alice Paul Talks. Philadelphia Tribune, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jan-10. [1909-1910]. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Undaunted, Alice Paul convened the first meeting of her new committee on January 2, 1913, in the newly rented basement headquarters at 1420 F Street, NW. She started raising funds according to one friend, &ldquoit was very difficult to refuse Alice Paul.&rdquo 19 She and the others she recruited worked nonstop for two months. By March 3 this fledgling committee had organized and found the money for a major suffrage parade with floats, banners, speakers, and a twenty-page official program. The total cost of the event was $14,906.08, a princely sum in 1913, when the average annual wage was $621. 20 The programs and tableau each cost more than $1,000. 21

Woman Suffrage Procession, Washington, D.C. Official program woman suffrage procession. 1913. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Why You Must March

Suffrage groups across the nation contributed to the success of the procession. From its New York headquarters, NAWSA urged suffrage supporters to gather in Washington:

Because this is the most conspicuous and important demonstration that has ever been attempted by suffragists in this country.

Because this parade will be taken to indicate the importance of the suffrage movement by the press of the country and the thousands of spectators from all over the United States gathered in Washington for the Inauguration. 22

This call was answered. On February 12, with cameras clicking, sixteen &ldquosuffrage pilgrims&rdquo left New York City to walk to Washington for the parade. Many other people joined the original marchers at various stages, and the New York State Woman Suffrage Association's journal crowed that &ldquono propaganda work undertaken by the State Association and the Party has ever achieved such publicity.&rdquo 23 One of the New York group, Elizabeth Freeman, dressed as a gypsy and drove a yellow, horse-drawn wagon decorated with Votes for Women symbols and filled with suffrage literature, a sure way to attract publicity. 24 Two weeks after the procession, five New York suffragists, including Elizabeth Freeman, reported to the Bronx motion picture studio of the Thomas A. Edison Company to make a talking picture known as a Kinetophone, which included a cylinder recording of one-minute speeches by each of the women. This film with synchronized sound was shown in vaudeville houses where it was &ldquohooted, jeered and hissed&rdquo by audiences. 25

Eliz Freeman enrout [sic] to Wash'n. 1913. Elizabeth Freeman of the New York State Suffrage Association, with horse and carriage, on her way to join the March 3, 1913 suffrage march in Washington, D.C. George Grantham Bain Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

NAWSA officers prepared a strong letter to the president-elect for the &ldquoNew York hikers&rdquo to carry to Washington. This letter urged that women's suffrage be achieved during his presidency and warned that the women of the United States &ldquowill watch your administration with an intense interest such as has never before been focused upon the administration of any of your predecessors.&rdquo 26 Despite the tone of the letter, when the group reached Princeton, where Woodrow Wilson lived, they requested only &ldquoan audience for not more than two minutes in Washington as soon after your arrival as possible.&rdquo 27 Less than two weeks after his inauguration, Wilson received a suffrage delegation led by Alice Paul, who chose to make the case for suffrage verbally and apparently did not deliver the hikers' letter. In response to the women's impassioned plea, he replied that he had never given the subject any thought, but that it &ldquowill receive my most careful consideration.&rdquo 28 Hardly the whole-hearted endorsement sought by the women.

The mistreatment of the marchers by the crowd and the police roused great indignation and led to congressional hearings where more than 150 witnesses recounted their experiences some complained about the lack of police protection, and others defended the police. Before the inquiries were over, the superintendent of police of the District of Columbia had lost his job.

Front page of the "Woman's journal and suffrage news" with the headline: "Parade struggles to victory despite disgraceful scenes" showing images of the women's suffrage parade in Washington, March 3, 1913. National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The public outcry and its accompanying press coverage proved a windfall for the suffragists. The Woman's Journal proclaimed, &ldquoParade Struggles to Victory Despite Disgraceful Scenes, Nation Aroused by Open Insults to Women-Cause Wins Popular Sympathy.&rdquo 29 The New York Tribune announced, &ldquoCapital Mobs Made Converts to Suffrage.&rdquo 30 At its next convention, in November 1913, NAWSA praised the &ldquoamazing and most creditable year's work&rdquo of Alice Paul's Congressional Committee, stating that &ldquotheir single-mindedness and devotion has been remarkable and the whole movement in the country has been wonderfully furthered by the series of important events which have taken place in Washington, beginning with the great parade the day before the inauguration of the president.&rdquo 31

Not one to mince words, famous reporter Nellie Bly, who rode as one of the heralds in the parade, bluntly stated in the headline to her article on the march&mdash&ldquoSuffragists Are Men's Superiors.&rdquo With uncanny prescience, she added that it would take at least until 1920 for all states to grant woman suffrage. 32 Despite the pageantry of 1913, Nellie Bly was right. It was to take seven more years before the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which gave women full rights to vote, finally passed both houses of Congress and was ratified by the required thirty-six states.

Behind this description of the 1913 Washington Suffrage Procession&mdashone event in the long history of women's campaign for suffrage in the United States&mdashlies a wealth of telling detail and the human stories that make history interesting and meaningful. A rich variety of suffrage materials in many formats lie scattered throughout the collections of the Library of Congress awaiting the curious reader in search of further details and other stories, of the sounds and sights of the fight for the vote.

