First suffragist meetings with the President

Title

First suffragist meetings with the President

Description

Two weeks after Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, Alice Paul led a delegation to the White House for suffragists’ first-ever meeting with a US President.

It did not go well. 🧵

They were seeking Wilson’s support for suffrage. Their ask: that he mention suffrage in his first address to Congress, literally putting a federal Constitutional amendment on the agenda.

In the Oval Office, the delegation was seated in a row, as if in a classroom.

@tinacassidy2 describes the meeting vividly. After Alice opened, Anna Kelton Wiley👇reminded Wilson of women’s value to progressive reforms. Genevieve Stone described how western suffrage states were thriving with women’s participation.

Then Ida Husted Harper opened a book.

It was a collection of Wilson campaign speeches. Ida read aloud: “If any part of our people want to be wards, if they want to have guardians put over them, if they want to be children patronized by the government, I am sorry for them, because it will sap the manhood of America.”

Wilson looked ashen, embarrassed at his obvious hypocrisy, and being caught admitting that he didn’t think of women as “part of our people.” He resolved to support suffrage on the spot.

KIDDING!🤣He said nothing.

Mary Bartlett Dixon pointed out that supporting suffrage would one-up Republicans, showing Democrats too could be a party of enfranchisement.

Wilson was unmoved. He said he had more important things to include in his message to Congress, like currency revision and tax reform.

Alice Paul looked him in the eye.

“But Mr. President, do you not understand that the administration has no right to legislate for currency, tariff, and any other reform without first getting the consent of women?”

No, actually. He didn't understand - apparently this had never occurred to him. Accounts describe Wilson as visibly taken aback.

He threw the women a tiny crumb and promised to consider the issue. He also asked that they not take his silence as opposition.

A week later Alice returned to the White House, this time with members of the College Equal Suffrage League, including Elsie Hill (far right, top; Genevieve Stone is in front of her; Alice is front ctr).

Again Wilson told them his priorities were taxes and currency reform.

Three days later, with the address nearing, Alice Paul took nine women to the White House. Again he promised nothing.

Alice learned something about Wilson in these fruitless meetings. Wilson should have learned something about Alice.#Suffrage100 #19thamendment #CenturyofStruggle Jul 13, 2020

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

12/07/2020

Files

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Citation

Daily Suffragist, “First suffragist meetings with the President,” Daily Suffragist, accessed April 14, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/446.

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