tv Suffragists the 19th Amendment CSPAN August 18, 2020 3:21pm-4:42pm EDT
watch tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span3. next on american history tv author rebecca roberts on the decade leading up to the 19th amend and how women gained the right to vote. white house historical association. it's my privilege to welcome you back to the historic decater
house. tonight is one of the annual national heritage lectures that we do in partnership with the u.s. capitol historical society and the u.s. supreme court historical society. we have our wonderful colleagues from both here tonight and jane campbell is the new president of the capitol historical society. on june 4, 1919, the 19th amend was passed and sent to the states for ratification. the suffragists used the white house to bring attention to their cause. tonight we look forward to hearing more about their successful efforts to secure women's right to vote. before i introduce our speaker, i have a couple other introductions and things to share. first of all we have guests from smith college here tonight, the
washington club of smith college. stand up. stand up for the smith college. [ applause ] they're our special guests tonight. we're honored to have them. i would also like to tell you a little bit about the white house historical association and for those of you who have been with us before know i love to talk about our mission begun in 1961 by jacqueline kennedy. she was only 31 years old when her husband was inaugurated as president. she had the vision and forthright to know what she and president kennedy needed then others would never over the course of time. that would be a private partner. all the resources we raise go to education programs to teach and tell the stories of white house history going back to 1792 and tonight is a part of that education out reach program. we also provide resources
directly to the white house to maintain the museum's standard of the state floor and the ground floor and the nonpublic historic rooms that mrs. kennedy envisioned maintaining. we've done that with every president and first lady since the kennedys. we're honored to do so. tonight our format will be i will introduce our wonderful speaker. following her remarks ann compton who you know as a wonderful friend of ours will come up and have an interview session. don't worry this podium will be removed and set aside so you can have an unob strustructed view their conversation. ann has been very supportive of us as an organization. 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. you really haven't retired completely. you're very involved and active in things. i know with us and the miller center and many other endeavors. her career spanned seven presidents, ten presidential campaigns. she travelled to all 50 states, 6 continents. of the many interesting stories of ann's years covering the presidents is the compelling story of her being with president bush, george w. bush on september 11, 2001 as the only broadcast reporter that travelled around the country with him on that day. we'll soon be coming up on 20 years anniversary of that occasion. so we thank ann 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 presidency. i think she's really an unher0 n un-heralded first lady. we'll be celebrating that in september. in october our dear friend has a brand new book that's going to be out in october. for the first time ever he's finally unlocking his recipe box and going to be sharing the recipes from his service to five american presidents from jimmy carter to george w. bush and his wonderful confections he created as executive white house pastry chef for those many years.
jennifer pickens is an author of "white house christmas" will have a new book out on ceremonies at the white house. we've have a conversation with the chef and jennifer pickens in october. stay tuned for news on that. now for our prime event. i'm very fortunate and you're in for a treat tonight to talk about this important and timely happening in our nation's history and on the centennial of this occasion. we have rebecca boggs reports as our speaker. she has been many things in your life and career, not limited to just these. she's been a journalist, producer, tour guide. she's been a forensic anthropologist. that's been an echbvent planner political consultant, jazz singer, radio talk show host.
currently she's curator of programming for planet word a museum set to open in 2020. she's found time to be the mom to twin boys and a wife and a great keeper of the family in line. on top of all that she's an author. she's written a wonderful book on this part of american history and white house history. with that i'll have rebecca come up and we'll remove the podium and rebecca and ann can have a conversation at the end. you'll be invited to pose questions as well. [ applause ] >> thank you all so much for having me. thank you, stewart. just to set the record straight i have three sons. not to brag. the twins have a little brother. so the movement dates from 1848
through 1920. in the interest of brevity and focus i'm not going to covera al 72 years. if you have questions, i'll answer them in q&a. i like to start with this image of the program from the 1913 suffrage march down pennsylvania aven avenue. it's the only image in color. all the great photographs from the 20th century are in black and white. these colors are really deliberate. almost everything the suffrage movement did was deliberate.
not only do these colors represent things, purple is a rich color, gold less so, white of course the absence of color. these things show up really well in black and white photographs. that's all on purpose. if you want to see the artifacts of the movement in all their beautiful colorful glory, the belmont house has all the original banners. because we're in the centennial year there are terrific exhibits going on. there's one at the portrait gallery, at the library of congress. go out and see all the artifacts. we're lucky enough to be in the town they're curated. this march, the 1913 march, was the first civil rights march. there had been parades down pennsylvania aftvenueavenue.