The organizers of the parade intended its floats and pageant to have visual appeal for the media and thus to attract publicity for the movement. Photographers recorded the women's activities for newspaper readers and these images live on in newspapers and photo archives. Easily the single most heavily represented suffrage event in the Prints and Photographs Division's holdings, the march appears in more than forty images, including news photographs of the hike from New York to Washington, the marchers and crowds on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the pageant performed at the Treasury Building. A surviving stereograph of the parade suggests that publishers of these images, which appeared in three dimensions when seen through a special viewer, expected that the public would be willing to pay for a permanent memento of the event.

Suffragette parade, Pennsylvania Ave., Washington D.C., March 3, 1913. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Within the General Collections lie innumerable journal articles, autobiographies, and extensive secondary literature addressing the issues of women's suffrage. Further examples of these types of materials can be found in the microform collections.

Legal materials on women's suffrage&mdashcongressional hearings and reports, relevant laws, articles in legal journals, and books&mdashare held in the Law Library. See a discussion of "State Suffrage Laws."

Contemporary press coverage of the suffrage movement can be found in newspapers from around the country and the world. Many of these valuable primary sources can be read in the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room, but some foreign-language newspapers are held by Area Studies reading rooms.

See the Music Division's section Topical Research in Popular Songs for ways to find music on suffrage. In the Recorded Sound Reference Center you can learn about the Sounds of the Suffrage Movement.

As you move through this Web site exploring the variety of formats available to study the women's suffrage movement, you will find many other sources to open new avenues for continuing the investigation of the long and fascinating fight for women's right to vote.

One of the great rewards of research is the exhilaration of new discoveries&mdashuncovering a new fact, locating an unknown photograph, or hearing the voice of a person you are studying. At the Library of Congress you can hold a letter written by Alice Paul, follow the path of the suffrage parade on a map of Washington, watch a film of suffragists, or scan old newspapers for Nellie Bly's forthright words. If you listen carefully, our foremothers will speak to you. If you tell their story, they will live again.

*Authored the original essay in American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States (Library of Congress, 2001), from which this online version is derived. Others who contributed to this effort are identified in the Acknowledgments.

The women's march also inspired cartoonists, some of whom likened the suffrage movement to colonial America's fight for independence. James Harrison Donahey, for example, substituted women for men in a cartoon based on the famous painting &ldquoWashington Crossing the Delaware.&rdquo In another such cartoon, women play the fife and drums in an imitation of Archibald Willard's painting &ldquoSpirit of ྈ&rdquo [view picture]. 33 Suffrage and anti-suffrage cartoons appeared frequently in magazines and newspapers of the day. 34

Vivid details about the march also turn up in a seemingly unlikely source. The Yidishes Tageblatt (Jewish daily news), a Yiddish-language publication from New York City with a circulation of seventy thousand, devoted two columns to the women's parade. The article claimed that twenty-five lost children stayed in police stations overnight and eighteen men asked the police to find their wives. 35

Winsor McCay. Suffrage March Line. Drawing for the New York Evening Journal, March 4, 1913. Library of Congress Serial and Government Publications Division.

A 1974 magazine interview with eighty-nine-year-old Alice Paul reveals the problems for the historian of hindsight and memory. In two major respects Miss Paul's recollections of the event, sixty-one years after it occurred, differ from those of contemporary sources. She remembers a fairly peaceable parade in which the police did as well as could be expected: &ldquoOf course, we did hear a lot of shouted insults, which we always expected. You know the usual things about why aren't you home in the kitchen where you belong. But it wasn't anything violent.&rdquo 36 The Senate hearings, on the other hand, show that many people felt the crowd was hostile and the police inept.

The other major point in which Paul's memory differs from contemporary accounts is on the question of the place of African American women in the procession. In her view, the &ldquogreatest hurdle&rdquo in planning the parade came when Mary Church Terrell wanted to bring a group from the National Association of Colored Women. NAWSA had stated firmly that all women were welcome, but Paul knew &ldquomembers from the South said they wouldn't march.&rdquo She recalls that the compromise was to have white women march first, then the men's section, and finally the Negro women's section. 37 A different picture appears in the Crisis, the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. After initial difficulties and attempts to segregate the African American women, &ldquotelegrams and protests poured in and eventually the colored women marched according to their State and occupation without let or hindrance.&rdquo 38 Ida B. Wells-Barnett was among those who objected strongly to a segregated parade she walked with the Illinois delegation.

Moving beyond sources related to a single event to examine other aspects of the history of women's suffrage, researchers visiting the Library of Congress will discover collections of major significance in many different reading rooms. Most of these materials are discussed in greater detail elsewhere on this site&mdashjust follow the links.


The Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913

German actress Hedwig Reicher wears the costume of “Columbia” with other suffrage pageant participants standing in background in front of the Treasury Building in Washington, District of Columbia, on March 3, 1913. The performance was part of the larger Suffrage Parade of 1913.

The event was organized by Alice Paul, who was born in New Jersey and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She traveled to England and became involved with the suffrage movement. Upon her return to the United States she joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Washington parade was her first duty as part of the suffrage association.

