Monday, October 21, 2013

INEZ | Oct. 21–Forward into Light / Edison Gets Bulb Right

Edison's new bulb.
October 21, 2013 – Today in 1879 Thomas Edison figured out how to make a better electric light bulb, initiating wonderment that produced, among other things, the battle cry for Votes for Women: "Forward into Light."

Since the 1820s, scientists knew that electricity could replace kerosene and gas lamps, but inventors only knew that platinum worked as a filament. Edison discovered that carbonized cotton thread worked better (tungsten turned out later to be even better).

He created the Edison Electric Illuminating Company in 1880 to enable him to bring electricity into people’s homes and businesses like gas and water, under the streets.

Once installation of cables was under way in Manhattan, he invented all the fixtures, sockets, fuses, and meters and then formed manufacturing companies to supply them. Edison's first commercial power plant was in lower Manhattan, at 257 Pearl Street. He needed a densely populated area full of both businesses and residential customers. The area's proximity to financial backers on Wall Street was also helpful. On the day, September 4, 1882, when the Pearl Street Station powered up for the first time, Edison was standing in the offices of investor J.P. Morgan. Edison gave the signal to his chief electrician, who closed the circuit and began the first commercial delivery of electric power. The New York Times, an early customer – reported the next day:
Edison’s central station, at No. 257 Pearl street, was yesterday one of the busiest places down town, and Mr. Edison was by far the busiest man in the station. The giant dynamos were started up at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and, according to Mr. Edison, they will go on forever unless stopped by an earthquake. [...] The electric lamps in THE TIMES Building were as thoroughly tested last evening as any light could be tested in a single evening, and tested by men who have battered their eyes sufficiently by years of night work to know the good and bad points of a lamp, and the decision was unanimously in favor of the Edison electric lamp as against gas.
The new light bulb played several parts in the life of Inez Milholland Boissevain:
  • Her father and grandfather were involved in electric utilities in Essex County, NY, where she spent her summers at Meadowmount. The light bulb must have been helpful for growing that business.
  • At Vassar, where Inez was in 1905-09, the campus was lit by Welsbach gaslights. These were changed over, slowly, to electric lights.
  • Electric lighting came to be associated with enlightenment – a second Renaissance (or as Edna St Vincent Millay's poem spelled it, "Renascence").
  • A theme song for the women's movement was "Forward into Light", which was set to music by Charles Ives.
  • The banner that Inez Milholland Boissevain carries on horseback in her iconic post-mortem poster reads "Forward into Light".
  • The light bulb replaced this Welsbach-mantled gas light.
  • Inez must have either sung the Ives song, or her sister Vida (who sang professionally for a while) did, at Vassar, and she picked up the theme as a feminist anthem.
The gas companies fought back against the view that gas lights were old-fashioned. They brought out new products and advertising designed to keep people using gas on the grounds of cost, tradition or simplicity.

Electric light did have a negative impact. It meant that people began to sleep less.

Before 1910, people slept an average of nine hours a night.

By the end of the 20th century, average sleep time was reduced to more like seven and a half hours. Under laboratory conditions, people deprived of electric light revert to sleeping nine hours a night.








Saturday, September 21, 2013

INEZ | 5A. Milholland Studied in Lewis, N.Y. [15]

Class at the Adirondack History Center, Lewis, NY.
Since 2006, the Adirondack History Center of the Essex County (NY) Historical Society in Lewis, NY, has been using Inez Milholland as a topic of research.

She is one of three women activists for their students to study and write about in the context of dramatic presentations.

A staged reading of my play about Inez Milholland was presented in 2004 with Lindsay Pontius as producer at the church in Lewis where she and others in her family are buried.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

INEZ | Led the 1913 Parade on Horseback

The Centennial stamp of the 1848 Convention honors 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. With them, Carrie 
Catt, who of them alone saw victory in 1920.
The history of Votes for Women is a story of progress being achieved by American women – and men! – who did not accept that it was okay for women to be excluded from voting.

Temperance Yes! Women No? Two Angry Women, London, 1840. 

The movement for woman suffrage started when officials of the 1840 world-wide Temperance Convention in London told two women to shut up and stay out of sight. The two women were Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.

The temperance and anti-slavery movements were both strong in certain dissident religions. Stanton and Mott both believed God made men and women of all races equal. Yet they had to sit in the balcony quietly. They were fuming.

But they had major responsibilities. Lucretia Mott was a popular young Quaker preacher in Philadelphia. Elizabeth Stanton was the mother of a brood of children in muddy Seneca Falls, married to a minister so dissident that Seneca Falls was the only congregation zealous enough to take him.  So they suppressed their anger for eight years.

Women Organize, Seneca Falls, 1848

Mott came up to the Rochester area to speak at many of the regional Quaker meeting-houses in an area so evangelical it was called the "burned-over" district. She and Stanton were still hopping mad about being treated as chattels at the London meeting. They met and Stanton organized a tea party on the occasion of Mott's visit. The tea party became a mini-powwow, and the group decided to hold a bigger meeting.  The subject would be women's rights, and Stanton agreed to present a "Declaration of Sentiments". They called the event a  Convention on the Rights of Women. They booked a church at Seneca Falls and they posted notices. 

The poster was very explicit. Men were excluded on the first day. Men were invited to come on the second day, by which time it was thought that the women would have decided what rights to ask for.

Douglass Crashes Party, Makes Key Speech, 1848

Guess what? Well-known former slave Frederick Douglass gate-crashed the event on the first day, when men were excluded. He decided if the meeting was about exclusion, well, he had something to say to them that would be useful. As a slave and a former slave, he could tell the white ladies, many of them his friends, a thing or two about being denied rights.

