History Podcasts

The Race to Pass Suffrage Before the 1920 Election

The Race to Pass Suffrage Before the 1920 Election

The year 1917 was highly consequential for the suffrage movement. Having lost the chance to defeat the reelection of President Woodrow Wilson, who had initially been lukewarm toward suffrage, activists set their sights on securing voting rights for women by the 1920 presidential election.

One wing of activists began a daily picket of the White House, the first in American history. Another organized a lobbying campaign to win Congressional votes. Then, in April of that year, the United States entered World War I, and whatever political will that had been building for women’s enfranchisement evaporated.

Still, suffragists were not deterred. One of the most powerful weapons they had was the four million women already empowered to vote by their state constitutions. These women could cast ballots in all elections, up to the federal level, including for congressional representatives and for president. All of these “suffrage states” were still west of the Mississippi, but in November, suffragists won the richest state suffrage prize, New York.















READ MORE: The Night of Terror: When Suffragists Were Imprisoned and Tortured in 1917

New York was the wealthiest, most politically powerful state in the union. Now its 46-person delegation, the largest in Congress, was answerable to female as well as male voters. Just two months later, the lone Congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin of Montana (a state where women could vote) presented the bill authorizing a constitutional amendment to the House of Representatives. Amendment legislation requires the support of two-thirds of each house, and the bill passed without a vote to spare.

Now it was on to the Senate. Historically the more supportive of the two chambers, suffragists expected a quick victory there. Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, even bought a new dress for the occasion. Even a new and deadly opponent, the 1918 flu pandemic, did not keep suffragists from pressing forward. Despite the momentum, Southern Democrats and conservative Republican senators managed to stop the bill.

Election results were what finally shifted the political ground. Once the war was over, the nation was in the mood for a change and the November 1918 midterms turned over control of Congress to the Republican Party. At the last minute, a southern Democratic Senator tried to amend the bill to limit the vote to white women, but this failed. Finally, in June 1919, in one of its first legislative acts, the new Congress passed the bill and the suffrage amendment went out for ratification. Catt called Congressional passage an “electric touch that sets a vast and complicated machinery in motion.”

READ MORE: American Women Fought for Suffrage for 70 Years. It Took WWI to Finally Achieve It

Ratification is the final and steepest obstacle to amend the constitution. A majority of legislatures in three quarters of the states must vote in favor. At least six constitutional amendments—most notably the Equal Rights Amendment—have passed through Congress but failed ratification. The woman suffrage amendment had the advantage of well-organized, dedicated suffrage supporters in every state, but the anti-suffrage movement was equally energized.

Ratifications began quickly—within four months, 17 states had acted—but then slowly ground to a halt. States like Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, where women had been voting for decades, saw no rush to enfranchise women in the rest of the country. In Washington State, where women had been full voters since 1911, the governor resisted calling a special session of the legislature to consider the suffrage bill, but finally, in March, nine months after Senate passage, he relented, and Washington became the 35th state.

Where would the 36th state ratification come from? In Connecticut and Vermont, conservative Republican governors refused to call their legislatures into session. All eyes turned to the South, where most states were controlled by white supremacist Democrats. By July, four months after the ratification in Washington State, prospects for ratification from a 36 state were gloomy, and suffragists were becoming desperate.

Finally, Tennessee, a rare southern state with two parties, came through with the tie-breaking vote. A young Republican legislator cast the deciding ballot. Eight days later the U.S. Secretary of State announced that the 19th Amendment had officially become part of the Constitution.

READ MORE: American Women's Suffrage Came Down to One Man's Vote

Suffragists had nine weeks to get women registered to vote. While there is no way to know exact numbers, it is generally accepted that one-third of eligible women voted in the 1920 election (versus two-thirds of men).

The era of woman suffrage was over. The era of women working their way up and through the political process had begun. As one suffragist put it, it was “the dawn of woman’s political power in America.”

Ellen DuBois is Distinguished Research Professor in the History Department of UCLA and author of numerous books on the history of woman suffrage in the US, including, Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote.


Votes for women were first seriously proposed in the United States in July 1848, at the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Although the right to vote was not agreed upon by all the attendees, it ultimately became a cornerstone of the movement.

One woman who attended that convention was Charlotte Woodward, a nineteen-year-old seamstress from New York. In 1920, when women finally won the vote throughout the nation, Charlotte Woodward was the only participant in the 1848 Convention who was still alive to be able to vote, though she was apparently too ill to actually cast a ballot.


The Vote

One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, The Vote tells the dramatic culmination story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote — a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in U.S. history.

In its final decade, from 1909 to 1920, movement leaders wrestled with contentious questions about the most effective methods for affecting social change. They debated the use of militant, even violent tactics, as well as hunger strikes and relentless public protests. The battle for the vote also upended previously accepted ideas about the proper role of women in American society and challenged the definitions of citizenship and democracy.

Exploring how and why millions of 20th-century Americans mobilized for — and against — women’s suffrage, The Vote brings to life the unsung leaders of the movement and the deep controversies over gender roles and race that divided Americans then — and continue to dominate political discourse today.

Credits

Narrated By
Kate Burton

Edited By
Nancy Novack

Produced By
Connie Honeycutt
Michelle Ferrari

Written and Directed By
Michelle Ferrari

Voices
Patricia Clarkson
Audra McDonald
Mae Whitman

Original Score By
Nathan Halpern

Design and Animations By
Molly Schwartz
Alisa Placas Frutman

Co-Producer
Rafael De La Uz

Associate Editor
Christa Majoras

Associate Producer
Martina Maio

Researchers
Ana Defillo
Susan Hormuth

Additional Research
Gene Tempest

Archival Research and Licensing
Connie Honeycutt
Martina Maio

Director of Photography
Rafael De La Uz

Sound Recording
Rafael De La Uz

Assistant Camera
Nicole Bramley
Liza Gipsova

Gaffer
Greg Tango
Evan Wood

Production Assistant
Luke Taylor

Animation Producer
Rennie Elliot

Design and Animation Team
Sean Donnelly
Colin Hess
Ariel Martian
Solgil Oh
Sarah Orenstein
Dana Schechter

Archival Animations
Rafael De La Uz
Michael Dominic
Dan Vatsky

Post-Production Consultants
Bobby Johnson
Matt Rigby

Technical Consultant
Soho Post

Sound By
701 Sound

Dialogue Editor
Marlena Grzaslewicz

Sound Effects Editor
Ira Spiegel

Additional Music
Nathalie Bonin (Violin)
Andrew Lecoche
Robert Pycior
Chris Ruggiero
Joshua Wise

Film Transfers
Colorlab
Baseline Communications

On-Line Editor
Rob Cabana

On-Line Facility
Just Add Water

Digital Colorist
Scott Burch

Color Grading
Out of The Blue NY

Re-Recording Mixer
Ken Hahn

Sound Facility
Hell’s Color Kitchen

Voice Casting
Karie Koppel And Geoff Josselson, C.S.A

Narration and Voice Recording
Reed Black
Anthony Cappelino
Michael Fowler
Alan Freedman
Chris Perepezco

Sound Recording Facility
Aura Sound and Color
Studiopolis
Sound Lounge
Vinegar Hill Sound

Advisors
Jad Adams
Jean A. Baker
Ellen Dubois
Martha Jones
Alexander Keyssar
Lisa Tetrault
Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
Susan Ware
Christina Wolbrecht
Jill Zahniser

Production Intern
Brooke Levine

Production Bookkeeping
Gretchen Fischer

Legal Services
Donaldson + Callif, LLP

Copyright Research
Elias Savada

Transcription
The Purple Shark

Archival Materials Courtesy of
Abcnews Videosource
African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Alamy
Alice Paul Institute
Ann Lewis Suffrage Collection
Archives of Michigan
Bfi National Archive
Birmingham, Ala. Public Library, Department of Archives and Manuscripts
Bridgeman Images
British Pathé
Brown Brothers
Bryn Mawr College Library and Special Collections
California Historical Society
California History Room, California State Library, Sacramento
Center for Sacramento History, KCRA TV Film Collection
Chinese Historical Society of America
“A Lively Affair” Footage – Cohen Film Collection LLC
Robert Cooney
The Kheel Center, Cornell University
Cornell University Library
Criticalpast
Dartmouth College Library
Dc Public Library, Washingtoniana Division
The Denver Public Library, Western History Collection
Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Foundation
Estate of Francine Glanzman
F.I.L.M. Archives
Footage Farm
Fox Movietone News
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Georgia Archives, Vanishing Georgia Collection
Getty Images
GP Archives
Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University
Historic Films Archive, LLC
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Riverton NJ
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
Howland Stone Store Museum
The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Huntley Film Archives
Intellectual Reserve, Inc. / The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Institute of Social History (Amsterdam)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Open Content Program
John E Allen
Kansas State Historical Society
KPIX-TV
Lancaster Historical Society
Library of Congress
The Women’s Library, London School of Economics (LSE)
Shades of La Collection / Herald Examiner Collection / Security Pacific National Bank Collection / Los Angeles Public Library
Missouri History Museum, St. Louis
Museum of London
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Museum of Modern Art / Scala, Florence
Byron Company / Museum of The City of New York
National Archives and Records Administration
Dawson City Museum and Historical Society Collection, National Archives of Canada
The National Archives (UK)
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
National Woman's Party
Nebraska State Historical Society
The New York Public Library
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, NYU
Oberlin College Archives
Oddball Films
Ohio History Connection
Sarah Parker Remond / Peabody Essex Museum
Pond5
Woodrow Wilson Collection, Princeton University Library
The Public Library of Cincinnati And Hamilton County
Albert R. Stone Negative Collection / Susan B. Anthony Collection / Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, N.Y.
Maria Rosaria Savini & Michael Kvietkauskas
Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College
Smithsonian American Art Museum
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Political History, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
State Historical Society of Iowa
State Library Of Queensland
Streamline Films, Inc.
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Toledo Lucas County Public Library
UC Riverside, California Museum of Photography
UCLA Film & Television Archive
UNC Greensboro, Special Collections and University Archives
Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries
Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville
The University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill University Library
Palczewski Suffrage Postcard Image Gallery, University of Northern Iowa
Western History Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries
University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries
U.S. Senate Collection
Utah State Historical Society
Cook Collection, The Valentine
Archives & Special Collections, Vassar College Library
Veritone Digital/CBS Archives
Virginia Museum of History & Culture
Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma
Wisconsin Historical Society
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
The WPA Film Library
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
P134/Zuma Press

Filming Locations
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Cambridge Historical Society
Church of The Holy City, Washington D.C.
The Montauk Club

Special Thanks
Kate Billingsley
Charlotte Cohn
Sarah Colt
Leland Gantt
Myla Pitt
Delissa Reynolds

Original Production Funding Provided by
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Consumer Cellular
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
National Endowment for The Humanities
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund
Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation
The Documentary Investment Group

For American Experience

Post Production Editors
Paul Sanni
Lauren Noyes

Production Coordinator
Alexa Miguel

Business Manager
Jaime-Lyn Gaudet

Senior Contracts & Rights Manager
Susana Fernandes

Legal and Business Affairs
Jay Fialkov

Talent Relations
Janice Flood

Marketing Manager
Violet Zarriello

Audience Engagement Editor
Carolyn Macleod

Special Projects Assistant
John Campbell

Publicity
Mary Lugo
Cara White

Digital
Kirstin Butler
Eric Gulliver
Tsering Yangzom

Director of Digital Content
Ben Greenberg

Director of Audience Development
Chika Offurum

Development Producer
Charlotte Porter

Series Producer
Vanessa Ruiz

Supervising Producer
Nancy Sherman

Executive Producer
Susan Bellows
Mark Samels

A 42nd Parallel Films Production for American Experience.
American Experience is a production of WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content.
Any Views, Findings, Conclusions, Or Recommendations Expressed In This Program Do Not Necessarily Represent Those Of The National Endowment For The Humanities.

© 2020 WGBH Educational Foundation
All Rights Reserved.

Narrated By
Kate Burton

Edited By
Ilya Chaiken

Produced By
Connie Honeycutt
Michelle Ferrari

Written and Directed By
Michelle Ferrari

Voices
Patricia Clarkson
Laura Linney
Mae Whitman

Original Score By
Nathan Halpern

Design and Animations By
Molly Schwartz
Alisa Placas Frutman

Co-Producer
Rafael De La Uz

Associate Editor
Christa Majoras

Associate Producer
Martina Maio

Researchers
Ana Defillo
Susan Hormuth

Additional Research
Gene Tempest

Archival Research and Licensing
Connie Honeycutt
Martina Maio

Director of Photography
Rafael De La Uz

Sound Recording
Rafael De La Uz

Assistant Camera
Nicole Bramley
Liza Gipsova

Gaffer
Greg Tango
Evan Wood

Production Assistant
Luke Taylor

Animation Producer
Rennie Elliot

Design and Animation Team
Sean Donnelly
Colin Hess
Ariel Martian
Solgil Oh
Sarah Orenstein
Dana Schechter

Archival Animations
Rafael De La Uz
Michael Dominic
Dan Vatsky

Post-Production Consultants
Bobby Johnson
Matt Rigby

Technical Consultant
Soho Post

Sound By
701 Sound

Dialogue Editor
Matt Rigby

Sound Effects Editor
Chris Chae

Additional Music
Nathalie Bonin (Violin)
Andrew Lecoche
Robert Pycior
Chris Ruggiero
Joshua Wise

Film Transfers
Colorlab
Baseline Communications

On-Line Editor
Rob Cabana

On-Line Facility
Just Add Water

Digital Colorist
Scott Burch

Color Grading
Out of The Blue NY

Re-Recording Mixer
Ken Hahn

Sound Facility
Hell’s Color Kitchen

Voice Casting
Karie Koppel And Geoff Josselson, C.S.A

Narration and Voice Recording
Reed Black
Anthony Cappelino
Michael Fowler
Alan Freedman
Chris Perepezco

Sound Recording Facility
Aura Sound and Color
Studiopolis
Sound Lounge
Vinegar Hill Sound

Advisors
Jad Adams
Jean A. Baker
Ellen Dubois
Martha Jones
Alexander Keyssar
Lisa Tetrault
Rosalyn Terborg-Penn
Susan Ware
Christina Wolbrecht
Jill Zahniser

Production Intern
Brooke Levine

Production Bookkeeping
Gretchen Fischer

Legal Services
Donaldson + Callif, LLP

Copyright Research
Elias Savada

Transcription
The Purple Shark

Archival Materials Courtesy of
African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Alabama Department of Archives and History
Alamy
Alice Paul Institute
Ann Lewis Suffrage Collection
Associated Press
British Pathé
Brown Brothers
Bryn Mawr College Library and Special Collections
Chicago Sun-Times / Chicago Daily News Collection / Chicago History Museum
Ella Strong Denison Library, Libraries of The Claremont Colleges
Cornell University – PJ Mode Collection of Persuasive Cartography
Criticalpast
Dc Public Library, Washingtoniana Division
Legacy Center Archives, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Foundation
F.I.L.M. Archives
Footage Farm
Fox Movietone News
Framepool
Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
Getty Images
GP Archives
Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University
Historic Films Archive, LLC
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
Iowa State University Library Special Collections And University Archives
John E Allen
Margaret Johnston
Knox County Public Library
Library of Congress
Missouri History Museum, St. Louis
Museum of London
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Byron Company / Museum of The City of New York
Nashville Public Library Metro Nashville Archives
National Archives and Records Administration
Archival Materials Courtesy of
Dawson City Museum and Historical Society Collection, National Archives of Canada
National Woman's Party
Nebraska State Historical Society
The New York Public Library
Oddball Films
Oklahoma Historical Society
Periscope Film
Prelinger Archives LLC
Albert R. Stone Negative Collection / Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester, N.Y.
Shutterstock
Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College
Streamline Films, Inc.
Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pa
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Ucla Film & Television Archive
Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
Archives and Special Collections, University of Louisville
University of North Florida Special Collections
Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh
Special Collections, University of Virginia Library
Collection of The U.S. House Of Representatives
U.S. Senate Collection
Virginia State University Special Collections and Archives
Wisconsin Historical Society
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library
The WPA Film Library

Filming Locations
Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Cambridge Historical Society
Church of The Holy City, Washington D.C.
The Montauk Club

Special Thanks
Kate Billingsley
Charlotte Cohn
Sarah Colt
Leland Gantt
Myla Pitt
Delissa Reynolds

Original Production Funding Provided By
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Consumer Cellular
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
National Endowment for The Humanities
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund
The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation
The Documentary Investment Group

For American Experience

Post Production Editors
Paul Sanni
Lauren Noyes

Production Coordinator
Alexa Miguel

Business Manager
Jaime-Lyn Gaudet

Senior Contracts & Rights Manager
Susana Fernandes

Legal and Business Affairs
Jay Fialkov

Talent Relations
Janice Flood

Marketing Manager
Violet Zarriello

Audience Engagement Editor
Carolyn Macleod

Special Projects Assistant
John Campbell

Publicity
Mary Lugo
Cara White

Digital
Kirstin Butler
Eric Gulliver
Tsering Yangzom

Director of Digital Content
Ben Greenberg

Director of Audience Development
Chika Offurum

Development Producer
Charlotte Porter

Series Producer
Vanessa Ruiz

Supervising Producer
Nancy Sherman

Executive Producer
Susan Bellows
Mark Samels

A 42nd Parallel Films Production for American Experience.
American Experience is a production of WGBH, which is solely responsible for its content.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the national endowment for the humanities.

© 2020 WGBH Educational Foundation
All Rights Reserved.

Transcript

ARCHIVAL: Sisterhood is powerful! Join us now! Sisterhood is powerful! Join us now!

ARCHIVAL [Cronkite]: Fifty years ago today, the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote. On this anniversary, a militant minority of women's liberationists was on the streets.

ARCHIVAL: Free our sisters, free ourselves!

ARCHIVAL: So remember, men, if you come to work tomorrow and your secretary refuses to do the filing and then go home and find that your wife has refused to do the cooking, don't blame them. Remember, you gave them the right to vote fifty years ago.

NARRATOR: It had been the opening act in what proved to be an epic struggle for equality: a crusade carried out by millions of women, over the better part of a century, to secure for themselves the right to vote, and thereby participate in America's democracy.

MARCIA CHATELAIN, HISTORIAN: To be disenfranchised is to be told that you do not matter, because the right to vote is about the power that governs your possibilities.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, WRITER: The right to vote is the heart of democracy, and if half the country doesn't have the right to vote, you're nowhere near being a democracy.

PAULA GIDDINGS, WRITER: Women would go out canvassing and the men would be terrible to them. They'd say, "You're trying to wear the pants in the family?" This is male territory and how dare these women begin to come in and make a difference?

MARTHA JONES, HISTORIAN: This struggle is going on at the same time that the nation is resolving, the Civil War. So to introduce women is to disrupt a political culture that is built on exclusion, that is built on the notion that politics is a white man's business.

ELAINE WEISS, WRITER: It's a civil rights battle. We don't think of it like that, but it truly is a great civil rights battle. Suffragists have to change the idea of what women's role in society will be. What is her claim on citizenship?

ELEANOR SMEAL: The textbooks when I went to school said women were given the vote. We weren’t given anything. We took it.

NARRATOR: On June 29th, 1909, a 24-year-old American student named Alice Paul made her way through the streets of London, and joined a contingent of some 200 other women headed for the Houses of Parliament. Once there, they planned to insist on an audience with the Prime Minister and press him for the right to vote––a fundamental exercise of citizenship, known as suffrage, that was then denied to women in most of the world's democracies.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR, HISTORIAN: The right to vote is fundamental. It's a key ingredient in letting people have equal voice and equal power. It gives you a way to protect yourself. And the opposite of it—not having the right to vote—in some political sense leaves you helpless.

NARRATOR: When Alice Paul had arrived in England two years earlier, she'd had no thought of joining the crusade for woman suffrage. She'd come, as she put it, to "see something of the world," and had enrolled in a graduate economics class at the University of Birmingham––the first woman ever to do so.
Then, one day on campus, she'd spotted a notice about an upcoming lecture. The name was one she knew: Christabel Pankhurst, along with her mother Emmeline, was a co-founder of the Women's Social and Political Union, Britain's notoriously militant suffrage organization.

J. D. ZAHNISER, WRITER: Alice Paul had followed the Pankhursts with her mother in the newspaper. They were getting a lot of newspaper coverage in America and people were excited about what they were doing––things that were so controversial that American women could not imagine them happening in America.

JAD ADAMS, WRITER: There have been votes in the House of Commons since the 19th century in favor of women’s suffrage, but there’s no real progress taking place. And so in anger at this political stagnation, they actually start doing things which will get them sent to prison.

ELLEN DUBOIS: They started with mass demonstrations, demonstrations of ten, 20, 30,000 people demanding the right to vote.

TINA CASSIDY, WRITER: They were passing out pamphlets on the street. They were standing on literal soapboxes on the street corners of London and explaining why women deserved the right to vote. At the time, standing on a soapbox on a street corner was something that only men did.
J. D. ZAHNISER: They would go to political meetings and they would interrupt politicians, which was considered extremely rude. And they were literally dragged out of these meetings.

