Rumors of our care-free and unconventional life began to circulate, and presently our Eden was invaded by the only serpent I have ever found in the newspaper world—a girl reporter from Boston. She telegraphed that she was coming to see us; and though, when she came, we had been warned of her propensities and received her in conventional attire, formally entertaining her with tea on the veranda, she went away and gave free play to a hectic fancy. She wrote a sensational full-page article for a Sunday newspaper, illustrated with pictures showing us all in knickerbockers. In this striking work of art I carried a fish net and pole and wore a handkerchief tied over my head. The article, which was headed THE ADAMLESS EDEN, was almost libelous, and I admit that for a long time it dimmed our enjoyment of our beloved retreat. Then, gradually, my old friends died, Mrs. Dietrick among the first; others moved away; and the character of the entire region changed. It became fashionable, privacy was no longer to be found there, and we ceased to visit it. For five years I have not even seen the cottage.
In 1908 I built the house I now occupy (in Moylan, Pennsylvania), which is the realization of a desire I have always had—to build on a tract which had a stream, a grove of trees, great boulders and rocks, and a hill site for the house with a broad outlook, and a railroad station conveniently near. The friend who finally found the place for me had begun his quest with the pessimistic remark that I would better wait for it until I got to Paradise; but two years later he telegraphed me that he had discovered it on this planet, and he was right. I have only eight acres of land, but no one could ask a more ideal site for a cottage; and on the place is my beloved forest, including a grove of three hundred firs. From every country I have visited I have brought back a tiny tree for this little forest, and now it is as full of memories as of beauty.
To the surprise of my neighbors, I built my house with its back toward the public road, facing the valley and the stream. "But you will never see anybody go by," they protested. I answered that the one person in the house who was necessarily interested in passers-by was my maid, and she could see them perfectly from the kitchen, which faced the road. I enjoy my views from the broad veranda that overlooks the valley, the stream, and the country for miles around.
Every suffragist I have ever met has been a lover of home; and only the conviction that she is fighting for her home, her children, for other women, or for all of these, has sustained her in her public work. Looking back on many campaign experiences, I am forced to admit that it is not always the privations we endure which make us think most tenderly of home. Often we are more overcome by the attentions of well-meaning friends. As an example of this I recall an incident of one Oregon campaign. I was to speak in a small city in the southern part of the state, and on reaching the station, hot, tired, and covered with the grime of a midsummer journey, I found awaiting me a delegation of citizens, a brass-band, and a white carriage drawn by a pair of beautiful white horses. In this carriage, and devotedly escorted by the citizens and the band, the latter playing its hardest, I was driven to the City Hall and there met by the mayor, who delivered an address, after which I was crowned with a laurel wreath. Subsequently, with this wreath still resting upon my perspiring brow, I was again driven through the streets of the city; and if ever a woman felt that her place was in the home and longed to be in her place, I felt it that day.
An almost equally trying occasion had San Francisco for its setting. The city had arranged a Fourth of July celebration, at which Miss Anthony and I were to speak. Here we rode in a carriage decorated with flowers—yellow roses—while just in front of us was the mayor in a carriage gorgeously festooned with purple blossoms. Behind us, for more than a mile, stretched a procession of uniformed policemen, soldiers, and citizens, while the sidewalks were lined with men and women whose enthusiastic greetings came to Miss Anthony from every side. She was enchanted over the whole experience, for to her it meant, as always, not a personal tribute, but a triumph of the Cause. But I sat by her side acutely miserable; for across my shoulders and breast had been draped a huge sash with the word "Orator" emblazoned on it, and this was further embellished by a striking rosette with streamers which hung nearly to the bottom of my gown. It is almost unnecessary to add that this remarkable decoration was furnished by a committee of men, and was also worn by all the men speakers of the day. Possibly I was overheated by the sash, or by the emotions the sash aroused in me, for I was stricken with pneumonia the following day and experienced my first serious illness, from which, however, I soon recovered.
