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tv   Suffragists the 19th Amendment  CSPAN  August 18, 2020 10:35am-11:55am EDT

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on tuesday a look at the 100th anniversary of womens suffrage. mark the 100th with an encore presentation. also take a tour of the votes for womens exhibit at the smith sewngen national portrait gallery. she'll show images of suffrage leaders and political cartoons and explain how the movement intersected. watch tuesday beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span 3. >> next on american history tv author rebecca roberts on the decade leading up to the 19th amendment and how women gained the right to vote through marching, picketing and persistence. the author of "suffragist in and washington, d.c.."
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the white house historical association hosted this discussion. >> i'm the president of the white house historical association, and it's my privilege to well you, many of you back to historic decatur house and the white house historical association for another one of our wonderful lectures. tonight is one of the annual national heritage lectures that we do in partnership with the u.s. capital historical society and the u.s. supreme court historical society. we have our wonderful colleagues here tonight and my great friend jane campbells the new president of the capital historic society, and i'd like to welcome you here today. on june 4, 1919, the 19th amendment was passed and sent to
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the states for ratification. the suffragists used the white house as a backdrop to challenge inequity and bring attention to their cause. and tonight we look forward to hearing more about their successful efforts to secure womens right to vote. but before i introduce our speaker i have a couple of other introductions and things i'd like to share. first of all, we have guests from smith college here tonight, the washington club of smith college. stand up. they're our special guests tonight and we're honored to have them. those of you who have been with us before know i love to talk about our wonderful mission begun in 1961 by jacqueline kennedy. remember she was only 31 years old when her husband was inaugurated president of the united states at that young age
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she had the vision and foresight to know what she and president kennedy needed then others would needed over the course of time and that would be to have a private partner. we also provide resources directly to the white house to maintain the museum standard of the state floor and the ground floor and the nonpublic historic rooms that mrs. kennedy envisioned maintaining, and we have done that with every president and first lady since the kennedys, and we're honored to do so. tonight our format will be i will introduce our wonderful speaker and then following her harks, anne compton, who you all know is a wonderful friend of ours and a wonderful friend of
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yours will come up and have an interview session. and don't worry this podium is going to be removed and set aside so all of you can have an instructive view of their conversation. an, she'd been very supportive of us as an organization as she is of many things here in washington. you know her best as a former reporter and white house correspondent. she was the first woman assigned to cover the white house for network television. she worked for abc news for 41 years retiring in 2014, which you really haven't retired completely because i know with us, the miller center and many other endeavors, her career spanned 7 presidents, 10 presidential campaigns. she travel today all 50 states, 6 continents. and of the many interesting stories is the compelling story
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of her being with president bush, george w. bush, on september 11, 2001 as the only broadcaster reporter who traveled around the country with mim him on that day and we'll want to do something talk to about the white house on 9/11. so we thank anne for her friendship and for being with us to take this series of lectures forward. we'll have another one in september on the role of pat nixon in the white house. this is the 50th anniversary of the nixons coming into the president and mrs. nixon become first lady. and i think she's a really unheralded first lady in terms of her legacy with the white house and what she contributed in terms of artifacts, really american artifacts to the white house collection and we'll be celebrating that in september. and then in october very exciting news our dear friend
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has a brand new book that's going to be out in u.k., and for the first time ever he's finally unlocking his recipe box and actually going to be sharing his res paws from his service and his wonderful confections he created as executive white house pastry chef for those many years. jennifer pickens who is the altogetherer of white house christm christmas are going to have a conversation so stay tuned for both of those occasions. and now for our prime event to talk about this very important happening in our nations history and on the centennial of this important historic occasion. we have rebecca roberts here tonight as our speaker.