Douglass's presence turned out to be important for the future of the campaign for Votes for Women. At a crucial point in the proceedings, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott came to a fork in the road and they were heading down different tynes.

Should the convention go so far as to include the breath-taking demand that women had the right to vote?
Stanton demands the right to vote. Seneca Falls, 1848.

  • Elizabeth Stanton said yes, although her husband said no.
  • Mott said no. If Stanton were to place a demand for the vote on the convention agenda, "Thee will make us ridiculous," she said to Mrs. Stanton.
Outnumbered two to one by her husband and closest fellow advocate, that might well have been the end of it for Elizabeth Stanton.

But then Douglass stepped up to the church lectern, not at all intimidated by being an intruder on the first day.

Douglass said it was crucial that women demand the right to vote because no other rights will be worth much without that. That's why, he said, black men put their demand for the right to vote highest on their list of goals.

Douglass carried the day. He made a lot of sense, and he spoke from deep conviction. (In my play about Seneca Falls – performed in 1998 on the 150th anniversary – Rochester's Mayor Johnson played the part of Douglass and a very good speech he made. The text of the play is here.)

"Votes for Women" Loses Out to Universal Male Suffrage, 1870

In 1866, the year after Lee surrendered to the Union, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony created the American Equal Rights Association to promote universal suffrage. Expanding the vote was in the cards, and they wanted women included.

Douglass supported woman suffrage, yes, but not at the risk of losing suffrage for black men. He feared that universal suffrage for men and women might fail. It would be too great an expansion of the vote. So he said to his woman suffrage friends – support black men getting the vote, and then I will again  help you campaign for  woman suffrage. Surely no one at that time suspected it was going to take  another 50 years for women to get the vote.

The NWSA "Irreconcilables" Wanted Universal White Suffrage

Lucy Stone and most other woman suffrage activists went along with Douglass's idea. But Stanton, Anthony and others fought back against Douglass. They opposed any expansion of the franchise if women were not in it. So in May 1869 they worked secretly with Julia Ward Howe to create the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), opposing the proposed amendment giving the vote to black men. In the end, they lost the battle, as this Amendment was ratified in February 1870.

However, in a real sense their point of view prevailed in the southern states, which emasculated the power of black men's right to vote through the Jim Crow laws, with widespread voting restrictions such as a poll tax, or a literacy test, or a complex registration process, voting barriers that continued openly until the Voting Rights Act of 1963 and continue covertly even in 2013.

NWSA's opposition to the votes for black men angered not only black leaders like Douglass but the many abolitionists who saw the Civil War as primarily a battle against slavery and believed the victory of the North had to mean the imposition of votes for black men on the south. NWSA did not help its case by turning, in desperation, to the support of a man who would today be described as a white supremacist. Susan B. Anthony supported the idea of some southern women that Votes for Women could be traded for literacy tests. The tests might reduce the number of black voters, but by adding educated white women the electoral outcome might be improved.

The attacks on the NWSA created internal disagreements. Susan B. Anthony wanted to focus only on suffrage, but Stanton and others had more general concerns such as the position of women in the churches, or laws pertaining to divorce. Other key NWSA members who took sides on these issues included May Wright Sewall (whose family name is on the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, now called the Paul-Belmont National Monument), Clara Colby, Olympia Brown, Rachel Foster, Laura Johns and Harriet Shattuck. 

AWSA for Universal Suffrage. Unhappy with the racist sympathies of NWSA, Julia Ward Howe left it and rejoined Stone. In November 1869 they formed the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), with help from Stone's husband Henry Browne Blackwell and Josephine Ruffin. AWSA supported votes for black men and worked on behalf of equal rights legislation at the state and local level. AWSA founders included Alice Stone Blackwell, Hannah Tracy Cutler, Margaret Campbell, William Dudley Foulke, Anna Howard Shaw and Mary Thomas.

Uneasy NAWSA Merger. In October 1887, years after the Fifteenth Amendment became law, Stone proposed that AWSA and NWSA reunite. The feud between them was not healthy.  Stone met with Anthony and others to discuss terms, starting with an agreement that the three principals, Stone, Stanton and Anthony, all exclude themselves from eligibility to serve as president. Anthony agreed. The two organization merged finally in May 1890 to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Besides the three principals, the leaders included Carrie Chapman Catt (who would many years later found the League of Women Voters), Frances Willard, Mary Church Terrell, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Anna Howard Shaw. 

In February 1890 the National American Woman Suffrage Association held its first combined convention in Washington, D.C. Anthony campaigned for Stanton to be president; Stanton named  Anthony as her vice president. Then, after her election and apparently by pre-arrangement, Stanton sailed for a two-year tour of England, leaving Anthony in charge.

Lucy Stone's supporters viewed the merger as a betrayal, and the resentment simmered for six years. When Stanton turned to de-genderizing the Woman's Bible, she expected the book to be promoted by NAWSA when it was finished in 1896. Instead, Rachel Foster Avery led a (narrow) majority of NAWSA members in voting to exclude Stanton’s Bible from its scope of interest. Stanton died six years later. Susan B. Anthony soldiered for another four years after that, dying in 1906. 
After the deaths of Stanton and Anthony, a new generation of suffragists come to the fore, starting in the women's colleges. Inez Milholland at Vassar became famous for challenging the long-time president of the college, James Monroe Taylor. When Taylor excluded the campus suffragists from use of the chapel for a memorial for Susan B. Anthony, Inez moved the meeting to a cemetery in Poughkeepsie. Taylorthreatened to expel any student who showed up for the graveyard ceremony. The president was defied by 40 students, accompanied by faculty members and members of the press.
Before the 1913 Parade, Organizers Considered Excluding Black Women

