This statement by Gertrude Watkins is the epigraph for The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight, Part IV, Chapter 11, Undauntable Suffragists: 1915—Getting about a million ideas.
I started writing The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight during the 2016 presidential campaign. Immersed in the relentless, implacable, treacherous opposition to women’s participation in the goverance of the country, I became increasingly doubtful that a woman would/could be elected president of the United States. Writing about women’s fierce fight for the vote in 1915 quadrupled my doubtfulness. Four colossal campaigns for woman suffrage referenda were underway in large eastern states—New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York. The stakes were high; suffragists believed that a victory in a large Eastern state would cause a cascade of victories elsewhere, even in resistant Southern states.
Suffragists across America joined the campaigns. The “Arkansas Flying Squadron,” three women from Little Rock, went to New York City to help and to get “suffragistically educated.” Gertrude Watkins (top image) was excited about “getting about a million ideas to take back” to Arkansas. Katherine Wentworth Ruschenberger, of Pennsylvania, financed the making of the Women’s Liberty
Bell, also call the Justice Bell, (second image) a one-ton copy of the iconic Liberty Bell without the crack and with the words “establish justice” added to the inscription. Tugboats with suffragists from New York and New Jersey met in the middle of the Hudson River to exchange
the Liberty Torch (third image.) On July 15, “Suffrage Blue Bird Day,” suffragists in Massachusetts tacked up 100,000 twelve-by-four inch brightly painted tin blue birds on telephone poles and
fences (fourth image.)
What were the results of the financially, emotionally, and physically costly campaigns? Male voters in all four states overwhelmingly refused to enfranchise women. Suffragists, undauntable suffragists, kept on keeping on, as, I realized, must I. (Click on images to enlarge them.)
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