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and rebecca has been i understand many things in her life and career and not limited to just these. she's been a journalist, a producer, she's been a tour guide. she's been a forensic anthropologist. she's been an event planner. she's been a political consultant. she has been a jazz singer. she's been a radio talk show host, and currently she is curator of programming for planet word, a museum set to open in 2020. she's also found time to be the mom to two twin boys and the wife and a great keeper of the family in line. and on top of that, all of that she's an author and wren about a suggest on this part of american history and white house history. with that i will have rebecca come up and then we'll remove the podium, and rebecca and anne
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can have a conversation at the end. you'll be invited to pose your questions as well. >> thank you all for having me. and just to set the record straight i actually have three sons, not to brag. the twins have a little brother. the suffrage dates from 1948 to the ratification in 1920. in the interest of both brevity and focus i'm not going to cover all 72 years. in fact i'm going to more or less ignore the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century as well and focus on the time push for the amendment. but if you have any questions about other parts of the movement, other players i'll be happy to answer them when we go to q&a. so i'd like to start with this image from the program of the
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1913 suffrage march down pennsylvania avenue and i like to use because it's really the only image in color. but also these colors are really deliberate. in fact, almost everything the suffrage movement did was really deliberate. not only do these colors represent things but purple is very rich saturated color, gold less so, white of course is the absence of color. these things show up really well in black and white photographs. that's all on purpose. and also if you want to see the artifacts of the movement in all their beautiful colorful glory the selma hall house on capitol hill has all of the original banners, but also because we're in the centennial year there are
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a bunch of terrific exhibits going on. there will be one opening soon at the smith sesonian history museum. so this march, the 1913 march was the first civil rights march. there had been parades down pennsylvania avenue, but this idea of taking a cause to the core of federal washington was alice paul's idea, and it started at the capitol and marched all the way down to pennsylvania avenue and to the white house and executive branch. and that was absolutely symbolic. and it was the day before woodrow wilson's inauguration. if that sounds familiar a womens march down the middle of washington on the same weekend as the inauguration of the a president they hadn't voted for in order to remind him that he ignored womens voices at his peril from the very beginning of his administration. those parallels are obviously
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very, very strong. so the march -- this is obviously the capital end of pennsylvania avenue. pennsylvania avenue was a really, really broad street, was then, is now so they were able to plan this really grand procession, all these floats, marching bands, working women march by procession in matching outfits. this was the herald of the parade, and the idea is she would get up on her horse at the beginning way down on the capitol end of pennsylvania avenue and a bugler would sound and a few moments later that bugle would be picked up by another bugler down to the treasury department and a tableau vivant would begin on
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the treasury steps. you can see how the horses are all spaced perfectly and they all have federal hats on. just behind was holland opher horse. you all have probably seen this image especially at the state of the union this year when the women chose to wear white. i also love this image because it shows you what a great publicist alice paul was. she was a labor lawyer, a really accomplished professional, but all of the breathlessly sexist press of the day never failed to talk about how pretty she was. they called her the most beautiful suffragists and alice paul's reaction was you know what you're going to talk about how pretty she is i'm going to put her in a white dress on a
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white horse and you'll take her picture and maybe we'll get coverage out of it. the working women as i said march by profession. these are the nurses. the teachers marched together, the writers marched together. they purposely stained their costumes with ink. college women marched by alma mater. i am certain there were smith women there. and the whole idea was that this grand procession would end at 15th street at the treasury department where this tableau would go on. tableau vivant was a fascinating art form where people would come out and pose and this allegory is columbia summoning the virtues. and the virtues were peace and prosperity and it was a whole thing.
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and it had very little to do with suffrage, but boy did it look great in pictures. this is still the cover of my book a hundred years later, and again absolutely strategly planned to be that way. there was a grandstand in front of treasury setup for the inaugural parade set for the next day. and alice paul did get permission for her vips to sit there. so there was a live audience the this tableau but that was not the main audience. the idea is this would be published in papers the next day. it's a little chilly in early march in washington. these children were barefoot on the marble steps of the treasury, but the parade begins, the bugle sounds, they start and they perform their beautiful tableau, and then they stand there in dignified silence and the plan was that the parade would process by in front of them and they would fold back into the parade and all end up
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at the hall where the tableau would perform again in triumph to a rousing applause from the audience and it would be a great day. and the their poses, no parade. they have no way of knowing where the parade is, why it's held up. it's getting alternates cold up there on theiring toas. they wait as long as they can, finally have to go inside the treasury department. where is the parade? why hasn't the parade come down pennsylvania avenue? that's why. so for orientation, this picket fur is taken at about 12th street, where freedom plaza is, the tower that dominates, now looking back towards the capitol. it's a six-lane road. it was absolutely shoulder to shoulder crowded. i don't know how much detail, there's a lot of bowler hats.
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they were there for the inauguration the next day. the suffrage parade, and the men were poorly behaved. they yelled names, they spit on them. in some cases the police joined in. you can't get a parade through that crowd. ali paul realized her perfectly -- and she was going to march, and she drove a calf up and down the parade route trying to zig soog through the crowd to back up. it didn't work at all. the crowd just poured back in behind her. finally they literally called in cavalry. they had some mounted officers standing by at ft. myers. they rode their horses into the crowd enough that the parade could fight that i way down.
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instead of the tableau performing, they all show up filthy, furious, cold, angry, horrified that this massive crowd of these jerky men have completely ruined what should have been this meticulously planned triumphant day. alice paul realized from the very beginning that it's the best thing that could happen. a near riot would keep the movement in news for the week. there is a whole things. there was a hearing. the police chief almost lost his job. and so not entirely sure what i should be pointing this at in order to make it change? over here? this is "the washington post" the next day. i love these. the language is so spectacular.
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so this headline should be wood row wilson inaugurated. he gets happen, and the other column says woman's beauty, grace and art bewilder the capital. miles of fluttering femininity present entrancing suffrage appeal. there's the tableau. this was not a particularly well planted story from the women's national party. this is how the men covered the parade without any guidance from the women. it's talking about how pretty it was, and by the way, there was some bad behavior. this is a much better example of "the chicago daily tribune." again wood row wilson not the headline. this column here.