J. D. ZAHNISER: Nothing like this had ever been done before. The idea was to really get enough attention in order to draw the members of Parliament, but also the public, into the cause of suffrage.

NARRATOR: So aggressive were the women of the Pankhurst army that a British journalist had concocted a twist on the term "suffragist" to identify them, derisively dubbing them "suffragettes."

ELLEN DUBOIS: Ridicule is one of the great weapons against women’s assertion, and that’s what was going on with calling suffragists "suffragettes." It minimized them. It turned them into a small version of what they were.

NARRATOR: No amount of mockery in the press, however, had prepared Alice Paul for what happened at Christabel Pankhurst's lecture.

TINA CASSIDY: There were lots of male students from the University of Birmingham there, and they were hooting and hollering and singing songs and throwing things. Someone threw a mouse, a dead mouse. And it was total pandemonium.

J. D. ZAHNISER: Alice witnessed Christabel Pankhurst, who was no slouch on the speaking platform, essentially being shouted down and being unable to speak.

NARRATOR: Paul would remember it as a turning point.

VOICE [Paul]: I became from that moment very anxious to help in this movement. You know if you feel some group that's your group is the underdog you want to try to help it's natural. [And] when I saw this outbreak of hostility, I understood everything about what the English [suffragists] were trying to do.

MARY WALTON, WRITER: Alice Paul was a Quaker. Quakers believe that everyone is equal, regardless of gender, regardless of race, regardless of religion.

J. D. ZAHNISER: Quakers believed in educating boys and girls equally, and so she had never experienced the reality of inequality. And she began to realize that there was a whole other world out there where women were not necessarily treated equally.

NARRATOR: Some months after the lecture, Paul had written to her mother back home in New Jersey: "I have joined the 'suffragettes."
Now, she was marching with them to Parliament to demand for British women the right to vote.

MARY WALTON: Emmeline Pankhurst leads the deputation up to the gates of Parliament. And suddenly they’re stormed by police. Women are thrown to the ground and they're trampled.

VOICE [Alice Paul]: The scene was one awful nightmare. The police grabbed the suffragettes by the throats & threw them flat on their backs over & over again. Finally when the police could not drive the women back or control the scene, [the suffragettes were arrested.]

NARRATOR: In all, 112 women were hauled off to the police station, "half fainting," one observed, "and their clothes torn to pieces."
Alice Paul was among them.
It was the first time Paul had been arrested. But having become, as she said, a "heart and soul convert" to the cause of woman suffrage––a cause now reaching its crescendo––this arrest would by no means be her last.

NARRATOR: In the United States, the suffragettes' so-called "siege" of Parliament was met with incredulity and scorn. This was not, newspapers made plain, the way that women should behave.
By 1909, it was a familiar refrain.
More than six decades had passed since the clamor for woman suffrage first was raised, most loudly at a convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.
Some three hundred people had come that July to discuss the rights of women, and had listened as 32-year-old abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton decried the lack of them––provocatively comparing her condition, as a free married woman with children, to slavery.
"We assemble to protest against a form of government existing without the consent of the governed," Stanton proclaimed, "to declare our right to be free as man is free."

ELLEN DUBOIS: At the time of Seneca Falls, a woman had no legal existence. When married, she was "absorbed into the person of her husband." Now that would be fine if there were women who weren’t married, but adult women were overwhelmingly married women, and they had no legal standing.

MARY WALTON: Married women could not sign a contract. If they worked outside the home, they couldn’t keep their paycheck. It went to their husbands. If they dared to divorce, husbands retained custody of the children. The doors of public universities were closed to them. There were just many, many ways in which they were second-class citizens.

NARRATOR: The Declaration of Sentiments adopted by the convention had been modeled on the Declaration of Independence, and included a list of resolutions outlining the rights to which women, as citizens, should be entitled.

ELAINE WEISS: Seneca Falls is the first very public demonstration and announcement that women are asking for a whole series of rights that they feel they’ve been denied. And it is considered really radical.

ELEANOR SMEAL: They're fighting for education. They're fighting for the right to own property. They wanted to be full adult American citizens.

NARRATOR: Of the eleven resolutions put forward by Stanton, only one was considered so controversial that it failed to pass unanimously: Resolution Nine, which demanded for women the right to vote––a right that had engendered equal controversy among the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: One of the remarkable things about the history of democracy in the United States is that the Constitution, in its original form, said nothing about the right to vote. When the founding fathers talked about "we, the people," they were talking about adult, white males, and really, adult, white, respectable males. They had different views about how broad the franchise should be. So instead of hammering out a consensus view, they punted and left voting rights to the states.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: In most states, the notion was that in order to have the franchise, you had to be independent in some economic and social sense. And women had very few opportunities to be independent.

NARRATOR: Opposed by Stanton's husband––and by her father, who threatened to disown her––woman suffrage found its first male champion in Frederick Douglass, who had escaped enslavement to become a leader of the abolitionist movement.
From the abolitionist ranks also came the first generation of suffragists
––Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Sarah Remond, Susan B. Anthony––women for whom the two causes at first were entwined.
When the conflict over slavery finally exploded into civil war, the suffragists set their own agenda aside to help secure rights for those who'd been enslaved––expecting, as Stanton put it, "[that] when the Constitutional door is open, [we will] avail ourselves of the strong arm and the blue uniform of the black soldier to walk in by his side." Their rallying cry now was "Equal voting rights to all."
Instead, under pressure from congressional Republicans––the party of Lincoln––Stanton and her friends were asked in 1869 to support the 15th Amendment, which extended federal protection for the franchise only to African-American men.

ELAINE WEISS: The suffragists truly believe, perhaps naively, that once the war is over, all eligible citizens are going to get the vote. They are shattered when they’re told that the nation cannot handle two great reforms at once. They can’t swallow black men getting the vote and women getting the vote at the same time.

ELAINE WEISS: Frederick Douglass says, I believe in women’s suffrage. I always will. But the black man needs it first. My people are being killed.

NARRATOR: The question of compromise, once introduced, quickly became a wedge.
"If you will not give the whole loaf of justice to the entire people," Susan B. Anthony told Douglass, it should be given to "the most intelligent and capable portion of. women" first. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was less civil. "Think of. Sambo. " she fumed, "who. never read the Declaration of Independence or Webster’s spelling book, making laws for [educated, refined women]."

MARTHA JONES: Stanton and Anthony have constructed the debate around the vote as one that positions white women against African American men. And Stanton in particular has made the argument that she will not see former slaves, the sons of slaves, enfranchised over elite, educated women. These are ideas that are not uncommon. But now racism is sort of in a full-throated way part of the deliberations.

NARRATOR: In the end, the fragile coalition forged by the Civil War was shattered by the terms of the peace––and causes once regarded as compatible had been set in opposition, to be prioritized one over the other if expedient.
As Frances Ellen Watkins Harper noted ruefully: "When it was a question of race, [I] let the lesser question of sex go. But the white women all go for sex, letting race occupy a minor position."

MARTHA JONES: People will go in one direction or another out of this debate, men and women, black and white. There are those who say we should remain committed to our ideals, even as they might seem far-fetched. And there’s others who say, this is politics and we need to compromise. And that has consequences far beyond any encounter in the vestibule of a meeting hall. This is mapping, right, political culture for the nation––for women, but for the nation.

NARRATOR: By the time African-American men began to cast ballots and hold office in the South, in the early 1870's, the first generation of suffragists had split over strategy.
Some sought to secure women the vote by petitioning for changes to state constitutions, believing voter eligibility a matter more properly determined by the states. The rest joined Stanton and Anthony in their quest for a federal remedy––and tried to push through what they hoped would be the 16th Amendment, barring the infringement of voting rights on the basis of sex.
But aside from a school board election here and a municipal election there, the ballot remained elusive.

SUSAN WARE, HISTORIAN: Most people thought that women’s demand for the vote was something of a joke back in the 19th century. It was so, seemed so farfetched.

ELAINE WEISS: Women were considered too emotional, not intelligent enough. They were supposed to be in the domestic sphere. So the first job of the suffragists was really to completely change attitudes of millions of Americans and convince very reluctant men that this is an important idea, because only men could decide whether women deserved the vote.

NARRATOR: Even after the two factions joined forces in 1890, under the umbrella of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the only place the cause gained any real traction was in the newer states of the West, where population was sparse and women's votes were regarded as an asset.
The first state in what came to be known as "the suffrage column" was Wyoming, which joined the Union in 1890 with its women already fully enfranchised. It was followed over the next six years by three more western states. Then, the forward march stalled.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: By the late 19th century, in white, middle-class and upper-class American society, there was a shrinking faith in democracy. In the North, a lot of people are saying, well, you know, democracy’s not an unalloyed blessing. We have all of these immigrants coming in. They don’t speak English. They’re not very smart. I don’t think we should let them vote. In the South, of course, the politicians were busy disenfranchising African-Americans who had been enfranchised during Reconstruction.

ELLEN DUBOIS: The 15th Amendment didn’t say people have the right to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It said states can’t deny people the right to vote. And southern states realized, well, they wouldn’t deny the right to vote by race. They’d deny it if your grandfather was a slave. That’s not specified in the 15th Amendment.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: So the dominant movement is to take voting rights away from people. And that is something which the women’s suffrage movement runs up against at the end of the century.

NARRATOR: As states across the South moved to bar black men from voting––by means of grandfather clauses, literacy tests, poll taxes and brute force––the National Association, with Susan B. Anthony's assent, adapted to the prevailing mood.
African-American women who had been prominent in the movement were sidelined, and Southern chapters permitted to refuse black members. In 1894, Anthony even went so far as to ask Frederick Douglass to keep away from a suffrage convention in Atlanta, for fear of alienating potential supporters.

PAULA GIDDINGS: Frederick Douglass is the one who stands up and says to women who are ambivalent about calling for the vote, well, you must work for suffrage. So to say to him that he’s not welcome in the South, in Atlanta, is a terrible thing. And Anthony probably actually believed that, as she said, when we get the vote, when white women get the vote, we’ll make everything okay for everybody. But it certainly encouraged the continuing segregation and discrimination.

MARTHA JONES: African-American women are going to continue to work toward women’s rights. They’re interested in the vote. But they are also using those ideas to transform and control their institutions––in churches, in fraternal orders, in benevolent societies. They’re going to build, by the 1890s, an African-American women’s club movement. And within that, they are also going to be claiming women’s rights in their own terms.

MARCIA CHATELAIN: These are sisters who are divided because of racism and because of white supremacy, and they’re asking each other to concede on the issue of rights and it will impact every single attempt to bring women broadly together in action for a better society.

NARRATOR: By the close of the 19th century, the National Association was comprised mainly of white, middle-class women––but was no more effective for being so.
Between 1896 and 1909, suffragists across the country submitted more than 160 legislative measures for consideration, yet managed to put the question of woman suffrage directly to voters only six times––four of them in Oregon. All six referenda were defeated. The federal amendment, likewise, went nowhere.
Suffragists referred to the period as "the doldrums."
Even Susan B. Anthony could not escape the pervasive sense of impotence. As she lamented in 1906, four years after Stanton's death and just weeks before her own: "I have struggled for sixty years for a little bit of justice and will die without securing it."

ELEANOR SMEAL, WOMEN’S RIGHTS LEADER: At the beginning, women were not supposed to be interested in public affairs. We were supposed to know nothing about what's outside the home. We were only supposed to know what was in the home. You were supposed to have many children. You weren't supposed to complain. Make everything look easy.

ELEANOR SMEAL: You know, they’d all eat together, and then the men would go into the library or some other part of the house to talk about the real things of society. You didn’t want to bother the pretty little woman’s head, right? You know what I compare it to? I compare it to when you’re little kids and you’re building a tree house. And they put up a sign, "No girls allowed."

NARRATOR: On election day in 1909, in New York City, a 53-year-old suffragist named Harriot Stanton Blatch defied convention––by daring to enter a polling place on the upper West Side. Having researched state law and found that it did not prohibit non-voters from serving as poll watchers, she'd gotten herself credentialed. By day's end, she'd seen to it that two drunken election officials were forcibly removed by police.
Elsewhere in the city, on the lower East Side and in the Bowery, other women were following Blatch's lead.

ELLEN DUBOIS, HISTORIAN: The polls are in tobacco shops. They’re in saloons. They’re in places where men are very comfortable, where they carouse, where their political bosses can lubricate them with a drink here and there.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: It was a big party. It was raucous. It was drunk. It was often violent. Turnout among men was very high. It was like a festival and a spectator sport all at once. And well-bred women showing up in that environment would not have been a very welcome sight.

NARRATOR: To New Yorkers, Blatch's coordinated invasion of the polls offered a preview of what election day might be should women get the vote––and as Blatch noted, the expected calamity had not come to pass. "We have lifted the veil," she crowed, "we have entered the holy of holies and yet the Republic is still going on."

ELLEN DUBOIS: I call Harriet Stanton Blatch the first second generation feminist. She was a member of one of the first classes at Vassar. She had lived in England and was friends with the Pankhursts. And then, she had the confidence and the legitimacy of being Elizabeth Stanton’s daughter.

ELLEN DUBOIS: She realized that whereas when her mother had first pressed for the right to vote, women were largely domestic creatures. Now, a half century later, women had really moved into the public arena.

NARRATOR: Amid the staggering transformation of American life in the 19th century––from rural to urban, agricultural to industrial, enslaved to free––the cause of women's rights gradually had advanced––improving their legal status, expanding their opportunities, and allowing many to slip the bonds of the domestic sphere. By 1900, fully one-fifth of the paid labor force was female, with millions of women––many of them immigrants and unmarried––working for wages in factories, textile mills, shops.
Thousands more were off to college. Diplomas in hand, they delayed marriage and motherhood in ever greater numbers––to pursue a profession, or to join one of the countless progressive reform movements that were remaking American society.
So ubiquitous were they in the cities, with their streamlined, corset-free style of dress, their modern ideas and ambitions, they had given rise to a kind of icon known as "the New Woman."

SUSAN WARE: The New Woman is young, she’s in her twenties, she’s had some college. She can move, partly because she’s not wearing so many clothes. And there’s just a kind of spirit to her of curiosity and embracing the future. She sees possibilities for herself that her mother never had.

NARRATOR: The fresh terrain was nevertheless littered with obstacles: fields that remained stubbornly closed to women, especially African-Americans hazardous working conditions and unequal pay male bosses and colleagues who were by turns dismissive, hostile, and predatory.
For women who worked outside the home, the vote now was essential.

MARCIA CHATELAIN: Women at the dawn of the 20th century were impatient for the change that they were realizing in their own lives. Women are able to circulate ideas. They’re meeting in clubs. They’re getting more opportunities for formal education and they’re seeing themselves as fully-formed adults, as citizens.

ELLEN DUBOIS: The fact that women lacked the right to vote in the 20th century was a totally antiquated phenomenon. And Harriot Stanton Blatch was determined to resolve that.

ELLEN DUBOIS: Her vision is to bring working-class women into the suffrage movement and to link them to middle-class professional women. So she puts these two groups of people together in an organization that she calls The Equality League of Self-Supporting Women. Blatch sees this organization as a way to seize control of the New York movement, which had become quite paralyzed, and to move it forward.

NARRATOR: The Equality League was open to any woman who earned her daily bread, Blatch said, "from a cook to a mining engineer, and we have both of them."
Affluent, married, her one daughter already grown, Blatch had never had to earn her own living. She was, she joked, the only "parasite" in the Equality League. But she believed wage-earning women were the key to finally winning the ballot.

SUSAN WARE: You start to get a broader range of activists involved in the movement. And they know how to go out on strike, they know how to picket. And there’s that willingness to be confrontational in order to win one’s goals that then they bring to the suffrage movement.

NARRATOR: It was a lesson learned from the Pankhursts. As Blatch told the New York World: the question of votes for women had to be pushed out of the parlor and into the streets.

VOICE [Blatch]: We have ceased to put much energy into discussing the pros and cons of democracy with doubting women in the chimney corners, and have instead gone out on the street corner to appeal to men, to the voters.

NARRATOR: Every hour spent perched atop a soapbox––being heckled by crowds and sometimes pelted with stones––heightened the movement's visibility, and helped to broaden its base of support.
Before long, an auxiliary organization called the Men's League for Woman Suffrage had been formed alliances with African-American women, members of the Equal Suffrage League of Brooklyn, broached and high society women persuaded to lend not only their checkbooks, but also their considerable influence.
By the fall of 1909, the cause had become actually fashionable––and when Blatch brought her friend Emmeline Pankhurst to the U.S. for a lecture tour, the throngs at Carnegie Hall were such that more than a thousand people had to be turned away.
"Mrs. Blatch's whole idea," one of her campaigners recalled, "was that you must keep suffrage every minute before the public, so that they're used to the idea and talk about it, whether they agree or disagree. I think she was quite right."

Women's Sacred and Proper Place

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: There was very little experience with women participating actively in political life. And nobody quite knew what it would look like, and that also made it possible for people, meaning men, to project their anxieties about it onto this. What would happen?

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: There’s a notion that if women were permitted to participate in elections, it would destroy the family. They genuinely feared that familial relations would be disturbed and interrupted, that women would be sullied by participating in the rough and tough arena of politics. There was a fear of the unknown.

SUSAN WARE: It’s not just about casting a ballot it is this window on how people feel about what women’s roles should be in public life. And if you look at the cartoons which show women just looking like the devil, and with hooves and smoke coming out of their ears, they were demonized.

NARRATOR: While the militant Mrs. Pankhurst stirred up crowds all along the eastern seaboard in the fall of 1909, journalist Richard Barry was in New York, marinating in the question of votes for women.
Having noted the sudden, unexpected flurry of activity in the state's suffrage movement, the highbrow monthly Pearson's Magazine had commissioned Barry to conduct a major investigation. So far, he'd dutifully attended one of Pankhurst's lectures interviewed, to his mind, the bombastic Harriot Stanton Blatch and endured more street-corner speeches than he'd cared to.
The angle he was following now promised to be more congenial: women who were opposed to woman suffrage.
. respectable, upstanding women such as Mrs. Grover Cleveland, former First Lady of the United States, who agreed that men and women's roles, as her husband once put it, "had been assigned long ago by a higher intelligence."
. and Mrs. Gilbert Jones, daughter-in-law of the founder of the New York Times, who acknowledged that there'd been much progress for women over the previous fifty years––but hastened to point out that all of it had been achieved without the ballot.
. and Mrs. Nathan Meyer, champion of women's education and founder of Barnard College, who saw no reason for the female of the species to vote and highly doubted such a vote would make any difference. So vehement was Meyer on the point that she'd stopped speaking to her sister Maud, an ardent and active suffragist, almost entirely.

ELAINE WEISS: These are women who truly believe that women should not have the vote. Some are social conservatives who are educated themselves, but really feel that this is a change in the social order which is not healthy. Some are religious conservatives who believe that woman’s suffrage goes against the will of God.

SUSAN WARE: Very often the anti-suffrage women were arguing from a position of real class and racial privilege, and the vote was not something that they felt was important.

SUSAN GOODIER: They’re protected in a world where they could knock on the door of the judge or the legislator and say, "now, dear, I would like such-and-such." They might be able to get it. So this indirect influence––and this is often one of the terms you’ll actually hear: Indirect influence serves us well. We don’t need the vote.

NARRATOR: According to Barry's lengthy report, there were perhaps as many women organized against woman suffrage as there were women organized in favor of it––meaning legislators routinely were treated to the "remarkable spectacle," Pearson's editor noted, "[of] two groups of women. each begging them to refuse the prayer of the other!"
Where the vast majority of American women stood on the matter was anyone's guess. But Barry believed most agreed with the impeccable logic of Mrs. Selden Bacon: "a woman can no more do a man's work," she'd told him, "than a man can do a woman's."

SUSAN GOODIER, HISTORIAN: Anti-suffragists believed they were protecting women, that their power came from something other than the vote. And that women would lose something in this sordid world of politics.

The Prodigal Daughter Returns

NARRATOR: In January 1910, Alice Paul bid farewell to her fellow suffragettes and to England––and set sail for home.
When she'd left the United States, two-and-a-half years earlier, she'd been unknown––an ordinary American girl, albeit plucky and privileged enough to indulge her curiosity about the world. But thanks to her time with the Pankhursts, she was returning a minor celebrity.
The first news story had appeared the previous November, in a widely reprinted item lifted from the national wires.
Miss Alice Paul––identified as an "earnest young woman" from Moorestown, New Jersey, a Swarthmore graduate, and a "very valued member" of the Pankhurst organization––had been sentenced to a month in London's infamous Holloway Jail. "Reliable reports," the Fort Wayne News remarked, "are to the effect that she will have to suspend her Christmas stocking from a steel slat in a six by four cell."
It was Paul's third time behind bars. Like her fellow suffragettes––and as per the Pankhurst's evolving strategy––she'd broken every pane of glass in her cell and declared herself a political prisoner.

MARY WALTON: When they were arrested, they wanted to be treated like men. Men advocating for political causes had certain rights because they were designated political prisoners. They could receive mail. They could read newspapers. They could write letters. The women were turned down. And to protest this, they just refused to eat.