On our way to California in 1895 Miss Anthony and I spent a day at Cheyenne, Wyoming, as the guests of Senator and Mrs. Carey, who gave a dinner for us. At the table I asked Senator Carey what he considered the best result of the enfranchisement of Wyoming women, and even after the lapse of twenty years I am able to give his reply almost word for word, for it impressed me deeply at the time and I have since quoted it again and again.
"There have been many good results," he said, "but the one I consider above all the others is the great change for the better in the character of our candidates for office. Consider this for a moment: Since our women have voted there has never been an embezzlement of public funds, or a scandalous misuse of public funds, or a disgraceful condition of graft. I attribute the better character of our public officials almost entirely to the votes of the women."
"Those are inspiring facts," I conceded, "but let us be just. There are three men in Wyoming to every woman, and no candidate for office could be elected unless the men voted for him, too. Why, then, don't they deserve as much credit for his election as the women?"
"Because," explained Senator Carey, promptly, "women are politically an uncertain factor. We can go among men and learn beforehand how they are going to vote, but we can't do that with women; they keep us guessing. In the old days, when we went into the caucus we knew what resolutions put into our platforms would win the votes of the ranchmen, what would win the miners, what would win the men of different nationalities; but we did not know how to win the votes of the women until we began to nominate our candidates. Then we immediately discovered that if the Democrats nominated a man of immoral character for office, the women voted for his Republican opponent, and we learned our first big lesson—that whatever a candidate's other qualifications for office may be, he must first of all have a clean record. In the old days, when we nominated a candidate we asked, 'Can he hold the saloon vote?' Now we ask, 'Can he hold the women's vote?' Instead of bidding down to the saloon, we bid up to the home."
Following the dinner there was a large public meeting, at which Miss Anthony and I were to speak. Mrs. Jenkins, who was president of the Suffrage Association of the state, presided and introduced us to the assemblage. Then she added: "I have introduced you ladies to your audience. Now I would like to introduce your audience to you." She began with the two Senators and the member of Congress, then introduced the Governor, the Lieutenant-Governor, the state Superintendent of Education, and numerous city and state officials. As she went on Miss Anthony grew more and more excited, and when the introductions were over, she said: "This is the first time I have ever seen an audience assembled for woman suffrage made up of the public officials of a state. No one can ever persuade me now that men respect women without political power as much as they respect women who have it; for certainly in no other state in the Union would it be possible to gather so many public officials under one roof to listen to the addresses of women."
The following spring we again went West, with Mrs. Catt, Lucy Anthony, Miss Hay and Miss Sweet, her secretary, to carry on the Pacific coast campaign of '96, arranged by Mrs. Cooper and her daughter Harriet, of Oakland—both women of remarkable executive ability. Headquarters were secured in San Francisco, and Miss Hay was put in charge, associated with a large group of California women. It was the second time in the history of campaigns—the first being in New York—that all the money to carry on the work was raised by the people of the state.
The last days of the campaign were extremely interesting, and one of their important events was that the Hon. Thomas Reed, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, for the first time came out publicly for suffrage. Mr. Reed had often expressed himself privately as in favor of the Cause—but he had never made a public statement for us. At Oakland, one day, the indefatigable and irresistible "Aunt Susan" caught him off his guard by persuading his daughter, Kitty Reed, who was his idol, to ask him to say just one word in favor of our amendment. When he arose we did not know whether he had promised what she asked, and as his speech progressed our hearts sank lower and lower, for all he said was remote from our Cause. But he ended with these words:
"There is an amendment of the constitution pending, granting suffrage to women. The women of California ought to have suffrage. The men of California ought to give it to them—and the next speaker, Dr. Shaw, will tell you why."
The word was spoken. And though it was not a very strong word, it came from a strong man, and therefore helped us.
Election day, as usual, brought its surprises and revelations. Mrs. Cooper asked her Chinese cook how the Chinese were voting—i. e., the native-born Chinamen who were entitled to vote—and he replied, blithely, "All Chinamen vote for Billy McKee and 'NO' to women!" It is an interesting fact that every Chinese vote was cast against us.