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the biggest crowd, the widest street. the most beautiful girls, it is terrific press. and there is little pencil neck wood row wilson, but ta-da that's a suffragist. the 1913 march was sort of the turning point for the final push to actually get the amendment through congress. in addition to being a great publicity ploy, it was a reintroduction of the federal amendment as a strategy. so i'm going to race through a bit of political history here. again, fee free to ask questions about it later. i'm going to go fast. the original suffragists, and you know their names, they were
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abolitionists. some of them came to suffrage, because what they really wanted was abolition, and they couldn't get it without the votes. there were people like stanton who were major women's advocates. after the civil war, when the reconstruction amendments were passed and they enfranchise black men and no women that caused a major rift. there were people who said we're abolitionists, we'll take this, it's important that black men get the vote, we'll for a i got for women next. there were people like susan b. anthony said please stop telling us to wait our turn. we can't support the 15th amendment if it doesn't include women. it was a huge split.
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they also continued on two definite avenues for getting suffrage passed with the stanton/anthony faction pushing the amendment, and the other pushing a state by state strategy. in part because the amendments had been hailed by federal overreached by the former confederacy. it's not crazy to go state by state. eventually if you have enough, you'll have enough men representing women that the federal amendment becomes inevitable. the federal amendment lang wished just after the civil war. this 1913 march, there was a big old banner that set we demand a constitutional amendment enfranchising the women of this country. that is called the great demand banner, you can see it at belmont hall. this march, in addition to being a great publicity ploy, was an
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announcement the federal amendment was back. so really alice paul was pushing the switch to the amendment and also these much more public tactics. she had -- she was very young, only in her early 20s. she had gone to grad school in england, had become a follower of analine packhurst. and the mother in and daughters were totally radical and very, very militant, eventually alice paul's faction became called militant. they had nothing on the british women. they escalated to trying to burn the prime minister's house, i understand they turned bowen the
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botanical gardens. they smacked police men in the face on purpose. they were not playing around. i love this. this is a british paper. the headline says "trouble expected in london tonight." everyone absolutely accepted it. the other thing is an ad saying in suffrage ttes. by the way, suffragist, suffrage dette, the word is suffragist. the british called them that. it was meant to be derisive.
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so most properly everyone is a suffragist. suffrageette specifically refers to the british moment. there's your lesson for the day. alice paul was arrested, she was forcefed in british jail. she absolutely participated in the guerrilla tactics. when she moved back to the u.s., she wanted to use some of the tactics to breathe new life into the american movement. stanton and anthony and those founding mothers were dead by then, the split had really lost everybody time and energy. so she -- alice paul worked with the national american women's suffrage association. the two factions after the civil war had finally come back together and formed this overriding major group.
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and they let alice paul set up a washington office, you know, just like lots of nonprofits and ngos and trade associations have a washington office. it was right here on lafayette square. that's cameron house. it's across the square are from where we are now, a light yellow facade. it was preserved by jackie kennedy and now the court structure sort of rises up behind it. originally it was the congressional office, the lobbying arm of the national american women suffrage association and that was their headquarters, but almost from the very beginning alice paul went rogue. she started publishing a competing it newspaper, and finally the association kicked her out and told her they were already pretty nerve out about her tactics, and said if you're going to pursue this aggressive
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stance you can't do it under the umbrella of the national. they split. they tayed at cameron house and eventual called themselves the national women's party. throughout 1914, 1915, they continued to push for a federal amendment. they continued to have pretty public events, parades. they had a big booth at the world fair in san francisco in 1915. they had a cross-country road trip. it was still sort of shocking to see women drive, where they gathered petition signatures across the country. they had some success with some publicity, but not a whole lot of success getting support. meanwhile, the national was continuing to push the state-by-state strategy with little success there. by the 1916 election there were ten states that allowed women the right to vote.
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the states in the west were maximizing everybody to mac mike their political power. by 1916 every state that had it on the ballot voted it down. wo woodrow wilson was very much against it. he was reelected on a landslide. 1916 felt like it just, you know, it wasn't at all successful for the movement. they felt like their tactics weren't working. then at the very end of 196, inez holland literally collapsed on stage. she was one of the best stump speakers. she had pernicious anemia. she fainted on stage and never recovered. she died in the hospital a
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couple weeks later. her sister, who was in the audience said her final words were, mr. president, how long must women wait for liberty? maybe they were. it's a great line. she, as you might imagine, immediately became a martyr to the cause. she literally died in that cause. that image, this almost look like a holy card, right? she became almost sainted. you can see the original of this painting, by the way at belmont hall. as 1917 dawns, the national women's party thinking nothing we're doing isn't working. we haven't gained a sing the state. we haven't twisted a single voter. we need to do something new, and at the beginning of 1917, they came up with the idea of picketing the white house. i promise you if you go to the white house, there will be
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picketers there. there always are. fee freel to remind them it was alice paul's idea. this was the first time anybody had ever done this. again, check out the visuals, right? these women in their dark coats against the white house, the banner that says mr. president, how long must women wait for liberty? in this very simple san serif font. it's all made for the pictures. the pictures are great. at the time live in the space they were sort of a curiosity. people were interested in the white house pickets. this is january/february 1917. it's very cold out there. people would sort of come by, and sometimes women would come to washington to participate. there were theme days. there's new york day. it looked like new york had a rainy, terrible day.