this idea of taking a cause to washington was alice paul's idea. it started at the capitol and marched to the white house to the executive branch. that was absolutely symbolic. it was the day before woodrow wils wilson's inauguration. if that sounds familiar a women's march on the same weekend of the nainauguration f a president that we didn't vote for, those parallels are very strong. so the march -- i don't have my glasses on. if it's not on -- there we go. this is obviously the capitol end of pennsylvania avenue. pennsylvania avenue is a really broad street. they were able to plan this grand procession.
all these floats, marching band, working women marched by profession, this is january burrelson. the idea was she would get up on her horse and a bugler would sound the parade had begun. a few blocks down that would happen again by the treasury department and a tableau would begin on the treasury steps. you can see how this is all -- the horses are spaced perfectly and have fabulous hats on. it's all very thoroughly planned. we're just behind jane with inez millholland on her horse. this image has shown up a lot as
an example of the suffragists. inez was a labor lawyer. she was an accomplished professional. all the sexist press of the day never failed to talk about how pretty she was. they called her the most beautiful suffragist. alice paul said if you're going to talk about how pretty she is instead of how smart she is, i'm going to put her on a white horse in a white dress and maybe we'll get some coverage of her. the working women marched by profession. these are the nurses. the teachers marched together. the writer marched together. they stained their costumes with ink. college women marched by alma mater. i'm certain there were smith women there. we have pictures from some of the other seven sister schools.
i looked for smith and couldn't find them. the whole idea was this grand procession would end at 15th street where this tableau would go on. the tableau was a fascinating art form that involved some sort of tortured allegory where people would pose. this is columbia summoning the virtues. the virtues were peace and prosperity. it was a whole thing. it had very little to do with suffra suffrage. this is planned to be that way. there was a grand stand set up in front of treasury. alice paul got permission for vips to sit there. there was a live audience for the tableau.
the idea was this would be published in newspapers all around the country the next day. there are the children in togas. it was march 3rd. it's a little chilly in early march. they were barefoot on the marble steps of the treasury, but the parade begins, the bugle sounds. the tableau, and then the plan is that the parade would proceed right in front of them and they would all end up at d.a.r. hall, and they would perform again to a rousing applause. it would be a great day. the tableau goes ahead and there's no parade. the tableau finishes and they're maintaining their poses. no parade. they have no way of knowing where the parade is, why it's held up. it's getting a little cold up there on the treasury steps in
their togas. 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 picture is taken at 12th street where freedom plaza is now. the tower that dominates, now looking back towards the capitol. it's a six-lane road. it has really broad sidewalks. it was absolutely shoulder to shoulder crowded. i don't know how much detail, you can see, there's a lot of bowler hats in that picture. it's all men. they weren't there for the suffrage parade. they were there for the inauguration the next day. the men poorly behaved. they yelled names, they spit on the women. the police did nothing to stop them.
in some cases the police joined in. you can't get a parade through that crowd. alice paul realized her parade -- she was there. she was going to march, and she drove a calf up and down the parade route trying to zig zag 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 their way down. instead of the tableau performing in triumph, all the women show up at d.a.r. hall 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 ever could have happened. a lovely parade would be in the news for a day. a near riot would keep the movement in news for the weeks. that's what happened. there was a congressional hearing. the police chief almost lost his job. to notice how good these women were in manipulating the press -- 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. so this headline should be woodrow 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 a photo of 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 woodrow wilson not the headline. this column here. mob at the capitol defy police, block suffrage parade. the most beautiful girls, it is terrific press. it is terrific press, but also look at the editorial cartoon. there is little pencil neck woodrow wilson thinking he gets the spotlight on the day of his
inauguration but ta-da there's the suffragists stealing the spotlight from him. 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, feel free to ask questions about it later. i'm going to go fast. the original suffragists, and you know their names, they were abolitionists. some of them came to suffrage, because what they really wanted was abolition, and they couldn't get it done without the boat. there were people like stanton who were major women's rights activists across the board. 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 fight for women next. there were people like susan b. anthony who said please stop telling us to wait our turn. if don't get this now, it's going to be another generation. we can't support the 15th amendment if it doesn't include women. it was a huge split. they formed competing organizations. they poached each other's donors and tore each other down in the press. they also continued on two different 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 as federal overreached by the former confederacy. a state by state strategy was
considered a little safer. 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 amend languished since 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 announcement the federal amendment was back. this was really going to be a major strategy going forward. 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.
the british suffrage movement had its slow and steady color within the lines movement and then they had the packhurst. the packhursts were really radical. and the mother 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 tried to set fire to the botanical gardens. they smacked policemen 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." suffragists determined to force their way to parliament.