Suffragist Alice Paul, in a 1913 photograph. Paul was born in New Jersey, earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, then traveled to England and became friends with members of the women’s suffrage movement there. She soon became very active herself, and, on returning to the United States soon after, joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her first actions as part of NAWSA were to organize a massive parade in Washington, District of Columbia, to promote a new constitutional amendment that would guarantee women’s right to vote in the U.S.

The parade included nine bands, four mounted brigades, 20 floats, and an allegorical performance near the Treasury Building. The marchers were separated into different categories. Leading the parade, wearing a crown and long white cape on top a white horse, was labor lawyer Inez Milholland. Women from countries that had already enfranchised women were first, along with officers in the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

The “Pioneers”, women who have been working on suffrage for decades, came after. Celebration of working women followed the Pioneers section and included nurses, farmers, homemakers, doctors, college women and more. Other sections included the National Association of Colored Women, individual state delegations and male supporters.

The parade began late. There was a very large turnout, in part because many tourists came to see the inauguration the next day. The association was worried that the police were going to underestimate the parade’s audience and not make preparations. Committee member Mrs. John Rogers went to see her brother-in-law the night before about crowd issues. He just happened to be Henry L. Stimson, the Secretary of War. Secretary Stimson promised to send over the cavalry from Fort Myer if trouble should arise.

The parade appeared to have a good start however Pennsylvania Avenue soon became choked with thousands of spectators. At the same time a few blocks away, president-elect Wilson arrived at the railway station to very little fanfare. When they asked where everyone was, they were told everyone was “watching the suffrage parade.”

Mostly men, the spectators began to jostle and hurl insults at the parade members. With massive crowds, the parade could barely get past. Some women were tripped and assaulted while the police did little to stop it. One policeman even told some women that they should have stayed home where they belonged. Over one hundred marchers were hospitalized due to the injuries they received from the crowds.

It took six hours to go from the Capitol to Constitution Hall. Finally, Secretary Stimson was called and quickly sent over the troops to clear the way for the parade. It was reported that Helen Keller “was so exhausted and unnerved by the experience in attempting to reach a grandstand…that she was unable to speak later at Continental hall [sic].” The majority of the women finished the parade and the event continued as scheduled.

The mistreatment of the marchers by the crowd and the police caused a great furor. Alice Paul shaped the public response after the parade, portraying the incident as symbolic of systemic government mistreatment of women, stemming from their lack of a voice and political influence through the vote. She claimed the incident showed that the government’s role in women’s lives had broken down, and that it was incapable of even providing women with physical safety.

Journalist Nellie Bly, who had participated in the march, headlined her article “Suffragists are Men’s Superiors”. Senate hearings, held by a subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia, started on March 6, only three days after the march, and lasted until March 17, with the result that the District’s superintendent of police was replaced. NAWSA praised the parade and Paul’s work on it, saying “the whole movement in the country has been wonderfully furthered by the series of important events which have taken place in Washington, beginning with the great parade the day before the inauguration of the president”.

Cover of the program for the 1913 women’s suffrage procession.

Elizabeth Freeman of the New York State Suffrage Association, with horse and carriage, on her way to join the March 3, 1913 suffrage march in Washington, District of Columbia.

Mrs. E.R. Smith practicing speechmaking from a covered platform before a small crowd, a ‘school for suffragette speakers’ in Union Square.

Suffragists on bus in New York City, part of the suffrage hike to Washington, District of Columbia, which joined the March 3, 1913 National American Woman Suffrage Association parade.

March 3, 1913 photo at the Suffrage Parade, showing marchers (left to right) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Mrs. Althea Taft, Mrs. Lew Bridges, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, Alberta Hill and Miss F. Ragsdale.

The hike lead by “General” Rosalie Jones from New York to Washington, District of Columbia, for the March 3, 1913 Suffrage parade. Photo taken in Newark, New Jersey on Broad Street, just north of West Kinney Street, on February 12, 1913. Rosalie Jones is walking behind the first car.

Suffragists hand out flyers advertising the upcoming parade, 1913.

Women suffrage hikers arriving in Washington, District of Columbia, from New York, 1913.

At an open air meeting in Washington, District of Columbia, in March of 1913, calling upon Congress to pass the national woman suffrage amendment. This photograph shows Mrs. John Rogers, sister-in-law of former Secretary of War, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Congressional Union for Women Suffrage, speaking in front of old Corcoran Art Gallery.

Lawyer Inez Milholland Boissevain prepares to lead the Suffrage Parade, on March 3, 1913.

Women suffragists at the head of the parade, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, with the U.S. Capitol in background, on March 3, 1913.

Actress Margaret Vale Howe, a participant in the suffrage parade in Washington, District of Columbia, in March of 1913.

Tableau presented by the Women’s Suffrage Association, on the U.S. Treasury building steps, on March 3, 1913.

Spectators crowd in on the passing Suffrage Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, on March 3, 1913.

Pennsylvania Avenue, completely choked with spectators during the Suffrage Parade, on March 3, 1913.

“Home Makers,” part of the Women’s Suffrage Parade, on March 3, 1913.

Crowds press in on the parade route in Washington, District of Columbia, on March 3, 1913. The stands and bunting were in place for the Inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson, scheduled for the following day.