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and they stayed out there throughout january and february of 1917, every single day. there are stories of them bringing warm bricks for women to stand on. one woman had a fur coat and they passed it around. it was just sort of a curiosity at first, even though this was completely new. no one ever chained themselves. everything they're doing is totally legal. standing in front of the white house with a sign is not against any law. they didn't really want to keep it up. first of all, it was hard to recruit people to do it. also, all tactics get stale after a while, so the intention was at the second inaugural, they'll have one great last picket and then they would meet with wilson. march of 1917, this was one of those gross early spring days in which washington, where the rain
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is coming in sideways, the wind is just bitter, but they were out there. there's a great news account of describing, you know, holding they wooden poles with a wood stain, and the stain dripping down the women's wrists in the freezing rain. they're barred from going in. so what do you do now? they just keep marching around and around the white house. they circled the property four or five times. finally they go back to cameron house and they say, well, we're going to keep the pickets up. we're not stopping. we're going to keep going. they keep it up throughout the spring of 1917. by the end of april, the u.s. is
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now involved in world war i. now what do you do? do you keep criticizing the president in this very public way while we're at war? you know public opinion will turn against you. people will think you're traitors. they decided, yeah, you know, if president wilson is going to be out there saying this war is important to make the world safe for democracy while continuing to be the biggest stumbling block to enfranchising half his -- in fact, they leaned in. president wilson and envoy route are deceiving russia. help us win a world war so democracies may survive. we the women of america tell you america is not a democracy. president wilson is the chief opponent of the national
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enfranchisement. tell our government it must liberali liberate its people. this message is for photographs and newspaper coverage. today this would be a tweet, right? public opinion does in fact turn against the women. here is someone tearing down the russian envoy banner. the police never did anything to stop this kind of stuff, by the way. what did the women do? they go ahead and call president wilson kaiser wilson, have you forgotten your sympathy with the poor germans because they were not self-governed? take the beam out of your own eye. now they're calling the president a kaiser while we're at war with germany. finally the president has had enough. he tells the police force get them off my sidewalk.
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i don't care what you have to do. they're not breaking laws. the police start arresting them for a complete made-up charge for obstructing traffic on the sidewalk. it's just not a thing, right? they haul the women into jail and say $5 or a night in jail. assuming all the women will say here's my $5, i can't possibly go to jail, i won't do it again. every woman says bring it, i'll go to jail. there's 30 more women to pick up the pickets tomorrow. that whole crew gets arrested. four nights in jail, no problem, more women will do it. this escalates that these women are getting sentenced to 60 days in the work house for standing n a corner. but they kept calling the bluff of the sentencing judge. they kept choosing the jail
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time. they took the tactics of demanding prisoner political status, as it always one, some were force-fed, which is just as horrible as it sounds. some women got their teeth broken if they closed their mouths against the tube. and they're not breaking any laws. they're demanding a voice in democracy. the national, the major women's suffrage association was horrified by this, that the women with are being this tacky, but it kind of worked for both of them. join said you can meet with me, mr. president t. i'm not that crazy alice paul. you know, you needed the real work of lobbying and organizing
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at the same time. so finally in the fall of 1917 -- i'm sure most of you have heard this story -- a budge of women were sent down to the work house. the warden decided he had had enough. he ordered the guards to pick up the women bodily. for the most part they were sent into a communal area where they stayed together, but there were punishment cells, individual cells. the warden ordered the guard to pick the women up, drag them through the dark to the punishment cells which were unlit, unheated, open toilets, rats, everything horrible. the women were physically picked up and hurled them into these cells. several of them smacked their heads against the cinder block. one woman passed out, the other thought she was dead, she had a
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heart attack. lucy starts calling out the names. they chain her with her arms above her head in this dark freezing cell all night long for standing on a corner with a sign. this becomes known as the night of terror. word gets out about this sort of treatment and public opinion starts to turn back in favor of the women. the other thing that happened in fall of 1917 is new york passed suffrage, which was hugely important, most populous state. so as 1918 dawned, there was some momentum around a federal amendment. the president still not on board. i don't usually show these
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pictures. this is the lafayette statue, right? on the far side of the square. through outthe spring of 1918, they national women's party would hold protests. at one point they were finally kicked out of the cameron house, because the cosmos club bought the cameron house and moved into it. they would stand at the statue. every time the president gave a speech about democracy, which is like every 10 or 15 minutes discussi they would burn it and set the words on fire. that banner says president wilson is deceiving the world when he appears as the prophet of democracy. he's opposed tos who demand democracy for this country. he's response for -- the world