J. D. ZAHNISER: No one wanted to have a woman die in jail because she had gone on a hunger strike. And the image of women wasting away for want of a basic right was something the Pankhursts realized was a good idea. First of all, to get their protesters out of jail more quickly, but also this was a way to get more media attention.

NARRATOR: Contrary to expectation, however, Alice Paul and the other hunger-strikers were not released. Instead, British authorities force-fed them.

TINA CASSIDY: Force-feeding is horrific. They would stick a rubber or glass tube down the woman’s throat or up through her nose, and then they would take a funnel and pour a mixture of eggs and milk through the funnel into the tube and down into her digestive tract.

NARRATOR: Paul withstood the ordeal twice daily for the duration of her prison term––some fifty-five times in all. "One feels," she wrote to her mother, "as though one were an animal about to be vivisected."

VOICE [Alice Paul]: While the tube is going through the nasal passage it is exceedingly painful & only less so as it is being withdrawn. I never went through it without the tears streaming down my face & often moaned from beginning to end & sometimes cried aloud.

TINA CASSIDY: The only way you can endure something like that is to believe that you’re right, and that you’re doing it for a cause bigger than yourself. And Alice Paul really believed in what she was doing.

NARRATOR: When reports that Paul was being force-fed reached the United States, they provoked an outcry––not sympathy, but condemnation of the suffragettes' wanton disregard for the law.

TINA CASSIDY: Americans felt a little superior: well, thank goodness, our suffragists aren’t behaving like that.

ELLEN DUBOIS: The assumption was that it wasn’t going to be necessary in the United States. The poor British. They had a backward government that was bullying them, and they had to press to give them equal rights. But that wasn’t true of democratic America in the Progressive era. Women wouldn’t have to go that far.

NARRATOR: By the time Paul's ship docked in Philadelphia, her notoriety was such that a swarm of reporters showed up to greet her.
"Will you take part in the movement here?" one asked her. "I didn’t know there was any movement here," Paul replied, disingenuously. "But. [i]f it becomes necessary to fight to win, I believe in fighting."

TINA CASSIDY: Alice Paul came back from England knowing that this was going to be her life’s cause. There was nothing that she thought she couldn’t do.

NARRATOR: When the suffrage movement finally scored a victory in November 1910, the first in fourteen years, it caught most everyone by surprise.
Four states held referenda on woman suffrage that fall. In three, the measures failed by wide margins. Voters in Washington State, meanwhile, approved theirs by nearly two-to-one.

SUSAN WARE: The Washington victory was important. It was very important, because it had been a long time. All of a sudden it begins to seem possible. There is almost a sense of, "Oh, gee, this really can happen."
NARRATOR: By now, some 100,000 women were dues-paying members of the National Association––up from just 9,000 a decade before. Tens of thousands more belonged to the pro-suffrage National Association of Colored Women, to local Equality Leagues, Franchise Associations, and Votes for Women clubs.
Winning the ballot in Washington State renewed their collective hope, reinforced their sense of purpose, and propelled the boldest among them into the streets of America.

ELAINE WEISS: There’s this real pent-up frustration. They’re saying, "Look. We’ve pleaded long enough. We’ve been patient long enough. This is ridiculous and let’s go make a scene."

NARRATOR: The next year, in California, they turned out in force––an estimated 10,000 strong––to sell woman suffrage to the male voters of the state.
With just three months until the election, they feverishly plastered posters in shop windows and on billboards, peddled suffrage buttons and suffrage tea, and distributed more than three million pieces of literature.
In Los Angeles, Hispanic activists translated at rallies. San Francisco's Chinese women canvassed their communities while in Oakland, members of the Colored Women's Suffrage Club monitored polling places.
By the time their efforts delivered California, the sixth so-called "free state," to the cause, in 1911, votes for women had become, as one journalist observed, "the three small words which constitute the biggest question in the world today."

SUSAN WARE: There is a kind of quickening that starts to happen. There are new tactics and there are new strategies and there are new recruits, and things really just begin to pop.

NARRATOR: Week by week, all across the country––in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Arizona––suffragists pressed to make the next free state their own.
And week by week, all across the country, women flocked to the cause.

SUSAN WARE: Women started doing things like dressing in white and putting on a suffrage sash, and marching in a parade. It’s not like you just sort of check off a box and say, "I’m a suffragist now." It affects a lot of things. If you’re married, it’s going to affect your marriage, because all of a sudden your husband has a wife who may not be there at the end of the day to cook his dinner. And she may be heading off to a rally or standing on a street corner handing out leaflets. And he may think this is a great thing, or he may think it’s awful, but he’s part of that conversation. And if you are someone who really goes all in, it basically becomes a job. These are real people and they’re making this their lives, and there's this kind of snowball effect that is happening.

NARRATOR: As the summer of 1912 was winding down, 58-year-old Harriet Taylor Upton was gearing up for a special election in Ohio––a state referendum on woman suffrage, the first of six to be held in the U.S. that fall.
Never in Upton's twenty years in the movement had there been such a chance for progress––and as the president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association, she intended her home state to lead the charge.
Already, she'd put fifty campaign volunteers in the field, as well as a roster of popular speakers, and had tasked them with canvassing voters at picnics, county fairs, family reunions. State politicians and the local press generally agreed the suffrage measure, Amendment 23, was likely to carry––perhaps by as many as 40,000 votes.
Then, copies of an anonymous––and alarming––handbill began to circulate, suggesting that if women were permitted to vote, Ohio would join the growing list of states that had shuttered their saloons and deprived their citizens of beer.
It was a charge that had dogged the suffrage movement for decades––not least because it rang true.

ELEANOR SMEAL: I don’t think many people realize that Susan B. Anthony was a leader in the temperance movement. The temperance movement was all about men’s behavior, by the way. It was not just alcohol it was the abuse of alcohol and the beating of women by drunken men. They would also spend an inordinate amount of money on it, and on pay day they’d go to the bars, and what would be left for the wife and the kids? So there was a whole movement to restrict alcohol.

NARRATOR: Perhaps nowhere was the link between temperance and woman suffrage more established than in Ohio, the birthplace of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
The largest women's organization in the country, the W.C.T.U. had led the crusade to ban alcohol since the late 19th century––and endorsed votes for women as a "weapon for home protection."

MARY WALTON: This activated the liquor lobby. These are the distilleries, the breweries, the farmers who grow crops for alcohol, alcoholic products, cask makers. It’s huge. So whenever a vote came up in a state for suffrage, the liquor lobby poured money in to defeat it.

ELAINE WEISS: They would do things like a bar would have a sign up on election day and say, "Vote against the women’s suffrage amendment and you get a free beer." They don't want national prohibition and if women have some political power, that might happen.

NARRATOR: Aware that the association with temperance had become a liability, Harriet Taylor Upton had done her best to create some distance. "Let me explain that the suffrage association is not a temperance organization," she'd insisted in an official statement that summer.
But in a state where brewing was a major industry, such reassurances struck many voters as too little, too late. On September 3rd, 1912, Ohio Amendment number 23 lost, with nearly fifty-eight percent of the electorate voting against it.
Two days later, the woman suffrage referendum in Wisconsin failed in precisely the same manner––as did the one in Michigan, in November.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: As women link suffrage rights to social reform, whether it means for women who are working in the garment industry or the temperance movement to ban alcohol, major economic interests who are tied to industries that are profiting from this begin to oppose women’s suffrage.

SUSAN WARE: There's money involved, there's power involved, and women are threatening them. And a lot of people really didn’t want things to change.

NARRATOR: By the close of 1912, the map told the tale: Against three victories for woman suffrage that fall, were the three defeats at the hands of the liquor industry.
After sixty-four years of struggle, women were still without full voting rights in thirty-nine states––and outside of the West lay entrenched resistance. To the east, economic concerns and political machines blocked the progress of the cause. To the south, it was the scourge of racism.

MARTHA JONES: The rise of white supremacy and the imposition of Jim Crow order has created a political terrain in which white men control political power. So to introduce women is to reintroduce this question of the suffrage, of its universality, of its core relationship to a democracy. And that gets you a little too close, then, to the problem of African-Americans and the vote as well.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: The fear was that it would reopen demands on the part of black males to vote, and there was a further concern, too, which was often voiced, it was quite a remarkable statement, which was that if men try to vote and get unruly, we can go in and beat them up. We can use force against them. That would be unseemly to do against black women. So we really don’t want to permit them to be enfranchised and then have to figure out new modes of repression.

NARRATOR: When the women of the National Association convened in Philadelphia late in November, the suffrage map was hanging across the balcony at the back of Witherspoon Hall––a nod to the movement's progress, however halting.
But to Alice Paul, who was among the delegates from New Jersey, it read more as an indictment.

MARY WALTON: She saw how difficult it was to get a change in a state voting law. First of all, the state legislature had to approve it all men. Then it had to go to the voters all men. And she thought it would be much easier and much faster to have a federal amendment which would give all women in this country the vote.

NARRATOR: Although Paul had been given permission to raise the issue at the convention, she expected to meet with resistance from the National Association's leadership––not least from President Anna Howard Shaw, who had let the federal suffrage amendment languish throughout the eight years of her tenure.
An ordained minister, Shaw had been the only woman in a class of forty-three at the Boston School of Theology, and had felt, as she later said, "the abysmal conviction that I wasn't really wanted there." After completing her education in 1886, at the age of 39, she'd joined the suffrage movement.
Alice Paul had only just been born.

COL. BETH BEHN, HISTORIAN: Alice Paul is not of the generation that understands the impact of Reconstruction, that understands the deep racial divides that are foremost in the minds of older suffragists. So it's not a coincidence that the National walks away from a federal amendment at the same time that Southern states are pushing back on any federal intervention into who's voting in the South and, in fact, drawing a very hard state-right stance. The National is cognizant of that—in some ways, complicit in that—and decides to focus on state referenda.

NARRATOR: Paul was convinced the landscape had changed. With more than a million female voters in the West, woman suffrage had become for the first time a factor in national politics. In the recent presidential election, candidate Theodore Roosevelt's insurgent Progressive Party had even adopted a plank endorsing votes for women.
Now was the moment to revive the push for the federal amendment, Paul told the women of the National Association, and to do so in a way that could not be ignored.

J. D. ZAHNISER: Alice was thinking about staging a parade along the lines of the spectacular parades that the Pankhursts had in London. And she wanted to bring one of those to Washington, D.C., the premier focus of power in the United States.

MARY WALTON: As it happened, there had been suffrage parades, three in a row, organized by Harriot Stanton Blatch in New York. And Anna Howard Shaw had marched in those parades. And it turned out that Anna Howard Shaw loved a parade, and she liked this idea.

NARRATOR: By the time the convention delegates began boarding trains back to their respective dots on the map, Alice Paul had been named chairman of the National Association's long-dormant Congressional Committee in Washington D.C., and given leave to plan her parade.
To maximize the event's impact, she intended to hold it on March 3rd, the day before President-elect Woodrow Wilson's inauguration.

TINA CASSIDY: Press from across America was going to be there and there were going to be lots of spectators there. So it was a captive audience, and she knew that it would be a really powerful message to all of America.

NARRATOR: It was now November 27th––just thirteen weeks before Inauguration Day. Paul rushed home and started packing her bags.

J. D. ZAHNISER: We think these days that national protests in Washington are routine, but they were almost non-existent in 1913. There had been one previous protest, in 1894, when Jacob Coxey brought veterans of the Civil War to Washington to protest their lack of pension payments. They marched across the Capitol grounds and were promptly arrested, and that was the end of the protest.

NARRATOR: As the curtain opened on 1913, the nucleus of the woman suffrage movement already had begun to shift to the nation's capital, where the Congressional Committee's new office on F Street soon buzzed with so much activity that one reporter dubbed it a "suffragists' beehive."
Alice Paul had arrived in town in early December, with her friend and co-chairman, Lucy Burns, a fellow veteran of the Pankhurst army. Brooklyn-born to a close-knit Irish Catholic family, Burns, at 33, was Paul's opposite in nearly every respect: exuberant, outgoing, easy with a laugh. To her would fall the task of recruiting volunteers and rousing crowds on street corners.
Paul, meanwhile, spent most of her time at the office, in a chilly back room behind a desk that once belonged to Susan B. Anthony.

J. D. ZAHNISER: Alice Paul was much more comfortable as the stage manager, as the director, than she was as the star. She nevertheless had an emotional intensity that seemed to encourage people to follow her.

NARRATOR: With a single-mindedness that bordered on mania, Paul wrangled a permit to stage the parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, the symbolic conduit of American political power. She prevailed upon suffrage leaders everywhere to loan their floats, banners, chariots and oversaw a revolving staff of volunteers––as many as twenty a day––who solicited donations, arranged lodging for out-of-town marchers, and kept up a steady drumbeat of anticipation in the press.

J. D. ZAHNISER: We're beginning to see really a golden age of magazines and illustrations, newspapers beginning to use more photographs. And Alice Paul recognized that this represented something that she could use.

MARY WALTON: There was news every day about some new person who was joining the parade. And her headquarters became a mandatory stop for reporters on a daily basis. What’s new, Alice? What’s happening? What do you have to tell us? Alice’s goal was to have suffrage in the papers every day. Eighteen inches in front of the reading public.

Will Negro Women Be Admitted?

NARRATOR: In February, Chicago journalist Ida Wells–Barnett––better known by her maiden name, Ida B. Wells––decided she would be among the marchers in Washington D.C.
Born into slavery just months before the Emancipation Proclamation, Wells, at 50, had dedicated much of her adult life to exposing racial injustice in the South, where the disenfranchisement of African-American men had been accompanied by shocking brutality.

ELLEN DUBOIS: The country had gone through the most radical of changes. It had taken a group of people who were considered subhuman and made them into the equals of proud, white men. And the political class, the elite, reacted violently to that.

NARRATOR: In 1892 alone, well over a hundred African-Americans had been lynched––among them one of Wells' closest friends, a doting father and the co-owner of a thriving grocery cooperative in Memphis.

MARTHA JONES: Wells confesses that she had always assumed that the victims of lynching had somehow done a wrong, even if it wasn’t the wrong they had been accused of. But when her friends, men who were known to her to be, in her judgment, sort of beyond reproach, are lynched, she’s converted. She’s converted. She understands now, right, that there is something essentially illegitimate, right, that undergirds racial violence.

PAULA GIDDINGS: She sees that something else is happening. And she’s really the first to understand it in a kind of comprehensive way. Blacks were progressing so quickly that they were threatening.

NARRATOR: Having been deprived of the ballot, Wells told her readers in 1910, African-Americans had been robbed of their only weapon of defense.

VOICE [Wells]: With no sacredness of the ballot there can be no sacredness of human life itself. For if the strong can take the weak man’s ballot, when it suits his purpose to do so, he will take his life also. Therefore, the more complete the disenfranchisement, the more frequent and horrible has been the hangings, shootings, and burnings.

SUSAN WARE: African-American women had seen what it meant to have African-American men disfranchised in the South and they realize that it's very important for women to have the vote. They see it as part of a larger struggle for racial justice.

MARTHA JONES: If you can’t vote, you can’t sit on a jury. If you can’t sit on a jury, you can’t determine what happens in a local courthouse when the perpetrators of lynching are brought before a court. If you can’t vote, you can’t be appointed a judge and sit on the bench and preside when the perpetrators of lynching are brought before a court. These are the mechanics, right, and Wells knows the mechanics of how Southern courts, how all courts in the nation, work. And so the vote might be sacred, but the vote is also a true instrument, right, of political power, political access. Without access to the polls, it’s difficult to imagine how black Americans are going to turn what’s happening in another direction.

NARRATOR: Eager to mobilize African-American women, Wells recently had founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, the first black suffrage organization in Chicago––and she intended to represent it in Alice Paul's parade.

J. D. ZAHNISER: Alice Paul had every expectation that African-American women would march. African-American women had marched in the New York parade. She had already reached out to African-Americans, encouraging them to think about marching. She was quickly disillusioned that that was a good idea when some of the Washington women came to her and said that that simply was not acceptable.

MARY WALTON: It's a very Southern city. It's a very racist city. These women come to headquarters. They're lifelong Washingtonians and they know the city. And they tell her, this can destroy your parade.

NARRATOR: In a letter, Paul confessed both her quandary and her conclusion: African-Americans would not be excluded from the parade, but neither would their participation be encouraged.

VOICE [Alice Paul]: The prejudice against [negroes] is so strong in this section of the country that I believe a large part if not a majority of our white marchers will refuse to participate if negroes in any number formed a part of the parade. [That being the case,] as far as I can see we must have a white procession, or a negro procession, or no procession at all. [T]he best thing is to say nothing whatever about the question, to keep it out of the newspapers, to try to make this a purely Suffrage demonstration entirely uncomplicated by any other problems such as racial ones.

MARTHA JONES: Alice Paul understands her choices. She understands the stakes in decisions that she makes. And the legacies of those sorts of moments, which in the name of expediency, racism is re-imposed and furthered, rather than challenged. And then we have to remember, like, the whole country is remarkably troubled, and racism is a political fact and it’s a political strategy. Which doesn’t excuse women who use racism, but it’s to say, why do we expect, silently, perhaps naively, why do we expect American women to be distinct from the ideas that animate American, white American men in the same moment?

ELEANOR SMEAL: Reformers, people who fight for change, are always asked to be perfect. But they’re living in a society where you make accommodations to go to the next step. Maybe you shouldn’t, but it’s almost impossible to get the whole loaf.

NARRATOR: They called themselves "Pilgrims": a band of suffragists, clad in brown capes and heavy boots, making their way on foot from New York to Washington D.C., a distance of some 260 miles, to join the march for the vote in the nation's capital.
In the lead was Rosalie Gardiner Jones––also known as General Jones––a 29-year-old Oyster Bay socialite who'd traded what she called her "pink tea existence" for a life in the suffrage trenches. She'd recently completed a similar trek from New York City to Albany, not merely to petition the governor for the right to vote, but also, as she said, "to meet the people along the way and talk suffrage to them."
When they set out on February 12th, 1913, the Pilgrims were some 200 strong. By the end of the first day, their number had dwindled to a determined sixteen.

MARY WALTON: It was winter, and they’re marching through ice and snow and slush. And they have a wagon filled with leaflets. And their idea is, they will campaign for suffrage along the way, and they will hand out these leaflets, and they will give talks. And they were followed every step of the way by reporters.

NARRATOR: Over the last two weeks of February, as the women kept to a pace of up to twenty miles a day, crowds continually lined their route.
Some, mostly men, came to jeer. In Pennsylvania, the hikers were assaulted with stones and snowballs. In Delaware, a group of small boys released dozens of mice into the Pilgrims' path, reportedly provoking hysteria.
Others, of both sexes, expressed support. "These suffragettes are certainly doing the world good. " Hearst's Magazine enthused. "Not only will we fall in line and hike with them for a few miles, but we will in sympathy, fall in love with the cause. they represent."
Meanwhile, suffragists from all over the country were likewise headed for Washington.

J. D. ZAHNISER: If you were a suffragist, you wanted to go to this big event. People were commissioning special trains. Chicago had a train, including Ida B. Wells, that roared into Washington the night before. There was an extensive trolley system and some women were actually able to get on the trolley in Portland, Maine, and transfer on one ticket all the way to Washington, D.C. Anybody who could get to Washington in any way possible became very interested in marching in the first great national parade.

NARRATOR: Alice Paul and Lucy Burns had been expecting perhaps 2,500 marchers. By the time Jones and her Pilgrims trudged into town, on the afternoon of February 27th, there were at least twice as many.
Alberta Hill, who'd come from New York, summed up their mood: "I am looking forward to the parade," she wrote, "with as much interest as a little girl to her first party."

SUSAN WARE: Think about what it would be like to march in your first suffrage parade. Maybe you had a white dress that you took out of your closet, or maybe you wore a special suffrage hat and a sash. You’re not a bystander anymore. And even if you felt a little scared and a little nervous, or maybe a lot scared and a lot nervous, you’re surrounded by other women who believe in the same thing you do. And there must have been just this amazing rush of feeling part of something bigger.

NARRATOR: By mid-morning on March 3rd, 1913, the marchers already were gathering on Pennsylvania Avenue in droves. "We went out early," Alice Paul recalled, "very early, to try to begin to line the people up."
Anna Howard Shaw, the National Association's president, was there in her doctoral robes, soaking up the enthusiasm of the crowd. But as the kaleidoscopic mass shifted into position for drills, a fracas broke out among the marchers from Illinois.
According to the Chicago Tribune reporter traveling with them, the delegation's chair made a last-minute announcement: she'd been advised to keep the delegation "entirely white," she said, due to "the objections of eastern and southern women." Although African-Americans were interspersed throughout the procession––among them, members of a Howard University sorority––it was decided Ida B. Wells would have to march with a contingent in the rear.

PAULA GIDDINGS: She was nationally famous. She had been so much a part of the suffrage organizations, longer than most of those women who were there. So she is just. becomes very emotional about this, not in the pity—a self-pitying way, but she understands what would happen if it came out that she was excluded from this group.

NARRATOR: Fighting back tears, Wells addressed the sixty-two women of the Illinois delegation:

VOICE: If the Illinois women do not take a stand now in this great democratic parade then the colored women are lost. When I was asked to come down here, I was asked to march with the other women of our state, and. [e]ither I go with you or not at all.

