Foreign Policy, Public Embarrassment

Title

Foreign Policy, Public Embarrassment

Description

The first time the National Woman’s Party “Silent Sentinels” were arrested, they had been picketing the White House every day for six months.

Why were they suddenly being charged? Simple. They embarrassed Pres. Wilson in front of the Russian guests he wanted to impress. Thread.

In the years Wilson spent avoiding the war, 1.7 million Russians had been killed. Now that the US was in, Wilson was desperate to convince the Russians to keep fighting. But in the very month Woodrow Wilson was sworn in for a 2nd term, Tsar Nicholas II was overthrown.

Wilson needed to convince a very different Russian government - represented by Ambd. Boris Bakhmetieff, above with wife and dog - that they were all on the same team. In Russia, however, the government was listening to women.

When the Russian monarchy was overthrown in the name of democracy, Russian women demanded it be genuine. 40,000 women demonstrated in the streets of St. Petersburg👇and they won. In 1917 Russia became the biggest nation yet to enfranchise women.

The meaning was lost on Wilson. He sent American diplomats to woo the Russians, assuring them that the US was a kindred spirit that provided “universal, direct, equal and secret suffrage.” 20 million women - and almost all Black men - would beg to differ. But Wilson didn’t think they mattered.

The National Woman’s Party would remind him. As the Russian delegation approached the White House on June 20, 1917, Lucy Burns and Dora Lewis were waiting for them with a large banner.

ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴜꜱꜱɪᴀɴ ᴇɴᴠᴏʏꜱ, ᴡᴇ ᴛʜᴇ ᴡᴏᴍᴇɴ ᴏꜰ ᴀᴍᴇʀɪᴄᴀ ᴛᴇʟʟ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴀᴍᴇʀɪᴄᴀ ɪꜱ ɴᴏᴛ ᴀ ᴅᴇᴍᴏᴄʀᴀᴄʏ. ᴛᴡᴇɴᴛʏ ᴍɪʟʟɪᴏɴ ᴀᴍᴇʀɪᴄᴀɴ ᴡᴏᴍᴇɴ ᴀʀᴇ ᴅᴇɴɪᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴇ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴠᴏᴛᴇ. ᴘʀᴇꜱ ᴡɪʟꜱᴏɴ ɪꜱ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄʜɪᴇꜰ ᴏᴘᴘᴏɴᴇɴᴛ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴᴀʟ ᴇɴꜰʀᴀɴᴄʜɪꜱᴇᴍᴇɴᴛ. ʜᴇʟᴘ ᴜꜱ ᴍᴀᴋᴇ ᴛʜɪꜱ ɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴ ʀᴇᴀʟʟʏ ꜰʀᴇᴇ. ᴛᴇʟʟ ᴏᴜʀ ɢᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴍᴇɴᴛ ɪᴛ ᴍᴜꜱᴛ ʟɪʙᴇʀᴀᴛᴇ ɪᴛꜱ ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ ʙᴇꜰᴏʀᴇ ɪᴛ ᴄᴀɴ ᴄʟᴀɪᴍ ꜰʀᴇᴇ ʀᴜꜱꜱɪᴀ ᴀꜱ ᴀɴ ᴀʟʟʏ.

After the Russian delegation entered the White House, a mob of onlookers tore the banner out of Lucy and Dora’s hands. National Woman’s Party sentinels returned the next day with a similar banner. The administration was embarrassed and irritated - this had gone on long enough.

The DC police chief visited National Woman’s Party HQ to tell Alice Paul they would be arrested if they kept picketing. Alice pointed out that they had been picketing for six months and had every right to do so. Then she handpicked her team for the following day.

To join Lucy Burns, the very bravest, Alice recruited Katharine Morey of Boston. Alice explained that arrest was highly likely. “I am willing,” Morey replied.

The next day, Burns & Morey returned to the White House with a new banner. This one simply used Wilson’s own words.

ᴡᴇ ꜱʜᴀʟʟ ꜰɪɢʜᴛ ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛʜɪɴɢꜱ ᴡᴇ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴀʟᴡᴀʏꜱ ʜᴇʟᴅ ɴᴇᴀʀᴇꜱᴛ ᴏᴜʀ ʜᴇᴀʀᴛꜱ -- ꜰᴏʀ ᴅᴇᴍᴏᴄʀᴀᴄʏ -- ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴏꜱᴇ ᴡʜᴏ ꜱᴜʙᴍɪᴛ ᴛᴏ ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀɪᴛʏ ᴛᴏ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴀ ᴠᴏɪᴄᴇ ɪɴ ᴛʜᴇɪʀ ᴏᴡɴ ɢᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴍᴇɴᴛ.

They were arrested and then released; four more women were arrested and released the next day. The police clearly expected that these well-connected white women would be scared off by being arrested. They were wrong.

#suffrage100 #19thAmendment

Creator

Daily Suffragist

Date

Sept 23, 2020

Files

Amb. Bakhmetieffs & dog.jpg
Petorgrad women 1917 Bettman archive.jpg
Russia banner.jpg
Bakhmetieff and dog and wife thread.png

Citation

Daily Suffragist, “Foreign Policy, Public Embarrassment,” Daily Suffragist, accessed September 20, 2021, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/515.

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