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9. At Nonviolent War A year of picketing, arrests, punishments, and abuse, which had begun with Inez Milholland’s death on November 25,1916, had certainly given the National Woman’s Party (NWP) a national audience. Alice Paul and her supporters could not be ignored. Even some conservative groups and publications had come to respect the determination of these women. More and more people were coming to feel that in dealing with them the government had moved from protection to persecution. In February of 1918William Randolph Hearst’s Good Housekeeping, a conservative journal for American housewives, stated that this publication supported suἀrage, not picketing, but it did “bespeak for it [picketing] a fair hearing” (Wiley 123). In the accompanying long and positive article about suἀrage, Anna Kelton Wiley portrays Paul’s work in Washington as a reasonable middle-class choice: winning suἀrage through state-by-state campaigns might take another century of eἀort, which would “compel the women of the household and of the nation to go down into the alleys, the slums, and the hidden places to persuade the ignorant immigrant, the vicious, the indiἀerent, and the prejudiced men to give them that which they are entitled to” (124). In the difficult times of world war, when the participation of all Americans was desperately needed, that tremendous state-by-state eἀort would sap women’s strength, keeping them from participating “in the maintenance of the governments under which they live” (125).Wiley then moved from the federal amendment to the heroism of those women who had stood in picket lines to achieve it. In refusing to pay their fines and accepting the resulting prison terms, these women had demonstrated their physical and moral strength as well as their belief in democracy. 216 a l ice paul a nd t he a mer ic a n suf f r age c a mpa ign This article reflects the country’s tone in early 1918. The suἀrage question seemed to have been answered: most Americans had accepted women’s right to vote. After all the previous year’s demonstrations, the president had even come to support suἀrage as a war measure. Because the amendment had been passed by the House and Senate, Democrats now seemed to be responding positively. Paul and the NWP did not stage more public events or continue their picketing, but instead intensified their lobbying of those senators who had still not committed themselves to suἀrage. A political solution seemed near. However, when suἀrage came up for a vote in the Senate on June 271918, Democratic Senator James A. Reed of Missouri used the filibuster to keep the vote from occurring. In lobbying sessions, he had repeatedly argued that women knew nothing about politics and needed to confine themselves to fashions, children, and housework. As H. L. Mencken commented about Reed, he had “almost unparalleled” rhetorical skills to convince other senators of his opinions: “His shoulders were thrown back, his eyes flashed; his fine head was carried superbly; his voice, when he began, was bell-like in tone.” NWP members were furious that after all their work the rhetorical posturing of a powerful senator kept suἀrage from even coming to a vote; once again women had been silenced by their own government. These suἀragists believed that this filibustering would end and a positive vote would occur if Wilson did more to influence Democratic senators, as he had done on many other issues such as tariἀs, monopoly legislation, and war. Doris Stevens discussed Wilson’s action in this way: “President Wilson was doing a little for Suἀrage, but not all he could. He was not of course doing for the Suἀrage Amendment a tithe of what he did for other measures in whose success he was interested. Nothing continued to happen with monotonous, unfailing regularity” (Jailed for Freedom 362). Alice Paul felt that Wilson was doing a bare minimum—just enough to ingratiate himself with some suἀragists while still maintaining the support of conservative Democrats, especially from the South. On August 9, 1918,the Iowa Forum agreed: Wilson should properly be “under the suspicion of making his support of the amendment just strong enough, or just weak enough, according as the way in which one may look at it, so that it helps on the appearances of things but does not get the amendment through” (“Annoying Suἀragists”). Now Paul entered a new...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780252090349
Print ISBN
9780252074714
MARC Record
OCLC
841172596
Pages
296
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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