Access to the White House


Access to the White House


The day before suffragists started picketing the White House, they were there as invited guests. 

Access thread.

One of the striking things about the decade before ratification is how much access suffragists had to Pres. Wilson - not only the mannerly women of NAWSA, but Alice Paul & Congressional Union/National Woman’s Party too. At least in the first term.

(Wilson was far less welcoming to African Americans - his first-term meetings with Black leaders, including IdaBWells, were stilted or openly offensive. When Monroe Trotter asked him to explain segregation in federal jobs, Wilson exploded, saying no American had ever spoken to him so rudely.)

But white women got a different kind of solicitude - even Mabel Vernon, who only a month earlier had hijacked Woodrow Wilson’s State of the Union speech with a dramatic banner drop. 


She and 300 other suffragists were welcomed to the White House to deliver a new raft of 19th Amdt petitions gathered at memorials for martyred Inez Milholland.

The suffragists gathered in the East Room of the White House. 

Sara Bard Field spoke for the group. She promised that women would never give up; yet they had paid their dues and it was past time. “We are asking, how long, how long, must this struggle go on?” 

Wilson was affronted. He thought they were coming for some kind of bereavement call, where he could pay his respects to Milholland without being asked to DO anything. He said so, huffily. 

Then he chastised them for not understanding the Democrats were their allies, and stormed out.

The next day, the National Woman’s Party began picketing the White House.


Daily Suffragist




First Day of Pickets Jan 10 1917.jpg
Aug 17 screenshot.png


Daily Suffragist, “Access to the White House,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 14, 2024,

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