Friday, May 06, 2011

Today -100: May 6, 1911: Of suffrage parades, Jewish colonies, and great combinations of wealth

Women’s suffragists are about to hold a large suffrage parade in NYC to try to put pressure on the Legislature to pass a suffrage bill. Or, as the NYT puts it, they “will try to demonstrate their fitness for the suffrage by parading on Fifth Avenue.” Actually, the Times editorial isn’t being as sarcastic as that sounds. It adds that the parade “will indicate the courage of the paraders, the strength of their conviction, and their determination to win. No cause can be won without efforts of this strenuous and showy sort. ... They may get the suffrage some day, but never by reading papers at women’s clubs and passing resolutions.” It goes on to “sincerely hope, for their own sakes and the sake of the State, that they will fail.”

While not the first suffrage parade, the spectacle of women marching and giving speeches outdoors is something new, previously the province of women of the Salvation Army, and is still somewhat controversial among the national suffrage leaders. So what does a women’s suffrage parade look like? It will begin with someone playing “the delicate little lady of long ago in her sedan chair”, followed by a float featuring women in the domestic industries that have since moved into factories and shops, then actual workers from those factories and shops, then a float from Pennsylvania showing early Quaker women. It will be “a democratic procession,” i.e., no automobiles and only one carriage, for old pioneer suffragists who can’t walk five miles. There will be male supporters, led by Prof. John Dewey. Women from the five suffrage states, and 20 women from suffragist Norway, will march under their own banners (and a five-starred US flag, which some people will write letters to the Times denouncing as unpatriotic). There will be groups of college women and athletes. Some businesses are threatening to fire any female employee who marches in the parade.

Banker Jacob Schiff is planning to finance a colony of Jewish farmers in New Mexico.

In Kansas City, MO, on his testing-the-water-tour, NJ’s Gov. Woodrow Wilson says that what needs to be corrected in political life is “the control of politics and our life by great combinations of wealth.” Phew, glad they cleared up that problem 100 years ago.

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