NARRATOR: When the delegation reassembled for the procession, just after three o'clock, Wells was nowhere to be found.
By then, Pennsylvania Avenue was jammed with spectators. The welcoming party for the President-elect, by contrast, was strangely sparse.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: Woodrow Wilson steps off the train in Washington, D.C. He’s just been elected President of the United States. He’s expecting a—a huge welcome. And there’s nobody there.

COL. BETH BEHN: And so he asks what’s going on, and somebody tells him most of the people are out watching the suffrage parade. And it’s this early indicator of the role that suffrage is going to play in his term as he's about to take office the following day.

NARRATOR: Finally, at twenty-five past three, a blare of trumpets rang out and the procession's two dozen horse-drawn floats, nine bands, four mounted brigades, and thousands of marchers stirred into motion. Leading them all was Inez Milholland, a 26-year-old attorney the press had dubbed "the most beautiful suffragette."
Lest anyone mistake the purpose of the demonstration, Alice Paul had displayed it on the very first float––the so-called "great demand."

MARY WALTON: This was very bold. Women did not demand in those days. And she was putting Wilson on notice that the women wanted action.

MARY WALTON: Alice also wanted it to be a beautiful parade. It was a narrative of women’s progress, from pioneer days all the way up to present day. The present day consisted of phalanxes of women marching by profession. You had your librarians. You had your teachers. You had your nurses. The message was, this the contribution that women make to society.

NARRATOR: For roughly four blocks, the parade unspooled along the avenue as planned. Then, rowdy onlookers began to break through the steel cables lining the route.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: You had 5,000 women marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. And surrounding them were 100,000 men, many of them drunk. And the men began jeering and spitting.

MARY WALTON: They spilled into the path of the parade. They hurled taunts at the women. They threw lighted cigarettes at them. They plucked objects off the floats.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: They assaulted the marchers and sent a hundred of them to the hospital.

MARY WALTON: The police, they weren’t much better. They turned their back on the parade and they’re smirking, like this is all some kind of big joke.

J. D. ZAHNISER: And so very quickly, what were marchers marching four or even eight abreast became a single file in a very, very threatening atmosphere.

NARRATOR: Only the arrival of the cavalry enabled the marchers to complete the route. One later compared the experience to being forced through the neck of a funnel. "I did not know," another recalled, "that men could be such fiends."
Ida B. Wells took advantage of the chaos––boldly stepping in with the Illinois delegation midway through the route. "Illinois is Lincoln's State," she told a reporter. "I don’t believe Lincoln's State is going to permit Alabama or Georgia or any other State to begin to dictate to it now."
Given the punishing afternoon, many expected the mood at the post-procession rally to be grim. But as one marcher recalled: "To our great surprise, [the] leaders were jubilant!" "If anything could prove the need of the ballot," Anna Howard Shaw proclaimed, "nothing could prove it more than the treatment we received today."

J. D. ZAHNISER: Alice Paul and the National Association leaders realized they had a media sensation on their hands.

MARY WALTON: Alice was a public relations genius. She saw that this parade on the front pages of newspapers across America was a better story than her parade would have been. And what was that story? Men bad, women good, right? It was basic.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: This march overshadowed the inauguration of the President of the United States, because these non-violent marchers were attacked for just trying to fulfill their rights as Americans.

NARRATOR: By the following morning, the newspapers were in receipt of an open letter, penned in New York by Harriot Stanton Blatch and addressed to the soon-to-be inaugurated president, Woodrow Wilson:

VOICE [Blatch]: As you ride today in comfort and safety to the capital we beg that you will not be unmindful that yesterday the Government, which is supposed to exist for the good of all, left women, while passing in peaceful procession in their demand for political freedom, at the mercy of a howling mob on the very streets which are being at this moment so efficiently officered for the protection of men.

ELLEN DUBOIS: Paul pressed to have a congressional investigation. And this prolonged the publicity that the demonstration had gotten. So instead of being intimidated by the attack, she used it as an argument to get—effectively, to get the Congress to begin to move on the federal amendment.
MICHAEL WALDMAN: The idea of a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote for women was a pipe dream. It wasn’t on the agenda. And then Alice Paul said, "we’re going to do this."

TINA CASSIDY: It put suffrage on the map in a brand new way.

NARRATOR: The movement's leadership continued to believe the vote would be won in the states but a higher profile for the cause could only help in that. "The National Association," Anna Howard Shaw told Paul, "will never cease to be grateful to you all for the splendid service you have done in its name."

NARRATOR: That spring, while the controversy over the parade was still splashed across the nation's front pages, the Thomas A. Edison Company debuted its latest film in New York.
The nation's movie houses and kinetoscope parlors had been awash in films about woman suffrage for years now––most of them short comedies about misguided, mannish women unsuccessfully experimenting with power.
Edison's new entry sought to turn the popular stereotype on its head. Entitled "Votes for Women" and featuring five prominent suffragists, each delivering a sixty-second speech, the film was part of a series of so-called "Talkers." But no sooner had Suffragist Number One come into view than the talk was drowned out by hisses, hoots, and jeers.
Newspapers translated the uproar into words: "Vaudeville audiences are not bashful about expressing opinions," observed the New York Tribune, "and it seemed to be the general opinion that those women were not good lookers enough to deserve a man’s vote.”

ELAINE WEISS: It is important to realize how vilified the women were. The idea is that if you are a suffragist, there must be something wrong with you. You must be a spinster. You must be unsexed and somehow psychologically unbalanced. You must just want to be a man.

Sc14: An Impulsive, Rash Thing
NARRATOR: Suffragists had expected big things from Woodrow Wilson, who'd been elected on the strength of his progressive reform platform. But throughout his first hundred days as president––and for months beyond––he'd managed to avoid taking any public position on the question of votes for women.

COL. BETH BEHN: Woodrow Wilson is a very traditional Southern gentleman, and his political interests and leanings mirror his upbringing. He’s not dismissive of women or the role that they have to play in society, but he does believe that that role is primarily as nurturers, as upholders of morals and values within families, and he’s deeply concerned that allowing women to enter the political realm will disrupt the foundation of society.

TINA CASSIDY: Woodrow Wilson was against women's suffrage. He never wanted to state that publicly and was always very careful when he spoke with deputations of these suffragists coming to see him. He would say, "Oh, well, you know, I understand your perspective, and that’s interesting. I have a lot of other things on my plate right now. We’ll see what happens."

NARRATOR: By the fall of 1913, Alice Paul had long since tired of the presidential dodge.
When she and Lucy Burns launched The Suffragist––a weekly newspaper meant to track the progress toward the federal amendment––they put Wilson on the debut issue's cover, depicting him as a smug obstacle to the cause.
At home in Pennsylvania, Anna Howard Shaw perused the issue with dismay. It was bad enough that Paul and Burns had published The Suffragist without consulting the National Association but to see such an unkind portrayal of the president, Shaw told Burns, had made her "sick at heart."

ELLEN DUBOIS: The National Suffrage organization was very hierarchical. The people in charge believed that they deserved to be in charge, young people must come up through the ranks, and Alice Paul was none of that. She could see what needed to be done, and she intended to do it.

NARRATOR: Paul had been raising hackles at the National Association for months now, ever since the parade.
Just weeks afterward, she'd personally led a deputation to President Wilson, who gave the women ten minutes of his time, listened politely, and then shrugged them off––claiming that Congress was too busy with tariffs and currency reform to consider woman suffrage.
"But Mr. President," Paul countered, "do you not understand that the Administration has no right to legislate for currency, tariff, and any other reform without first getting the consent of women?"

SUSAN WARE: It was going to be very hard to get through to Woodrow Wilson, no matter what anybody said. But Alice Paul was confrontational. She’s impatient, and she really sees him as a huge adversary. She was trying to make him, as president, deal with this issue.

NARRATOR: Were such audacity not enough, Paul and Burns also had formed a separate organization, the Congressional Union, to push for the federal amendment, and had even raised their own funds for the endeavor––diverting them, in Shaw's view, from the National's coffers.
But nothing was more troubling than Paul and Burns’ public embrace of Emmeline Pankhurst, who by now had resorted to waging what she called "guerilla warfare" in England.

MARY WALTON: Until this point, the most violent thing they had done was to throw rocks through windows, which is kind of a time-honored form of protest in Britain. Now, they’re cutting electric lines, telegraph lines. They’re slashing seats in trains. They set fire to golf greens. No votes, no golf.

ELAINE WEISS: There were bombs put in mailboxes. There were bombs at the doorsteps of members of Parliament. So there’s a lot of fear in the American movement that that kind of violence might come here.

JAD ADAMS: People in the National felt that Alice Paul had become a creature of the Pankhursts. She was going to import Pankhurst attitudes and approaches to a situation in the U.S. where these militant tactics didn’t belong at all.

J. D. ZAHNISER: Alice Paul and Lucy Burns never thought that any kind of violent protest would be successful in America but they never distanced themselves from the Pankhursts. So they became more and more controversial.

NARRATOR: The last straw was delivered by Lucy Burns, who advertised a suffrage meeting by illegally chalking the sidewalk across from the White House––and thereby prompted a much-publicized warrant for her arrest.
Shaw's reprimand came by letter. "Immediately plead ignorance of the law and pay whatever fine there is upon it," she instructed. "You may think we are all a set of old fogies, and perhaps we are. but it requires a good deal more courage to work steadily and steadfastly for forty or fifty years to gain an end, than it does to do an impulsive rash thing and lose it."
By December 1913, tensions were so high that the National barred reporters from attending its annual convention. Just days later, Shaw appointed an entirely new committee to oversee efforts in Washington, and ousted Paul and Burns. The fledgling Congressional Union's "militant" leaders, Shaw told the press, know "nothing of American politics."

ELAINE WEISS: Schisms like this are very common in social movements, especially reform movements. We see it in the labor movement. We see it in the civil rights movement. There is an impatience with the slow pace of progress and one group says, "We have to be more radical."

TINA CASSIDY: Alice Paul was very young in 1913. She was in her mid-20s and she was probably naive. But sometimes that level of ignorance, not really knowing how hard the fight is, is the only reason why you’re going to engage in the fight.

A Movement at a Crossroads

NARRATOR: As the wan winter sun rose on the morning of February 7th, 1915, readers of the New York Times turned the front page of the Sunday editorial section and encountered a lengthy warning about a grave and imminent danger: a referendum, scheduled for November 2nd, that for the first time would put the question of votes for women directly to the electorate of New York state.
"Every man of voting age must meet the issue courageously, intelligently, with clear vision," the editors urged. "The grant of suffrage to women is repugnant. Without the counsel and guidance of men no woman ever ruled a state wisely and well. The defect is innate and one for which a cure is both impossible and not to be desired."
It was enough to drive Harriot Stanton Blatch to distraction.
While others dreamed of changing the U.S. Constitution, Blatch had kept her focus on New York––and by now, she'd been working for years just to convince the state legislature to hold the referendum.

ELLEN DUBOIS: She understood that education, pleading, petitioning did not work. You needed to evidence power. You could do it by bringing hundreds of women to Albany. You could do it by having 10,000 women march down Fifth Avenue. But you needed to show that there was power and intention, and you had to force politicians to act.

NARRATOR: The task of converting voters, Blatch knew, would be Herculean by comparison but it had to be done.
Spurred by the furor over the national suffrage parade, the House of Representatives recently had put the federal amendment to a vote for the first time––and had proved that the two-thirds majority required for passage was well out of reach. "[But] if we win the empire state," Blatch told Alice Paul, "all the states will come tumbling down like a pack of cards."

ELLEN DUBOIS: At this point, the federal constitution was still closed to women. So it became the goal to break through and to have a victory east of the Mississippi. And there, the big goal was New York.

SUSAN GOODIER: New York is a state with a very large population, many members of the electoral college. It’s such an influential and prominent state. So for decades, women suffragists had said New York is key.

NARRATOR: The National Association had poured resources into the campaign––and over the course of 1915, mobilized thousands of women across the state.
They stood in shop windows to make so-called "voiceless speeches" carried a symbolic Suffrage Torch to meetings from Chautauqua to Montauk and mailed suffrage valentines to everyone they knew.

ELLEN DUBOIS: They are doing everything to appeal to the emotions. No longer interested in making rational arguments for suffrage. They want to have people care about and be interested in and excited about the suffrage movement.

NARRATOR: The fervor was palpable all over the East that year, as suffragists in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts drove toward their own referenda.

MARY WALTON: Thousands of women marched in Boston. They took a liberty bell across the state of Pennsylvania. Everybody planted yellow gardens. You know, and women worked very, very hard.

SUSAN GOODIER: If women are going to get the right to vote, they need to convince the most men possible that they deserve the right to vote. Every individual man who can vote needs to be convinced.

NARRATOR: Mindful of what was at stake for tens of thousands of African-American women––and for voting rights in general––the five-year-old National Association for the Advancement of Colored People put out a special issue of its monthly magazine, featuring endorsements from some of black America's foremost public figures, who urged African-American men to vote "yes."
For Mary Church Terrell, the former president of the National Association of Colored Women, it was incomprehensible that any black man should do otherwise. "[T]he same arguments used to prove that the ballot be withheld from women," she pointed out, "are advanced to prove that colored men should not be allowed to vote."

MARTHA JONES: Black women have a stake in this question. If one is to be a full citizen, a true citizen, not a second class citizen, one will vote, have access to the polls. Keep a people away from the polls, you will raise the significance of the vote tremendously. Why would you keep us away from the polls so long if it wasn’t in fact the route to power?

NARRATOR: By the fall, everyone was waiting to see what Woodrow Wilson would do. Expected to return to his home state of New Jersey to vote in the referendum there, the president was inundated with letters, hundreds of them from anti-suffrage women, who begged him, as one put it, to "leave us a little longer in the quiet of our homes. to rear our children well, and care for our husbands. with undivided interest[.]"
To such women's profound disappointment, Wilson announced on October 6th that he would vote "yes."

ELLEN DUBOIS: Wilson, because of his reputation as a progressive, can’t publicly say that he’s against women having political rights, is basically a States rights man when it comes to suffrage.

COL. BETH BEHN: He does it as a private citizen in a state-level vote that doesn’t have any national implications and, in fact, is explicit—speaking to his Southern base—that he’s not in favor of a federal amendment. But that is a huge win in the minds of many of the suffragists, because now the President has indicated at least he’s personally pro-suffrage.

NARRATOR On the eve of the New York referendum, opinion polls were running almost even, for and against. Harriot Stanton Blatch was cautiously optimistic, and predicted a win by fewer than 10,000 votes.
Instead, the referendum lost––resoundingly––a blow made more devastating by similar routs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

MARY WALTON: These were four of the most populous states in the country. And there was a lot at stake, and they lost every state.

ELLEN DUBOIS: They failed. The 1915 campaign was well-run, well-funded, but it could not break through.

NARRATOR: "I [have] never felt so vindictive in all my life," Blatch raged to a reporter. "Never again will I make an appeal to an individual voter."
Just days later, an embattled Anna Howard Shaw announced she would not be a candidate for re-election to the National Association's presidency, and the country's preeminent woman suffrage organization began the search for a new leader and yet another new path forward.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: In 1915, things looked very iffy. The movement was at something of a crossroads. It had garnered a great deal of support. Its social base was broader than it ever had been. But they, it still faced a lot of opposition. Figuring out what to do, should they proceed at the state level, should they go for a federal amendment, was a very live issue and it was not obvious that either path was going to work.

ELAINE WEISS: We don’t want, it seems, everyone participating in our democracy. And that becomes one of the great themes for the women fighting for women’s suffrage, because how can you be a democracy if half of the nation can’t vote?

NARRATOR: By the fall of 1915, there could scarcely have been an adult in the United States unaware of the controversy over votes for women.
It had been circulating on the periphery of the national conversation for six decades and during the previous five years had moved decisively to the center––a crusade of the few blooming into a mass movement, their demand for the ballot growing ever more insistent.
Hotly debated in town halls, on street corners, and around dinner tables the country over, woman suffrage had divided husbands and wives, siblings, women one from another––and had aroused vociferous opposition from every quarter of American society: industrial interests, politicians, and not least, the states of the former Confederacy, where the franchise was a jealously-guarded instrument of white supremacy.
With defeats far more numerous than victories, new voices had risen to champion new, more aggressive tactics, and the suffrage movement had splintered over strategy–-highlighting the fundamental question of what it would take for American women to finally win the ballot.
What no one anticipated in 1915 was the lengths to which they would actually have to go.

MARTHA JONES, HISTORIAN: This is a real struggle. It is a struggle over ideas. Who are women? What can they be? What can they do? Who should they be? It is a struggle over power. Who gets to say what this nation is and how it does what it does?

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: The fact that there is resistance to the expansion of democratic rights is not uniquely American. When people have some rights that other people don’t have, you have to convince them to share. Not everybody’s going to want to.

NARRATOR: On September 16th, 1915, at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, four women––virtual strangers––climbed into a waiting car, drove through the fairground gates, and headed east––to launch a new phase in the very long struggle for woman suffrage, now in its 67th year and counting.
It was close to midnight when they set out. Their final destination: Washington D.C.

MARY WALTON: The car takes off very, very dramatic. Lights and fireworks and it's on its way.

NARRATOR: With few personal possessions, the travelers' cargo consisted primarily of an enormous scroll which had been gathering signatures at the Expo for months––a petition demanding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would enfranchise all of the nation's women at once.
Bearing it across the continent was Frances Jolliffe, 42 and a drama critic from Washington State poet Sara Bard Field, 33 and a native of Oregon and two Swedes who had volunteered their brand-new Willys-Overland for the trip.
The "envoys," as they were called, would be taking a circuitous route, stopping for pre-arranged rallies, receptions, and press interviews in forty-eight different cities. Not counting unplanned detours, the itinerary was nearly five thousand miles. On a good road, with the top up, they'd be lucky to log twenty miles per hour.

MARY WALTON: You have to imagine roads at that time. Roads are like tracks across the prairies left by wagons. They had to cross the desert. There are no maps.

CASSIDY: There was no interstate highway system. There weren’t streetlights. There weren’t pay phones. There was really no infrastructure to support a crazy trip like this.

NARRATOR: Already by Sacramento, Frances Jolliffe had had enough, leaving Sara Bard Field alone with the Swedes, one of whom talked incessantly.
"Like Odysseus I have many experiences to relate," Field telegrammed a friend from the road. Twelve miles through alkali salt pan in Nevada's Great Basin–-an experience Field described as "ploughing through. dust." Snow drifts so high in Wyoming, that everyone had to get out and push. A mud hole in Kansas that swallowed the Overland as if it were a shoe.

CASSIDY: Newspaper outlets would call in with their scenes from the road. The whole adventure of it was really captivating for the nation. Women were quite literally crossing a new divide in America, and being much more vocal and aggressive–-demanding the vote, not asking politely.

NARRATOR: The stunt was the handiwork of Alice Paul, a thirty-year-old Quaker with a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and a playbook inspired by her apprenticeship with Britain's notoriously militant suffragettes.
Having been recently ousted from the movement's preeminent organization, the more moderate National American Woman Suffrage Association, Paul now led the upstart Congressional Union, a small cadre of committed activists who shared her impatience for the ballot and her willingness to employ unlady-like tactics to win it.

CASSIDY: Women had been at this for decades and the movement was going nowhere. And Alice Paul really believed that the answer was in needing a new approach.

NARRATOR: While her one-time allies from the National Association continued to wage the battle state-by-state––reenacting the by-now tired ritual of pleading with male voters on street corners––Paul had set her sights on the federal amendment, and had appealed instead to female voters from the eleven so-called "free states" of the West, where women already were fully enfranchised.
As the popular humor magazine Puck acknowledged with a two-page spread in its special 1915 Suffrage Issue, the four million women of the free states were poised to liberate their sisters elsewhere. All they had to do was vote in solidarity with the cause.
Alice Paul's envoys would deliver that message to Capitol Hill, and make it known to the Democrats–-who held the presidency and controlled both houses of Congress––that thousands of western women were prepared to hold them responsible for the federal suffrage amendment.

J. D. ZAHNISER: The idea was to get the attention of the party and convince them that women's votes can alter the balance of power, and persuade them to push through the Constitutional amendment.

NARRATOR: By the time the envoys' Overland reached Washington D.C. on the morning of December 6th, four states in the East had voted to keep women from the ballot box––and even those suffragists who dismissed Paul as a "militant" had begun to see the wisdom in her demand for the federal amendment.
President Wilson received the envoys graciously. "Nothing could be more impressive," he said, surveying the petition. "This visit of yours. undoubtedly will make it necessary for all of us to consider very carefully what it is right for us to do."
What the president did not say was that he had already decided what was right to do. As he'd put it to a friend just the night before: "[Woman suffrage] will make absolutely no change in politics––it is the home that will be disastrously affected. who is going to [make the home] if the women don't?"

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR, HISTORIAN: It’s hard to get inside the heads of men who were thinking, we don’t want to enfranchise our wives or our daughters. We have to recognize that there are fairly rigid notions of what is appropriate to, to gender, what is the domain?

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: What was expected of women was that they might want to get an education, but that then they would marry. They would have children. They would take care of their husbands. They would raise the children. That was their ambit. That was their sphere.

