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Epigraphs: “The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight,” Part IV, Chapter 12

This statement by Anna Howard Shaw is the epigraph for The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight, Chapter 12, Battle Cry: 1916—We have waited long enough.

In writing these posts, I am focusing on events that relate to the epigraph, although there is so much more in each chapter.  Anna Howard Shaw directed her words—We have waited

long enough—to an intransigent President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat who refused to mobilize members of his party, which was in control of  Congress, to pass a women’s suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (The first federal woman suffrage amendment resolution was introduced in Congress in 1868, and the second one in 1878, with wording that would remain unchanged until it was finally adopted in 1920!)

The occasion of Shaw’s salvo was the 1916 Emergency Convention of the National

American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), presided over by Carrie Chapman Catt. (Shaw retired in 1915, as honorary president.)  In her presidential address Catt issued a clarion call—DEMAND THE VOTE! WOMEN ARISE! She presented her strategy for victory dubbed “The Winning Plan” in a secret meeting with national officers and state

presidents who vowed to conduct a “red-hot, never-ceasing campaign.” Catt had invited President Wilson, who was running for reelection, to address the delegates on the fifth day of the convention. He arrived, looking dapper in white shoes, pants, shirt, and tie, topped by a dark blazer. His entourage included his wife, whose secretary had called Catt, inquiring as to the proper attire. Catt assured her that there was no  set standard. Edith Wilson arrived wearing a white dress, a hat with a single feather plume, and a luxurious white fox stole, complete with the fox’s head and tail, over her coat.

The audience greeted him with applause and cheers.  Making no promises, Wilson  cautioned patience, saying—”you can afford a little while to wait.”  He finished and sat down. Rising to her feet, Anna

Howard Shaw, a legendary orator, pointedly replied: “We have waited long enough for the vote, we want it now and we want it to come in your administration!”

The top image is a statue of Anna Howard Shaw, located in Anna Howard Shaw Memorial Park, Big Rapids, Michigan. It is inscribed with her words: Nothing bigger can come to a human being than to love a great cause more than life itself.  The middle, left image is Carrie Chapman Catt. The middle right image is Shaw, who was an ordained minister and medical doctor before becoming a full-time suffragist, and Catt, dressed to march in a suffrage parade. The bottom image is the headline for an article about Wilson’s appearance that appeared in a Tonopah, Nevada newspaper, the Tonopah Daily Bonaza, September 9, 1916. (Newspaper varied in the terms used for suffragists, including “Suffs” and “suffragettes,” the British term for militant fighters for the vote.)

Male voters defeated three woman suffrage amendment referenda in 1916: Iowa and West Virginia for the first time, and South Dakota for the sixth time! In Montana Jeannette Rankin won the election for a seat in the House of Representative, becoming the first woman to serve in U. S. Congress. Wilson was reelected as president of the U.S.

Chapter 12 includes many other events, including the death of and dramatic memorial service for Inez Milholland.  The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight is widely available in trade paperback and eBook. (Click on images to enlarge them.)

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