All day we went from one to another of the polling-places, and I shall always remember the picture of Miss Anthony and the wife of Senator Sargent wandering around the polls arm in arm at eleven o'clock at night, their tired faces taking on lines of deeper depression with every minute; for the count was against us. However, we made a fairly good showing. When the final counts came in we found that we had won the state from the north down to Oakland, and from the south up to San Francisco; but there was not a sufficient majority to overcome the adverse votes of San Francisco and Oakland. With more than 230,000 votes cast, we were defeated by only 10,000 majority. In San Francisco the saloon element and the most aristocratic section of the city made an equal showing against us, while the section occupied by the middle working-class was largely in favor of our amendment. I dwell especially on this campaign, partly because such splendid work was done by the women of California, and also because, during the same election, Utah and Idaho granted full suffrage to women. This gave us four suffrage states—Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho—and we prepared for future struggles with very hopeful hearts.
It was during this California campaign, by the way, that I unwittingly caused much embarrassment to a worthy young man. At a mass-meeting held in San Francisco, Rabbi Vorsanger, who was not in favor of suffrage for women, advanced the heartening theory that in a thousand years more they might possibly be ready for it. After a thousand years of education for women, of physically developed women, of uncorseted women, he said, we might have the ideal woman, and could then begin to talk about freedom for her.
When the rabbi sat down there was a shout from the audience for me to answer him, but all I said was that the ideal woman would be rather lonely, as it would certainly take another thousand years to develop an ideal man capable of being a mate for her. On the following night Prof. Howard Griggs, of Stanford University, made a speech on the modern woman—a speech so admirably thought out and delivered that we were all delighted with it. When he had finished the audience again called on me, and I rose and proceeded to make what my friends frankly called "the worst break" of my experience. Rabbi Vorsanger's ideal woman was still in my mind, and I had been rather hard on the men in my reply to the rabbi the night before; so now I hastened to give this clever young man his full due. I said that though the rabbi thought it would take a thousand years to make an ideal woman, I believed that, after all, it might not take as long to make the ideal man. We had something very near it in a speaker who could reveal such ability, such chivalry, and such breadth of view as Professor Griggs had just shown that he possessed.
That night I slept the sleep of the just and the well-meaning, and it was fortunate I did, for the morning newspapers had a surprise for me that called for steady nerves and a sense of humor. Across the front page of every one of them ran startling head-lines to this effect:
DR. SHAW HAS FOUND HER IDEAL MAN The Prospects Are That She Will Remain in California
Professor Griggs was young enough to be my son, and he was already married and the father of two beautiful children; but these facts were not permitted to interfere with the free play of fancy in journalistic minds. For a week the newspapers were filled with all sorts of articles, caricatures, and editorials on my ideal man, which caused me much annoyance and some amusement, while they plunged Professor Griggs into an abysmal gloom. In the end, however, the experience proved an excellent one for him, for the publicity attending his speech made him decide to take up lecturing as a profession, which he eventually did with great success. But neither of us has yet heard the last of the Ideal Man episode. Only a few years ago, on his return to California after a long absence, one of the leading Sunday newspapers of the state heralded Professor Griggs's arrival by publishing a full-page article bearing his photograph and mine and this flamboyant heading:
SHE MADE HIM And Dr. Shaw's Ideal Man Became the Idol of American Women and Earns $30,000 a Year
We had other unusual experiences in California, and the display of affluence on every side was not the least impressive of them. In one town, after a heavy rain, I remember seeing a number of little boys scraping the dirt from the gutters, washing it, and finding tiny nuggets of gold. We learned that these boys sometimes made two or three dollars a day in this way, and that the streets of the town—I think it was Marysville—contained so much gold that a syndicate offered to level the whole town and repave the streets in return for the right to wash out the gold. This sounds like the kind of thing Americans tell to trustful visitors from foreign lands, but it is quite true. Nuggets, indeed, were so numerous that at one of our meetings, when we were taking up a collection, I cheerfully suggested that our audience drop a few into the box, as we had not had a nugget since we reached the state. There were no nuggets in the subsequent collection, but there was a note which read: "If Dr. Shaw will accept a gold nugget, I will see that she does not leave town without one." I read this aloud, and added, "I have never refused a gold nugget in my life."