Inez Milholland, newly graduated from NYU Law School (where there is now an Inez Milholland professorship in her honor), had became a celebrity in New York City, riding her horse at the head of the huge Fifth Avenue parade in 1912. Years later, Mayor LaGuardia wrote to Milholland's mother, saying that Inez had converted him to Votes for Women at this parade.
The  March 3, 1913 Suffragist Parade. It was a Monday, the day before President Wilson's first inauguration. Source: Reddit.
NAWSA had moved to New York City to be nearer its funding sources, such as Alva Belmont. It decided to become more aggressive, seeing as so many young women were joining the movement. Mrs. Belmont, a friend of Milholland, put up some money. NAWSA recruited Alice Paul from the Pankhurst suffragette team in London to head up the moribund NAWSA Congressional Committee. Alice Paul decided what they needed was a parade in Washington like the one in New York, and she recruited Inez Milholland to ride a horse at the head of the parade.

During the weeks before the parade, the participation of black women in general was a thorny issue for Alice Paul. Later in life, she described this issue as her primary preoccupation during the days leading up to the parade.

In particular, a new breakaway sorority at Howard University, Delta Sigma Theta, wanted to participate. The leadership of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University had decided to resign en masse from what they viewed as the social pretensions of the Alphas and form a new sorority that would be less social and more activist in social causes.

On March 2, 2013, a National Park Service Ranger J. L.
Dinkelater tells the story of the picketing of the White 
House in 1917.  Photo © by JT Marlin. 
These 22 Delta powerhouses wanted to march in the NAWSA parade. Alice Paul of course believed strongly in action, but she feared that participation by black women in still-segregated Washington would mean the southern chapters of NAWSA would reduce or end their participation in the parade and maybe even in NAWSA.

When Alice Paul was put in charge of the "Congressional Committee" of NAWSA in 1912, she needed to move fast to get up to speed. Compared with the Pankhurst operation, she found the Committee was a shell. She began recruiting new people and raising money, much of it in New York City where NAWSA was based. While New Yorkers might not care whether black women were in the parade, a southern city like Washington was a different matter. Alice Paul saw a conflict between maximizing the Committee's support and allowing black women to march.

Jane Barker, then chair of the Turning Point Suffragist
Memorial Committee, in 2011, in front of 
the newly
 restored iconic painting 
of Inez M
ilholland at the Sewall-
Belmont House. Photo © by JT Marlin.
New Yorker Inez Milholland, whose father was the first Treasurer of the NAACP (and records suggest was the only white Protestant on the Board), was adamant that the new sorority should be allowed to march. She threatened to withdraw her commitment to lead the Washington parade on horseback, and she had some clout because she had raised money for the Congressional Committee. Milholland, having led the 1912 parade in New York to  great applause, was a media attraction from her days at Vassar, and was well connected with NAWSA supporters like Alva Belmont.

Alice Paul was deeply torn, as she later recalls, and only grudgingly agreed to allow the Howard sorors to join the parade. Her plan, which appears not to have been shared with Inez Milholland, was to minimize the danger to the parade by putting all the black women at the end of the parade, after the (white) Men's League for Woman Suffrage marched.

To be fair to Alice Paul, it is hard in 2013 to get our heads around the doubly denied status of black women in 1913 Washington:
  • Black men were supposedly enfranchised, even though the Jim Crow laws disenfranchised them as well as some less educated or poor whites. 
  • White women might not vote, but their spouses or male relatives did.
Inez Milholland at the front of the 1913 Washington 
parade. The horse, Gray Dawn, was on loan from a 
Mr. Addison of Washington, D.C.
The fear was that if black women marched in a parade they would remind southerners that adding women voters would also add black voters. Contemporary accounts say that Alice Paul and the Congressional Committee leadership were  worried that a visible black presence in the parade would set back progress toward a federal amendment. Maybe they even foresaw that including black women in the parade would make it more likely that there would be a violent reaction among the men along the route. Suffragist Mary Church Terrell reported that the Delta Sigma Theta marchers were required to assemble in a segregated area. She also said that
If [Paul] and other white suffragist leaders could get the Anthony Amendment through without enfranchising African American women, they would do so.
Linda Lumsden's biography of Inez Milholland makes clear that however much Milholland may have gone along with excluding blacks in other contexts, she was firm about the participation of the Deltas.  Milholland was, like her father, a member of the NAACP. Citing Mary Church Terrell again, Lumsden says that Milholland insisted that the Howard contingent be allowed to march in the college section. Emmett Scott, secretary-treasurer of Howard University, said that Milholland
was unwilling to participate in a parade symbolizing a movement which was not big enough or broad enough to live up to the principles for which it was contending. (See Inez, p. 91.)
On the day of the parade, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a former slave who had become a leading suffragist, defied Alice Paul's ruling that black women march at the end of the parade, and she slipped into the march with her Chicago NAWSA delegation. Others followed suit. In the end, 22 women marched in the Delta contingent and an unknown number of black NAWSA delegates (100?) marched with their geographical groups. The only black organization to march as a group in the parade was the Howard delegation of Deltas. Even if, as is unlikely, as many as 150 black women in total were in the march, then using the NY Times estimate for the number of marchers, these women were at most 3 percent of the total.

The march was the first major public demonstration in Washington. More important, there were 500,000 onlookers, mostly men, and they jeered the women as they went by. The parade devolved into a riot.  Inez Milholland was on horseback at the front, and she pushed the edge of the crowd back with her horse. But as the parade continued on, push came to shove and the DC police couldn't keep order. Secretary of War Stimson ordered cavalry in from Fort Myer to calm things down, but by the time the military arrived hundreds of women were injured.