Part of the 1913 Suffrage Parade. The signs read “In The Home”, and “Homemakers”.

The crowd converges on marchers, blocking the parade route during March 3, 1913, suffrage procession, in Washington, District of Columbia.

This photo is captioned “Crowd breaking parade up at 9th St., March 3, 1913.”

The crowd surrounds and slows a Red Cross ambulance during the Women’s suffrage procession, on March 3, 1913. Dozens of marchers were injured during the march, shoved and tripped by spectators.

After the Parade: Mrs. John Boldt, Mrs. May Morgan, Miss Dock, and Miss Craft, suffrage hikers who took part in the suffrage hike from New York City to Washington, District of Columbia, as well as the parade itself, on March 3, 1913.


Collection Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party

President Wilson rebukes deputation presenting him with Boissevain memorial resolutions.

Jan. 10

Mar. 1-4

CU and NWP merge into one organization—the NWP, at convention in Washington, D.C.

Mar. 4

"Grand Picket" — More than 1,000 women march around White House in icy, driving rain on eve of President Wilson's second inauguration.

Apr. 2

Federal woman suffrage amendment reintroduced in House of Representatives. Jeannette Rankin of Montana, first woman elected to Congress, formally joins House of Representatives.

Apr. 4

Federal woman suffrage amendment reintroduced in Senate.

Apr. 6

United States enters World War I.

June 20

Lucy Burns and Dora Lewis picket with "Russian" banner, accusing President Wilson and American envoy Elihu Root of deceiving Russia—by claiming United States a democracy. Angry crowd destroys banner.

June 22

Lucy Burns and Katherine Morey, first pickets arrested while demonstrating outside White House never brought to trial.

June 22-26

Police arrest 27 more pickets—charged with obstructing traffic all but six released without penalty.

June 27

Six pickets sentenced to three days in District jail—first of 168 women to serve prison time for suffrage activities.

More pickets arrested and sentenced to jail.

Aug. 14

Pickets carry "Kaiser Wilson" banner critical of President Wilson. Angry mob attacks pickets while police fail to intervene.

Aug.-Oct.

Attacks by bystanders and arrests of pickets continue.

Sept. 14

Senator Andrieus Aristieus Jones, chair, Senate Woman Suffrage Committee, visits Occoquan Workhouse to investigate treatment of suffrage prisoners.

Sept. 15

Senate Woman Suffrage Committee suddenly reports out suffrage bill.

Sept. 24

After years of NWP lobbying, House of Representatives creates separate Woman Suffrage Committee, allowing suffragists to bypass House Judiciary Committee, which routinely tabled all suffrage bills.

Imprisoned suffragists circulate secret petition demanding political prisoner status. Petition smuggled out and presented to commissioners of District of Columbia. All who signed petition put in solitary confinement.

Oct. 20-22

Alice Paul arrested (Oct 20). Sentenced (Oct. 22) to seven months in Occoquan Workhouse.

Nov. 5

Paul and Rose Winslow begin hunger strike after demands for treatment as political prisoners rejected subject to force-feeding one week later. Paul transferred to psychiatric ward at District jail in effort to intimidate and discredit her.

Nov. 6

New York becomes first eastern state granting women the vote.

Nov. 10

Large picket protests treatment of Paul and other suffrage prisoners 31 pickets arrested.

Nov. 15

Force used against suffrage prisoners at Occoquan Workhouse in "Night of Terror" prompts public outcry against treatment of protesters.

Nov. 27-28

Under political pressure, government authorities release Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and 20 other suffrage prisoners.


Eleven Times When Americans Have Marched in Protest on Washington

Even in a republic built by and for the people, national politics can feel disconnected from the concerns of American citizens. And when there are months or years between elections, there’s one method people have turned to again and again to voice their concerns: marches on Washington. The capital has played host to a fleet of family farmers on tractors in 1979, a crowd of 215,000 led by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert in the 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, a brigade of 1,500 puppets championing public media (inspired by presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s comments about Big Bird and funding for public television), and the annual March for Life rally that brings together evangelicals and other groups protesting abortion.

Related Content

In anticipation of the next big march on Washington, explore ten of the largest marches on Washington. From the Ku Klux Klan to the People’s Anti-War Mobilization, Washington’s history of marches is a testament to the ever-evolving social, cultural and political milieu of America. 

Women’s Suffrage March – March 3, 1913

The official program for the Women's March, 1913. (Wikimedia Commons) The head of the suffragist parade in Washington, 1913. (Wikimedia Commons)

One day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration, 5,000 women paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue to demand the right to vote. It was the first civil rights parade to use the capital as its stage, and it drew plenty of attention�,000 spectators watched the procession. The march was organized by suffragist Alice Paul and led by labor lawyer Inez Milholland, who rode a white horse named Gray Dawn and was dressed in a blue cape, white boots and a crown. The Washington Post called her “the most beautiful suffragist,” a title to which she responded, “I like it… I wish, however, that I had been given another one which would suggest intellectuality rather than beauty, as that is much more essential.” 