MARCIA CHATELAIN, HISTORIAN: Women who had either been among the first, or among the few, who had completed a legal education, medical school are realizing there’s no place for them and there's nothing for them to do. And I think the most-educated women really became restless.

SUSAN WARE: It wasn’t just about casting a ballot. It really was about women’s roles in society. And the suffragists in some ways are in the forefront, and saying, "We want to do more."

NARRATOR: By the late spring of 1916, the call for a federal suffrage amendment had become a clamor––and in June, despite a torrential downpour, fifty-five hundred suffragists turned out to press the point at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.
Accompanied by a pair of mascots borrowed from the local zoo, the column of women stretched for two miles––"a vast sea of umbrellas," the Chicago Herald observed, "in unbroken formation. Never before in the history of Chicago, probably of the world, has there been so impressive a demonstration of idealism, of consecration to a cause."
It was precisely the sort of coverage the newly-elected president of the National Association had been hoping for.
Carrie Chapman Catt was 57, and the crusade for woman suffrage had been the one constant in her life: a thread that stretched backward through two marriages and the deaths of both husbands, through the teaching career that had financed her college education, all the way back to her adolescence in Charles City, Iowa, and the election of 1872.

ELAINE WEISS, WRITER: Carrie Catt is in her family farmhouse. It was a very political family. Her mother was a big supporter of Horace Greeley, who was running. Carrie Catt names her cats after the Presidential candidates. It's a big deal in the house. And so her father and her older brothers and the hired hands get dressed to go vote. But her mother just is still in her housecoat and isn't getting dressed, and she says, "Why aren't you going? Aren't you going to town to vote?" And the men laugh, and her father, who she adores, says, "Well, don't you know, voting is too important to allow women to do this." And she's just stunned. At that moment she realizes she had to work towards this.

SUSAN WARE, HISTORIAN: Carrie Chapman Catt has been part of the movement since the 1880s and was actually president of the national organization for four years, right at the turn of the century. So she goes way, way back. And I think by 1916 she was just getting impatient too.

ELAINE WEISS: The movement seems to be listing and there's a great sense of frustration, and the National Association drafts Carrie Catt to come back and lead them into what they know is going to be a critical stage.

NARRATOR: After the crushing defeats in the East, Catt later recalled, "suffragists were in no mood to go to the States again and beg the vote. ". Going forward, the National Association would fight for the constitutional amendment.
But unlike the militant Miss Paul, leveling threats at the Democrats, Carrie Catt meant to beat the politicians at their own game.

ELAINE WEISS: Amending the Constitution seems really very enticing. But it's not easy.

ELLEN DUBOIS, HISTORIAN: You have to get two-thirds of the Congress. That's hard enough. And then you have to get three-quarters of the states. Ratification is, by design, a very high bar.

NARRATOR: Catt's opening move was to convince both major political parties to endorse votes for women––and thereby clear the way for the federal amendment.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, WRITER: Political parties mattered a lot, and their platforms mattered a lot. What they said were the commitments that they were going to make. Carrie Catt is trying to convince the parties not just that this is the right thing to do, but that it’ll help them politically. She’s in there whispering to the men in power, this is in your interest.

NARRATOR: But at the convention in Chicago, Catt's play was blocked by anti-suffrage senators from Massachusetts and New York.

SUSAN WARE: In the northeast, in the industrial states, there’s strong, entrenched political machines who were not keen on women voting.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: The political machines want a predictable electorate. And they want to be able to win elections with the electorate that they know. Double the size of the electorate and who knows what’s going to happen? So let’s just keep things as they are, where we know how to manage.

NARRATOR: Thanks to pressure from pro-suffrage Republicans, a compromise eventually was struck: a plank that endorsed votes for women––so long as they were secured by action of the states.
To Catt's dismay, the scene repeated itself the following week, at the Democratic National Convention in St. Louis––only this time, the opposition came from the South.

MARCIA CHATELAIN: With the majority of African-Americans concentrated in the South, the issue of voting becomes the central preoccupation of white southern Democrats, as well as anyone interested in the machinery of white supremacy.

COL. BETH BEHN, HISTORIAN: Southern states have gone to great lengths to disenfranchise African American men, who’d been enfranchised with the 15th Amendment. So, any discussion of an amendment that would include a provision for federal enforcement is crazy talk in the South.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: Federal action on voting had created a situation where the former slaves were voting in huge numbers. That was Reconstruction. The southern Democrats regarded that as a grave mistake. The last thing they wanted was national constitutional action on voting rights.

NARRATOR: For Southern Democrats, the stakes were amply demonstrated by Illinois, where in 1913 women had won partial suffrage––and now could vote both for presidential electors and in municipal elections.
Over the previous year, renowned anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells and her Alpha Suffrage Club had successfully mobilized Chicago's African-American women, and had helped to elect Republican Oscar DePriest, the city's first black alderman.

MARTHA JONES: Black women are going to vote for president in Illinois in 1916. They are organizing themselves and their community around the polls. So if I’m an astute student of politics in the South, I understand what black women will do if given the opening and the possibility of coming to the polls that they will work to really upend a political order that is bound by white supremacy. That’s clear.

NARRATOR: The plank that finally wound up in the Democrat's platform was nearly identical to the Republican's. Catt declared it "an insult to womanhood."
But as she told members of the National Association at an emergency meeting: now that both major parties had drawn a line at the federal amendment, she was more determined than ever to get it across.

VOICE [Catt]: Remember. that the federal government enfranchised the Indians, assuming its authority upon the ground that they are wards of the nation that the negroes were enfranchised [by the fifteenth amendment]. that the vote is the free-will offering of our 48 states to any man who chooses to make this land his home. Why, then, should American women be content to beg the vote on bended knee from man to man, when no male voter has been compelled to pay this price[?]

COL. BETH BEHN: Carrie Chapman Catt says this is the beginning of victory. And she launches what she calls the Winning Plan.

ELLEN DUBOIS: Catt's idea is, you support the state campaigns like New York, where they might win. But the goal is the federal amendment.

COL. BETH BEHN: She does the math and says okay, clearly the more representatives there are from suffrage states, the better the chances for the federal amendment.

ELAINE WEISS: And that is true. As more and more states were enfranchising their women, it meant there was more pressure on Congress.

SUSAN WARE: Carrie Chapman Catt had a political vision that was just as accurate and practical as Alice Paul’s. But Catt is someone who works within the system. That’s the way she is. Alice Paul says no, I’m going to try different things, and we’re going to blow this wide open.

NARRATOR: Beyond America's borders in the summer of 1916 was a world fraught with danger.
The nations of Europe were waging a brutal, seemingly senseless war that in just two years had claimed the lives of nearly a million men. And Americans were looking to elect a president who would keep them out of the fray.
It was shaping up to be a tight race. Woodrow Wilson, who'd been nominated by his party on the first ballot, had the advantage of incumbency but the last Democrat elected to a consecutive second term had been Andrew Jackson, in 1832.
Already, the slogans were flying, newspapers were opining, and the Republican nominee, New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes, was barnstorming the country, trying to distinguish himself from the competition.

MARY WALTON, WRITER: They’re both sons of ministers. They’re both lawyers. Teddy Roosevelt called Hughes the bearded Woodrow Wilson, they were so much alike. And Alice Paul sees an opening here. She thinks she has a real chance to defeat Wilson.

NARRATOR: After personally paying a call to Hughes in July, Paul managed to extract from him a tight-lipped endorsement of the federal suffrage amendment
––though he was careful to qualify it to the press as "purely a personal opinion."
The southern-born president, by contrast, stubbornly clung to the states' rights position favored by his party.

COL. BETH BEHN: Wilson knows he’s in a battle heading into the 1916 election. He's deeply concerned with any discussion of a federal amendment on suffrage because he’s got a base of support in the South. And the whole question of who’s voting in the South for Southern Democrats must remain a state matter.

NARRATOR: Alice Paul intended to make the Democrats' party line a liability at the polls.
She'd already taken the audacious step of forming a new political party
–-the National Woman's Party––which at first was comprised only of fully enfranchised women and featured in its platform a single plank: immediate passage of a federal suffrage amendment. Now, she sent organizers west to rally women voters to her Party's ranks––and as she told a supporter, to convince them to cast their ballots against Wilson and the Democrats.

VOICE [Paul] : . we have been saying that the women would rise in revolt at the polls this November against the Democrats if they did not pass the amendment. We are now face to face with the test of whether they will do so. Whether we succeed in defeating Mr. Wilson is of secondary importance. What we must do is to show him and every other national leader that women are ready to revolt against hostility.

ELLEN DUBOIS: The growing number of women who had full voting rights in the West were now an actual tool. A force, a political force to be reckoned with. Everybody recognized this. But Paul took a step forward.

COL. BETH BEHN: Paul says to the Democratic Party, if you do not get on board with supporting a federal suffrage amendment, we will swing the votes of 500,000 women in the Western states against you. Whether your candidates in those states are pro-suffrage or anti-suffrage, we're going to vote against them. We are going to vote against Wilson, and we are going to hold the Democrats responsible for passage of a federal amendment."

NARRATOR: By the end of August, Paul had installed opposition campaigners in all eleven of the free western states. 37-year-old Lucy Burns, Paul's second in command, was stationed in Montana. Doris Stevens, 27 and a teacher from Omaha, took on California, while trade union organizer Rose Winslow, 26, split her time between Arizona and Wyoming.
Harriot Stanton Blatch, who'd been assigned to Colorado, was sure that together they could annihilate Wilson at the polls.
Blatch was 60 and a veteran of the suffrage wars. She'd spent the better part of the last decade organizing in New York––the very state where her mother, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, first had launched the movement. But the 1915 defeat there had soured her on the work.
Newly widowed, she'd established legal residency in Kansas in order to be able to cast a ballot––and, as she told Alice Paul, had turned her head and heart to her enfranchised sisters. "I believe in women," Blatch explained. "The east calls to the west for succor."

MARY WALTON: They’re equipped with banners and with leaflets and copies of The Suffragist. In many places, this is still the frontier, and it’s very difficult terrain. They know no one, and no one knows them. They find that in a number of states where women have the vote, they’re just not all that interested in this federal amendment and this cause of Eastern women.

ELLEN DUBOIS: It’s 1916. Nobody really cares about this. They’re concerned about the war in Europe and Wilson is announcing he won’t take the United States into it.

NARRATOR: What in August had seemed a promising venture by September had become a punishing grind, as the campaigners shuttled over hill and dale to canvass far-flung voters. "I am absolutely worn out," Harriot Stanton Blatch grumbled, "by routing out at midnight and 4 o'clock in the morning."
Even women half her age had begun to flag. By October, no fewer than eight were down––from nervous exhaustion, bronchitis, food poisoning. Then, late in the month, the campaign's star speaker, 30-year-old Inez Milholland, who'd led the 1913 suffrage parade in the capitol, collapsed mid-speech on a stage in Los Angeles, her last words directed to Wilson: "Mr. President, how long must women [go on fighting] for liberty?"
Diagnosed with pernicious anemia and a rampant infection, Milholland languished in the hospital while Blatch finished out her tour.

VOICE [Blatch]: Women voters! Remember. Wilson kept us out of suffrage. Be loyal to women. Do not return to power a President and a Congress hostile to political freedom for women. Vote against Wilson and the Democratic candidates for Congress.

NARRATOR: When voters went to the polls on November 7th, they delivered one of the closest elections in American history. Based on incomplete returns, some early editions on the 8th declared for Hughes. By the 9th, those papers were publishing retractions: Wilson had eked out a victory after all. Of the twelve states where the National Woman's Party had campaigned against him, the president had carried ten.

COL. BETH BEHN: The premise of Paul's strategy was that women would be single-issue voters, that they would privilege suffrage above all else, and that strategy turns out to just be incorrect. Compared to the issue of America's entry into the war, suffrage was way down on the list.

CASSIDY: The Western campaign didn’t have a huge impact but it really opened people’s eyes to the lengths to which Alice Paul was willing to go to keep the momentum going.

NARRATOR: Two and half weeks after the election, Inez Milholland died in California, and Alice Paul immediately resurrected her as a martyr for the Cause
––emblazoning the cover of the Suffragist with Milholland's likeness and a verse from the Battle Hymn of the Republic: "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free."

NARRATOR: When Maud Wood Park, a newly-appointed lobbyist for the National Association, arrived in Washington D.C. in late 1916, it was with some reluctance. "I am afraid I am too much a reformer and too little an opportunist," she'd told Carrie Chapman Catt, "to be of use in Washington."
But as Park recalled, the lobby was a key component of Mrs. Catt's Winning Plan––and she'd refused to take "no" for an answer.

ELAINE WEISS: The suffragists have knocked on doors. They've had rallies. They've had marches. But they also have to convince legislators, political men who have their own agendas, who have their own constituencies, to meet their needs. The federal amendment's been kicking around Congress for 40 years they've got to get it out of there.

NARRATOR: Park had been selling woman suffrage to skeptics for her entire adult life. One of only two women in her 1898 Radcliffe graduating class to support votes for women––and appalled by her generation's apathy––she'd gone on to found the College Equal Suffrage League, which by 1908 boasted chapters in thirty states.
She was no less tenacious when it came to politicians. Back home in Massachusetts, she'd once trailed a state legislator into a saloon to secure his pledge for woman suffrage.
But Capitol Hill was alien terrain. The briefing she received on the task ahead left her, she later said, "so scared by the number of mistakes which it was possible to make, I wondered whether I should ever have the courage to open my lips to speak."

SUSAN WARE: Maud Wood Park really hadn’t spent any time in the nation’s capital until that point. She had to teach herself how Congress worked, and I think she was at first a little surprised at how dysfunctional it was, how things didn’t get done and how people seemed to be spending an awful lot of time not doing anything at all. But she’s the kind of no-nonsense person that would just think, ok, what are we going to do about this?

NARRATOR: From the National Association's new headquarters on Rhode Island Avenue, Park now would oversee more than two dozen volunteers from sixteen different states, and guide their efforts to push the federal amendment through Congress––one legislator at a time, all of them men.
Washington insiders called it the "Front Door Lobby."

ELLEN DUBOIS: The word lobby already had a negative association. Lobbyists were corrupt people who bribed politicians in back rooms.

SUSAN WARE: What was so unusual about the suffrage lobbyists is that that was not the way they operated. They were going to go in through the front door and they were just going to sit down and make the case.

ELLEN DUBOIS: Maud Wood Park trained a whole core of lobbyists. She taught them how to approach congressmen. One of the things you always did was, before you went into a congressman’s office, you knocked, lest he be in a compromising position. Keep the door open. Make friends with his secretary. And when you’re done, go into the ladies room and write down all your notes.

ELAINE WEISS: They keep very detailed records on every legislator in Congress, and they know who his enemies are, they know who his friends are, they know who his donors are. They know the skeletons in his closet, and they'll use it if necessary. Just sweetly, just mention that they know it.

SUSAN WARE: And then just keep at it. Keep coming back, not get discouraged. Don’t nag them. But just, don’t go away.
NARRATOR: During the month of January 1917, Park's lobbyists met with 326 members of the House, twenty of them on more than one occasion.
The reports on the interviews, read in bulk, could be dispiriting: "Polite but positive. Against woman suffrage." "Believes that woman dwells apart from man––in her nature." "[Maintains that] Illinois is the only place east of the Mississippi where there will ever be women voting."
Still, by the end of the month, the lobbyists had gained a total of eleven new supporters––"small result after four weeks of work," Park acknowledged, but nevertheless progress.

ELLEN DUBOIS: Becoming active in the suffrage movement changed women. It taught them capacities. It taught them how to run organizations, how to run political campaigns, what it was like to collaborate with other women. It got women to do things they didn't think they could possibly do.

NARRATOR: The nation's capital had barely begun to rouse itself on the morning of January 10th, 1917, when Alice Paul turned her back on decades of polite patience and politics-as-usual––and threw down the gauntlet at the very gates of the White House.
A dozen suffragists assembled there just before ten o'clock––shouldering the colors of the National Woman's Party and banners addressed to the president. They stood in silence until mid-day, when they were relieved by another group who stayed until five-thirty.
"Squads will be stationed about the White House daily. until [the presidential inaugural] on March 4th," the Washington Herald reported. "This is generally regarded as the most militant move ever made by the suffragists of this country."

CASSIDY: No one had ever picketed outside the White House like this before.

COL. BETH BEHN: For women to stand at the gates of the White House and demand attention from the President, to demand rights, is stepping far outside of social norms for that time.

SUSAN WARE: There had been picket lines in the labor movement for years. It’s not a tactic that they invented. But applying it to suffrage and using the White House and specifically its occupant, Woodrow Wilson, as the target, was something entirely new. It was a brilliant way of upping the ante.

NARRATOR: The demonstration had been hatched in tandem with Harriot Stanton Blatch, who'd led a deputation of three hundred women to the president just days before, to secure his pledge for the federal amendment as a memorial to Inez Milholland. Wilson had refused. "[U]ntil the orders of my party are changed," the president had told them, "[i]t is impossible for me. to do anything other than I am doing. ".
For Blatch, the only rational response was radical action.

VOICE [Blatch]: We have got to take a new departure. We have got to bring to the President, individually, day by day, week in and week out, the idea that great numbers of women want to be free, will be free, and want to know what he is going to do about it.

MARY WALTON: It’s now 1917. They have not made any real progress toward a federal amendment. They can’t point to any real success. Something new is needed.

ELEANOR SMEAL: The whole idea was to put pressure on the decision makers and get under the skin of Wilson. You are not going to ignore this movement.

NARRATOR: At first, the protest seemed a source of amusement to Wilson, who tipped his hat to the women as he passed through the White House gates.
On the second day, when the temperature hovered at thirty-five degrees and the pickets were reduced to perching on hot bricks and taking turns with a donated muskrat coat, he sent a messenger to ask them in for coffee––a kindness they refused.
By the fourth day, everyone involved had come to regard the demonstration as a trial to be endured. "We are all worn out by the picketing," Alice Paul confessed to a friend, "and how we shall keep it up until March 4th is a problem we cannot face with equanimity."

J. D. ZAHNISER: Alice Paul and her staff do an incredible amount of outreach. They are reaching out to nearby states, to colleges, to small suffrage groups––anybody they can think of who would be interested in coming to demonstrate at the White House for the suffrage amendment.

NARRATOR: So desperate was Paul for fresh recruits that she even issued invitations to local African-American activists––setting aside her deep conviction that their presence risked turning a woman's protest into a racial one.
53-year-old Mary Church Terrell, a charter member of the NAACP and a longtime suffragist, answered the call more than once––though she'd long ago resigned herself to the fact that white suffragists typically found it more expedient to exclude her.

MARTHA JONES: If you’re a black woman, white women’s racism is not news. Racism is the order of the day. You know what that is. But that’s not exactly a reason to stay home.

MARCIA CHATELAIN: African-American women understood that the right to vote was yet another tool to try to dismantle the structures that were still in place, even after the end of slavery, and to ensure African-American safety and perhaps, prosperity. So Mary Church Terrell was willing to join white women’s protests to the extent that she believed it would ultimately deliver the vote for black women.

NARRATOR: For every show of solidarity, however, there was a defection.
Paul was bombarded with letters protesting the picket––resignations, cancellations of The Suffragist, even a plea from her mother to call off what she described as the "undignified. annoying of the President."
Instead, the vigil continued, day in and day out, usually six days a week. By way of explanation, Paul offered an analogy: "If a creditor stands before a man's house all day long demanding payment of his bill, the man must either remove the creditor or pay the bill."

MARY WALTON: Alice has never lost her focus on Woodrow Wilson in all these years. It’s always been about Woodrow Wilson and it’s still about Woodrow Wilson, the man in the White House.

NARRATOR: For nearly three years, while the countries of Europe had been consumed by battle and bloodshed, the rhythms of America's day-to-day had continued with little variation or interruption. It therefore came as something of shock when, in early February 1917, Wilson answered Germany's ongoing aggression at sea by severing diplomatic relations.
As lobbyist Maud Wood Park remembered, "The importance of the slogan, 'He kept us out of war,' in the reelection of President Wilson. had led to the belief that the United States would never be involved in the conflict. Overnight, it seemed, the shadow of the Great War fell upon Washington."

J. D. ZAHNISER: The probability of war gave suffragists some difficult choices. Were they going to put the idea of gaining suffrage aside for the duration of the war? Or were they going to persist in the suffrage struggle? Or were they going to try to juggle both things?

NARRATOR: For Carrie Chapman Catt, the choice was a bitter one. Like many suffragists, she was a lifelong pacifist, and believed that women, once they voted, would put an end to war. Just two years earlier, she'd helped to found the Women's Peace Party, and had been advocating ever since for disarmament and mediation in Europe.
But if American women refused to back their country now, she reasoned, they could hardly expect the country to back them.

COL. BETH BEHN: Carrie Chapman Catt is a pragmatic politician. If she has to make a choice. Suffrage is going to be the priority for her, and she's willing to sacrifice principle in other areas to move forward that agenda.

NARRATOR: On February 5th, as the nation grappled with the implications of war, Catt arrived in the capital to have dinner at the White House.
Officially, she was the guest of the Secretary of the Navy but the evening's host was President Wilson.