The marchers were protected by the First Amendment, but not by the DC police. The DC police chief, Major Richard Sylvester, in a Senate investigation into the failure of the police to keep order, argued that he had warned against the parade because racist "riff-raff" from the south would be in town to celebrate a Democrat's election as President. He was relieved of his job.

In the 2013 March, the Racial Balance Was Reversed

The March 3, 2013 march, which I attended, was totally different from 1913. The once-tiny sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, was the main organizer of the event, having grown into an army of 300,000 black women world-wide.

The Deltas listen to the leadership on "public
service" and "social activism." Photo © by JT Marlin.
For the 100th anniversary march, the Deltas organized a battalion of 20,000 young black women who signed up to come to Washington. The National Park Service posted a crowd estimate of 20,000-25,000.

If 1,000 of the marchers were white men and women (my generous estimate), then the racial percentages were exactly reversed. In 1913, at most 5 percent of the marchers were black. In 2013, at most 5 percent were white.

Another major difference is in the nature of the participation of the Deltas and the other women's groups in 2013. The white women's groups were naturally eager to commemorate and re-enact the actions of the suffragists to obtain the vote. The original marchers were dressed in suffragist attire (purple, gold and white sashes and dresses), and so were the leaders of the traditional women's groups on March 3, 2013.

Here we are, waiting to join the parade. I am at the 
window; Model T owner Ron Frenette
is driving. iPhone photo.
Although a bit anachronistic (the picketing of the White House did not take place until 1917), the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial group had an effective tableau in place on March 2, 2013, showing the Silent Sentinels in front of the White House. When the demonstrators were arrested by the DC Police in 1917, Inez Milholland's surviving sister Vida (Inez died in November 1916) was one of those taken away to the workhouse in Lorton, Va. At the time of the White House tableau, National Park Service Ranger J. L. Dinkelaker gave the history of woman suffrage in the United States while engaging the audience in some effective role playing (see my photo above). He explained how the National Woman's Party called on President Wilson to ask for his support of the Anthony Amendment, two months after Inez Milholland Boissevain died (which was in November 1916). He ridiculed their appeal. They in turn started a nonstop picket, which did not end until Wilson capitulated.

For the Deltas, the parade was much less about the history of Votes for Women than it was about moving on and tackling remaining injustices in the lives of American blacks and women. They  marched with a purpose, dressed not in historical suffrage colors but in their sorority colors of red and white. The speeches in front of the Capitol (see photo above) were about moving on to new challenges, using their vote to attack continuing abuse of women in the home or in the workplace.

 
Here we are -– Ron Frenette (driver) and I, ready to go, 
with a sign in the window saying "VOTES FOR 
WOMEN – Men's League".  iPhoto.
The traditional women's groups were by comparison scarce on the ground – several dozen each at most from any one group. The groups represented included the League of Women Voters (successor to NAWSA), the National Woman's Party/Sewall-Belmont House and Museum (successor to the breakaway Congressional Committee of NAWSA), the National Organization of Women, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Committee and the ERA of New Jersey.

Far from there being any rioting, it was an eerily quiet Sunday morning. The Deltas didn't rustle up any marching bands. Since Washington, DC workers now mostly live in suburban Maryland and Virginia, and churchgoers were in church, there were few onlookers, maybe 5,000 at most. Protest marches in Washington are now a regular occurrence. The Deltas were in D.C. in January and will be back next month.

The Reversal of Gender Balance

Back in 1913 there was a "Men's League for Woman Suffrage" with its own organization and officers. The Wikipedia entry dismisses it as being founded by "left-wing writers". Yes, Max Eastman was one of the founders, but chapters were formed in states around the country that had few left-wing writers. The active membership included Inez's father John E. Milholland, a newspaperman turned businessman who had editorialized on Votes for Women in the New York Tribune. The "men's groups for woman suffrage" had their own place in the lineup of the 1913 Washington parade.

End of the line. Black police officer reporting to a female
police chief, tells us: 1. You need a permit for a car in the
parade. 2. No permits are given. iPhoto © by JT Marlin.

In addition, most of the half-million people lining the streets in 2013 were men, who had come to ogle the young women. The young suffragettes from the women's colleges had given the Votes for Women movement some glamour that it lacked during the two last decades of the 19th century and Anthony and Stanton were maneuvering to stay in control until they died.

In 2013 there were a few spouses and male friends among the traditional suffragist groups, but I don't remember seeing a single male in the parade of the Deltas. The spectators were few, far between and unengaged. The single largest group of men were the Washington, DC police force, who were out in much larger numbers than in 2013.

Turned Back, 2013

Back in 1913,  many motor vehicles were in the parade, plus at least one horse (Gray Dawn) that Inez borrowed from a DC resident, Mr. Addison. The DC police in 1913 made little effort to control the unruly male crowds.

It was fitting, as a measure of the extent to which the world has changed since 1913, that the sole male contingent of two was not allowed to participate in the 2013 parade. Our participation was organized by one of the traditional women's groups, which paired me (as great-nephew and super-fan of the "woman on the horse", Inez Milholland) with the owner of the Model T.

We did our best to persuade the black police officer that we should be allowed in the parade, but he said there were no floats, no cars of any kind in the parade this year. Who knew? We could appeal to the police chief in Washington, but presumably she, Cathy Lanier, is on top of this situation and would have nothing to add.

No Alpha Males Here; Maybe Some Deltas

You can say about me and my companion du jour Mr. Ron Frenette – who bore most of the burden of the day since he had to take the Model T out of mothballs – that we didn't qualify that day as Alpha Males.