Ku Klux Klan March – August 8, 1925

The Ku Klux Klan marching in Washington, 1925. (Wikimedia Commons) The Ku Klux Klan gathering for the march on Washington, 1925. (Wikimedia Commons) In formation for the march on Washington, 1925. (Wikimedia Commons)

Spurred by hatred of European Catholics, Jewish immigrants and African-Americans and inspired by the silent film Birth of a Nation (in which Klansmen were portrayed as heroes), the Ku Klux Klan had an astounding 3 million members in the 1920s (The U.S. population at the time was just 106.5 million people.) But there were rifts between members from the North and the South, and to bridge that divide—and make their presence known—they gathered in Washington. Between 50,000 and 60,000 Klansmen participated in the event, and wore their ominous cloaks and hats, though masks were forbidden. Despite fears that the march would lead to violence, it was a largely silent, peaceable event—and plenty of newspapers’ editorial sections cheered the Klan on. A Maryland newspaper described its readers as “quivering in excited anticipation of 100,000 ghostly apparitions wafting through the streets of the national capital to stirring strains of the ‘Liberty Stable Blues.’” 

Bonus Army March – June 17, 1932

The Bonus Army encampment, waiting for their bonuses from the U.S. government. (Wikimedia Commons)

A few years after the end of World War I, Congress rewarded American veterans with certificates valued at $1,000 that wouldn’t be redeemable for their full amount for more than 20 years. But when the Great Depression led to mass unemployment and hunger, desperate vets hoped to cash in their bonuses ahead of schedule. In the early years of the Depression, a number of marches and demonstrations took place around the country: a Communist-led hunger march on Washington in December of 1931, an army of 12,000 jobless men in Pittsburgh, and a riot at Ford’s River Rouge plant in Michigan that left four dead.

Most famous of all were the “Bonus Expeditionary Forces” led by former cannery worker Walter W. Walters. Walters assembled 20,000 vets, some with their families, to wait until a veterans’ bill was passed in Congress that would allow the vets to collect their bonuses. But when it was defeated in the Senate on June 17, desperation broke through the previously peaceful crowd. Army troops led by Douglas MacArthur, then the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, chased the veterans out, employing gas, bayonets and sabers and destroying the makeshift camps in the process. The violence of the response seemed, to many, out of proportion, and contributed to souring public opinion on President Herbert Hoover.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – August 28, 1963

Leaders of the Civil Rights march of 1963. (U.S. National Archives)

Best remembered for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, this enormous demonstration called for fighting injustice and inequalities against African-Americans. The idea for the march dated back to the 1940s, when labor organizer A. Philip Randolph proposed large-scale marches to protest segregation. Eventually the event came to be thanks to help from Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, Whitney Young of the National Urban League, Walter Reuther of United Auto Workers, Joachim Prinz of American Jewish Congress and many others. The march united an assembly of 160,000 black people and 60,000 white people, who gave a list of 󈫺 Demands”, including everything from desegregation of school districts to fair employment policies. The march and the many other forms of protest that fell under the Civil Rights Movement led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968—though the struggle for equality continues in different forms today.

Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam – October 15, 1969

Peace marchers, carrying candles, pass the White House during the hour-long procession which ended the Vietnam Moratorium Day activities in Washington at night on Oct. 15, 1969. (AP Photo)

More than a decade into the Vietnam War, with half-a-million Americans involved in the conflict, the public was increasingly desperate for an end to the bloodshed. To show united opposition to the war, Americans across the U.S. participated in street rallies, school seminars and religious services. The Peace Moratorium is believed to be the biggest demonstration in U.S. history, with 2 million people participating, and 200,000 of them marching across Washington. A month later, a follow-up rally brought 500,000 anti-war protestors to Washington, making it the largest political rally in the nation’s history. But despite the vocal outcry against the conflict, the war continued for six more years. 

Kent State/Cambodian Incursion Protest – May 9, 1970

Anti-war demonstrators raise their hands toward the White House as they protest the shootings at Kent State University and the U.S. incursion into Cambodia, on May 9, 1970. (AP Photo)

In addition to rallies at the capital, Americans across the country staged protests against the Vietnam War, especially at universities. Kent State in Ohio was one of the sites of demonstrations. When students heard President Richard Nixon announce U.S. intervention in Cambodia (which would require drafting 150,000 more soldiers), rallies turned into rioting. The National Guard was called in to prevent further unrest, and when confronted by the students the guardsmen panicked and fired about 35 rounds into the crowd of students. Four students were killed and nine seriously wounded none of them were closer than 75 feet to the troops who shot them.

The incident sparked protests across the country, with nearly 500 colleges shut down or disrupted due to rioting. Eight of the guardsmen who fired on the students were indicted by a grand jury, but the case was dismissed over lack of evidence. The Kent State shooting also spurred another anti-war protest in Washington, with 100,000 participants voicing their fears and frustrations. 

Anti-Nuclear March – May 6, 1979

Anti-nuclear rally outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Wikimedia Commons) President Jimmy Carter leaving Three Mile Island for Middletown, Pennsylvania (Wikimedia Commons)

On March 28, 1979, the U.S. experienced its most serious accident in the history of commercial nuclear power. A reactor in Middletown, Pennsylvania, at the Three Mile Island plant experienced a severe core meltdown. Although the reactor’s containment facility remained intact and held almost all the radioactive material, the accident fueled public hysteria. The EPA and Department of Health, Education and Welfare both found that the 2 million people in proximity to the reactor during the accident received a dose of radiation only about 1 millirem above the usual background radiation (for comparison, a chest x-ray is about 6 millirem).