ms. packhurst said it. everyone absolutely accepted it. the other thing there was an ad saying it. the word is suffragist. the british called them that. it was meant to be derisive. like nasty women and deplorables several generations later the british women co-opted the title and wore it with proud. so most properly everyone is a suffragist. suffragette specifically refers to the british moment. there's your lesson for the day. with these lessons from the british movement -- alice paul was arrested.
she was put in jail. she was force fed 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. 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 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 sought some of her own money. finally the association kicked her out and told her -- they were already pretty nervous about her tactics and said if you're going to pursue this aggressive stance you can't do it under the umbrella of the national. they split. they stayed 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 for the federal amendment. 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. almost all the big empty states out west. wyoming, montana idaho. they had like 11 people living in them. they were franchising everybody to maximize their political power. by 1916 every state that had it on the ballot voted it down. woodrow wilson was a real enemy
against suffrage. he was very much against it. he was re-elected 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 1916, inez holland literally collapsed on stage. she was one of the best stump speakers. she had pernicious anemia. no one realized how sick she was. she was giving a speech in california. she fainted on stage and never recovered. she died in the hospital a 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 of her on the white horse almost looks like a holy
card. she became almost sainted. you can see the original of this painting, by the way, at belmont hall. that was the end of 1916. as 1917 dawns, the national women's party thinks nothing we're doing is working. we haven't gained a single 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 right now, there will be picketers there. there always are. fee free 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 front, white letters on a black background. 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. pickets. they thought this was interesting. this is january, february, 1917. it's cold out there. people would come by and sometimes women would come to washington to participate and there were theme days. there was a college day. there's new york day. it looks like new york got a rainy, terrible day. and they stayed out there throughout january and february of 1917. every single day. and there are stories of them bringing warm bricks for the women to stand on, everyone got to wear the fur coat for 20 minutes. it was a curiosity at first. even though this was completely new. and every so often, you'll hear
they chained themselves to the white house. they never chained themselves to the white house. they didn't really want to keep it up. first of all, it was hard to recruit people to do it. but also, all tactics get stale after a while. at wilson's second inaugural, they'll have a last picket and meet with wilson. unlike in 1913 in his first inaugural, march of 1917, this was one of those gross, early spring days in washington where the rain is coming in sideways and the wind is bitter, but they were out there. there's a great news account of describing -- holding these wooden polls and the stain dripping down the women's wrists in the freezing rain. so they go out and march around the white house and they try to go into the white house to meet
with president wilson and they're barred. the security says, can't come in here. so they go around to the 15th street gate. barred. try the ellipse. barred. what do you do now? they keep marching around and around the white house. they circled the property four or five times. finally they go back to cameron house in lafayette square and say, we're going to keep the pickets up. if he won't meet with us, we're not stopping. we're going to keep going with these pickets. they keep it up throughout the spring of 1917. by the end of april, u.s. is now involved in the 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 is going to turn against you. people are going to think you're traitors. they decided, yeah, you know, if president wilson is going to be out there saying that this war
is important to make the world safer democracy, while continuing to be the biggest stumbling block to enfranchising half of his voters, yeah, we're going to keep this up. this is the russian envoy banner. it wasn't president wilson is deceiving russia. they say we're a democracy, help us win a world war so democracies may survive. we tell you america is not a democracy. 20 million american women are denied the right to vote. president wilson is the chief opponent. help us make this nation really free. tell our government that it must liberate its people before it can claim free russia as an ally. again, this message is not for the people walking by. this message is for photographs and newspaper coverage. today this would be a tweet, right? that's the whole idea. public opinion does in fact turn against the women.
here is someone tearing down the russia envoy banner. the police never did anything to stop this kind of stuff, by the way. what do 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. the president has had enough. he tells the police force, get them off my sidewalk. i don't care what you have to do. they're not breaking any laws. the police started arresting them for a made-up charge of obstructing the traffic on the sidewalk. which is not a thing, right? and haul the women into jail and say $5 fine or a night in jail, assuming all the women will say, here's my $5.