But maybe we qualify as something more important, men who celebrate a change in the direction of greater equality and opportunity, even if the beneficiaries are a different gender, sexual preference, religion or race. (Even if the beneficiaries don't want or even discourage, for whatever reason, our gesture of support.)

I was brought up by an Alpha Grandmother and an Alpha Mother, and I have four Alpha Sisters. I'm married to an Alpha Wife and we have an Alpha Daughter.

The Deltas by their charter probably exclude non-students, non-alumni, non-females and it would seem by the composition of the marchers, maybe even non-blacks, but if they don't mind I would be happy to be called a Delta Male.

Postscript (January 16, 2017)

Great photos here of the 1913 parade.

© 2013 by JT Marlin

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

INEZ | Washington March, 2013 – The Deltas


March 3, 1913–Suffragist Parade. It was a Monday, the day
before President Wilson's first inauguration. Photo: Library of Congress.
I am back home in New York City from the centennial of the famed suffrage march in 1913, on the eve of the President Wilson's swearing-in.

It was on Monday, March 3, 1913.

The 1913 and 2013 parades were very different...

In 1913, It Became a Riot. Back then, the parade of women was huge for the time. The NY Times said 5,000 marchers; the National Park Service reported 8,000. It was the first major public demonstration in Washington. The 500,000 onlookers, mostly men, jeered the women as they went by. The parade devolved into a riot.

New Yorker Inez Milholland was on horseback at the front, and she pushed the edge of the crowd back with her horse. But behind her, push came to shove and the DC police couldn't keep order - some believe they didn't try. Secretary of War Stimson ordered cavalry in from Fort Myer to calm things down, but by the time the military arrived hundreds of women were injured. The marchers were protected by the First Amendment, but not by the police. The police superintendent was later cross-examined by Congress and was relieved of his job.

On March 2, 2013, a National Park Service Ranger tells
how the National Woman's Party met in 2017 with Pres.
Wilson to ask for support of Votes for Women, in the
name of Inez Milholland Boissevain, who died in Nov.
1916. Wilson ridiculed the women. Photo by JT Marlin. 
Back Story: Black Sorority Excluded. During the weeks before the parade, the participation of  black women in general was a thorny issue for Alice Paul. Later in life, she described this issue as her main preoccupation at the time.

To be specific, a new breakaway sorority at Howard University, Delta Sigma Theta, demanded that it have a place in the parade. The Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority's leadership at Howard University had decided to break away from the socially ambitious club to form a new sorority that would be more socially activist.

These 22 Delta women wanted to march in the NAWSA parade. Alice Paul feared that participation by black women in still-segregated Washington would end the participation in the parade of the southern chapters of NAWSA and destroy NAWSA's unity.

Alice Paul was in charge of the "Congressional Committee" of NAWSA in 1912 after working for the British suffragettes. She started recruiting new people and raising money, much of it in New York City where NAWSA was then based. She tried to hold together the fragile coalition for a Federal Amendment for Votes for Women.

Inez Milholland disagreed on excluding the black sorority. She was the daughter of the first Treasurer of the NAACP, John E. Milholland, a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian who clung to the Lincoln Republican ethos of supporting equality among the races. She was adamant that the Deltas should be given their place, and allowed to march, in the parade lineup. She threatened to withdraw her commitment to lead the Washington parade on horseback. She had led the New York suffrage parade on horseback to great applause in New York City – it was a media attraction. She was also well connected with NAWSA supporters like Alva Belmont in New York City.

Alice Paul grudgingly agreed to allow the Howard University Deltas to join the parade. But she also had a plan, which appears not to have been shared with Inez Milholland, to minimize the danger to the parade by putting all the black women at the end of the parade, after the Men's League for Woman Suffrage.

It may be hard for some to appreciate how low the status of black women was in the Washington 100 years ago – or how threatened some white people were by signs of electoral activism. The outcome of the Civil War was to enfranchise black men. But the federal law was undermined by Jim Crow laws passed in southern states designed to suppress the black vote as well as the votes of some less-educated white men. For advocates of Votes for Women, seeing black women marching in a parade would remind southerners that adding women voters would double the number of potential black voters.

Contemporary accounts say that Alice Paul and the Congressional Committee leadership were  worried that a visible black presence in the parade would set back progress toward a federal amendment. They may have foreseen that including black women in the parade would add to the potential for the violent reaction that actually occurred. Suffragist Mary Church Terrell reported that the Delta marchers were required to assemble in a segregated area. It was her opinion that:
If [Paul] and other white suffragist leaders could get the Anthony Amendment through without enfranchising African American women, they would do so.
Linda Lumsden's biography of Inez Milholland makes clear that however much Inez may have gone along with excluding blacks in other social contexts, she was firm about the participation of the Deltas.  Milholland was, like her father, a member of the NAACP. Citing Mary Church Terrell again, Lumsden says that Milholland insisted that the Howard contingent be allowed to march in the college section. Emmett Scott, secretary-treasurer of Howard University, said that Milholland
was unwilling to participate in a parade symbolizing a movement which was not big enough or broad enough to live up to the principles for which it was contending. (Lumsden, Inez, p. 91.)
On the day of the parade, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a former slave who had become a leading suffragist, defied the ruling of the Congressional Committee and marched with her Chicago NAWSA delegation. Others followed suit. In the end, 22 women marched in the Delta contingent and an unknown number of black NAWSA delegates marched with their geographical groups. But the only black organization to march as a group in the parade was the Howard delegation of Deltas! If 250 black women altogether were in the march – probably too high an estimate – and we use the lower NY Times estimate of the number of marchers, it means black marchers were at most 5 percent of the total.