COL. BETH BEHN: This dinner comes at a really important time for Wilson. He's facing the prospect of having to say to many of those who voted for him, "I am no longer able to keep us out of war."

COL. BETH BEHN: For Catt, it's also a really important time. There are major states, New York being the most significant, that are having a referenda in the fall of '17, and she needs President Wilson's support. So we don't know for sure what happens at that dinner. There's no transcript of what they discussed. But what we do know is what happens afterwards.

NARRATOR: Less than three weeks later, in a hand-delivered letter to President Wilson, the National Association offered its services to the government of the United States. Although it was made clear that work on behalf of suffrage would not be set aside, the commitment to Wilson was unequivocal: "in the event they should be needed, and, in so far as we are authorized, we pledge the loyal support of our more than two million members."

ELAINE WEISS: Carrie Catt takes the approach that if we can prove to Wilson that American women can be trusted, are citizens, are patriots, are willing to step up, are willing to support him, then maybe we can slowly, slowly turn him around.

ELAINE WEISS: She also makes one of the great compromises of her life. And she's kicked out of the Women's Peace Party. She is snubbed by her fellow pacifists. And she does this because she feels this will help gain support for the federal amendment

NARRATOR: Alice Paul, for her part, expressed no support for the war, and the daily protest at the White House gates went on––to the mounting consternation of not only President Wilson and the men of Congress, but also Harriot Stanton Blatch, who believed that in a time of national crisis, picketing ought not to be pursued.
Even Paul's mentor, the implacable British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, had set her demand for the vote aside when England went to war. But Paul refused to back down.

VOICE [Paul]: When the civil war began, Susan B. Anthony was told the same things we are being told today. If she’d only drop her suffrage work and become an abolitionist, women would be given the vote as a reward as soon as the war was over. She did drop her work and as a result all legislation in which women were interested was promptly dropped.

MARY WALTON: Alice said, "I’m not going to make that mistake again. We are going to continue the battle for the federal amendment. We are going to continue picketing," and they did.

NARRATOR: The pickets remained at the White House gates all through February. They were still there on the eve of Wilson's second inaugural on March 3rd––a contingent of hundreds, who marched the half-mile around the White House four times in a drenching rain, chanting "votes for women." And when President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war on April 2nd, the pickets took up their vigil once more.
By then, the battle lines within the suffrage movement had been clearly drawn: Paul on one side, Catt on the other––and between them, a president who, by his own account, was willing to go to war to make the world safe for democracy.

COL. BETH BEHN: Catt and Paul are very similar in many ways. Both have these incredibly persuasive personalities, and they are decisive and focused once they’ve made decisions. So it’s interesting that two women, both totally devoted to the same ultimate goal, take such different and antagonistic paths to get there.

War Work is Suffrage Work

NARRATOR: The joint session of Congress that President Wilson called in April 1917 was historic––not simply for the declaration of war it was asked to consider, but because for the first time, a woman participated in the deliberations: 34-year-old Jeannette Rankin, a longtime suffragist, now the newly-elected Republican representative from the free state of Montana.
When Rankin arrived in the House chamber that morning, as the first woman ever to hold federal office, she was greeted with cordial applause. After taking the oath of office, she reintroduced the woman suffrage amendment and made history again––as the first of her sex to sponsor a bill in Congress.
And in the hours before dawn on April 6th, Rankin held fast to her pacifist convictions and voted against sending American sons and husbands to the killing fields of Europe.
Although fifty others voted with her, Rankin's dissent made no difference and the nation woke that morning to the prospect of imminent war––a prospect many suffragists regarded as an opportunity.
Over the months to come, as the draft plucked tens of thousands, then millions of young men out of the workforce, women would slip in to replace them. They took jobs in foundries, oil refineries, blast furnaces. They manufactured explosives and armaments, tools and airplane parts, uniforms for the armed forces.
As Harriot Stanton Blatch put it: "When men go awarring, women go to work. War compels women to work. That is one of its merits."

ELLEN DUBOIS: Blatch said one of the dirty secrets of war is that it’s good for women. She thought it would help women enter into industry. And it did.

JAD ADAMS, WRITER: It was a massive modern war. And there was a vast hinterland of people who needed to be involved to get those armies out there and to get them active. And so women could justify by their war effort the fact that they were patriots too.

NARRATOR: In Washington, the Wilson administration moved to avail itself of the support Carrie Chapman Catt and others had pledged, and created the Women's Committee of the Council for National Defense, the first governmental entity entirely comprised of and focused on women.
With Anna Howard Shaw, Catt's predecessor at the National Association, as chairwoman, and Catt one of the committee of ten, the Council marshaled the resources of scores of women's organizations and put them in service to their nation's defense: coordinating the cultivation and distribution of food, providing assistance to the Red Cross, promoting patriotism among recent immigrants.
Caps were knitted for soldiers, liberty bonds sold, and more than 100,000 dollars raised to maintain a hospital in France. Seventy-four women of the National Suffrage Association, most of them physicians or nurses, volunteered to go abroad to staff it.
Catt, meanwhile, saw to it that their good turns for democracy did not go unnoticed.

ELAINE WEISS: They run a very sophisticated public relations outfit out of New York, pumping out articles about women in the war and all the wonderful things they're doing. They send these to newspapers around the country. This is the mass media of the time. There's not even radio at this point. This is how America is learning what women are doing for the war.

COL. BETH BEHN: Catt talks of women's war service as being equivalent to military service. It's as if she's leading a military organization, an army of women. That's the phrase that she uses. The army of women organized for suffrage are now organized in support of the nation during a time of war.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: The argument going back to the Revolutionary period was, if you carry a musket, you should have the right to vote. It was there in the Revolution. It was there in the War of 1812. It was there in the Civil War. Women weren’t carrying guns in World War I, but they're making the argument that they are critical to the war effort and thus the right to vote should be extended to them.

NARRATOR: On June 20th, 1917, as the first American troops neared France, the National Woman's Party pickets launched their sixth month of protest with a bold provocation: a banner, fully ten feet wide, addressed not to the president, but to a party of Russian diplomats, who motored through the White House gate, as expected, just moments later.
"They say we are a democracy. Help us win a world war so that democracies may survive," the banner read. "We, the women of America, tell you that America is not a democracy."

MARY WALTON: Wilson unwittingly had given the women a great gift when he said, this is a war so that the world will be made safe for democracy. Essentially, they’re calling Wilson a liar. How can you call America a democracy when 20 million American women cannot vote?

NARRATOR: The visiting Russians would later express support for the demonstration but to the hundreds of government workers milling about on their lunch hour, it smacked of treason.
Within moments, two men––one wielding a knife––set upon the pickets and tore the banner from its frame.

CASSIDY: Once America enters the war, everyone was expected to do their part. And they were supposed to be good patriots. They weren’t supposed to be questioning the president

ELLEN DUBOIS: These women become traitors. They become people who are refusing to stand up for their nation during a war.

NARRATOR: Wilson wanted the pickets gone. "I dare say you heard about the fracas raised by the representatives of the Woman's Party," he wrote his daughter. "They certainly seem bent upon making their cause as obnoxious as possible."

CASSIDY: I think he hated Alice Paul with a passion. She was a thorn in his side, constantly. He tried to ignore it. He made the women think he was ignoring them, but you know he was peeking through the curtains to see what they were up to.

MARY WALTON: Something has to be done, and it’s very difficult because nothing the women are doing has changed. They’re still standing on this rather wide sidewalk, holding up banners. It’s the conduct of the people watching them that has changed.

NARRATOR: The district police moved quickly to shut the vigil down.
At first, pickets were arrested when they reached their posts, spuriously charged with obstructing traffic, then released to await a court summons that never came. But after making twenty-seven arrests in just five days, the authorities began to bring the women to trial.
Some were paid suffrage organizers, long active in the movement. Some were new recruits. They were teachers, nurses, and munitions workers, as well as daughters and wives of the socially prominent. Given a choice between a fine and freedom, or a brief stint in jail, most chose jail.

SUSAN WARE: The kind of women who were on the picket lines were generally white, middle-class women who never would have been arrested. They––it just would have been incomprehensible. But a lot of them I think just decided this was something they felt they had to do.

J. D. ZAHNISER: They were coming from a great distance, many of them without telling their families what they were going to do. So, it galvanized the troops around Alice Paul.

ELLEN DUBOIS: She had this single-minded quality of commitment, believing that anything could be done. There were no obstacles. And so she called out the best in them. She insisted that they do what was necessary, and they did.

SUSAN WARE: And once that decision was made, nothing would stop them. As soon as they’re out of jail, they’re back out on the picket line the next day.

NARRATOR: Across America, the outrage mounted.
Week by week, editorials denouncing the protest filled so many column inches that Carrie Chapman Catt felt compelled to launch a campaign of clarification––stressing that the National Association, which represented the vast majority of suffragists, did not support the picketing.

ELLEN DUBOIS: When Paul’s forces begin to be arrested, that’s when Catt loses it. I think she disagrees with it personally, she feels it’s insulting to the president, but she also feels, more importantly, that is a terrible policy to engage in and will hurt suffrage.

COL. BETH BEHN: Catt and the National become even more attractive to Wilson because they've got the dramatic foil of the Women's Party working for them. And once Catt's made it clear to Wilson who she and the National are as in contrast to the National Women's Party, he's sort of driven even more into their arms.

NARRATOR: By mid-summer, the pickets' intractability had become so vexing to President Wilson that his administration conspired with local newspapers to minimize coverage of the vigil, hoping a lack of publicity would tamp it down. But Alice Paul upped the ante again––and sent women out in August with an incendiary banner composed by Lucy Burns, which compared Woodrow Wilson to the leader of enemy Germany.
Several days of near-riots followed as, again and again, pickets with identical banners were attacked by furious mobs. Women were knocked down, kicked, dragged across the pavement.
At one point, a crowd of several thousand––mostly government clerks, soldiers, and sailors––swarmed the Woman's Party headquarters, hurling eggs and stones. A bullet was even fired through a balcony window.
Although police did little to the quell the violence, the arrests continued apace. Between mid-August and the end of September, twenty-nine women were put behind bars––some at the District jail, others at the Occoquan Workhouse, an open-barrack prison on the Potomac River. Sentences now ran between thirty and sixty days.

J. D. ZAHNISER, WRITER: As the sentences grow longer for simply standing in front of the White House gates, more people begin to be concerned. President Wilson begins to get letters from people who are supportive of him and saying they are not supportive of the pickets, and yet, the length of time in jail, the conditions that are reported, seem to be wholly out of proportion to any crime these women may have committed.

NARRATOR: Rumblings of disapproval could be heard even within Wilson's inner circle. His former campaign manager, Dudley Field Malone, registered his protest by abruptly resigning his lucrative post as collector of the Port of New York. Then he offered to represent the pickets in court.
If men had been demanding the vote and ignored by the government for decades, Malone told the president, "their inevitable impatience and righteous indignation [would be understood]."
Yet the penalties for picketing only grew stiffer. First time offenders arrested in October were given six months. Alice Paul got more.

VOICE [Paul]: Dear Mother: I have been sentenced today to seven months imprisonment. [Dora] Lewis is going on with the work in my place and will be at headquarters. Please do not worry. It will merely be a delightful rest. With love, Alice.

NARRATOR: On October 27th, 1917, one week after Alice Paul was handed down her sentence, Carrie Chapman Catt led a phalanx of 20,000 suffragists down New York City's Fifth Avenue. Together, on their placards, they carried the signatures of more than a million women to a petition demanding the right to vote.
The afternoon was chilly, but spirits were high. In ten days, New York voters would go to the polls to determine whether or not the women of the state should be permitted to join them––and the marchers were confident their claim could not be denied.

MARY WALTON: Women have worked very hard for the war effort. They've repaired trains. They’ve actually kept the transportation system going. They have raised crops. They’re feeding the troops in Europe. They’re feeding the Allies. How are you going to tell these women they’re not entitled to the vote?

NARRATOR: It had been four decades since the woman suffrage measure first had been brought to the New York legislature––and the one and only popular referendum ever held in the state, in 1915, had been bitterly defeated.
But Carrie Chapman Catt had been working twelve- to fourteen-hour days all year, with her "Winning Plan" always in her sights.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: Carrie Chapman Catt was looking at, we need 36 states. We need ratification by 36 states. She was focused on lobbying members of Congress. She was meeting with Woodrow Wilson to try to win him over.

COL. BETH BEHN: Catt puts a lot of stock in Wilson's support and she cultivates that relationship with him. Over the course of 1917, Catt and Wilson exchange 30 letters. Almost every other week they're writing back and forth to one another. She's counting on him to weigh in with governors and legislators in key states.

NARRRATOR: Though the president remained staunch in his opposition to a federal amendment, he'd obligingly thrown his weight behind Catt's state campaigns.
Thanks to his influence––and the tireless efforts of thousands of unsung heroines on the ground––five states recently had followed the Illinois example and extended either presidential suffrage or primary suffrage to women, dramatically enhancing their political clout.
A victory in New York, the most populous state in the country, would add as many as 45 pro-suffrage votes in Congress––and the National Association had pulled out all the stops to secure them.
For months on end, suffragists had tramped over the nearly 50,000 square miles of the state, collecting signatures door-to-door. An enormous campaign coalition had been built, comprised not only of working-class and immigrant women, but also, crucially, African-American women, many of whom had been actively working for the ballot for years––through black women's clubs, equal suffrage leagues, the NAACP–-and who were able to tap a population of male voters too sizable to ignore.

MARTHA JONES: When we focus on the national story then we see the near impossibility of black and white women working in tight and equal coalition with one another. But in a place like New York City, things are possible that are not possible on a national scale. And when African-American women see an opening, they are prepared to mobilize their clubs into real political power.

NARRATOR: Most promising to Catt was the continued return on her investment with President Wilson, who publicly expressed his hope "that the people of New York will realize the great occasion that faces them on Election Day and respond to it in a noble fashion."
Tammany Hall, the powerful Democratic machine that dominated New York City politics, was quick to follow Wilson's lead and, on the eve of the election, reversed its longtime opposition to woman suffrage.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: If you’re a politician, you don’t want to stake out a strong position on a losing side where you’re in opposition to people who might become enfranchised anyway, especially a lot of people—like half the population. So that what happens at that point when they’re looking at the end game, they say, "let’s get on the bandwagon."

NARRATOR: On election night, as newsboys roamed the streets below hawking late editions, Carrie Chapman Catt stood in a window of the National Association's headquarters on Fifth Avenue and watched as the building that housed the anti-suffrage Times flashed its rooftop spotlight––a signal that the women of New York at last had won the right to vote.
At a victory celebration the next day, before an auditorium packed to the rafters, Catt opened her remarks with the words "fellow citizens." What came next was drowned out by cheers.
But Catt had no time for jubilation. She'd already turned her mind to what lay ahead: "The victory is not New York's alone," she declared. "It's the nation's. The 65th Congress will now pass the federal amendment."

ELLEN DUBOIS: Catt called the New York victory the Gettysburg of suffrage. Meaning it was the battle that turned the tide. But it wasn’t the battle that ended the war.

NARRATOR: Word of the triumph in New York likely did not reach Alice Paul, who'd been behind bars for more than two weeks at that point.
On her second day in, she'd incited her fellow suffrage prisoners to rebellion, encouraging them to fling shoes, tin drinking cups––whatever they could lay their hands on––through the high windows, just as she'd done eight years earlier in a London jail. For that, she was placed in solitary confinement: cell door bolted round the clock, no mail, no visitors.

VOICE [Paul]: However gaily you start out in prison to keep up a rebellious protest, it is nevertheless a terribly difficult thing to do in the face of the constant cold and hunger of undernourishment.

NARRATOR: By the end of the second week, the daily ration of worm-riddled pork and dry bread had left Paul so feeble she had to be transferred to the jail's hospital.
There, she decided the time had come to declare a hunger strike––another tactic she'd mastered during her time in the British suffragette army.

ELLEN DUBOIS: Hunger strikes are now an understood way of drawing publicity to a movement that’s otherwise up against a political power that they can’t stop.

CASSIDY: They were being arrested repetitively, and she needed to do something to break the cycle. And a hunger strike was yet again taking it to the next level.

NARRATOR: Paul refused nourishment for three days. On the fourth, she was carted by stretcher to the psychopathic ward, tied down, and force-fed a mixture of milk and eggs, through a tube shoved down her throat.
This she would endure twice daily so long as she remained in jail.

COL. BETH BEHN: Alice Paul is singularly focused, almost to the point where you could characterize her as a zealot for suffrage. She is by all accounts an absolute force of nature. Once she's made a decision on a strategy, she believes in her heart and in all of her actions that she's doing the right thing.

NARRATOR: The news of Paul's ordeal––which played all across the country
––was followed by yet more pickets, more arrests, more suffragists standing trial.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: This was an extraordinary innovation in the tactics of protests––people deliberately getting arrested, hunger strikes, doing it for the media. And it was the first time you had this kind of non-violent, ongoing civil disobedience on a great public issue in the nation’s capital. It had never been done before in the United States.

MARCIA CHATELAIN: The fact that a woman will put her body on the line for her right to be a citizen is considered shocking. But women are realizing that if they don’t act in these ways, nothing will change.

NARRATOR: In mid-November, no fewer than thirty-four women appeared before the District judge. Only one paid the fine––and then, only because her husband, a former congressman, insisted upon it. The rest were sent to Occoquan, with sentences of varying lengths. In recognition of her advanced age, 73-year-old Mary Nolan received the lightest––of six days. Lucy Burns, who'd only just been released from her first stint at Occoquan, got seven months.
When they demanded to be treated as political prisoners, the pickets were met with flagrant brutality. Seized upon by guards, they were beaten, dragged through the corridors, and thrown into cells. Burns––labeled the "ringleader"––was handcuffed and left overnight with her arms chained to the top of her cell door.
The women would later refer to the experience as the "Night of Terror." By morning, more than half of them, including ringleader Burns, had joined Alice Paul's hunger strike.

ELEANOR SMEAL: The harsh treatment begot sympathy, and people thought it had to stop. This is outrageous. Why are you doing this to these women?

NARRATOR: On November 23rd, lawyers for the pickets successfully persuaded the court to transfer the Occoquan prisoners to the District jail.
Struck by the appearance of the women, some of whom were plainly on the verge of collapse, the presiding judge followed up three days later with an inquiry to the jail's superintendent. Are there prisoners in your custody, he asked, whose health might be endangered by serving further time? The superintendent’s reply was unambiguous: "All of the suffragists."

CASSIDY: They were incredibly weak and beaten up and they hadn’t eaten in days, and nobody wanted to have a dead suffragist on their hands.

NARRATOR: Alice Paul and the others on hunger-strike were the first to be released. They passed through the gates of the District jail just hours later, some too frail to walk without aid, and were met by a clutch of reporters seeking comment from Miss Paul.

VOICE [Paul]: We were put out of jail as we were put in—at the whim of the government. They tried to terrorize and suppress us. They could not, so [they] freed us. We hope that no more demonstrations will be necessary. But what we do depends entirely on what the Administration does.

Woodrow Wilson's Conversion

NARRATOR: The news broke six weeks later, in headlines from coast to coast.
With the House of Representatives finally set to vote on the federal suffrage amendment, Wilson had met privately with a dozen key Democrats––and had urged the amendment's passage, calling it "an act of right and justice."

COL. BETH BEHN: Early on, if you were going to put money down on whether or not Wilson would become a fierce advocate going to personally plea with Congress on behalf of the federal women’s suffrage amendment, that would not have been a good bet. But things changed pretty significantly by the middle of his second term.

NARRATOR: Just days before, in what would come to be called his "Fourteen Points" speech, Wilson had outlined his plan for the end of the Great War and his grand vision for a lasting peace. But if he were to have any hope of achieving it, he'd need to keep control of Congress.

COL. BETH BEHN: Wilson is doing whatever he possibly can to try to help Democrats win in the 1918 midterm elections, and one thing that is going to be used against them in state after state is their opposition to suffrage.

J. D. ZAHNISER: I don't think he at heart changed his mind about where women's place was. But over time between Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul, he became convinced of the political expediency for himself and, more importantly, for his party of putting through the Constitutional amendment.

NARRATOR: By late morning on January 10th, 1918, it was standing-room only in the House, with nervous suffragists counting and recounting their too-close-to-call tallies.
When at last the clerk announced the final vote––274 in favor, 136 opposed––a mad cheer went up from the galleries. The amendment had passed the required two-thirds majority by a single vote.
As exultant suffragists made their way through the Capitol corridors and out into the streets, crying and singing hymns, few could doubt that Wilson's last-minute support had made a difference. What accounted for his conversion was less clear.

ELAINE WEISS: Carrie Catt believed that it was her slow cultivation, her slow political seduction of him, proving American women deserved the vote, proving their patriotism through wartime, proving their citizenship. And Alice Paul claims credit because she embarrassed him in the eyes of the world by calling him a hypocrite. They were both right.