i'll never do it again. all of the women say, bring it. i'll go to jail. there's 30 more women who will pick up the pickets tomorrow. that whole crew gets arrested. $5 fine or four nights? jail? fine, four nights in jail. i've got no problem with that. this escalates so crazily throughout the summer and fall of 1917 that these women are getting sentenced to 60 days in the work house for standing on a corner with a sign which is not in fact breaking any laws. but they kept calling the bluff of the sentencing judge and they kept choosing the jail time. and they took the pankhursts tactics. and when that was denied going on a hunger strike. some of them were force fed here in d.c. jails which is just as horrible as it sounds. 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 all of this, right? that the national women's party was being this tacky. but it kind of worked for both of them, right? kari champman could say, i'm a reasonable human being. and it worked for her. if it had just been the national women's party then this would have just been a sideshow. you needed the real work of lobbying and organizing at the same time. so finally in the fall of 1917, i'm sure most of you have heard this story, a bunch of women were sent down to the work house in virginia and the warden down there decided that he had had enough and he ordered the guards to pick the women up bodily and that work house, women were sent
into a communal area where they stayed together. but there were punishment cells, individual cells. and the warden ordered his guards to pick the women up and drag them through the dark to these punishment cells. and the women were physically picked up, the guards picked them up and hurled them into these cells. several of them smacked their heads against the cinderblock. one woman passed out. thought she was dead. had a heart attack. lucy bern starts calling out to see if they'll answer. the warden yells to stop calling names. she refuses. they chain her with her hands above her head all night long. this becomes known as the night of terror. word gets out about this 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. finally even some members of congress thought, gosh, it looks like women are going to vote. maybe they should vote for me. as 1918 dawned, there was some momentum around a federal amendment. the president, still not on board. so these are -- i don't usually show these pictures. since we're right here, i wanted to show them. this is the lafayette statue right in front of the white house on the far side of lafayette square. throughout the spring of 1918 they would hold protests at the lafayette statue. at one point, they were kicked out of cameron house because the cosmo's club bought cameron house and expanded into it. the national women's party moved to this side of the square.
so they would stand at the lafayette statue and every time the president gave a speech about democracy, which was like every 10 or 15 minutes during world war i, they would burn it and set them on fire. they did that in front of the white house as well. that banner says president wilson is deceiving the world when he appears as the profit of democracy. president wilson has opposed those who demand democracy for this country. he's responsible for the disenfranchisement for millions of americans. we know this. the world will find him out. women continued to be arrested for lighting a fire after dark and other completely made-up things throughout 1918. by fall of 1918 there's midterm, right? and there are a couple of votes in congress that don't quite make it there. it passes the house, not the senate.
1918, a new congress is elected and enough prosuffragists are elected. almost exactly 100 years ago in june of 1919, the 19th amendment finally passes both the house and the senate. so now it goes to the states for ratification. this is alice paul. she made a flag. every time a state ratified, she would sew a star on. there were 48 states at the time. you needed 36. a bunch of states passed it right away, wisconsin, illinois. a bunch of states voted it down. almost entirely in the south and almost entirely for overtly racist reasons. they were not interested in enfranchising a single new black voter. they were systemically dismantling male black voting rights with jim crow laws.
that was working for them. 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. and that -- those were all very specific reasons about governors not wanting to call special sessions and blah, blah, blah. a lot of inside politics which i would be happy to go into if anyone is interested. there's a crazy battle in delaware which everyone thought would be the 36th state and it loses in delaware. now 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 down to tennessee. it's the summer of 1920. it's august in nashville. it's really hot. everyone shows up in nashville. all of the prosuffragists, all of the antisuffragists, the
entire press corps, the catholic church, the civil war veterans. they're all staying at the same hotel. they're all in nashville. the prosuffragists wear a yellow rose, the antis wear red. there was one legislator wore both. the liquor lobby is there, they're getting all the legislators too drunk to vote. members would get a phone call saying you need to get back to memphis your son is sick and their son was fine. this goes on for a week in august and no one has got a good whip count. the state senate passes it. it's all down to the state assembly. a couple of 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 of how the real vote is going to go.