The Deltas listen to their leaders talk about the Deltas' mission,
 "public service" and "social activism." Photo by JT Marlin.
The 2013 March Reversed the Racial Balance. The March 3, 2013 march was a totally different affair. This time, the newly born, tiny Deltas were now the main organizer of the event. They have grown into an army of 300,000 black women world-wide.

For the 100th anniversary march, Delta Sigma Theta reported 20,000 marchers signed up to be in Washington for the parade. The National Park Service posted a crowd estimate of 20,000-25,000.

My estimate is that fewer than 1,000 of the marchers were white men and women. The racial percentages were therefore exactly reversed. In 1913, at most 5 percent of the marchers were black. In 2013, at most 5 percent were white.

Looking Forward, Not Back. Another major difference in 2013 is in the nature of the participation of the Deltas and the other women's groups.
  • The traditional women's groups, mostly white women, were commemorating the actions of the suffragists to obtain the vote. They dressed up in the costumes of 1913 with purple, gold and white sashes and dresses. Although the picketing of the White House did not start until January 1917, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial group had an effective tableau in place on March 2, 2013 showing the Silent Sentinels in front of the White House. When the demonstrators were arrested by the DC Police, Inez Milholland's sister Vida was one of those arrested, on July 4, 1917. They were taken away to the Occaquam workhouse in Lorton, Va., as described by a National Park Service Ranger who gave the history of woman suffrage in the United States while engaging the audience in some effective role playing (see second photo above).
  • For the Deltas, the parade was less about history and pageantry and more about the next phase of the women's movement. Those Deltas marched with a purpose, every one of them dressed in their red and white colors, and the speeches in front of the Capitol (see bottom photo) were about moving on to new challenges, using their vote to attack continuing abuse of women in the home or in the workplace.
Meaning of the 2013 Parade. The 2013 Centennial parade was scheduled to start at 9:30 am on Sunday but by the time the Deltas who had assembled at the foot of the Capitol were emptied out and other groups started to march it was 10:45 am. The women's groups were there, some in suffragist costume. The traditional women's groups were relatively few in number, several dozen each at most from the League of Women Voters (successor to NAWSA), the National Woman's Party/Sewall-Belmont House and Museum (successor to the breakaway Congressional Committee of NAWSA), the National Organization of Women, the Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Committee and ERA of New Jersey.

There was no rioting – far from it! It was an eerily quiet Sunday morning. The Deltas are all business. They didn't bring any marching bands, which explains why the crowds were thin. Since Washington, DC workers now mostly live in suburban Maryland and Virginia, there were few onlookers, maybe 5,000 at most. Protest marches in Washington are now a regular occurrence. The Deltas were in D.C. in January and will be back in a couple of months.

Inez Milholland's insistence that the Deltas be allowed to march took on more significance for me as I watched an hour-long parade of the sorority's many chapters go by. Inez knew which way the winds were blowing. For the Deltas in 2013:
  • The purpose of most of the marchers, and the meaning of the event, was not so much a memorial to the achievements of yesterday.
  • Rather, it was a reaffirmation of what the original marchers believed in. Progress has been achieved – that is obvious – since the first parade. But the Deltas marched not so much out of reverence for the past as out of determination to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
[I have written a longer post putting the two marches in a more complete historical context. I have long been fascinated by the story because Inez Milholland married my mother's uncle, Eugen Boissevain.]

Thursday, February 28, 2013

INEZ | Famed Parade Leader Forgotten

This iconic poster is based on the painting that
hangs in the lobby of the Sewall-Belmont
House in Washington next the Hart Senate
Office Building, was above the mantelpiece. 
February 28, 1913–The Washington Post yesterday, has a story on Inez Milholland from the perspective of the great contrast between her huge contemporary fame and the memory of her contribution to woman suffrage. 

Inez, Suffragette

The story is well told by Lonnae O'Neal Parker, who correctly calls Inez a "suffragette". 

Among the comments (28 when I last looked, several of them mine), one said "suffragette" was the wrong word and "suffragist" was correct. But in fact "suffragette" was not a word that either Inez or Alice Paul shrunk from. It connotes a willingness to be active ("in your face" we might say today) in pursuit of Votes for Women.

Inez trained with the self-styled Pankhurst suffragettes in England, when her father John E. Milholland had a house in London while he tried to get business for his pneumatic tubes from the British Post Office. Alice Paul was also with the suffragettes in London when she was recruited to take over NAWSA's then-moribund Congressional Committee.

The suffragettes were not embarrassed by standing on street corners and shouting "Votes for Women." Dignified ladies preferred to work behind the scenes, but the suffragettes said they had waited long enough for this low-profile approach to bear fruit. They took to the streets.

The parade in Washington was organized by the Alice-Paul-run Congressional Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The Committee later broke away from NAWSA and became the independent National Woman's Party. 

Both groups played a part in obtaining votes for women and hostility between the groups is unfortunate and unnecessary.

The long-term lobbying of NAWSA was important, but the chain of causation that led to final passage of the 19th Amendment can only be traced via the National Woman's Party. 

The parade 100 years ago is what emboldened the radicals to break off and pursue their own attention-getting campaign. Google "Inez Milholland Boissevain" (her married name) and for a "forgotten woman" you will find a lot of gigabytes of information about her.

No Memorial to Inez

One of the commenters said that there should be a statue to Inez Milholland in Washington. Several people thought this was a great idea. It could be located in one of the squares along Massachusetts Avenue west of the Capitol, where it crosses the grid.

Stanton Square is the other direction, a few blocks east of the Capitol. The square itself is named after Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War during the Civil War. Maybe no one would object if the name of the square was shared between him and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The square was the location of the first campaign headquarters of two-term President Barack Obama.