The following day brought me a pin made of a very beautiful gold nugget, and a few days later another Californian produced a cluster of smaller nuggets which he had washed out of a panful of earth and insisted on my accepting half of them. I was not accustomed to this sort of generosity, but it was characteristic of the spirit of the state. Nowhere else, during our campaign experiences, were we so royally treated in every way. As a single example among many, I may mention that Mrs. Leland Stanford once happened to be on a train with us and to meet Miss Anthony. As a result of this chance encounter she gave our whole party passes on all the lines of the Southern Pacific Railroad, for use during the entire campaign. Similar generosity was shown us on every side, and the question of finance did not burden us from the beginning to the end of the California work.
In our Utah and Idaho campaigns we had also our full share of new experiences, and of these perhaps the most memorable to me was the sermon I preached in the Mormon Tabernacle at Salt Lake City. Before I left New York the Mormon women had sent me the invitation to preach this sermon, and when I reached Salt Lake City and the so-called "Gentile" women heard of the plan, they at once invited me to preach to the "Gentiles" on the evening of the same Sunday, in the Salt Lake City Opera House.
On the morning of the sermon I approached the Mormon Tabernacle with much more trepidation than I usually experienced before entering a pulpit. I was not sure what particular kind of trouble I would get into, but I had an abysmal suspicion that trouble of some sort lay in wait for me, and I shivered in the anticipation of it. Fortunately, my anxiety was not long drawn out. I arrived only a few moments before the hour fixed for the sermon, and found the congregation already assembled and the Tabernacle filled with the beautiful music of the great organ. On the platform, to which I was escorted by several leading dignitaries of the church, was the characteristic Mormon arrangement of seats. The first row was occupied by the deacons, and in the center of these was the pulpit from which the deacons preach. Above these seats was a second row, occupied by ordained elders, and there they too had their own pulpit. The third row was occupied by, the bishops and the highest dignitaries of the church, with the pulpit from which the bishops preach; and behind them all, an effective human frieze, was the really wonderful Mormon choir.
As I am an ordained elder in my church, I occupied the pulpit in the middle row of seats, with the deacons below me and the bishops just behind. Scattered among the congregation were hundreds of "Gentiles" ready to leap mentally upon any concession I might make to the Mormon faith; while the Mormons were equally on the alert for any implied criticism of them and their church. The problem of preaching a sermon which should offer some appeal to both classes, without offending either, was a perplexing one, and I solved it to the best of my ability by delivering a sermon I had once given in my own church to my own people. When I had finished I was wholly uncertain of its effect, but at the end of the services one of the bishops leaned toward me from his place in the rear, and, to my mingled horror and amusement, offered me this tribute, "That is one of the best Mormon sermons ever preached in this Tabernacle."
I thanked him, but inwardly I was aghast. What had I said to give him such an impression? I racked my brain, but could recall nothing that justified it. I passed the day in a state of nervous apprehension, fully expecting some frank criticism from the "Gentiles" on the score of having delivered a Mormon sermon to ingratiate myself into the favor of the Mormons and secure their votes for the constitutional amendment. But nothing of the kind was said. That evening, after the sermon to the "Gentiles," a reception was given to our party, and I drew my first deep breath when the wife of a well-known clergyman came to me and introduced herself in these words:
"My husband could not come here to-night, but he heard your sermon this morning. He asked me to tell you how glad he was that under such unusual conditions you held so firmly to the teachings of Christ."
The next day I was still more reassured. A reception was given us at the home of one of Brigham Young's daughters, and the receiving-line was graced by the presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a bluff and jovial gentleman, and when he took my hand he said, warmly, "Well, Sister Shaw, you certainly gave our Mormon friends the biggest dose of Methodism yesterday that they ever got in their lives."
After this experience I reminded myself again that what Frances Willard so frequently said is true; All truth is our truth when it has reached our hearts; we merely rechristen it according to our individual creeds.