COL. BETH BEHN: You could make the argument that Catt and Paul were almost working in tandem, and that if you didn’t know better and if you didn’t know the level of animosity that existed, you might think that this was actually a strategy.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: This is not unusual in social political movements—what happens is that there is a split-off of a more militant wing. And there are severe disagreements about tactics and strategy. But the upshot of it is that the two efforts work very well together, where the more militant wing is really pushing things forward and shifting the agenda, and calling a lot of attention. But it makes the mainstream seem much more acceptable.

ELEANOR SMEAL, WOMEN’S RIGHTS LEADER: The reality is the moderate looks moderate only because somebody out there is making a fool of themselves or pushing in the line a little further. If not, they’re the radical.

NARRATOR: When Alice Paul's boisterous troops returned to the Woman's Party headquarters, flush from the House victory, they found Miss Paul was already there, bent over her desk. "Eleven [votes] to win before we can pass the Senate," was all she said.

VOICE: The long anticipated success has come at last and our Federal Amendment, after forty-nine years of struggle is through the house. The Woman's Hour has Struck! Please start at once a series of letters and telegrams to your Senators. We won by a single vote in the House we may be beaten by a single vote in the Senate. Leave no stone unturned. Put on your armor, mobilize your army, and be ready! Yours for final victory before 1920!

NARRATOR: When she wrote to her lieutenants in early January, 1918, Carrie Chapman Catt was confident they'd make short work of the Senate––so much so that she had a new dress sewn for the ratification campaign, in her favorite shade of blue. But week after week, the dress went unworn.
Prohibition––the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution––had sailed through both houses of Congress just before the new year. But on the suffrage amendment, the Senate refused to budge. A vote scheduled for March was blocked by opponents and delayed until May, then delayed once more.
It wasn't until September that the bill finally came to the floor for debate and by then, no one was more anxious for it to pass than the president. The end of the Great War was finally in sight––the German army all but defeated––and Wilson, intent on dictating the terms of the peace, was looking to boost his credibility abroad.

JAD ADAMS: America, having built itself up as a power, was now assuming a role as a world leader. But America was no longer a world leader in terms of democracy. The U.S. was actually falling behind other comparable countries like Russia and Germany and the United Kingdom, who had all enfranchised women before America did.

COL. BETH BEHN: There's this perception that Wilson is working against as he prepares to negotiate the peace as the beacon of democracy, that he lacks some moral foundation. And so he’s working to get that liability off of his sheet.

NARRATOR: "We have made partners of the women in this war," Wilson insisted to the Senate on September 30th. "[S]hall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?"
The president's appeal changed not a single vote. The next day, the suffrage measure failed, with more than half of the nays coming from Southern Democrats. The federal woman suffrage amendment, Senator Underwood of Alabama argued, would be "the final overthrow of the very life and integrity of these state governments."

PAULA GIDDINGS: Southerners were very frightened of black women getting enfranchised. You know the senator from Mississippi said, "that will be the end of white supremacy if black women get the vote." Tillman of South Carolina says, "black women are more aggressive than even men at the polls, we can’t allow them to be enfranchised."

COL. BETH BEHN: Wilson cannot convince Southern Senators to change their position. The calculus for them is different than it is for him. They can be outflanked on the right in their home states if they appear the least bit soft on the issue of white supremacy.

NARRATOR: Echoing a widely-held view, one columnist pronounced the
amendment dead in the 65th Congress.
Nevertheless, the suffragists persisted.
Even as the war came to an end in November 1918, and Wilson departed soon after for Paris, to negotiate the peace, they continued protesting––only now, instead of merely throwing the president's words back at him, the women set them ablaze across from the White House, in Lafayette Square. They kept on organizing and educating, lobbying and canvassing––until, as Carrie Chapman Catt said later, the struggle filled their days and rode their nights.
The ongoing work in the states––carried out by women of diverse ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities––had expanded the suffrage column by three in 1918, bringing the total number of states in which women could vote in national elections to twenty-one.
Still the amendment idled in the Senate, while Southern opponents put forward various modifications designed to limit the franchise to white women.
By early 1919, after more than a year of inaction, suffrage leaders were prepared to compromise.
As she dispatched twenty-six members of the Woman's Party on a national speaking tour––with the slogan "From Prison to People"––Alice Paul clarified her objectives to the press. "Negro men cannot vote in South Carolina," she told the New York World, by way of example, "and therefore negro women could not if women were to vote in the nation. We are organizing white women in the South."

PAULA GIDDINGS, WRITER: Alice Paul was one of those people who believed that anything other than suffrage would dilute and diminish the issue. And so, in some of these meetings where there were black women, they would talk about that they also wanted to deal with race as a part of this. And she said absolutely not.

MARTHA JONES: This struggle is going on at the same time that the nation is resolving still the Civil War. How? By jettisoning black Americans, from the story and from the actual political culture. And so maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised that some American women come to that same notion of a compromise. Which is that African-Americans might be dispensable for other kinds of goals.

NARRATOR: But African-American suffragists refused to be sidelined––and spurred by a complaint from Mary Church Terrell, the NAACP issued a formal resolution condemning Alice Paul's remarks.
The 6,000 members of the Northeastern Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, meanwhile, applied for membership in the National Association, fully expecting to be told that the timing was not advantageous. When Carrie Chapman Catt, through the National's secretary, begged them to withdraw the application for the sake of the amendment's passage, the Federation's president, Elizabeth Carter, readily agreed––on the condition that the National pledge to stand for the amendment as originally drawn, without modification.

MARCIA CHATELAIN: The Northeast Federation of Colored Women’s clubs realizes that they need to keep the issue of race within this conversation of women’s suffrage. And so they are forcing women at the front of the suffrage issue to really kind of confess their sins and it’s strategic and it’s an act of disruption, as well as a challenge to organizations that had been poised to ignore black women.

NARRATOR: In the end, only the Democrats' loss in the midterm elections broke the political stalemate and it was a new Republican-controlled Congress that finally passed the federal woman suffrage amendment, exactly as written more than forty years before.
The measure squeaked through the Senate at last, on June 4th, 1919, with a scant two votes more than the required two-thirds majority.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: It wasn’t like the men of the political process woke up one day and said, you know what, this is the right thing to do. It was won by inches.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: Perhaps the most important thing that that says to us is that democratic advances have not been achieved in this country by everybody standing up and shouting and agreeing. There has always been strong opposition to the enlargement of democratic rights.

NARRATOR: When the legislation had been first introduced in the Senate, in 1878, it was meant to be the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. More than four decades on, it was leaving Capitol Hill as the 19th.
Given what still lay ahead, few suffragists paused to mark the accomplishment as one remembered it, they "simply made a bee-line for home to start the campaign for ratification."

ELLEN DUBOIS: The endurance, the incredible endurance, of these women––to keep fighting, there actually is no single reform movement that focused on one single goal—nothing like it exists in American history. To fight and fight and fight and fight and fight for the same thing for so many years.

NARRATOR: After years of militant protest, the image was at least improbable: Alice Paul, needle and thread in hand, patiently stitching satin stars to a flag––a gambit for publicity she dubbed "the Betsy Ross of Suffrage."
When a similar photograph, featuring another Woman's Party member in the role of Ross, appeared on the cover of the Suffragist, in mid-July 1919, the flag bore eleven stars, one for each of the states that had already ratified the 19th Amendment. Subsequent editions would track its progress through the statehouses of America.

ELAINE WEISS: Three-quarters of the states have to ratify any federal amendment. There are 48 states. That means 36 states have to ratify.

SUSAN WARE: There were not 36 states at that point that already allowed women to vote. Nowhere near that close. And, so, each state to add to that was a real battle.

NARRATOR: In capitols both north and south––from Boston, Massachusetts to Austin, Texas––the decades-long struggle was reenacted once more.
Governors, asked to call special sessions, dug in their heels. Legislators debated and wavered. And organized anti-suffrage women, who for years had been distracted by the war in Europe, surfaced once again to plead that their sex be left out of the electorate.
It took the suffragists a full year, but as of mid-June 1920, thirty-five states had ratified the amendment. Eight more––seven of them in the Solid South––had rejected it. Three others refused even to consider it. That left as a possible 36th only North Carolina, where defeat was all but certain, and Tennessee––which just the previous year had extended presidential voting rights to women, in a bitterly contested battle that split the dominant Democratic party.
Tennessee's governor, Albert Roberts, at first refused to call a special session. Then, in late June, came a wire from President Wilson, who pressed the governor to deliver the final state, so that the Democrats could take credit for it.
Roberts––who liked to say that Wilson was his Moses––compliantly set the date for Monday, August 9th.

ELAINE WEISS: The suffragists do not want to stage this in Tennessee. Tennessee is a border state. Part of it had actually supported the Union during the Confederacy. But it's still a Southern state and it's still a terrible place to have to put all your marbles for the last possible ratification.

ELAINE WEISS: There is a Presidential election looming in the fall, the first election since the end of World War I. At a time when the whole world is realigning and America's going to have to make big decisions about its role in the world. The suffragists want to be part of this, and they've come to the very threshold. So, Tennessee becomes the last hope. For both the suffragists and the anti-suffragists, it's the last stand.

The Tennessee War of the Roses

NARRATOR: They began to converge on Nashville during the first, abysmally hot week in August 1920: suffragists and anti-suffragists, legislators, lobbyists, reporters––all of them primed for the final showdown.
Carrie Chapman Catt had been in town for a month already, preparing the legislative ground from her third-floor suite at the Hermitage Hotel.

ELAINE WEISS: Carrie Catt has been leading the fieldwork for the suffragists. They want legislators to commit in advance, to sign a paper saying yes, I’m going to vote for the federal amendment. They send Tennessee women out to every town and hamlet and say, "We are your constituents. You have to sign this. And, so, by their count they have the votes.

NARRATOR: But now, as new arrivals crowded into town, Catt had a dark sense of foreboding.

ELAINE WEISS: The Anti-Suffragists also have their headquarters in the Hermitage Hotel. And you have the corporate lobbyists and the politicians who have come in from all over the country, and they’re also staying in the hotel.

ELAINE WEISS: Even though Prohibition is already in effect, they open what they call the Jack Daniels suite on the eighth floor, a 24/7 speakeasy where liquor is dispensed morning, noon, and night to any legislator who will come up and listen to the arguments why they should vote against suffrage. And there’s money being passed, there’s threats being made, to get them to change their vote.

NARRATOR: Alice Paul, stuck in Washington D.C. raising funds for the ratification campaign, got word of the shady dealings from Sue White, a veteran picketer and native Tennessean whom Paul had put in charge of the Woman's Party efforts on the ground. "Nobody will say how bulk of Republicans will vote," White wrote Paul. "Some reports antis using money. Wish greatly you were here."
At noon on Monday, August 9th, the pounding of gavels brought both the Tennessee Senate and House to order––and set in motion one of the most contentious and chaotic legislative sessions in the history of the Republic.
Employing a series of procedural high-jinx––purposeful clerical errors, resolutions to delay, maddening adjournments––opponents of the amendment first managed to stall the Senate vote until Friday, leaving legislators with little to do all week but mingle at the Hermitage.

ELAINE WEISS: Carrie Catt convenes her suffragists and says, "Okay, how many of these legislators are susceptible to bribes? Yes, we have his pledge, but is it reliable? And what they find is those pledges begin to get reneged.

NARRATOR: By the time the Senate passed the amendment––twenty-five to four––the vote in the House had been postponed. Worse still, Speaker Seth Walker, who had originally pledged "aye," had double-crossed the suffragists, and vowed to bring with him as many House members as he could muster. Tallies made Friday night indicated ratification would fail by two votes.
It was a trying weekend––with drunken legislators wandering the halls of the Hermitage and weary suffragists keeping watch over their pledged delegates, lest any one of them slip away.

ELAINE WEISS: The suffragists see the erosion of their support, and they know that it’s other influences that are coming to bear. They realize they don’t have the votes they’re probably going to lose. And Carrie Catt realizes that she’s been working for this cause for 30 years and this may be it, this may be the end.

NARRATOR: On Wednesday, August 18th, after nine days of delays and three and a half hours of debate, the suffrage measure finally moved to a vote on the House floor.
In the galleries, anxious women reviewed their tallies––two votes shy of the required majority.
The chief clerk began to call the roll: Anderson, Bell, Burn.
Harry Burn was twenty-four years old, the youngest member of the legislature, and a representative of a strenuously anti-suffrage rural district. But that morning, a page had handed him a letter from his mother, which spoke more loudly to Burn than did his constituents.

ELAINE WEISS: It’s a mother’s letter. She’s asking him to go shopping for her in the big city and buy some sheet music. But she also says she’s been reading the papers and noticing he’s not been supporting the Suffragists, and she admonishes him and says, "Be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt."

NARRATOR: To the astonishment of all, Harry Burn voted "aye"––bringing the tally dead even. And there it remained through the rest of the roll call.
Suffragists were already weeping softly when, at the last possible moment, Banks Turner suddenly stood to address the speaker. The thirty-year-old farmer had been counted as an opponent but he'd kept silent when the roll was called. Now, he announced he wished to be recorded as having voted "aye."
Catt, who'd elected to wait out the vote at the Hermitage, could hear the roar in the galleries clear across the street.

ELAINE WEISS: Carrie Catt’s window faces the state house, and she hears shouting and she realizes this is it. The dream of her life was coming true.

NARRATOR: Outside the statehouse, Harry Burn paused to exchange congratulations with Banks Turner and the suffragists, but only briefly––having fled the torrent of insults in the House chamber through a window in the clerk's room.
ELEANOR SMEAL: The closeness of the vote shows you how important the struggle is and shows you, you weren’t just fighting windmills. There is always an opponent, and that opponent has power, and they are yielding only because they have to.

NARRATOR: The rush wire from Nashville soon reached a waiting Alice Paul, who hastily stitched to her ratification banner the long-awaited 36th star.
Eight days later, on August 26th, 1920––72 years after the movement for woman suffrage first stirred into being––Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, and with his seal, enfranchised 26 million women of voting age.

ELAINE WEISS: The phrase you hear is "In 1920 American women were given the vote." It drives me crazy. The struggle for women’s suffrage takes over seven decades. The women who began the movement didn’t live to see it come to fruition. And the women who took it over the finish line weren’t born when it began. And, so, you have these three generations of American women who all come together in this extraordinary movement for equality.

SUSAN WARE: To reduce that to women being given the vote or granted the vote, it just does a disservice to what is clearly one of the most sustained and successful moments of political mobilization in all of American history. It wasn’t just given to them. Women fought for the right to vote, and they won the right to vote.

NARRATOR: When Americans went to the polls in November 1920, an estimated nine million women were among them––only a third of the eligible female electorate, but roughly three times the number who'd been active in the suffrage movement's final phase.
Many were African-Americans, who had eagerly registered to vote wherever they were able––from Massachusetts and Maryland to Ohio.
But elsewhere, as one journalist observed, black women had the right to vote "in name only." Denied access to the polls by individual states, as black men throughout the South had been, on grounds not specifically prohibited by the U.S. Constitution, many thousands of African-American women and other women of color would remain disenfranchised for decades yet to come.

PAULA GIDDINGS: If we’re talking about fairness and equality and democracy, the whole idea of reform is to do away with as much discrimination as one can. You might not be able to do it all at the same time but you've got to go for it, and you have to envision it.

NARRATOR: Votes for women, as everyone who'd agitated for them well knew, had merely forced open a door. "It is incredible to me," Alice Paul remarked in 1921, "that any woman should consider the fight for full equality won."
But thanks to the 19th Amendment––and the decades-long struggle that had secured it––that fight had at least finally begun.

J. D. ZAHNISER: What the 19th Amendment meant for American democracy is hard to overstate. Half the country winning the right to vote is a tremendous step towards this young country, America, finally achieving the equality that Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence, a huge step towards America achieving its potential.

MARCIA CHATELAIN: Any time you bring more people into full citizenship, you create new standards and new expectations for what a nation can do, and so the 19th Amendment meant that the concerns of women were important.

ALEXANDER KEYSSAR: When you enfranchise half the population, you’re stripping away the argument that this is a privilege, this should be exercised by only certain kinds of people. The 19th Amendment is absolutely critical to the affirmation of voting as a right.

MICHAEL WALDMAN: The fight over the right to vote has never just been about ideals. It’s always been about power, and who has it, and who doesn’t want to give it up. We’re still fighting over who has that power. And that fight to vote is the central story of American democracy. It’s about who we are as a country and who gets to decide what the policies of the government are.

NARRATOR: Like all those who had spent their lives in pursuit of the ballot, Carrie Chapman Catt was deeply conscious of its value––and she'd closed out her career as a suffragist with a plea that the newly enfranchised not lose sight of what it was they had won:

VOICE [Catt]: The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty. Women have suffered agony of soul which you never can comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it! The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully. Progress is calling to you to make no pause. Act!

/>Michelle Ferrari

Writer, Producer, Director
Michelle Ferrari has been creating innovative, critically acclaimed documentary narratives for nearly two decades. Her work as a screenwriter and story editor has been seen on PBS, HBO, and at film festivals nationwide, and has garnered honors from the Writers Guild of America, the Western Writers Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The writer of numerous American Experience films –– among them The Perfect Crime, Silicon Valley, Roads to Memphis, and Kit Carson –– Ferrari is perhaps best known for the highly rated Seabiscuit, which earned her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing. She most recently wrote and directed Edison, Rachel Carson, and 2019 Writers Guild Award winner The Eugenics Crusade for American Experience. Additional credits include the landmark PBS series Half the Sky and the Emmy-winning HBO documentary Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and holds an M.A. in American History from Columbia University.

/>Susan Bellows

Acting Executive Producer
Susan Bellows is an award-winning producer and writer with more than 20 years of experience producing national programs for public television. Bellows was the producer and director of the Emmy Award-winning JFK, which premiered on American Experience in 2013, and writer, director and producer for The Bombing of Wall Street, which premiered on the series in 2018. Since joining the series in 2003, she has provided editorial support and guidance to its broadcast and digital work. Previously, Bellows served as senior producer for the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning series Africans in America. Her other producing credits include films for The Great Depression, for which she received an Emmy nomination, and America’s War on Poverty, both productions of Blackside, Inc. Bellows also co-produced New Worlds, New Forms for the WNET-produced series Dancing, an eight-hour landmark series on dance forms around the world.


The Race to Pass Suffrage Before the 1920 Election - HISTORY

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Getting the vote

Voting rights before 1832

In early-19th-century Britain very few people had the right to vote. A survey conducted in 1780 revealed that the electorate in England and Wales consisted of just 214,000 people - less than 3% of the total population of approximately 8 million. In Scotland the electorate was even smaller: in 1831 a mere 4,500 men, out of a population of more than 2.6 million people, were entitled to vote in parliamentary elections. Large industrial cities like Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester did not have a single MP between them, whereas 'rotten boroughs' such as Dunwich in Suffolk (which had a population of 32 in 1831) were still sending two MPs to Westminster. The British electoral system was unrepresentative and outdated.

Pressure for reform

During the late 18th century and the early 19th century, pressure for parliamentary reform grew rapidly. Some of it came from men who already had a large say in how Britain was run: country gentlemen angry about the use of patronage at Westminster, or manufacturers and businessmen keen to win political influence to match their economic power. However, the issue of parliamentary reform reached a wider audience, particularly after the French Revolution. Influenced by works such as Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (1791-2), radical reformers demanded that all men be given the right to vote. Reform groups such as the Sheffield Corresponding Society (founded in December 1791) and the London Corresponding Society (founded in January 1791) were committed to universal 'manhood' (i.e. adult male) suffrage.

The Reform Acts

The three parliamentary reform Acts introduced in 19th-century Britain (in 1832, 1867 and 1884 respectively) satisfied moderate reformers rather than radicals. The Prime Minister, Lord Grey, supported reform to 'prevent the necessity of revolution' and was responsible for the first (or 'Great') Reform Act of 1832. However, the Act gave the vote in towns only to men who occupied property with an annual value of £10, which excluded six adult males out of seven from the voting process.

Campaigns for universal suffrage

Radical reformers pressed for more extensive parliamentary reform throughout the 19th century. The six-point programme of the Chartists included demands for universal suffrage, annual parliaments, and voting by secret ballot. During the 1830s and 1840s, when Chartism was at its most influential, meetings to discuss 'constitutional reform' took place in towns and cities across Britain.

Conclusions

For many people, 19th-century parliamentary reform was a disappointment because political power was still left in the hands of the aristocracy and the middle classes. Universal suffrage, with voting rights for women (though not for those under 30), did not arrive in Britain until February 1918. By the time of the third Reform Act in 1884, Britain was less democratic than many other countries in Europe.


The Seventeenth Amendment

While many constitutional amendments have added to the rights held by Americans, changed the balance of power between the federal government and states, or altered elections for the President, the structure of Congress in the written Constitution has barely been touched since 1791. The only constitutional amendment to do so in a substantial way is the Seventeenth Amendment, which removed from state legislatures the power to choose U.S. Senators and gave that power directly to voters in each state.

