Friday, February 03, 2012

Today -100: February 3, 1912: I believe in women’s suffrage wherever they want it

The NYT covers the speeches by politicians at the banquet of the Periodical Publishers’ Association of America, but misses the big story, which came after the paper’s deadline.  It covers Woodrow Wilson’s speech but gives a scant three sentences to that of Robert La Follette, who basically destroyed his presidential chances, such as they were, with a Rick Perry-esque performance, but longer.  More than two hours long, in fact, rambling, repetitive (literally: he re-read certain paragraphs several times without noticing) and possibly drunken.  To be fair, he a) had recently had food poisoning and b) was worried about his daughter, who had a major operation scheduled for the next day, but the speech made many people think he was in the middle of a nervous breakdown, and Progressives switched their support to Roosevelt in droves.

The Association held a straw vote, which seems a rather unprofessional thing for publishers to do.  TR won.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill will come to Belfast soon to give a Home Rule speech.  It is expected that he will be met by 60 to 80,000 armed men – 30,000 will have revolvers and many will have clubs – one foot longer than the ones the police have.

A British submarine sinks with all hands (13 of them) off the Isle of Wight after being in a collision with the appropriately named gunboat Hazard.

Roosevelt writes an editorial in Outlook supporting women’s suffrage, sort of.  (It can be read here [pdf, 5 pages]).  He wants women-only statewide referenda on women’s suffrage to decide the issue: “I believe in women’s suffrage wherever they want it.  Where they do not want it the suffrage should not be forced upon them.”  He doesn’t think it’s a big deal either way: “I do not regard the movement as anything like as important as either its extreme friends of extreme opponents think.  It is so much less important than many other reforms that I have never been able to take a very heated interest in it.”  And most of the women with whom he associates oppose suffrage “precisely because they approach life from the standpoint of duty.”  And women are much more important as wives and mothers, which suffrage must not change.  “No woman will ever be developed who will stand above the highest and finest of the wives and mothers of today and of the yesterdays.  The exercise of suffrage can never be the most important of women’s rights or women’s duties.  The vital need for women, as for men, is to war against vice, and frivolity, and cold selfishness, and timid shrinking from necessary risk and effort.”

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