During the visit I had an interesting conversation with a number of the younger Mormon women. I was to leave the city on a midnight train, and about twenty of them, including four daughters of Brigham Young, came to my hotel to remain with me until it was time to go to the station. They filled the room, sitting around in school-girl fashion on the floor and even on the bed. It was an unusual opportunity to learn some things I wished to know, and I could not resist it.
"There are some questions I would like to ask you," I began, "and one or two of them may seem impertinent. But they won't be asked in that spirit—and please don't answer any that embarrass you."
They exchanged glances, and then told me to ask as many questions as I wished.
"First of all," I said, "I would like to know the real attitude toward polygamy of the present generation of Mormon women. Do you all believe in it?"
They assured me that they did.
"How many of you," I then asked, "are polygamous wives?"
There was not one in the group. "But," I insisted, "if you really believe in polygamy, why is it that some of your husbands have not taken more than one wife?"
There was a moment of silence, while each woman looked around as if waiting for another to answer. At last one of them said, slowly:
"In my case, I alone was to blame. For years I could not force myself to consent to my husband's taking another wife, though I tried hard. By the time I had overcome my objection the law was passed prohibiting polygamy."
A second member of the group hastened to tell her story. She had had a similar spiritual struggle, and just as she reached the point where she was willing to have her husband take another wife, he died. And now the room was filled with eager voices. Four or five women were telling at once that they, too, had been reluctant in the beginning, and that when they had reached the point of consent this, that, or another cause had kept the husbands from marrying again. They were all so passionately in earnest that they stared at me in puzzled wonder when I broke into the sudden laughter I could not restrain.
"What fortunate women you all were!" I exclaimed, teasingly. "Not one of you arrived at the point of consenting to the presence of a second wife in your home until it was impossible for your husband to take her."
They flushed a little at that, and then laughed with me; but they did not defend themselves against the tacit charge, and I turned the conversation into less personal channels. I learned that many of the Mormon young men were marrying girls outside of the Church, and that two sons of a leading Mormon elder had married and were living very happily with Catholic girls.
At this time the Mormon candidate for Congress (a man named Roberts) was a bitter opponent of woman suffrage. The Mormon women begged me to challenge him to a debate on the subject, which I did, but Mr. Roberts declined the challenge. The ground of his refusal, which he made public through the newspapers, was chastening to my spirit. He explained that he would not debate with me because he was not willing to lower himself to the intellectual plane of a woman.
XIII. PRESIDENT OF "THE NATIONAL"
In 1900 Miss Anthony, then over eighty, decided that she must resign the presidency of our National Association, and the question of the successor she would choose became an important one. It was conceded that there were only two candidates in her mind—Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt and myself—and for several months we gave the suffrage world the unusual spectacle of rivals vigorously pushing each other's claims. Miss Anthony was devoted to us both, and I think the choice was a hard one for her to make. On the one hand, I had been vice-president at large and her almost constant companion for twelve years, and she had grown accustomed to think of me as her successor. On the other hand, Mrs. Catt had been chairman of the organization committee, and through her splendid executive ability had built up our organization in many states. From Miss Anthony down, we all recognized her steadily growing powers; she had, moreover, abundant means, which I had not.
In my mind there was no question of her superior qualification for the presidency. She seemed to me the logical and indeed the only possible successor to Miss Anthony; and I told "Aunt Susan" so with all the eloquence I could command, while simultaneously Mrs. Catt was pouring into Miss Anthony's other ear a series of impassioned tributes to me. It was an unusual situation and a very pleasant one, and it had two excellent results: it simplified "Aunt Susan's" problem by eliminating the element of personal ambition, and it led to her eventual choice of Mrs. Catt as her successor.
I will admit here for the first time that in urging Mrs. Catt's fitness for the office I made the greatest sacrifice of my life. My highest ambition had been to succeed Miss Anthony, for no one who knew her as I did could underestimate the honor of being chosen by her to carry on her work.