it's a time-oe. you have to win to win. so the actual day arrives, some people are -- have their red roses and yellow roses. it's a million, billion degrees. they've been in this hotel together for a week. people are hanging all over the gallery of the statehouse and they call the roll and one guy changes his vote. harry bern. no one had harry bern in the yes column. he was in his 20s. he was the youngest member of the legislature. his mentor in the legislature was an absolute antisuffragist. but he changes his vote to yes. and it takes a little while for people to realize that early in the roll somebody has changed their vote. did you hear harry bern say yes? did harry bern change his vote? it only takes one to win at this point. why did harry bern change -- who
is harry bern? the entire national press corps shows up to harry bern. why did you change your mind? you're responsible for suffrage. what changed your mind? it turned out his mama told him too. [ laughter ] he had in his pocket a letter from his mother that says, vote for suffrage and don't keep them in doubt. and he says to all of these reporters, it's because my mom wrote me this letter and i really think that a mother's advice is the best thing for a son to follow. a mother of three sons. embroider it on a pillow low. that's how close it came, right? finally alice paul was able to embroider the 36th star on the flag. she unfurled it right out here and that is how close american women came to not getting the
19th amendment passed in the summer of 1920. it's an amazing story. with that background, ann and i are going to talk a little bit and we will take your questions. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> do any of those political tactics sound familiar? what was it about the women in that particular time who were able to pull together the strategy and the effectiveness. these were smart, educated and
incredibly inventive women who wouldn't take no for an answer. >> they really were. and i'm continually impressed the more i learn with how savvy they were. i think we have a tendency to think that history is linear and progressive and that every generation does it a little bit better than the generation before and these women were doing it 100 years ago. and they couldn't introduce legislature or vote for it while female, right? they could do everything up to actually making it happen. and it's amazing to me now, especially because so much of this history is taught in kind of a condescending way. look at their cute dresses and banners. they affected the largest historical change in american democracy. >> it was a revolution. >> it was a bloodless revolution. they did it with their brains. and they did it on their own and
they did it with no power. by definition, they had no power. and they made it happen. it took a long time. and there were a lot of defeats along the way. but it is an unbelievably impressive radical feat. and 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 issues. there were more educated women. i think that 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. and then i think the leadership that emerged, the original ladies were really impressive and radical. but these final -- this final group -- i don't want to take anything away from them. they were brilliant strategists. kari, in particular. the fact that they were there to lead it through to the end i think made all the difference. >> there's an interesting story of when the actual amendment went through. kari chapman was not invited nor was alice paul in part because -- well, were they good friends? >> no. >> no. can you imagine within the ranks, they -- it was said they detested each other. who was was hosting the signing decided, we just don't invite either one of them to come here. but this -- but the idea that they all were able to pull in that same direction, you think of the -- what we know -- at
least what i remember in history classes when you get past the vi victorian era and the industrial revolution and we're into a time, this new century, there is a progressivism and there is a kind of movement, a sense, communications are getting better, technology is getting -- as it was. but it's the political tactics that now really show that even throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, it is -- these kind of skills. my favorite slide is the newspaper. i'm a reporter for -- and a dear friend of her parents both reporters, when you look at the front page of the washington
paper on inauguration day and president-elect wilson has to share the front page with a bewildered editors who don't know what -- they had to push against so much to get that -- how could they be so media savvy? is it because they were on the outside pushing through? >> isn't that amazing? not only were they media savvy, they had no allies within the paper. there weren't female reporters, at least not routinely. there were a few here and there. so they -- "the washington post" was fairly sympathetic. the "new york times" was antisuffrage all the way through. and their coverage is really brutal. but one of the things the women did that was so smart, the day of the 1913 parade, all these women come from all over the country to participate. before they left town, the
national women's party got them each to write a first-person account of their mistreatment at the hands of the mob and send it to their hometown paper. the springfield illinois paper would say, mrs. george thurmonds was man handled and it became a local story. it was the ability to turn the story in their favor when it all went south and to get maybe unsympathetic reporters to cover it in a sympathic way. there was plenty of critical press too. but they were really good at staying in the news. especially as world war i dawned when there was a lot of big news dominating the front pages, that's what the pickets were all about. >> the war comes along and you have a president who actually had a showing of birth of the nation in the white house, the early movie that glorified the
klan and he thought it was 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. >> yeah. woodrow wilson emerges as the villain of the story. i'm hesitant to judge a historical figure. teddy roosevelt had a suffrage plank in his platform. it wouldn't have been out of the question for a presidential candidate to be that way. he tried, you know, i'm the leader of the democratic party and there's not a platform -- not a plank in the -- he had written the platform, right. that was his excuse. then he tried, it's a states rights issue which is racist.
that was really just, i don't want to tell the south they have to enfranchise black women. and then finally the only excuse of his that i give him a little bit of sympathy for was i really need to pay attention to world war i right now. it just -- he came up with so many roadblocks and it was really just basic sexism at the end of the day. and since he managed to be anti-semitic, racist and sexist, i don't have a lot of nice things to say about woodrow wilson. >> when you think about how this era is taught in schools. when i grew up, the big wars, the big depression, the big things that shook and shaped american -- do the suffragists get a little bit of credit?
