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2 DISSIMILAR BUT COMPLEMENTARY WOMEN SPURRED SUFFRAGE

One of the women marched in the freezing rain, mocked a president, sparked riots, led a prison hunger strike. The other, always ladylike, organized millions of women into a respected political force - even though women couldn't vote.

Thanks largely to two women who disdained each other, American women won the right to vote 75 years ago, on Aug. 26, 1920. Without them, the wait for suffrage might have been much longer.Yet few Americans today know the names of Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt.

That may change as the United States marks the anniversary with marches, art exhibits and speeches. Alice Paul is even getting a postage stamp in her honor.

The campaign took 72 years, from the nation's first women's rights convention in 1848, through the Civil War, the invention of the Model T Ford, the Wright brothers' flight and into World War I.

"Young suffragists who helped forge the last links of that chain were not born when it began," Catt and Nettie Rogers Shuler wrote in their history of the movement. "Old suffragists who forged the first links were dead when it ended."

Those "old suffragists" - Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott - are the best remembered.

Catt and Paul took over early in this century, when the suffrage movement had won some victories in the Western states but was drifting for lack of leadership.

Both saw the importance of focusing on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, instead of fighting state by state, which looked especially hopeless in the South.

They agreed on little else.

Catt conferred with Woodrow Wilson inside the White House; Paul picketed outside, and burned Wilson in effigy.

The two deplored each other's tactics. Yet historians say they complemented each other beautifully.

"Carrie Chapman Catt sort of made suffrage respectable. Alice Paul made sure the issue didn't get pushed onto the back burner," said Lucinda Robb, director a women's history project at the National Archives. "They were a nice balance in spite of themselves."

Catt led 3 million women as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. A brilliant lobbyist, she feared that unladylike behavior would offend politicians or the public.

After all, opponents argued that the vote would sully womanhood, split husbands and wives, causing divorces. Women would start acting like men, they said; anyway, women could better reform politics if they retained their nonpartisan purity.

Catt's association kicked out Paul, finding her public protests - inspired by British suffragists - too radical. Paul formed a new group for women who wanted their rights, right now.

By this time suffragists both moderate and militant had learned that pretty speeches about justice and equality would sway few congressmen. Most lawmaker's votes were based on political expediency.

The Founding Fathers never formally considered allowing the founding mothers to vote, so the Constitution didn't address the issue. New Jersey seized the opening, allowing its women to vote for almost 30 years - until the party in power decided that women were voting for the other side and took the right away in 1807.

When the suffragists won their first victory, in Wyoming territory in 1869, it was because men hoped the publicity would attract women to the territory.

The Mormons in Utah territory adopted suffrage hoping to dispel the popular belief that polygamist husbands enslaved their wives.

Winning one state at a time proved torturously slow. Colorado and Idaho trickled in by 1896, then 14 years passed before the Progressive and temperance movements helped suffragists bring in a handful of other states.

About this time, Catt re-energized the cause with her bold "Winning Plan" - a two-pronged strategy that would use victories in key states to pressure Congress for a constitutional amendment.

Although Catt was a pacifist, when the United States went to war she urged followers to volunteer for the Red Cross and sell war bonds. She wanted them to appear patriotic (the women were often condemned as socialists) and to earn President Woodrow Wilson's gratitude.

By now, Paul's National Woman's Party was picketing the White House, becoming the first group ever to do so. Catt was dismayed.

"It was scandalous," Smithsonian historian Edith Mayo said. "And it was front-page news all across the country - exactly what Alice Paul wanted."

On Wilson's second inauguration day, a thousand women circled the White House, marching through icy rain and heavy wind.

A month later, when the United States went to war, the suffragists threw Wilson's words back at him. How could the United States fight "to make the world safe for democracy," they asked, when its own women were denied democracy? Even in enemy Germany, women voted.

In August, women carried a banner outside the White House denouncing "Kaiser Wilson." Sailors tore it up, touching off a riot.

Pickets were arrested day after day. Some were sent to the workhouse and others to prison. Sentences increased from a few days to seven months. Guards punched and shoved them. Some women stopped eating.

"We decided upon the hunger strike as the ultimate form of protest left us," Paul said. They were force-fed through tubes shoved down their throats, until a judge ordered their release. News of how the women were treated in prison won public sympathy.

Meanwhile, several Northern states adopted suffrage - meaning women's votes might influence the 1920 presidential election.

In 1918, Wilson acquiesced and endorsed women's suffrage as a necessary "war measure."

But the president couldn't persuade fellow Democrats to push it through Congress - Southerners in the Senate blocked the way. Not until Republicans took control of Congress was there a two-thirds majority. The resolution passed on June 4, 1919.

Both parties - fearing women's retribution in the 1920 election - now endorsed the amendment. Still, rounding up 36 states to ratify it was difficult.

Legions of lobbyists were hired by those who felt women voters might reform them out of business, including breweries and factories that used child labor.

Within a year, 35 states had ratified the amendment. But the other states - except Tennessee - had rejected it or refused to act. Both sides felt if it languished beyond the 1920 election, its momentum might be lost for decades.

Suffragists called the battle in the Tennessee Legislature an "Armageddon." They won only because one lawmaker switched sides on the advice of his mother.

"The nation moved rapidly into a more conservative climate after World War I," said historian Marjorie Spruill Wheeler. "If success had not come when it did, the cause might easily have been caught in a period of postwar reaction, and victory postponed for another half-century."