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will find him out. these were called the watch fires. they were continued for being arrested for lighting a fire after dark. by fall of 1918 there's a midterm, right? there are a couple votes, it doesn't quite get there. 1918 a new congress gets elected. enough -- 1919 looks like it might actually happen. almost exactly 100 years ago in june of 1919, the 19th amendment finally goes, and then it goes to the states for ratification. there were 48 states at the time, so you needed 36. a bunch of states passed it
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right away. a bunch of states voted it down over the summer of 1919. almost entirely in the south and almost entirely for overtly racist reasons. they were not interested in enfranchising a new single black voter. they were dismantling rights with jim crow laws, and they wanted no part of it. momentum kind of stalls. by spring of 1920, 35 states have ratified, you only need one more. five have voted it down, and of the eight left five won't bring it to a vote. those were all very specific reasons about governors not wanting to call special sessions, blah, blah, blah, a lot of inside politics i could go into if anyone is interested. there's a crazy battle in
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delaware, which everyone thought would be the 36th state. it loses in delaware. the last two states are north carolina and tennessee, which the way the south has been going, neither looked like a great prospect. north carolina votes it down. it's all up to tennessee. it's august in nashville. it's really hot. everyone shows up. all of the proo-suffragists, all anti--suffragists. they're all staying at the same hotel. they're all in the hermitage hotel. the pro-suffragists wear a yellow rose in their lapel, anti-suffragists wore a red lapel. there's unbelievable dirty politicking where members would get a phone call saying you need to get back to memphis, your son is sick, but their son was fine.
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this goes on for a week in august. the state senate passes it. it's all down to the state assembly. a couple days before the actual vote there was a vote that could be seen as a proxy. it was to table something, and you could see it as an indication. it's a tie. we're down to the last house of the last state, it's a tie. you have to win to win. the final actual day arrives. some people have their red roses, their yellow roses, it's a billion degrees, they've all been in this same hotel together for a week. people are hanging all over the gallery of the statehouse. they call the roll, and one guy changes his vote. harry berne. no one had harry berne in the yes column. he was in his 20s, his mentor was an absolute dyed in the
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wool, women are too stupid to handle the vote, and it takes a little while to people to realize early in the roll something has changed a vote. did you hear harry berne say yes? it only take one to win at this point. why did harry berne -- who is harry berne? the entire national press corps, and mr. berne, why did change your mind? mr. berne, you're responsible for suffrage. what changed your mind? it turned out his mama told him to. [ laughter ] so he had in his pocket a letter in his mother that says, in part, hurrah, vote for suffrage and don't keep them in doubt. he says to all these reporters. it's because my mom wrote these
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letters and i think a mother's advice is the best thing for a son to follow. as the mother of three sons, embroider it on a pillow. that's how close it came, right? finally she was able to embroider the 36th star on the flag. she unfurled it from the balcony there. that's how close american women came to not getting it passed. it's an amazing story. with that background, ann and i are going to talk a bit, and we'll take your questions. thank you very much.
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well, do any of those tactics sound familiar? [ laughter ] what was it about the women who were able to pull together the strategy and effectiveness? these were smart, educated, incredibly inventive women who wouldn't take no for an answer. they are, and i'm continually impressed with the more i learn how savvy they were. i think we have a tendency to think that history is linear and aggressive, and each generation does a little bit better, but they women were doing it 100 years ago. they couldn't introduce legislature or vote for it while female, right? they could do everything up to actually making it happen it's
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amazing to me now, especially since so much of this history is caught in the condescendsing way. they affected the largest historical change in american democracy. >> it was a revolution. >> it was a bloodless revolut n revolution. they did it with their brains. they did it on their own, and did it with no power. by definition, they had no power. they made it happen. it took a long time. there were a lot of defeats along the way, but it is an unbelievably impressive radical feat. what made them able to do it, that final push? i think some of it was a new generation, all the things we see in social movements now, younger voters being more tolerant of all kinds of social issue. i think there were more educated
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women i think there were more opportunities for women to have a public life, so a lot of the objection to women voting was that it would tear down the house -- the home would be destroyed, because women would abandon the domestic sphere for the public sphere. as more women were in the public sphere already, that was less shocking. then i think the leadership that emerged, i mean, the original ladies were really impressive and radical, but these final -- this final group -- i don't want to take away anything from the women at the national. they were all brilliant strategists, so the fact that they were there to lead it through to the end. >> there's an interesting story of when the actual amendment went through, wasn't it carrie chapman was not invited nor was alice paul, in part because --