>> i hope that is changing. but in terms of ongoing curriculum, i think if you asked an average american who had taken american history to same a suffragist, they would come up with susan b. anthony. and susan b. anthony was terrific, but she was dead by the time it actually passed. i don't think people learn this history well enough and it's not even just that we should learn more women's history and have these role models for girls. you're learning it wrong if you don't learn this history. it's actually inaccurate american history if you don't understand the biggest political movement of the 21st century. >> we're going to open this to your questions. but i want to bring you forward. 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 a half a dozen women are declared candidates for the presidency and do women vote? oh, yes, women vote. better than 50%. and new york has lost its number one place. california is the biggest. texas is second. and new york has lost out to florida as the -- as the third largest city. and the number of women who vote in all of those places makes a difference. why -- what should we draw from what we see now, the place that there are women always in the cabinet in many places of leadership, yet still isn't it kind of a story to -- my, gosh, the first woman something or other. we still have a lot -- a hard time pulling away from that secondary role. >> i think it's changing
unbelievably quickly. in just one election cycle we've gone from the first woman nominee of a major party to the fact that there are so many women running for the democratic nomination that it's not even a remarkable thing about them. it's the second sentence about them, right? and i think that all of the cabinet positions in government it's going to change pretty fast. i think the fortune 500 ceos and budget is changing more slowly. every day there's a new stat that women outnumber men in medical schools, women outnumber men in graduate degrees. women are poised to take their place with 50% of the power. there just needs to be more men giving it up a little bit. but i think that's all a legacy of this movement. so when the 19th amendment finally passed, the national --
the big organization became the league of women voters. so they immediately recognized that their next role was to make women educated parts of the democracy because voting is a habit and there was just all kind of logistics about how do you register and where do you go, is it safe. all of those things. that take a little while to become engrained in the populous. it's been 100 years now. and as you say, women voters outnumber male voters and there was a huge wave of female candidates after the 2016 election and i think that's going to be more the norm than the exception going forward. >> one more question from me on just what a remarkable location we're sitting in right now. lafayette square originally called president's park. i forget when they made the change. the idea that the statues out there representing the heroes
that the homes here, the houses -- cameron house which was -- i forget. cameron was a senator, i think. senator cameron from pennsylvania who had a gorgeous younger wife, i'm told. who was having an affair with her neighbor henry adams. but the idea that this park -- and i can say this because i was married at st. john's church. my four children were all baptized there. covering the white house for over seven presidents, i was the youngest 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 when i future husband bill -- but what is it about the
real estate of around the white house that the suffragists realized was kind of their pot of gold? >> none of it was an accident, right? the cameron house headquarters originally, if you're going to set up a d.c. office of a political movement and want to have access to federal power, that's a pretty good spot. of course they moved across to jackson place. the lafayette statue, they drew the connection with the marquee to lafayette and his role of a revolutionary. that was the symbolism of him and also at the base of the statue there's this naked female character reaching up to lafayette and she's supposed to be america, right? they stood in front of female america with the marquees on it. and you saw those -- we've all seen the pictures of the
suffragists in front of the white house just having a female in that public space was pretty trans aggressive already and it was president wilson's backyard. they were deliberate about making sure they stood in his way, almost literally. >> of course, a century plus, protests have been out on that sidewalk and we've covered them and seen them -- >> i think those antinuclear people basically live there. >> still do. we would love to take your questions. we'll try to get to as many -- we have a couple of microphones. why don't we start -- one microphone over here. come on down here. if you can -- let's give a microphone right here. we'll start here. if that's already. and then over here and as you want to ask questions, please catch the eyes of our microphone
handlers and we'll get in as many questions as we can. welcome. >> good evening. and thank you so much for a remarkable evening. it's a privilege to be in this space. question to rebecca. rebecca, what -- who could you point as your role model and what did you learn from the role model and what do we need to learn from a role model to move forward and get a female president in the white house and get more females in senate and just have -- have a tide turn. we have to do something together. please. >> did you all hear the question? so from the suffrage movement, i kind of pick and choose the best aspects of each of these women. alice paul was incredibly savvy and impressive and bold.
