KERA resolution denounces radicals picketing the White House and protesting President Wilson's speeches

Randolph Hollingsworth's picture

With Christine Bradley (Mrs. John Glover) South of Frankfort chairing as President, the Kentucky Equal Rights Association  formally denounced the National Woman's Party protesters as "fatuous, unwomanly and reprehensible." The following resolution was published in the Report of the Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held at Seelbach Hotel, Louisville, Ky. March 11th and 12th, 1919:

   "Whereas, the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, has made clear his advocacy of the political recognition of women, and whenever the wight of his spoken word was enlisted, as ably supported the cause of woman suffrage in powerful and eloquent public uterance, and
   "Whereas, Notwithstanding his absolutely unequivocal position in favor of this great cause, the militant suffragists have sought to harass and embarrass him, and
   "Whereas, True suffragists have been obliged to suffer the shame and stigma of the untoward conduct of these pickets, although the President in his greatness has ignored them.
    "Therefore, Be it resolved that the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, assembled at its Twenty-ninth Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, March 11, 1919, resenting the obloquy this cast on the great cause of woman suffrage, denounce the attitude of these militants as fatuous, unwomanly and reprehensible, and render due thanks and appreciation to the President and to those members of the Congress and the Senate of the United States who have not allowed the misconduct of these women to prejudice their sense of justice to the millions of American women who for half a century have been working quietly, patiently and soberly for their enfranchisement."

Since January 10, 1917, the Congressional Union and the National Woman's Party (NWP) had been picketing the White House - the first political activists ever to under this type of political protest. The NAWSA's president Carrie Chapman Catt, denounced this strategy as "unladylike" and the publicity to be "unwelcome" to the cause of woman suffrage. On June 22, 1917, the police began to arrest women on the suffrage picket line on the charge of obstructing traffic. Perhaps as many as 2,000 women picketed between 1917 and 1919; of those, approximately 500 women were arrested and 168 of those were jailed. In October 1918 the NWP started up picket lines in front of the U.S. Capitol and the Senate Office Building. A "watch fire campaign" in nearby Lafayette Park began on January 1, 1919, which served as a public site of protest where groups would burn President Woodrow Wilson's speeches and once also burned his image in effigy. Many women were physically assaulted by both civilians and police, but they continued to protest and refused to pay a fine if arrested. The President finally came to endorse the 19th Amendment formally on January 9th, however, the National Woman's Party continued to lobby and protest. On February 24th, Alice Paul and the NWP sponsored a three-week "Prison Special" train tour, featuring 26 women who had been imprisoned for picketing. At each stop, wearing replica prison costumes, they described the beatings, force-feedings, and the horrible jail conditions they endured. On March 4th President Wilson gave a speech in New York City. There 200 NWP protesters were beaten by a mob of military men and the police with billy clubs. With a new Congress finally seated, the NWP felt they had won the day: the proposed federal amendment finally passed through the U.S. House of Representatives on May 21, 1919, and the U.S. Senate on June 4, 1919.

Resources

Cassondra St. Cyr, Anne Peterson, Taylor Franks, "Chapter 4: Victory!" The National Woman's Party: A Year by Year History, 1913-1922. Mapping American Social Movements Through the 20th Century. University of Washington, Seattle, WA. http://depts.washington.edu/moves/NWP_project_ch4.shtml

Doris Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (n.p.: Boni and Liveright, 1920). Project Gutenburg, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3604

"Historical Overview of the National Woman’s Party," American Memory, The Library of Congress, Washington D.C. https://www.loc.gov/collections/static/women-of-protest/images/history.pdf

Linda G. Ford, Iron Jawed Angels: The Suffrage Militancy of the National Woman’s Party,1912-1920 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991).

"Report of the Twenty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held at Seelbach Hotel, Louisville, Ky. March 11th and 12th, 1919" in Reports of the Twenty-Eight and Twenty-Nine Annual Conventions of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association Held at Lexington, Kentucky, November 30th and December 1st, 1917 and at Louisville, Kentucky, March 11th and 12th, 1919.  ExploreUK, Special Collections Research Center, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington, KY.


This post is part of the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project portal on H-Kentucky - you can see the post in context within the Timeline here: https://networks.h-net.org/kentucky-woman-suffrage-timeline.