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Women’s Monster Demonstration

March 3, 1913 – 104 years ago today – more than 8,000 suffragists marched in a “monster demonstration” in Washington, D.C., the day before the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, a non-supporter of women’s right to vote.  There were floats, bands, and divisions of women, including a delegation from Delta Sigma Theta, a sorority of black students from Howard University.  Ida B. Wells, the only black women in the Illinois delegation, defied organizers who told her to walk with a black delegation and slipped in the Illiinois delegation, walking with two white Illinois suffragists who welcomed her.  The parade and pageant started at the Capitol, marched up Pennsylvania Avenue, past the White House, and ended in a mass-meeting at Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Near the end of the parade a glorious tableau was staged on the steps of the Treasury Building. The captions in this full page spread in The Sun, 3/8/1913, read: top – “The head of the suffrage parade checked near the reviewing stand by the mob of spectators whom the Washington police were unable to handle. Two troops of United States Cavalry from Fort Myer are soon coming to their assistance at a critical moment.”  (In fact the police stood by, watching men attack the women, many of whom ended up in the hospital.  After a Congressional Hearing, the chief of police lost his job.)  Middle, L-R: “The Mounted Herald of the Suffrage Parade. Miss Inez Milholland, a dashing gold covered vision in white.” (In 1916, Milholland would die while fighting for the Cause.); “Mrs. Florence Flemming Noyes, the classical dancer, who represented ‘Liberty’ in the suffragette tableau on the Treasury steps. Mrs. Mildred Anderson ‘Hope’ and their attendants; “Mrs. Robert Burleson, the Grand Marshall, who led the great suffragette procession, assisted by a troupe of girl aides. all mounted on military charges.” Bottom: “Children’s song and dance on the south stage of Treasury at the conclusion of the parade.” 

In 2013,  my granddaughter Sophie, age 9 at the time, went to Washington, D.C. to march in the centennial reenactment of the great parade.

Deltas from around the country and England marched in celebration of their founding in 1913 and participation in that women’s first, but not last, “monster demonstration’!

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