The year was 1913 – 65 years after the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls NY.
Two young women brought new life to the movement for women’s suffrage.
Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, women strongly influenced by the militant activism and civil disobedience of the British Suffrage movement, began to work toward the passage of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to give women in every state the right to vote.
One of their first actions was to organize the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913, and this year marks the 100th anniversary of that event.
They gathered ten bands, five mounted brigades, 26 floats, and around 8000 marchers who marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.. The police who should have cleared the route for the marchers instead allowed, and in some cases encouraged, the large crowd of onlookers in town for the inauguration of President Wilson to not only disrupt the parade but to attack the women. By the time it was over, over 800 of the marchers had been sent to local hospitals.
But those actions both to organize and to participate, by those brave women, turned the tide from a disconnected and far too polite whisper to a shout that could not be ignored.
The generation of women activists who led the final drive helped to coalesce the movement that had encompassed the lives of millions of American women over several generations. These women employed highly sophisticated political strategies, and developed brilliant, politically-savvy, charismatic leaders.
Today, we’d like to remember that because of their sacrifice, in 1919 Congress finally passed, and in 1920 the states finally ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote.
90 years later, in 2010, outside money poured into local elections, changing the direction of many states including our own state of New Hampshire. Attempts to limit women’s rights, limit voting rights, defund essential programs for families, children, and for those in need, attack our public schools, dismantle worker’s rights, roll back equal marriage and more
…followed immediately after.
But just like in 1913 women stepped up. Following our foremothers, we understood that asking nicely gets you nowhere. NH participated in the National Fight Against the War on Women and we held our first Rally last year. We didn’t have to endanger ourselves this time, we simply had to remind women that we hold the power to change things.
And … We… Did!
After the 2012 election that followed, women made up 100% of our delegation to Washington, a first for our great nation! A woman was elected Governor, and women’s representation in the NH State House went from a paltry 24% to almost 33%.
Suffragist Alice Paul, when speaking with immigrant factory workers who toiled in horrendous conditions was searching for some way to explain why their right to vote was important to them personally.
She finally said… “For you… A vote is a fire escape.”
What did she mean by this? She meant that…
A vote is fair wages for all, a vote is a safe environment, and a vote is control of your own health decisions. It represents affordable health care for everyone, a good education for every child, and help when you need it most.
Today we ask you to help us honor what those brave women behind the 19th Amendment did for us, and to remember to never squander their gift.
Their gift of the Right to Vote.by