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well, were they good friends? >> no. >> no. can you imagine within the -- they -- it was said they detested each other, so whoever was hosting the signing said we just won't invite either one to come here. but the idea they were all able to pull in that same direction, we think of what we know -- at least from what i remember in history classes, when you get past the advice tornado era, the edwardian era, we're into this new century. there's a progressivism and a send of movement. communications are getting better. technology is getting better, as it was. but it's the political tactics that now really show even throughout the 20th century, into the 21st it is these kind
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of skills. talk about my favorite slide is the newspaper -- i'm a reporter, and a dear friend of her parents both reporters, cokie roberts and steve roberts. when you look at the front page of the washington paper on inauguration day and presiden e president-elect wilson has to share the front page, they had to push against so much to get that. >> they had no allies in the
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media. "the washington post" was fairly sympathetic. "new york times" was anti-suffrage all the way through, and their coverage is brutal. one of the things the women did that was so smart, the day of the 1913 parade, all these women had come to participate. they got them each to write a first-person account of their mistreatment at the hands of the mock. and send it to their hometown paper. the springfield illinois paper would say mrs. george thurman was manhandled at the crowd and it became a local story. that's not the story they thought they would be publicizing, and to get maybe unsympathetic reporters to cover
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it there's a lot of big news. that's what the pickets were all about. the war comes along. you have a president who had a showing of "birth of the nation" in the white house, the early movie that glorified the klan. he thought it was just a wonderful movie. so you not only had the women radicals but you had a political establishment that didn't feel they needed to give anything. >> woodrow wilson does emerge as the villain of the story. his own contemporaries were -- teddy roosevelt had a suffrage
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plank in his platform. he was so craven about it. he kind of started with i haven't thought about -- and then he tried -- not a plank -- he had -- then he tried, it's a states right issue. i don't want to tell the south they have to franchise black women. then finally, i really need to pay attention to world war i right now, so he said at one point he would only pay attention to war issues, and it was really basically sexism at the end of the day. i don't have a lot of nice
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things to say about president wills are not. when i grew up, the but wars, the big depression, the business things -- do the suffragists get the credit they deserve? >> not even a bit. i try the -- i think the spotlight of the cent tenial i hope will change it. if you asked an average american to name a suffragist, they would come up with susan b. anthony. she was terrific, but she was dead by the time it actually passed. i don't think people learn this history anywhere near well enough. it's not even just we should learn more women's history, you're just learning it wrong if you don't learn this history.
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it's actually inaccurate. we are going to open this to your questions, but i want to bring you forward, rebecca. here we sit in a year where we've had a presidential election where, for the first time ever, one of the major party candidates was a woman who in fact got -- won the popular vote. we live at a time right now where there is half a dozen women are declared candidates for the presidency. and do women vote? oh, yes. women vote, better than 50%. >> yeah. >> and new york has lost its number one place. california is the biggest. texas is second. new york has lost out to florida as the third -- and the number of women who vote from all of those places makes a difference.
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what should we draw from what we see now, the place where there are women always in the cabinet, in many places of leadership, yet still isn't it kind of a story that my gosh, the first woman something or other, we still have a hard time pulling away from that secondary role in just one election cycle we have gone from the first woman nominee of a major party to the fact there's so many women running for the democratic nomination that it's not even a remarkable thing. it's not the second sentence about them, right? i think that all of the cabinet positions, it's going to.
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>> women outnumber men in graduate degrees. women are poised to take their pla place. >> i think it's all a legacy, so when the amendment finally passed, the national, the big organization, so they immediately recognized their next role was to make women educated parts of the democracy, because voting is a habit. there's all kinds of logistics. is it safe? all of those things that take a little while to become ingrained. it's been 100 years now. as you say, women voters now outnumber men voters.
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there's a huge wave of women candidates, and i think that will be the norm than the exception going forward. >> one more location on a regardingable location we're setting in. the idea that the statues out there representing the heroes that the homes here like decatur house, with steven decatur and his strong wife susan, the houses -- cameron house -- i forget, cameron was a senator, i think senator cameron from pennsylvania, who had a gorgeous younger wife, who was having an affair with her neighbor henry adams. i was married at st. john's
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church, my four children were all baptized there. why? because i was covering the white house for over seven presidents. i was the youngist kid on the staff. i had to go over every week and cover the president of the united states going to church at st. john's. it's the only church i knew in town what is it that they realize realized if you're going to set up a d.c. office and want to have access to ferment power, that's a pretty good spot. the lafayette statue, they directly due the direction connection with marquis delafayette. that was not just the most convenient statue.