she also really punted badly on some race issues. she -- when the sorority from howard wanted to march in the parade, she told them they had to march in the back. you want your heroes to be perfect and they're supernot. so i would take sort of her boldness. i think she's someone i would admire more than like. i'm not sure i would want to have dinner with alice paul. she was terribly serious. kari chapman was very funny and very organized. she was the one that had the grassroots organizations in every state and continued to motivate women to build on them. if you could take the best of them, personally, i also have a role model in my grandmother who was a member of congress from --
she represented downtown new orleans in congress. when she was in the house, there were very few women in the house and one of her political mottos was you can get anything you want to get done as long as you don't have to take the credit for it. when you think about it, is pretty radical. and also very female. so she was born before women got the right to vote. she was born in 1916 and went onto willi onto become a senior member of the house of representatives. the fact that she lived this history and was able to exploit it for her own good ends is -- will always be a -- >> and watch her daughter and granddaughters. >> yes. >> question right over here. good evening. >> 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 -- >> for the parade or for the movement in general? >> the march and -- >> yeah. what was the reaction in town. >> yeah. it was interesting leading up to the march. for instance, the police chief was really nervous about this parade. he knew that his police force was going to be stretched thin because the inauguration was the next day. and also that end of pennsylvania avenue where the national theater is now, that was rum row. so all the bars were there. and 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.
and he kept saying things like, why don't you march down 16th street. you can still end at the white house. and alice paul said, no, the whole point is to go down the corridors of power. washington didn't know what to make of it. they hadn't been the headquarters of suffrage. the groups had always been based in new york. and then as -- on the actual day of the parade you saw the reaction, the crowd was terrible. and then as more and more of these publicity stunts start happening in town, those of us who are locals were kind of baffled. plenty were supportive. plenty were appalled. i think they sort of represented the national opinion in microcosm, but the women weren't run out of town on a rail or anything. and washington has always been a town where women can make their
mark. going back to the early days of the city at the turn of the 19th century, there were women who were able to start businesses here and have more power than other places because there wasn't this kind of legacy history, because it was a planned town. and certainly wars, because people fled to the capital during war, their roles for women when men are off fighting. i think washington is always historically been an interesting place for women's history. >> we have a question right here. thank you. >> thank you both of you. my question is, can you address the role of edith wilson and how she felt about all of this. >> edith wilson is such a fascinating character. president wilson's first wife ellen died during his first term. and he married edith wilson who was a socialite and she was antisuffrage. occasionally a theory will be
floated that maybe he came around because of her influence. there's no evidence for that. any public statement she made was antisuffrage. 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. and edith wilson was running his administration much more than i think we will ever know. and i don't think there's some cash of papers somewhere that will show us how powerful edith wilson was. i think that will always remain a secret. but she was the power behind the throne for definitely the last year of his administration. and there's no reason to think that she's the one who finally said, actually, women should vote. i know it would be a great story. he really came around to the lukewarm degree he came around at all for totally political expediency reasons. he realized it was going to
happen and he thought the democratic party should get a little bit of the credit for it. >> next question over here. >> thank you both so much. i was wondering, once the 19th amendment passed, how did women outside of washington react and how were they eager to register to vote or -- i'm curious how that process happened? >> so the reason there was that big push in the summer of 1920 and all that focus on tennessee was so that women would have the vote in time for the 1920 presidential election. and when the amendment was finally passed, church bells tolled. there was celebration in the streets. there was jubilation all around. 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. but even the states where women could, again, it's a habit. they hadn't necessarily done that before.
they didn't necessarily know what to do. it felt a little bit like it wasn't their place. so there's no good data on voting by gender in those years. but anecdotally, women did not turn out in enormous numbers. 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 about women are voting the way their husbands and fathers tell them to. or another interpretation could be that their race and socioeconomic class and geographic location played a bigger role. >> now the gender gap is something measurable and
politically significant. >> but that is an artifact of the last 35, 40 years. >> question right here. >> it's so brilliant the way you lay out alice paul's strategy with the white house and congress. but clearly the actual strategy to get women's suffrage was a state strategy . so the decision to target the white house was a political and publicity strategy. i wonder if you can talk a little bit about that. they wanted wilson. but that wasn't where the decision came from. >> that's absolutely true. the targeting of wilson only had so much political effect. it had tons of publicity effect. i don't want to imply that the national was doing all the hard work and the national women's party was doing the publicity stunts. the women's party had an unbelievable lobbying effort. they had a card file that became famous where they kept a -- two
dozen cards on every member of congress and they listed how he had ever voted on any suffrage issue, was his wife a suffragist, but also little tips about lobbying him. he's a golfer. go get someone to play golf with him and bend his ear or he's a drunk. talk to him before 5:00. you can see these cards. his wife is smarter than he is. talk to her. they're amazing. so they were -- while all of these attention-grabbing, targeting wilson things were going on, they were also quietly bending the ear of members who had the power. >> interesting point too because that's a little more invisible. you make the political statement and you catch the nation's attention. you have to work it -- >> right. behind the scenes you're still doing the long, hard work.
