Monday is the 100th Anniversary of a march in Washington for the rights of women to vote. Imagine it. Thousands of women (and a contingent of supporting men) in the streets in 1913 was a very challenging affair for some people. Women were not expected to display organizing muscle, and it was not welcome. And they were attacked – tripped, shoved, jeered at – by men in town for the presidential inauguration the next day.
Why is this a post at Blue Jersey? Because the key players are a couple of New Jerseyans; the fearless organizer Alice Paul, and the incoming president who was affronted by her “unladylike” tactics, Woodrow Wilson. Also figuring in the story, Princeton and even Helen Keller.
From the Library of Congress, by Sheridan Harvey, for the Library’s Women’s History Resource Guide. One hundred years ago:
On Monday, March 3, 1913, lawyer Inez Milholland Boissevain, clad in a white cape and riding a white horse, led the great women’s suffrage parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s capital. Behind her stretched a long procession, including nine bands, four mounted brigades, three heralds, more than 20 floats and more than 5,000 marchers. Women from countries that had enfranchised women held the place of honor in the first section of the procession. Then came the “pioneers” who had struggled for so many decades to secure women’s right to vote. The next sections celebrated working women, who were grouped by occupation and wore appropriate garb — nurses in uniform, woman farmers, homemakers, woman doctors and pharmacists, actresses, librarians — Harriet Hifton of the Library of Congress’s Copyright Division led the librarians’ contingent — and college women in academic gowns. Next came the state delegations and, finally, the separate section for male supporters of woman suffrage. According to the official program of the suffrage procession, all had come from around the country “to march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.”