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that was the symbolism of him. also at the bait of the statue there's this naked female allegorical character reaching up, and she's supposed to be america. they stood in front of female america with the marquise on the base. we have all seen these pictures of the suffragists in front of the white house. just having a female in that public space was pretty transgressive already. it was president wilson's backyard. they were very deliberate about making sure they stood in his way almost literally. and wore, of course, a century plus of protests have been outs on that sidewalk. >> i think those anti-nuclear people lived there. >> still do. we would love to take your
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questioning. weaver a couple micro phones. do we have a -- come on down here. let's give a microphone right here. enks good even. thank you so much. it's a privilege to be in this space. a question to rebecca. what who could you point as your role model? what do we need to learn moving forward and get a female president in the white house and get more females in the senate,
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and just have a turnover we have to do something together. >> alice paul was incredibly salvy, impressive and bold. 1 she also punted badly on some race issues. when the delta sigma theta sore ida b. wells, who also said she had to march in a segregated section went on with the illinois segment. you want your superheroes to be perfect, but they're not.
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carrie was very funny, and very organized. she was the one who had these grass-roots organizations in every state, continued to motivate women to build on them. if you could take the best of them personally i have a role model in my grandmother. when she was in the house -- there were very few women in the house. one of are you ready political mottos is you can get anything you want to get done as long as you don't take the credit for it. it's very radical, and also very female. she was bo-- she became the ambassador to the vatican. the fact she lived this history,
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and was able to exploit it for her own good ends is -- will always be a role model. >> and watch her daughter and granddaughters -- >> yes, yes, very matriarchal crew. >> a question over here. >> thank you for a wonderful lecture. what was the reaction in old washington, the town, the hotels to this massive group of thousands of dare i say it nasty women? coming to town for something untoward and -- >> for the parade or movement in general? >> for the march and, you know, what was the reaction in town? >> yeah. it was interesting leading up to the march. for instance, the police chief, richard sylvester, was really nervous about this parade. he knew that his police force
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was going to be stretched thing. the inauguration was the next day. also that end of pennsylvania avenue where the national theater is now, that was rum row. so all the bars were there. he knew that, you know, women marching in the street, which was already pretty shocking, plus drunk men in town for the inauguration, plus stretched thin police force might equal bad news. he kept saying why not march down 16th street? and alice paul kept saying, no, the whole point is to go down the corridors of power. washington i think didn't know what to make of it. they hadn't been the headquarters of suffrage. the group had always been based in new york. and on the actual day of the parade, you saw the reaction. the crowd was terrible then as more and more of these publicity stunts start happening, i think
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thought of us who are locals, you know, are equivalent to 100 years ago, were kind of baffled. plenty were supportive. plenty were a paul. i think they represented the national opinion in a microcosm, but the women weren't run our town on a rail or anything. washington has always been a town where women can make their mark. i mean, going back to the early days of the city at the turn of the 19th century there were wind who were able to start businesses here and have more power than other places, because there wasn't this legacy history, because it was a planned town. certainly wars, because people flood to the capital during war. there are roles for women when men are off fighting. i think washington has always historically been interesting place for women's history. >> a question right here.
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>> mea question is can you address the role of edith wilson? >> edith wilson is such a fascinating character. president wilson's first wife ellen died during his first term. he married edith wilson, a socialite. she is was andy-suffrage. occasionally a theory will be floated that maybe he came around because of her influence. s there is no evidence for that. any public statements she made was anti-suffrage. his daughters were a little more sympathetic, but edith was not. by the end of his second term wilson had had a pretty devastating stroke. edith wilson was running his administration much more than i think we will ever know. i don't think there's some cache of papers somewhere that will show us how powerful she was. i think that will always remain a secret, but she was the power
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behind the throne for definitely the last year of his administrati administration there is no reason to think she was the one who finally said women should be able to vote. i know, it would be a great story. he came around to the lukewarm position, because he realized it was going to happen and he thought the democratic party should get some credit for it. >> once the amendment passed, were women eager to register to vote? >> the reason there was a big push in 1920 and all that focus on tennessee is so women would have the vote in time for the 1920 presidential election you
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see how that actually played out into women's voting behavior was a disappointment. some states purposely made it hard for women to register in time for the election. even in the states when women could, again, it wasn't a habit. they didn't necessarily know what to do. it felt like a little bit like it wasn't their place. so there's no good data on voting by gender in those years. and more important, they did not vote substantially differently from the men in their socioeconomic class. so there are a bunch of hand wringing pearl clutching editorials in the years after 1920, women are voting the way
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their husbands and fathers to. yeah. or another interpretation is their geographic location and race dictated more of their priorities. women did not start voting substantial different from men until the '80s. >> now the gender gap is something measurable and politically significant. >> that's an artifact of the last 35, 40 years. >> it's so brilliant what you lay out -- the strategy and the white house, but clearly the actual streak to get women suffrage was a state strategy or a congressional strategy, so the decision to target the white house was really a political and publicity strategy. i wonder if you could talk a bit about that. obviously they wanted wilson, but that wasn't where the real power of the decision came from. >> absolutely true.