The statue in Stanton Square is not of Stanton but rather of Nathanael Greene, a soldier in George Washington's army after whom is named Greensboro, NC–birthplace of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). 

It is in good condition, i.e., not a candidate for rider replacement. But maybe the National Park Service could come up with a candidate for redeploying one of the many handsome warhorse statues in Washington, DC. They would need to find one where the horse is solid but the rider is worn out by rain, or is by a mediocre sculptor and does not have a family or an institution to object vociferously to replacing the rider.

Iron-Jawed Angels

Another commenter on the Washington Post story recommends the movie Iron-Jawed Angels, wthe première of which I saw in Philadelphia. It tells the 19th Amendment story from Alice Paul's point of view. Alice Paul was a behind-the-scenes organizer, and a good one. She knew that Inez Milholland was the perfect woman to put in front of the public as the figurehead of the parade of the National Woman's Party. Inez would capture the affection of both men and women. Inez was happy to play that role.

But when Inez got sick in 1916 on her national campaign with her sister Vida, she should have stopped. Instead, spurred on by Alice Paul, she carried on until her collapse and death. In the movie, Paul is stricken with remorse.

We need another movie, from the perspective of Inez Milholland and the inspiration she was for the rest of the woman's movement. It would be a more interesting movie! In Iron-Jawed Angels (2004), Inez was played by Julia Ormond, who was then 39, nine years older than Hilary Swank, who played Alice Paul. Actually, Inez was younger than Alice Paul, not to mention rated "the fairest of the Amazons" by The New York Times editors, who normally don't get into rating the fairness of women.

Picketing the White House 

The picketing of the White House in 1917, started because President Wilson dissed a delegation of women from the National Woman's Party who appealed to him with 250 memorials of inez Milholland Boissevain's death. The emotional reaction is hard to understand unless you appreciate the contrast between the affection people had for Inez and the President's ivory-tower lecture to the delegation on its ignorance of political reality.

The National Woman's Party was then across Lafayette Park. The angry, fuming women left the White House and immediately started picketing in front of the White House gates, calling themselves the Silent Sentinels. The ignorance of political reality was more on the President's side than on the side of the National Woman's Party.

This phase is called the Turning Point by the Turning Point Suffrage Memorial group, which wants to create a memorial to the suffragists at the Workhouse (prison) in Lorton, Virginia, where the women were brought when President Wilson signaled his impatience with the picketing. In prison, the women - including Inez's sister Vida Milholland - went on a hunger strike and were force-fed, and that is when the tide of public opinion turned in favor of the suffragists. In changing his mind, Wilson referred to the good work of women in the war effort, but when the 19th Amendment was passed the New York Times gave credit both to the good ladies of NAWSA and the more radical women (young and old) of the NWP, giving one the silver pen and the other the gold inkstand.

Remembering the 1913 Parade, 100 Years Later


The parade on Sunday is sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority at Howard University. Back in 1913, when they asked the National Woman's Party if they could be in the parade, the initial response was that it would be awkward because the southern membership of NAWSA would be upset. 

Inez Milholland got wind of this and talked to Alice Paul about it and the sorority was allowed to march, but they were put safely towards the back of the parade. The National Woman's Party became very brave by 1917 but in 1913 they were just the Congressional Committee of NAWSA, which itself was a merger of two suffrage groups (NWSA and AWSA, if I remember correctly) that had split over tactics when it appeared that non-white men would be added to the electorate before white women. Former slave Frederick Douglass was a key advocate in 1848 for the first Women's Convention to go for votes for women. But when during the Civil War it came to a choice between enfranchising black men or white women, he could only go one way.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

INEZ | Her Herald Uniform 1913 (Update Aug. 5, 2016)

1. Alice Paul's idea of Inez Milholland's
1913 costume as the Herald. The trumpet
was a non-starter; hard to handle that and
the horse at the same time.
The Woman Suffrage "Procession" was scheduled on the eve of Woodrow Wilson's first inauguration, on March 2, 1913.

Alice Paul, on behalf of the newly formed Congressional Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), asked Inez to lead the parade.

The Congressional Committee the following month, emboldened by the success of the parade, became the Congressional Union. In 1916 this entity, with significant new funding, became the National Woman's Party.

Alice Paul asked Inez to be a Herald and wear a uniform emblazoned with the three colors of the suffrage movement – gold, white and purple (in heraldic lingo – or, argent and purpure).

These are the colors that Inez is shown wearing on the flyers about the parade.

2. Inez Milholland on "Gray Dawn" (loaned by
Mr. A. D. Addison of Washington) at the
start of the parade. Photo: Library of Congress.
But Inez decided that an all-white–or, in The New York Times account, a pale blue–cloak looked better. Alice Paul was unhappy about it, but what could she do?

The white uniform was a success. The day after the parade, the N Y Times story devoted its early paragraphs to Inez's striking appearance at the head of the parade.

Later in the story, we are told that the event was marred by violence – the D.C. police were unable or unwilling to keep order, and cavalry from Fort Myer, Va. had to be brought in to keep the peace.

The Washington Post called Inez "the most beautiful suffragette" (this source also has a great collection of postcard photos of the parade).

What do you think? Photos of the actual event show Inez like a clothed Lady Godiva – white gown on a white horse.
The iconic poster of Inez, 1923 for the
 "Forward into Light" pageant at
Meadowmount, Lewis, N.Y.

One of those photos served as the image used to create the iconic posthumous portrait of Inez on a horse. For decades until 2011 it hung over the mantelpiece in the Sewall-Belmont House, now renamed the Belmont-Paul National Monument,  in Washington. (The mantelpiece was removed because of chimney leaks.)

