March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, here’s an awesome chronicle from the Library of Congress on Suffrage:
100 Years Ago Today: “A Declaration of Independence We Celebrate,” The Washington Herald, March 3, 1913
In March 1913, more than one parade occupied the nation’s attention during President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration in Washington, DC. The day before the official swearing-in, thousands of “suffragists” from around the country, including famous activists such as Carrie Chapman Catt, Inez Millholland and Helen Keller, gathered to march the streets of Washington demanding women be given the right to vote.
Planned to be a peaceable 1-mile walk from the Capitol grounds to the White House, the day before the event the organizers learned their request for additional security and crowd management during the parade had been denied by military, political, and local law enforcement unwilling or unable to participate.
The result, according to the next day’s Washington Herald (Washington, DC) was a scene of chaos and disorder with more than 200 marchers injured amongst the crowds, horses and automobiles. During the parade, “masses of coagulated humanity” blocked the route and interfered with the carefully-orchestrated displays and symbolic “tableaux” planned by the organizers, even as the advocates marched on.
We don’t always think about our privilege to vote or the courage needed by Suffragettes to achieve it for us. Sometimes, we need to be reminded just how special it is. My husband is the one who forced me to recognize the opportunity I wasted until meeting him. On our honeymoon, we happened by a Voter Registration booth, and he asked if I was registered. My thoughts weren’t politically inclined as a young woman, so I ignored my right to vote for three years.
I haven’t missed an election since that day, more than 32 years ago, and you shouldn’t either. It’s okay for people to remind us of the opportunity to vote and to encourage us to use it. They do so because they care.
Robin Van Auken, CEO of Hands-on Heritage, is a writer and researcher, with 35+ years experience interviewing people and telling stories. Her educational background combines advanced degrees in Communications and Anthropology, with a focus on Public and Historical (Military/Industrial Sites) Archaeology. In addition to her work as a journalist, she is the author and co-author of a dozen books on regional history. An adjunct college instructor, she has directed multi-year historical and archaeological projects, working with hundreds of volunteers and temporary staff, and educating thousands of visitors.