Although the incident ultimately had negligible effects on human health and the environment, it tapped into larger fears over nuclear war and the arms race. Following the Three Mile Island meltdown, 125,000 protestors gathered in Washington on May 6, chanting slogans like “Hell no, we won’t glow” and listening to speeches by Jane Fonda, Ralph Nader and California governor Jerry Brown. 

National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights – October 14, 1979

Button from March with a Harvey Milk Quote "Rights are not won on paper: They are on by those that make their voices heard" (Wikimedia Commons) Buttons from The National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, October 14, 1979 (Wikimedia Commons)

Ten years after the Stonewall riots (a series of LGBTQ demonstrations in response to police raids in Manhattan), six years after the American Psychiatric Association took homosexuality off the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as a mental illness, and 10 months after openly gay public official Harvey Milk was assassinated, 100,000 protestors marched on Washington for LGBTQ rights. To hold the event, the community had to overcome one obstacle that few other minority groups did: their members could hide their sexual orientation indefinitely, and marching would essentially mean “coming out” to the world. But as the coordinators Steve Ault and Joyce Hunter wrote in their tract on the event: “Lesbians and gay men and our supporters will march for our own dream: the dream of justice, equality and freedom for 20 million lesbians and gay men in the United States.”

A decade later, a second march involved more than𧋴,000 activists angry about the government’s lackluster response to the AIDS crisis and the 1986 Supreme Court decision to uphold sodomy laws. The movement continued to address issues faced by LGBTQ citizens, culminating with a major victory in June 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled state-level bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.

People’s Anti-War Mobilization – May 3, 1981

With the Lincoln Memorial in the background, anti-war marchers cross the Memorial Bridge on their way to the Pentagon for a rally to protest U.S. military involvement in El Salvador and President Reagan's proposed cuts in domestic social programs, May 3, 1981. (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz)

The crowd that assembled to protest the Reagan Administration in 1981 was perhaps one of the most tenuous coalitions. The demonstration was co-sponsored by over 1,000 individuals and organizations across the country and they marched for everything from Palestinian autonomy to U.S. involvement in El Salvador. It seemed the march was meant in part to unify all the various groups, according to Bill Massey, spokesperson for the People’s Anti-War Mobilization: “This demonstration is a shot in the arm and will lead to greater unity among the progressive forces in this country.” Unlike the Vietnam protests that sometimes escalated to violence, these casual marchers were described as taking time to eat picnic lunches, drink beer and work on their tans. 

Million Man March - October 16, 1995

Million man march, Washington DC, 1995 (Wikimedia Commons)

Rallying to calls for “Justice or Else,” the Million Man March in 1995 was a highly publicized event with the goal of promoting African-American unity. The march was sponsored by the Nation of Islam and led by Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the organization. In the past Farrakhan had espoused anti-Semitic views, faced complaints of sexual discrimination, and was subject to internecine battles within the Nation of Islam. 

But at the 1995 rally, Farrakhan and others advised African-American men to take responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities. The march brought together hundreds of thousands of people­—but exactly how many was yet another controversy. The National Park Service initially estimated 400,000, which participants said was far too low. Boston University later estimated the crowd at around 840,000, with an error margin of plus-or-minus 20 percent. Regardless of the specific number, the march helped mobilize African-American men politically, offered voter registration and showed that fears over African-American men gathering in large numbers had more to do with racism than reality.

Protest Against the Iraq War – October 26, 2002

Demonstrators by the thousands gathered near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington Saturday, Oct. 26, 2002, as organizers marched against President Bush's policy toward Iraq. (AP Photos/Evan Vucci)


Suffragettes March on Washington - History


The 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade marches down Pennsylvania Avenue, in view of the Capitol Building (Credit: Library of Congress)

In 1912, the women’s suffrage movement, founded almost 60 years before by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had reached a stalemate. The largest suffrage association, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, or NAWSA, was working at a state level: traveling state to state and lobbying for changes to state constitutions. Six Western states had granted female suffrage before 1912, and five states would grant women's suffrage in 1912 and 1913. [1] However, the debate over women’s suffrage had yet to reach the House of Representatives, and repeated petitions presented in Washington by delegations of suffragettes had achieved no action. [2]

Enter Alice Paul, a well-educated young woman from New Jersey with Quaker roots. While fighting for the vote in England, Paul had been repeatedly arrested, imprisoned, taken part in hunger strikes and had been forcibly fed. It was in England too that she became acquainted with Lucy Burns, a New Yorker and future ally, as both were participating in the active, radical British suffrage movement. When the pair arrived at the 1912 national convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in Philadelphia, they proposed radical new ideas for the American movement, including efforts to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution permitting women’s suffrage. The pair encountered some resistance from the more conservative members of NAWSA, who agreed with Paul’s parade proposal only after she promised to raise the necessary funds through her own efforts. NAWSA also gave Paul the head of leadership at the Congressional Committee in Washington, though she soon discovered that the branch had no headquarters and very few members.