>> next question, hi. >> early suffragists were proabolition, many of them. would you talk a little about what happened there. >> it was definitely a major way a lot of women came to suffrage, like abolition, there were women who wanted tempence and realized they wouldn't get it without the vote. and at first, the suffrage association with the temperance movement was helpful. they learned how to raise money because that movement was better organized and historically more dug in. eventually, you know, when you associate yourself with another movement, you inherit their enemies too. and as the 18th amendment became more and more likely and prohibition looked like it was going to happen, the suffrage
movement pulled themselves away from temperance a little bit, in part because they didn't want to make enemies of voters. it's hard to amend the constitution as it should be. you don't really want to support another amendment getting there before you. so there was a lot of back and forth. there was a lot of overlap. the women's christian temperance union supported suffrage. there were a lot of women who became politically active through temperance. but ultimately by the final countdown, the suffrage movement was trying to back pedal that association. >> you get the last word. >> so you mentioned race and i was interested to see if you had done any exploration of women of color in this movement and maybe if you could comment on some of
the divisions between white women suffragists and woman of color. >> this is an area that i think you're going to see a ton more coming out this year. there's a lot more focus on paying attention to african-american suffragists with this centennial celebration, as there should be, because they have largely been written out of this history specifically within the national women's party. after the 1913 march with the segregation, there continued to kind of be ongoing debates about how to welcome african-american suffragists or not. there were ugly chapters in there. there were overt appeals of going to southern states and saying, enfranchise women, we will override the black vote. it wasn't in code.
they actually said those women. women's suffrage is the way to ensure white supremacy. and there were women like mary church terrell who had six master's degrees and spoke ten languages and was unbelievably impressive. and so the white organizations felt she was nonthreatening. they would invite her to things and 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 welcome to the meetings but started african-american suffrage associations. so there were, for the most part, separate movements. there were black suffrage clubs and, you know, suffrage clubs that weren't superwelcoming to black voters. and people like mary church terrell and others would say,
like, we share all of your discrimination as women, plus we're black and you've really got to pay better attention. but it's not -- you want your heroes to be perfect. it is not part of the movement that you can be proud of as a 21st century american woman. and i think we're going to learn much more about it. >> let me bring this to a conclusion by asking you one more question from the purple sashes to the pink pussycat hats. what should they draw, what important lesson or two can they draw from 100 years ago that will make a difference now? >> that's a great question. i think any political activist can learn from the suffrage movement because they were successful. and so whether your cause is
feminism or something else, there's just a lot of tactics you can steal from them if you want to be a successful activist. 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 paying attention to how things work goes a long way to shortcutting your message. and i also think that that declarative sentence that we demand a constitutional amendment enfranchising women, that's easy to get behind. it's a clear goal. it's got a clear end point. it's easy to explain and understand and i think the contemporary women's movement
demands a lot of things, which we have evolved to do, but sometimes the message can get muddied with different voices. >> it comes down to branding and messaging. ladies and gentlemen, please thank rebecca. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you very much, remembe and ann. if you want to know more about this subject or other matters relating to white house history, our website, white house history.org is an excellent resource. i would ask you to exit through the courtyard. we have a medical situation here and we'll exit directly through and out to lafayette park. thank you so much and have a good evening. [ applause ]
every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv on c-span3, go inside a different college classroom and hear about topics ranging from the american revolution, civil rights and u.s. presidents to 9/11. >> thanks for your patience and for logging into class -- >> with most college campuses closed, watch professors transfer teaching to a virtual setting to engage with their students. >> gorbachev did most of the work to change the soviet union. but reagan met him halfway. reagan encouraged him. reagan supported him. >> freedom of the press, madison called it freedom of the use of the press and it is indeed freedom to print things, it's
not the a freedom for what we refer to institutionally as the president. >> on american history tv on c-span3, every saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. lectures in history is available as a podcast. find it where you listen to podcasts. >> weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. a look at the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage. american history tv marked the anniversary with an encore presentation of sunday's live program with the vice chair of the women's suffrage centennial commission. we'll take a tour of the votes for women exhibit. images will be shown of suffrage leaders and political cartoons and explain how the movements intersected. watch tonight beginning at 8:00
eastern and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span3. historian susan ware has written about some of the lesser known suffrage leaders in her book "why they marched." >> today our new exhibit rightfully hers, american women and the vote, opened upstairs in the gallery. this exhibit is the cornerstone of our centennial celebration of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. the 19th amendment is rightfully celebrated as a major milestone made possible by decades of suffragists. it's one critical piece of the larger story of women's battle for the vote. rightfully hers begins with the struggle for suffrage but doesn't end with the