Barnstorming for Votes for Women on Long Island, my grandmother Edna Buckman Kearns didn’t leave a stone unturned in her campaigning for Votes for Women. This photo is from a New York State suffrage publication, showing her to the right holding an umbrella.
Dorothy Day was among the suffragists arrested after picketing the White House in 1917. She said: "Those first six days of inactivity were as six thousand years. To lie there through the long day, to feel the nausea and emptiness of hunger, the dazedness at the beginning and the feverish mental activity that came after. I lost all consciousness of any cause. . . I could only feel the darkness and desolation around me."
Doris Stevens, who wrote "Jailed for Freedom"
Listen! This podcast of just over two minutes is the introduction to Jailed for Freedom by Doris Stevens who documented the last phase of the struggle for Votes for Women. It explains why a bolder approach was necessary and how this became a state of mind as well as a record of actions. The work is dedicated to Alice Paul. This short clip is from a recording of the entire work, now in the public domain, brought to you by LibriVox. This book can be ordered through Amazon.
Put January 11, 2012 (Alice Paul‘s birthday) on your calendar now, and be thinking of celebrating the birthdays of other suffragist women during 2012. Susan B. Anthony’s birthday is in February and celebrating her birthday has a long tradition in the US. It’s a terrific occasion for afternoon high tea and everything this suggests. The 2012 calendar might sound like far into the future. But if you’ve never had a Susan B. Anthony party, it takes more effort and planning the first time around. You can’t fail with a party like this. A little music, tea, goodies. And a short program. This year’s party I pulled together included live music, a dessert potluck, tea and a program about Susan B. Anthony’s trial after she was arrested for voting. It was great fun and not the kind of thing you organize overnight. Which is why I’m suggesting that we look ahead. By next February, a party might seem like a great idea.
The English had their martyr –Emily Davison who threw herself in front of the King’s horse to bring attention to the cause of Votes for Women. In the U.S., Inez Milholland was well known for riding a horse in suffrage parades. Milholland died on the campaign trail when barnstorming in the West. She was known as the couragous woman who died with the word of “Liberty” on her lips. Suffragists repeated her words often when confronting U.S. President Woodrow Wilson: “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”
Meanwhile, back on the suffrage campaign trail, the women worked day and night, weekends and holidays. This 1912 article from my grandmother Edna’s suffrage movement archive gives the details of the work. The suffragists were frequently accused of being emotional about the issue of Votes for Women. The reporter Cora E. Morlan includes Dr. Anna Howard Shaw’s story of 15,000 men at a convention in Baltimore putting on a show or what she termed a “wild demonstration.” Now, who’s emotional?
The suff movement has been acknowledged in recent public speeches by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the course of expressing support for marriage equality in New York, these two officials highlighted the woman’s suffrage movement in New York.
In a letter to New Yorkers on May 26, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the following: “New York has a proud, progressive history as a national leader in bringing greater equality and respect for all. From the fight for women’s suffrage to the struggle for civil rights, New Yorkers have not only been on the right side of history, we have made history. . .” A brief clip from Cuomo’s speech. Check out Cuomo’s full video message.
Noted Mayor Bloomberg: “And the question for every New York State lawmaker is: Do you want to be remembered as a leader on civil rights? Or an obstructionist? Remember, on matters of freedom and equality, history has not remembered obstructionists kindly. Not on abolition. Not on abortion. Not on women’s suffrage. Not on workers’ rights. Not on civil rights. And it will be no different on marriage rights.” A brief audio selection from the Mayor’s speech.