Official program of the Woman suffrage procession, Washington, D.C. (Credit: Library of Congress)

Alice Paul took control of this Congressional Committee beginning in December 1912, and soon began planning for a parade to coincide with the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Woodrow Wilson in March 1913. [3] The parade was meant to model similar suffrage pageants that had been held in Britain and the local marches in New York held by the radical Women’s Political Union. [4] Calls were put out in leaflets and broadsides calling suffragettes from all across the country, and the call was answered. The most dramatic trip to the march was the journey of 16 “suffrage pilgrims” who left New York on February 12, 1913 and walked down to Washington to arrive just in time for the parade. Another New York suffragette, Elizabeth Freeman, traveled to Washington dressed in gypsy attire and riding in a yellow, horse-drawn wagon decorated with suffrage symbols. [5]

On March 3, 1913, the day before the inauguration of President Wilson, 5,000 women marched on Pennsylvania Avenue to demand their right to vote. In the program for the event, the women emphasized the righteousness of their cause and the reason for which they chose to march. “We march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.” [6] The parade traveled from the Peace Monument to the Treasury Building, then to a rally at Continental Hall in support of women’s suffrage.

Wilson arrived in Washington on the day of the parade to find very few people present to greet him at the train station. When a member of his staff asked why so few people were present, the reply came from the police. All of the crowds which Wilson had expected were instead “Watching the suffrage parade.” [7]

Inez Milholland on her white horse at the parade of March 3, 1913. (Credit: Library of Congress

Spectacle and stagecraft were utilized by the marchers to draw attention to their cause. Riding on a white horse was attorney Inez Milholland, who wore a large cape and cut a striking figure that became emblematic of the 1913 march. Milholland, born a New York aristocrat, would die in 1916 at age 30 after collapsing onstage at a suffrage event in Los Angeles. [8]

The women marched in groups while wearing brightly colored uniforms depicting different occupations held by women, including farmwomen, homemakers, educators, clergywomen, workers, businesswomen, writers, musicians, lawyers, doctors, actresses, social workers and librarians. Extravagant floats depicted the progress of suffrage in the United States over the previous seventy years and accompanied delegations from many states and foreign countries. [9] At the end of the route, the marchers created a series of tableaux on the steps of the Treasury Building, featuring actresses and performers acting out the roles of Columbia, Justice, Liberty, Charity, Plenty, Peace and Hope. [10]

Hedwig Reicher as Columbia in Suffrage Parade Pageant on the steps of the Treasury Building (Credit: Library of Congress)

What started off as a peaceful scene quickly devolved into violence. The parade encountered opposition in the streets as the crowd, many of the men gathered for the inauguration of the new President, became violent and disorderly. Police were either unwilling or unable to keep the crowds in line, and at times along the route, the march descended into chaos, with members of the crowd attacking the suffragettes and frantic scuffles taking place in the street. By the end of the day, over 100 marchers had been hospitalized. [11] An article from The New York Times focused on the march described how the march began in glorious sunshine and then descended into mass chaos at the rush of the unruly crowds.

In every side street near the Capitol were organizations waiting to fall in line. Weather conditions were ideal. The sun shone brightly and it was just cold enough to make walking enjoyable. The waiting paraders took up the march with zest. It was when the head of the procession turned by the great Peace Monument and started down Pennsylvania Avenue that the first indication of trouble came. Hearing the bands strike up, the crowds on both sides of the avenue pushed into the roadway. At once the police authorities knew that they had not made proper plans for keeping the spectators in restraint. Looking down the avenue the paraders saw an almost solid mass of spectators. With the greatest difficulty the police were keeping open a narrow way. As far as the eye could see, Pennsylvania Avenue, from building line to building line, was packed. No such crowd had been seen there in sixteen years. [12]

One group of marchers was aided in their passage by the male students of the Maryland Agricultural College who had formed their honor guard. [13] A troop of Army cavalry called from Fort Myer helped to clear the route, and despite the harassment and violence, the march continued to its end. [14] Still, the agitation so disturbed Helen Keller that she was left “so exhausted and unnerved by her experience in attempting to reach a grand stand, where she was to have been a guest of honor that she was unable to speak later at Continental Hall.” [15]

While the marchers all came to Washington under the summons of Alice Paul, the suffrage parade and the national suffrage movement reflected the racial divisions which dominated in American society. White suffragettes, including Paul, made efforts to limit the participation of African American women in the march. Mary Church Terrell, one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree, had long struggled to participate in the national women’s suffrage movement. At a 1904 meeting of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, Terrell had made a frank demand for an intersectional understanding of the suffrage question, saying “My sisters of the dominant race, stand up not only for the oppressed sex, but also for the oppressed race!” [16] Terrell would march in the parade with the sisters of the African American sorority Delta Sigma Theta, recently founded at Howard University.