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>> the targeting of wilson had only so much political effect. at the same time, and i don't want to imply that the national was doing all the hard work and national women's party was doing the publicity stunt. the women's party had an unbelievable lobbying effort. they had a card file that became famous. they had like two dozen carts on every member of congress. they listed how he ever voted on suffrage issues, was his wife a suffragist, but also little tips about lobbying him. you know, he's a golfers, go get someone to play golf, or he's a drunk, talk to him before 5:00. the you can see they cards. they're all at belmont hall. his wife is smarter than he is. talk to her. they're amazing. they were, while all of these attention grabbing targeting
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wilson things were going on. they were also quietly bending the ear of members who actually had the power. >> interesting point, too because that's a little more invisible. but you have to work it. >>b hind the scenes you're doing the hard work. >> early suffragists were -- also temperance was, so would you talk a bit about what happened there? >> sure. the temperance movement was definitely a major way a lot of women came to suffrage. like abolition there were women who actually wanted temperance and realized they wouldn't get it without the vote, so they became suffragists as a side bar to getting temperance. at first the suffrage association was very useful.
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they learned how to give stump speeches, because the temperance movement was much better organized and historically more dug in eventually when you associate yourself with another movement, you inherit your enemies, too. as the 18th amendment became more and more likely and prohibition looked like it was going to happen, the suffrage movement kind of pulled themselves away a bit. in part, because they didn't want to make enemies of wet voters, but it's also really hard to amend the constitution, as it should be. you don't want to support another amendment getting there before you. the -- there were a lot of women who became politically active
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through that movement, but ultimately by the final countdown, the suffrage movement was trying to back pedal that association. >> time for one more question. you get the last word. >> you mentioned race. i was interested to see if you had down in the exploration of women of color of this women? >> yeah. >> and if you could com on the divisions. >> this is an area of -- there's a lot more focus with this cent tenial celebration, as there should be. specifically within the national women's party, after that 1913 march with the segregation, there continued to kind of be ongoing debates about how to
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welcome african-american suffragists or not. there were some pretty ugly chapters in there. there were overt appeals on a state-by-state strategy of going to southern states and saying enfranchise women, we will overwhelm the black vote. it's your best way -- it wasn't subtle. they actually said those words. and there were women like mary george terrell, who had like six master's degrees, spoke ten languages, unbelievably impressive, and so the white organizations felt she was sort of nonthreatening, so they would invite her to things. she would get there and say, you need to pay attention to race. and then there were women like ida b. wells, who was not generally welcome at those
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meetings, but started african american suffrage associations so there were for the most part separate movements, and, you know, supper clubs that weren't super welcoming to black voters. and people like mary church terrell and ida b. wells and others would occasionally say, we share all of your discrimination as women, plus we're black and you've really got to pay better attention. but it is not, again, that you want your heroes to be perfect. it is not part of the movement that you would be proud of as a 21st century woman and i think we're going to learn much more about it. >> let me bring this to a conclusion by asking one more question from the purple sashes to the pink pussy cat hats, what should americans who want to bring the playing field even
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more level now for women, what should they draw, what important lesson or two can they draw from 100 years ago that will make a really substantive difference now? >> it is such a great question. i actually think any political activists could learn from the suffrage movement because they were success. . and so whether you're cause is feminism or something else, there is just a lot of tactics that you could steal from them if you want to be successful. but in terms of the contemporary women's movement, i think this idea of the radical and the mainstream balancing each other out and making each other look good in contrast, embracing that each has a role to play, i think the idea of paying attention to how things look, in an instagram world, we think of that as a modern artifact but it goes a
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long way towards shortcutting your message. and that declarative sentence that we demand a constitutional amendment in franchising women, subject, verb, object, that is easy to get behind. it is a clear goal with a clear end point. it is easy to explain and understand. and i think the contemporary women's movement demands a lot of things which we've devolved to do but sometimes the message could get muddied with the different voices. >> so it does come down to branding and messaging. ladies and gentlemen, please thank rebecca roberts. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, rebecca roberts and for all of you join us here tonight. for ow vurers on c-span, if you want to know br this subject or other matters relating to white
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house history, our website white house history.org is an excellent resource. as we close, would you like to ask anyone to exit through the courtyard, there are three doors, we have a medical situation here and we'll exhibit through decatur house and out on to lafayette park. thank you very much. and have a good evening. you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span3 explore our nation's past. c-span3, created by america's cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. >> weeknight this is month we're featuring american history tv
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programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span3. on tuesday, a look at the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage. american history tv and c-span's wash journal mark the 100th anniversary with an encore presentation with colleen show gun, from the centennial commission and take a tour for the votes for women's exhibit where historian kate mark le clay showing political cartoons and explain how the movement intersected with the abolitionist and temperance movement. watch tuesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span3. > >> historian susan ware has wroten about her book, stories next on this week marking the

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