The iconic painting was in bad condition and was carefully restored with the assistance of a Committee headed by Al Boissevain and Allegra Milholland.

The poster made from the painting inspired the National Woman's Party picketers and hunger strikers.

When Inez was married in July 1913, the New York Times expressed regret that a Hollander with a French name (Boissevain) had nabbed Milholland, the daughter of a Scotch Irish man (the family name Milholland is an Anglo-Irish transliteration of a Gaelic word meaning Follower of St. Chulann).

The Times described Inez as "the Fairest of the Amazons".

Related Posts: Suffrage Play June 11, 2017 in Vienna, Va.

INEZ | 5A. The 1913 Suffrage Parade Line of March [11]

Suffrage march line How thousands of women parade today at Capitol 1913.jpgThe line of march of the suffrage parade looking from the front toward the back. Nowhere will you see "Howard University" or "Deltas".

The black sorority at Howard University, the Deltas, was initially told they would not be allowed to march because it would set back the cause of votes for women. Some leaders of the Congressional Committee of NAWSA were concerned about a southern backlash and wanted black women excluded from the parade.

Inez Milholland Boissevain
at head of parade, 1913.
This was the consensus until Inez Milholland heard about it. Her father John E. Milholland was the first Treasurer of the NAACP.

She insisted that the Deltas be allowed to march. This intervention is dramatized in my play, Take Up the Song. (New version available from the author, 2016. Contact jtmarlin@post.harvard.edu.)

However, in segregated Washington, the sorority had to assemble in a "colored only" area. They were inserted at the end of the parade.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett defied the Congressional Committee and slipped in with her NAWSA chapter, Chicago early on in the parade. Others followed suit.

While perhaps 30 black women marched in the parade in 1916, in the centennial parade virtually all of the marchers were from the Delta sorority.

If we were to redraw the line of march in 1916, the Deltas would account for the entire line except for the floats and bands at the end!




5A. Washington Centennial [12]

Several Washington-based women's groups are sponsoring a 100th anniversary of the suffrage parade that greeted Woodrow Wilson on the even of his inauguration. He refused to support Votes for Women (the Anthony Amendment) and the parade was intended to promote his support. All of this is posted on the website www.boissevain.us/inezmilholland.

The events in Washington start on February 28 (Thursday - tomorrow) and go through Sunday, when the parade is re-enacted. I plan to be there on February 28, March 2 and March 3. I must be in NYC on March 1. I can be reached by email at teppermarlin@aol.com.


memory.loc.gov › American MemoryShare
Suffrage Parade 3/3/13 [Inez Milholland Boissevain]. ... Soon, however, the crowds, mostly men in town for the following day's inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, ....American Woman Suffrage Association paradeWashington, D.C., March 3, ...

The Suffrage Centennial Celebration in Washington will re-enact the parade of 5,000 suffragists, who braved 500,000 onlookers, including many hostile and physically violent men, on March 3, 1913, with a single public demand, the right to vote! The Celebration begins Thursday, February 28 and continues through March 3.

The weekend events include exhibits, speakers, panels, movies, special programs. See historic places and treasures found only in the nation’s capital including the 19thAmendment to the U.S. Constituent at the National Archives and the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, the historic headquarters of the National Woman’s Party.

See suffragists picket the White House once more at noontime - 10 am to 2 pm (the picketing was launched in 1917, immediately after a group of NWP women went to President Wilson with memorials on the death of Inez Milholland two months before.  Wilson ridiculed their lack of political savvy and that provoked a backlash. At that time the National Woman's Party was located across Lafayette Square from the White House, so they went back to HQ and decided to turn around and start picketing until Wilson agreed to support suffrage. That picketing led to arrests, then imprisonment, then a hunger strike. Public opinion shifted and Wilson changed his mind (as he did on the other major issue of 1916, going to war with Germany). The Congress passed the 19th Amendment, Wilson signed it, and it was ratified by the last required state in 1920. This ended a 72-year struggle (dating from the Seneca Falls Convention) by three generations and millions of women. 


Come honor and learn about the women behind the historic victory that gave women the power to vote.  See  
www.suffrage-centennial.org for complete information and details.  Join the parade-- -Suffrage Centennial March  down Pennsylvania Avenue on Sunday at 9:00 am. Register at: http://nwhm.ticketleap.com/join-the-parade/

Google "Inez Milholland" and you will find many of my blogposts on this great woman, one of the American  Heroines of the 20th century. Or go to www.boissevain.us and click on "Inez Milholland".

Here is a synoptic view of the events (exhibits not included) of the weekend. It is meant for volunteers, but it will tell you what the main events are, how long they will take, and where they take place.
Date
Event
Meeting Place for Volunteers
Thurs, February 28th
5:15 pm to 7,
party over by 9
Silent Sentinels at NPC
National Press Club ("NPC")
529 14th Street NW
Meet in street level lobby of office building
TPSM Board at NPC
Go to cocktail party on 13th floor
Fri.March 1st 
 5:15 pm to
6:30 pm
Embassy of Finland
NEC of 34th Street and Mass Avenue NW
Embassy is 3301 Mass Avenue NW
Sat. March 2nd
8:30 am
To 5:15 pm
Table at AAUW
AAUW lobby
1111 16th Street NW (NEC 16th and L Streets)
March 2nd 9:30 am
To 2 pm
White House with NPC
White House Gates
160 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Sunday March 3rd 8:30 am
Till noon??
Parade
U.S. Botanic Gardens  -  at the main sign/entrance
100 Maryland Avenue SW
Near Reflecting Pond and Russell House Bldg.
Near 1st and Independence Avenue SW
Parade starting point is West Lawn of Capitol