Other black women who sought to participate in the march were told to march in a separate black delegation at the rear of the procession. [17] The Illinois delegation at the parade refused to allow Ida B. Wells, a noted journalist, suffragist, and anti-lynching advocate to join them in the parade, leaving her nearly in tears. In defiance of this order, Wells joined the Illinois group mid-parade, after the march had begun to encounter violent resistance in the streets. [18]


Front page of the "Woman's journal and suffrage news" with headlines discussing the violence at the march. (Credit: Library of Congress)

Ultimately, the chaos would gain the suffragettes sympathy from many quarters as many people grew disturbed by the violence of the anti-suffrage opposition. Congressional hearings would be held wherein the cause of the violence was investigated, with over 150 witnesses testifying about the events of that day. The superintendent of police of the District of Columbia would lose his job as a result of his conduct before and during the march. [19]

Following the 1913 March, Alice Paul and her allies would continue the use of radical tactics to agitate for women’s suffrage. Increasingly apart from the more conservative NAWSA, Paul and Burns would found the National Woman’s Party and engage in a picketing campaign at the White House. This picketing, even in the midst of the First World War, would earn the scorn of President Wilson as well as of fellow suffragettes, but the continued pressure of protests in the nation’s capital would help to cause a change in sentiment and in law.

The contributions of American women to the war effort, the persistent lobbying of the NWP and other groups, and the growing public support for women’s suffrage would contribute to a change of heart in Washington. President Wilson endorsed the 19 th Amendment on January 9, 1918, and it passed the U.S. Senate in June 1919. On August 24, 1920, Tennessee became the 36 th state to ratify the 19 th Amendment, and it was signed into law on August 26, 1920. [20]

The participants and organizers of modern protest marches can take heart in knowing that the suffrage parade did succeed in its goal of raising awareness to the cause of women’s suffrage, although it required sustained effort to transform the moment into a movement. The passage of the 19 th Amendment in 1920 enfranchised American women following years of struggle for this right to civic representation. Despite this legislative success, the work was not yet done. Many states, especially those in the South, had enacted poll taxes, literacy tests, and other requirements designed to disenfranchise black voters of both genders. As a result of these measures, women of color did not have the same protections for their right to vote until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Suffragettes March on Washington - History

On March 3, 1913, protesters parted for the woman in white: dressed in a flowing cape and sitting astride a white horse, the activist Inez Milholland was hard to miss.

She was riding at the helm of the Women’s Suffrage Parade- the first mass protest for a woman’s right to vote on a national scale. After months of strategic planning and controversy, thousands of women gathered in Washington D.C. Here, they called for a constitutional amendment granting them the right to vote.

By 1913, women’s rights activists had been campaigning for decades. As a disenfranchised group, women had no voice in the laws that affected their– or anyone else’s– lives. However, they were struggling to secure broader support for political equality. They’d achieved no major victories since 1896, when Utah and Idaho enfranchised women. That brought the total number of states which recognized a women’s right to vote to four.

A new, media-savvy spirit arrived in the form of Alice Paul. She was inspired by the British suffragettes, who went on hunger strikes and endured imprisonment in the early 1900s. Rather than conduct costly campaigns on a state-by-state basis, Paul sought the long-lasting impact of a constitutional amendment, which would protect women’s voting rights nationwide.

As a member of the National American Women Suffrage Association, Paul proposed a massive pageant to whip up support and rejuvenate the movement. Washington authorities initially rejected her plan- and then tried to relegate the march to side streets. But Paul got those decisions overturned and confirmed a parade for the day before the presidential inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. This would maximize media coverage and grab the attention of the crowds who would be in town.

However, in planning the parade, Paul mainly focused on appealing to white women from all backgrounds, including those who were racist. She actively discouraged African American activists and organizations from participating- and stated that those who did so should march in the back.

But black women would not be made invisible in a national movement they helped shape. On the day of the march, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a ground-breaking investigative journalist and anti-lynching advocate, refused to move to the back and proudly marched under the Illinois banner. The co-founder of the NAACP, Mary Church Terrell, joined the parade with the 22 founders of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, an organization created by female students from Howard University. In these ways and more, black women persevered despite deep hostility from white women in the movement, and at great political and physical risk.

On the day of the parade, suffragists assembled to create a powerful exhibition. The surging sections of the procession included international suffragists, artists, performers and business-owners. Floats came in the form of golden chariots an enormous Liberty Bell and a map of enfranchised countries. On the steps of the Treasury Building, performers acted out the historical achievements of women to a live orchestra.

The marchers carried on even as a mob blocked the route, hurling insults and spitting at women, tossing cigars, and physically assaulting participants. The police did not intervene, and in the end, over 100 women were hospitalized.

Their mistreatment, widely reported throughout the country, catapulted the parade into the public eye— and garnered suffragists greater sympathy. National newspapers lambasted the police, and Congressional hearings investigated their actions during the parade. After the protest, the "Women’s Journal" declared, “Washington has been disgraced. Equal suffrage has scored a great victory."

In this way, the march initiated a surge of support for women’s voting rights that endured in the coming years. Suffragists kept up steady pressure on their representatives, attended rallies, and petitioned the White House.

Inez Milholland, the woman on the white horse, campaigned constantly throughout the United States, despite suffering from chronic health problems. She did not live to see her efforts come to fruition. In 1916, she collapsed while giving a suffrage speech and died soon after. According to popular reports, her last words were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”

Though full voting inclusion would take decades, in 1920, Congress ratified the 19th amendment, finally granting women the right to vote.


Watch the video: The historic womens suffrage march on Washington - Michelle Mehrtens


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