Founding of a new party

Title

Founding of a new party

Description

Presidential conventions. Eh. 2020 conventions planned for Charlotte, Jacksonville & Milwaukee may end up being nowhere at all. But in 1916, the Democrats met in St. Louis. The Republicans met in Chicago - along with a new party: the National Woman’s Party. NWP founding🧵

The National Woman’s Party didn’t expect to capture the votes of ALL 4 million women voters. The idea was to convince enough women voting in tight races to vote against Democrats, punishing them for not doing more to help disenfranchised women nationwide.

Alice Paul had tested the theory in the 1914 midterms and found that it worked: it put suffrage on the political agenda. Democrats, who controlled the House, Senate & White House, were on notice that they would have to act. Suffragist Dr. Cora King summed up the political effect: “[It] will never be unanimously agreed upon...some declaring you did no harm to the Democrats but great harm to the women’s cause & others that you are the saviour of women. But party leaders...will come out for suffrage MUCH sooner because of the trouble you have made them.”

By the 1916 general election, Alice had a powerful new ally: Harriot Stanton Blatch. After the failure of the NY law, Blatch was done w/the state-by-state approach forever. She merged her Women’s Political Union and its well-connected members into the fight for a federal amdt.

Harriot and 22 other women spent the spring barnstorming western states to recruit Woman’s Party members. Five weeks riding the rails was not glamorous. Winifred Mallon wrote home: “Am very tired and dirty and dusty and my head aches and the train is jiggling fearfully.”

Their effort succeeded in winning some converts. 1,000+ women gathered in Chicago in June 1916 for the inaugural convention of the National Woman’s Party. Recall that Chicago women could vote for President, thanks to their 1913 victory. 👉

As a show of white women’s political power, the NWP launch was a success. Every other party sent an ambassador: Democrats, Republicans, Prohibition, Progressive & Socialist parties. Harriot Stanton Blatch pledged to deliver 500,000 votes; Alva Belmont pledged to raise $500,000.

Alice Paul didn’t speak at the NWP convention. Instead she put voters like Maud Younger of California and Anne Martin of Nevada in the spotlight. @jdzah points out that having women voters lead NWP could rebut criticism that Alice was meddling, unwelcome, in state affairs. The NWP dream was to block Wilson from a second term, or at least make him fear their power. It would take real fortitude - to succeed they would have to fight Republicans, Democrats, and other suffragists. #19thAmendment #WomensVote100 

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

07/08/2020

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Citation

Daily Suffragist, “Founding of a new party,” Daily Suffragist, accessed September 21, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/476.

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