According to James Madison, giving state legislatures the power to choose Senators provided a &ldquodouble advantage,&rdquo both &ldquofavoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former.&rdquo The Federalist No. 62. George Mason argued that state legislative selection gave states the power of self-defense against the federal government. Wendell Pierce argued that the contrast between a state legislatively-appointed Senate and a popularly-elected House would increase the types of interests represented in the federal government. By requiring the consent of two different constituencies to any legislation&mdashthe people&rsquos representatives in the House and the state legislatures in the Senate&mdashthe composition of the Senate was seen as essential to the system of bicameralism, which would require &ldquothe concurrence of two distinct bodies in schemes of usurpation or perfidy.&rdquo

Whether state legislative appointment was included in the Constitution to protect state governments, though, is a matter of some dispute. Contemporary legal scholar Terry Smith argues that it was merely the result of the intersection of two other goals, the Great Compromise giving states equally-weighted votes in the Senate and a desire to limit popular representation.

Either way, state legislatures were not given other powers that might have allowed them to more directly control Senators, like the power to recall Senators or to instruct them on how to vote. As a result, scholars like William Riker and Larry Kramer have argued that state legislatures exerted little control over Senators at any point, although more recent work by Todd Zywicki has argued that this is overblown and state legislative control did have a substantial effect on the way the Senate operated. (See Todd Zywicki&rsquos individual explainer on the Seventeenth Amendment.)

However, starting in roughly the 1830s and then more dramatically after the Civil War, the vision the Founders had&mdashin which state legislatures would deliberate over the selection of Senators&mdashbegan to fray. First, politicians seeking Senate seats began campaigning for state legislative candidates in a process known as the &ldquopublic canvass.&rdquo The result was that state legislative races became secondary to Senate races. The most famous instance of this was the race for Senate in Illinois in 1858, in which Abraham Lincoln faced off with Stephen Douglass despite neither being on the ballot. In 1890s, many states started holding direct primaries for Senate, reducing the degree of influence state legislatures had over selection. Some states went further and began using something known as the &ldquoOregon System,&rdquo under which state legislative candidates were required to state on the ballot whether they would abide by the results of a formally non-binding direct election for U.S. Senator. By 1908, twenty-eight of the forty-five states used the Oregon System or some other form of direct elections.

The push for the Seventeenth Amendment occurred both in state legislatures and the House of Representatives. Between 1890 and 1905, thirty-one state legislatures passed resolutions either calling on Congress to pass an amendment providing for the direct election of senators, to hold a conference with other states to work on such an amendment, or to have a constitutional convention such that the direct elections for Senator could be included in a newly drawn Constitution. Amendments to the Constitution providing for direct elections passed the House in each session between 1893 and 1912.

But several influential Senators managed to hold off the Amendment for more than two decades. Their effort was aided by a decision to link the Amendment to a controversial effort to remove from Congress the power to pass rules governing federal elections under the Elections Clause of Article I. Eventually, though, the issues were split and it passed both Houses in 1912 and was ratified by the States in 1913.

The arguments for the Seventeenth Amendment sounded in the case for direct democracy, the problem of hung state legislatures, and in freeing the Senate from the influence of corrupt state legislatures. The Progressive movement that pushed the Seventeenth Amendment supported other constitutional changes at federal, state, and local levels like the initiative and referendum, non-partisan elections, and unicameral legislatures (although there has never been a major effort to provide for democratic election of federal judges).

The Seventeenth Amendment was seen as part of a broader effort to make an end-run around the control that parties, machines, and special interests had over state legislatures. (Ironically, however, big city party machines supported the Seventeenth Amendment, largely because state legislative apportionment gave greater representation to rural areas due to districting decisions in the absence of &ldquoone person, one vote&rdquo and because machine-controlled cities could more easily mobilize voters. Many big special interests supported it as well.) William Randolph Hearst famously hired muckraking journalist David Graham Phillips to write an expose, &ldquoThe Treason of the Senate,&rdquo which played a major role in debates around the Seventeenth Amendment. The popular perception that Senate seats could be bought in backrooms of state legislatures fueled support for direct elections. Further, several Senate seats remained open for years when state legislatures couldn&rsquot agree on a choice, although the importance of this is somewhat questionable and was attributable to a federal statute that required that Senators be elected by a majority of state legislators, not a plurality, in state legislatures, a requirement that notably was not included for popular elections in the Seventeenth Amendment.

Further, supporters of the Amendment argued that races for Senate swamped interest in state issues in state legislative races, reducing the accountability of state legislatures on any issue other than the identity of Senators. (See David Schleicher&rsquos individual explainer on the Seventeenth Amendment.)

By the time the Seventeenth Amendment finally passed, it was wildly popular. In recent years, however, the Seventeenth Amendment has come under some criticism from conservatives like Justice Antonin Scalia, columnist George Will, and a host of Republicans in Congress for removing an important power from state legislatures. Further, the implications of the Amendment&mdashparticularly its effect on appointments following vacancies&mdashhave become the subject of some dispute.

But despite this, the change wrought by the Seventeenth Amendment seems quite secure and remains the only major change to the structure of Congress.


The Race to Pass Suffrage Before the 1920 Election - HISTORY

In 1896 women had full suffrage in only three states, all of them in the West. Wyoming gave women the vote in 1869, when the state was still a territory. Colorado women won suffrage in an 1893 referendum, backed by a Populist administration and by some Republicans. Utah adopted the measure in the 1870s, but it was struck down in the 1880s by Congress in an alleged effort to combat Mormon polygamy by blocking women's right to vote in the majority-Mormon territory. In January 1896, Utah entered the Union as a state and re-introduced full woman suffrage in its new state constitution. Utah women were thus able to vote in the McKinley-Bryan contest.

Elsewhere, many women held partial suffrage--usually for school-related matters, local offices, or bond issues. Except in unusual circumstances, such issues did not generate the same level of interest as presidential and congressional campaigns. This explained, in part, why women registered to vote in smaller numbers than expected--a fact used by anti-suffragists to support their argument that women were uninterested in voting.

National suffrage leaders, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, faced difficult choices during the 1896 campaign. Many, like Anthony, were former abolitionists and longstanding Republicans. Though occasionally breaking away to work with the few pro-suffrage Democrats, Anthony had supported Republican candidates as late as 1894. By 1896 she was disillusioned with partisanship as a strategy for winning the vote. She urged suffragists to remain above the partisan fray--difficult in the context of such a bitterly fought presidential race. Stanton, meanwhile, had endorsed the Prohibition Party in the late 1880s. In 1896 she offered a lukewarm endorsement of Bryan and free silver, while stressing that woman suffrage ought to be the more important issue.

Two states held woman suffrage referenda in 1896. In Idaho, a heavily Populist state with a strong labor movement in its mining districts, the measure passed. Republican-leaning suffrage leaders in the East paid scant attention until after election day. California suffragists also managed to get a referendum on the ballot the state's Populists supported it, but Republicans and Democrats did not. Anthony spent much of the campaign in California, but to no avail. A majority of California voters chose McKinley, and by a large margin they rejected the woman suffrage referendum.

This was not lost on anti-suffragists. Helen Kendrick Johnson, in her widely circulated book Woman and the Republic (1897), associated woman suffrage with "Free Silver and Populist of the most extravagant type." She praised California men for choosing "sound money against repudiation," "authority against anarchy," and for acting "in defense of national honor" by voting for Republican candidates and against woman suffrage. The suffrage movement, thus associated with Populism, suffered for a decade after 1896. Woman suffragists' next state victory did not come until 1909. In 1920, women finally won a U.S. Constitutional amendment for full national voting rights.

The Women's Campaign of 1896.

On November 3, the men's great quadrennial National contest will close. President and House of Representatives will be chosen, and the policy of the country for the next two years will be settled. Never since the Civil War have issues so momentous been submitted to the voters. Every woman's prosperity and well-being, material and moral, will be promoted or impaired by the result. Is it not shameful and humiliating that one-half of the citizens of the United States of mature age and sound mind, not convicted of crime, are legally compelled to remain mere spectators in a case wherein they are so vitally interested?

It is admitted by men of all parties that the ship of State is in danger of going upon the rocks. Urgent appeals are being made, money is being spent like water thousands of able speakers, at a tremendous sacrifice of time and money, are trying to enlighten the male half of the American people on questions of finance and tariff, of federal intervention and State control, of judicial prerogative and congressional supremacy, of foreign relations and domestic affairs. But seven million tax-paying, law-abiding women stand silent and passive, while the battle rages over their heads. How can any woman of sense or spirit help feeling wronged and humiliated by being placed in so unworthy an attitude?

. There are three glorious exceptions to women's political non-entity. In three States women are free to take sides and to cooperate with the men. In Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, women will be equal factors in the result. In those States they will differ as men differ, and will settle their differences as men settle theirs, at the ballot-box. Let us hope that in the Presidential election of 1900 many other States will welcome their women to political freedom. Next November, when the men's campaign ends, the women's campaign will have just begun.
--H.B.B. [Henry B. Blackwell], Woman's Journal, September 26, 1896

A Woman's Plea
An idol have the silver men the gold men have one, too
The Populists have helped themselves to the Democratic stew.
Everyone one's provided for but woman, sweet and fair--
She, poor thing, is "lone and lorn," and the men folks do not care.

CHORUS.
Say boys, won't you let us vote?
It's something that we really want to do.
If you'll only let us in,
Our platform's sure to win,
And our President shall be sweet Mary Ellen.

Now we'd like to vote for Bryan, but we really can't, you know
He has one dreadful failing--in style he's way too slow.
His hat is last year's fashion his bloomers are the same.
So, of course, he isn't in it, and, of course, we're not to blame.
. . . Our platform is free silver--on that you bet your life.
We ladies like free money, especially for the wife.
And our platform says she'll have it, if we only get the chair,
And we'll let you hand it over, which, you'll own, is fair and square.
--Katharine Dangerfield, New York World, 11 October 1896


In this crisis of the present time women as a class all over the land are manifesting greater interest than ever before, and giving more intelligent thought to public questions and needs. This element in politics should be a conservative one, to help correct and modify there may be and undoubtedly will be, a few extremists, but they will be scarce, if only because of the timidity and lack of confidence among women of their own understanding of these vital questions that are now being agitated. There certainly is great need of conservatism, when opinions run riot as they do now.
The women of Utah who have just been given equal suffrage, have a hard question before them to solve, and they should above all else study carefully and prayerfully over these matters that are so new to them, and of such grave importance. Better do too little than too much, but be sure to register properly, and be ready to vote right.
--Woman's Exponent, September 15

To the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States, William J. Bryan:

Honored Sir:--
In your leisure hours I presume that you are considering some strong points with which to gild your inaugural address in case you should be chosen for our next president.
Allow me to call your attention to the position of thirty-five millions of American citizens, who in violation of every principle of our government, are wholly unrepresented in the legislation of the country. A large number of this class are persons of education and wealth, exerting an immense moral and intellectual influence on our civilization and pouring vast sums as taxes into our national treasury.
In view of this fact, it would be a graceful tribute from a young man to the mothers of this Republic to recommend Congress in his inaugural address to pass a Sixteenth Amendment to the National Constitution "forbidding disfranchisement, in the several States, on the ground of Sex," thus placing educated women at least on an even political platform with emancipated slaves, and ignorant immigrants from the old world.
Such an act of justice on the threshold of your administration would be the keynote to the reforms proposed by the Chicago platform. Important as the questions of Finance and Tariff may be, they are insignificant compared with the civil and political rights of thirty-five millions of people.
This would be the strongest point in your address, and one that none of your predecessors have as yet made a step of progress in the social and political evolution of the period in which we live.
An enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Bryan read to me his Great Labor Day speech, delivered in Chicago on September 7. It certainly has a true ring from beginning to end. Ignoring all minor questions, such as tariff and finance, that might have confused his audience--as they do everybody--he dwells on the fundamental principles of just government, which, if carried out, would secure equal rights to the thirty-five million disfranchised women.
The ballot, as he describes it, in the hands of every citizen, would indeed be a scepter of power a crown of royalty. A man who, as President of the United States would use his influence to carry out such principles, I would be glad to see in the highest position in the gift of the American people.
--Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Woman's Tribune, October 17, 1896

IDAHO EQUAL SUFFRAGE PLANKS

The following planks were adopted by the four state conventions of Idaho: Resolution adopted by the Populist convention: "Believing in equal rights for all and special privileges to none, we favor the adoption of the pending woman's suffrage amendment to the constitution."

Resolution passed by the Democratic convention: "We recommend to the favorable consideration of the voters of the state the proposed constitutional amendment granting equal suffrage, believing that this great question should receive the earnest attention of every person as an important factor in the future welfare of the state."

Resolution passed by the Republican convention: "We favor the amendment to the constitution of the state proposed by the late Republican legislature, including equal suffrage for men and women, and recommend their adoption."

Resolution passed by the Silver Republicans: "We favor the adoption of the proposed amendment to the constitution of the state providing for the extension of the right of suffrage to women."
--Woman's Exponent, October 1

OAKLAND, August 8. --The Populists of Alameda county opened the campaign tonight for Bryan and Watson with a torchlight procession and a big mass meeting at Germania Hall. The Populists made the best public showing ever achieved by their organization in Oakland.
. Miss Susan B. Anthony spoke for the eleventh amendment. She said: "In a Populist convention I come to thank you as a party that from the very first your organization has recognized human equality--equal rights for all and special privileges to none. My good friends, you Populists are all converted now, you are the ninety and nine sheep that are saved. I want to find the lost sheep. I shall have to go somewhere else."
--San Francisco Examiner, August 9


Restricting immigration

Another important aspect of Harding's administration was its support for new restrictions on immigration. During the 1920s the traditional image of the United States as a welcoming refuge for those seeking better lives shifted dramatically. Once foreigners had been encouraged to move to the United States, because their willingness to take low-paying jobs made them attractive as employees. Early waves of immigrants had been

dominated by people from northern European countries like England and the Netherlands, whose values and habits were similar to those of most native-born U.S. residents. But the early years of the nineteenth century had seen a big increase in immigrants from southern Europe, especially Italy, and eastern Europe, such as Poland and Yugoslavia. Whereas the United States had historically been dominated by Protestants—such as Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians—many of the newcomers were Catholic or Jewish. They came from unfamiliar cultures. Importantly, many of these immigrants did not share mainstream citizens' disapproval of liquor.

The fear and distrust that many U.S. residents felt for foreigners was increased by World War I and by the Communist takeover that resulted from Russia's Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. (Communism is a system where all property is jointly owned by the whole community.) Native-born people worried that their beloved U.S. culture was under attack by outsiders with unsavory habits and radical political views. The result was a movement toward "nativism" (favoring native-born citizens over immigrants) and toward new laws to curb the influx of immigrants from places seen as undesirable. In 1921 Congress passed an emergency law that limited immigration to 355,000 immigrants per year (those from Asia had already been severely restricted). Each nation would be allowed a quota (fixed number) of 3 percent of whatever number of residents from that country had been in the United States at the time of the 1910 census.

Despite some resistance from business leaders, who hated to lose so much cheap labor, this trend continued. It was helped by the popularity of eugenics, a pseudoscience that not only claimed to prove the inferiority of anyone who was not of northern European heritage but also warned that U.S. society would be doomed if its white citizens mixed with people who were biologically inferior. In 1924 Congress passed the National Origins Act, which capped immigration at 150,000 and lowered the earlier country quotas to 2 percent of foreign-born residents at the time of the 1890 census when very few southern and eastern Europeans had been in the United States. Immigration from Asian countries was banned altogether.


U.S. Political Conventions & Campaigns

During the Progressive era, which lasted from roughly 1890-1920, the people’s desire for reform in the political process led to the establishment of the primaries. A primary is a state election in which citizens of that state cast their vote for the candidate whom they want to represent their party in the general election.

With an eye to making the process of presidential nominations more democratic, progressive reform efforts focused initially on making the delegate and candidate selection processes more transparent and inclusive. One of the earliest efforts was made by Wisconsin Governor Robert La Follette who’s frustration with the backroom politics in the 1904 elections led him to draft legislation that allowed Wisconsin voters more say over convention delegate selection. Subsequent states followed suit, so that by 1916, twenty-five of the forty-eight states had presidential primaries and stricter rules binding delegates to popular election results.

After World War I, the appetite for reform in the political process decreased as the country entered a period of political conservatism. In fact, eight states actually abandoned their primaries in favor of the old tradition of only allowing delegates to cast votes for their party’s nominee. As the Progressive movement lost momentum in American politics, so too did the idea of the state primaries in the nominating process.

Following World War II, primaries made a resurgence. With the advent of television and radio, populist-minded candidates could get their message directly to the voters and circumnavigate the influences of party bosses. This meant that lesser known candidates stood a chance at prevailing in the state primaries over more senior candidates with greater clout among party insiders. Candidates like Adlai Stevenson used the media advantageously to connect with voters, win state primaries, and ultimately wrest the nomination from the party’s establishment at the 1952 Democratic Convention. This trend continued in the post-war era, and came to a head in 1960.


The 19th Amendment Only Really Helped White Women

In the history of fairness and equality in the United States, there’s no denying that women of color have often come up short. From 19th- and 20th-century feminist movements to modern-day fights for egalitarianism, black, Asian, Native, and Latinx women have often rallied for the same rights as white women without the same results.

Take the 19th Amendment, for example. Passed by Congress in June 1919 and ratified over a year later on August 18, 1920, the 100-year-old bill was meant to guarantee all women the right to vote. The amendment stated that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

While that sounds ideal in theory, in practice many women of color found themselves unable to exercise their legal right to cast a ballot, depriving them of a voice in local and federal elections. As the New York Times noted in an editorial in their evaluation of the 19th Amendment's centennial, “millions of other women — particularly African-Americans in the Jim Crow South — remained shut out of the polls for decades” after the amendment’s ratification. That includes many Native American and Asian American women who were not granted citizenship.

Men of color across the U.S. were, of course, also still disenfranchised after the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, which was supposed to prohibit the government from denying anyone the right to vote based on their "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Washington Post contributor and National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Kimberly A. Hamlin argued that senators were against the 19th amendment because it would compel the government to enforce the 15th. Yet even with the passage of the 19th amendment, states and municipalities continued to ignore their enforcement, disenfranchising people of color across the nation.

As Harvard University’s Susan Ware, a historian who specializes in women's suffrage, discussed in her book Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, it was mainly white women who won the right to vote in 1919.

“The primary beneficiaries of the 19th Amendment at first were white women and the small minority of African American women who lived in northern and western states, where there were no racial restrictions on voting,” Ware told Teen Vogue. “The vast majority of African Americans still lived in the South, where men and women were kept from voting by Jim Crow laws put in place in the late 19th century.”

Some states took it upon themselves to pass laws making it harder for minorities to vote with the creation of literacy tests and poll taxes. Violence was also used to deter people of color from exercising their legal right to vote. Even today, certain practices like gerrymandering and voter ID laws disenfranchise people of color by making it harder for them to vote or diluting the effect of their votes.

Though they rallied alongside white suffragettes, many women of color remained disenfranchised by racist policies until the mid to late 20th century. It wasn’t until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that black women in the South were able to exercise this right without the aforementioned restrictions. Some Latinx, Native, and Asian American women had to wait even longer. In 1975, the federal government passed voting rights amendments that prohibited discrimination against “language minority” citizens.

While women of color were forced to wait nearly 50 extra years after the passage of the 19th Amendment to gain proper access to the ballot box, their contributions to the protests and demonstrations were critical to the amendment’s passage. White women earned the right to vote, in part, due to women of color, and these contributions have since been largely erased from history.

“African American clubwomen were central to the struggle for the vote. Having seen their men lose the vote despite the guarantees of the 14th and 15th amendments, they realized its practical and symbolic importance,” Ware explained to Teen Vogue. “African American suffragists always saw the vote as part of a much broader range of social, economic, and political issues surrounding their communities. Theirs was an intersectional vision which linked race, class, and gender, in contrast to white suffragists, who often approached the issue from the lens of gender only.”

Yet for decades, white women have often been enshrined as the sole leaders of the suffragette movement. Museums, textbooks, and historians alike honor the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony for challenging gender norms and pushing for a women’s right to vote. However, these same women were found to have supported racist ideals, fighting for white women's right to vote and ignoring the acute discrimination faced by women of color. Women of color were often forced to march separately from their white counterparts and were excluded from suffragette conventions.

While there are few, if any, memorials honoring the women of color that fought for the right to vote for all women, it’s important that, on the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, we remember their names: Mary Church Terrell. Sojourner Truth. Jovita Idár. Ida B. Wells. Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett.

Unfortunately, for many American women, the equal rights that these women fought for have still not yet been realized a century later.

Women of color in the U.S. and its territories still face serious barriers to voting. In territories like Puerto Rico, residents are American citizens but unable to vote in federal presidential elections. Meanwhile, nearly 50% of the U.S. prison system is made up of women of color, who are prohibited from voting while incarcerated or on parole in many states, or for life for those with certain convictions in others. And in August 2019, a Brennan Center analysis found that nearly 17 million voters were purged between 2016 and 2018, with higher purging rates in counties with a history of voter discrimination.

As Ware put it: “Feminism and women’s rights are an ongoing struggle with no clear endpoint in sight and the women’s suffrage movement is a vital part of that story. There is a direct line from the suffrage parades of the 1910s to the sea of pink pussy hats worn at the Women’s Marches held in January 2017 to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump.”


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Watch the video: The 1920 Election Explained (January 2022).