At the convention in Washington that year she formally refused the nomination for re-election, as we had all expected, and then, on being urged to choose her own successor, she stepped forward to do so. It was a difficult hour, for her fiery soul resented the limitations imposed by her worn-out body, and to such a worker the most poignant experience in life is to be forced to lay down one's work at the command of old age. On this she touched briefly, but in a trembling voice; and then, in furtherance of the understanding between the three of us, she presented the name of Mrs. Catt to the convention with all the pride and hope a mother could feel in the presentation of a daughter.
Her faith was fully justified. Mrs. Catt made an admirable president, and during every moment of the four years she held the office she had Miss Anthony's whole-hearted and enthusiastic support, while I, too, in my continued office of vice-president, did my utmost to help her in every way. In 1904, however, Mrs. Catt was elected president of the International Suffrage Alliance, as I have mentioned before, and that same year she resigned the presidency of our National Association, as her health was not equal to the strain of carrying the two offices.
Miss Anthony immediately urged me to accept the presidency of the National Association, which I was now most unwilling to do; I had lost my ambition to be president, and there were other reasons, into which I need not go again, why I felt that I could not accept the post. At last, however, Miss Anthony actually commanded me to take the place, and there was nothing to do but obey her. She was then eighty-four, and, as it proved, within two years of her death. It was no time for me to rebel against her wishes; but I yielded with the heaviest heart I have ever carried, and after my election to the presidency at the national convention in Washington I left the stage, went into a dark corner of the wings, and for the first time since my girlhood "cried myself sick."
In the work I now took up I found myself much alone. Mrs. Catt was really ill, and the strength of "Aunt Susan" must be saved in every way. Neither could give me much help, though each did all she should have done, and more. Mrs. Catt, whose husband had recently died, was in a deeply despondent frame of mind, and seemed to feel that the future was hopelessly dark. My own panacea for grief is work, and it seemed to me that both physically and mentally she would be helped by a wise combination of travel and effort. During my lifetime I have cherished two ambitions, and only two: the first, as I have already confessed, had been to succeed Miss Anthony as president of our association; the second was to go around the world, carrying the woman-suffrage ideal to every country, and starting in each a suffrage society. Long before the inception of the International Suffrage Alliance I had dreamed this dream; and, though it had receded as I followed it through life, I had never wholly lost sight of it. Now I realized that for me it could never be more than a dream. I could never hope to have enough money at my disposal to carry it out, and it occurred to me that if Mrs. Catt undertook it as president of the International Suffrage Alliance the results would be of the greatest benefit to the Cause and to her.
In my first visit to her after her husband's death I suggested this plan, but she replied that it was impossible for her to consider it. I did not lose thought of it, however, and at the next International Conference, held in Copenhagen in 1907, I suggested to some of the delegates that we introduce the matter as a resolution, asking Mrs. Catt to go around the world in behalf of woman suffrage. They approved the suggestion so heartily that I followed it up with a speech setting forth the whole plan and Mrs. Catt's peculiar fitness for the work. Several months later Mrs. Catt and Dr. Aletta Jacobs, president of the Holland Suffrage Association, started on their world tour; and not until after they had gone did I fully realize that the two great personal ambitions of my life had been realized, not by me, but by another, and in each case with my enthusiastic co-operation.
In 1904, following my election to the presidency, a strong appeal came from the Board of Managers of the exposition to be held in Portland, Oregon, urging us to hold our next annual convention there during the exposition. It was the first time an important body of men had recognized us in this manner, and we gladly responded. So strong a political factor did the men of Oregon recognize us to be that every political party in the state asked to be represented on our platform; and one entire evening of the convention was given over to the representatives chosen by the various parties to indorse the suffrage movement. Thus we began in Oregon the good work we continued in 1906, and of which we reaped the harvest in 1912.
Next to "Suffrage Night," the most interesting feature of the exposition to us was the unveiling of the statue of Saccawagea, the young Indian girl who led the Lewis and Clark expedition through the dangerous passes of the mountain ranges of the Northwest until they reached the Pacific coast. This statue, presented to the exposition by the women of Oregon, is the belated tribute of the state to its most dauntless pioneer; and no one can look upon the noble face of the young squaw, whose outstretched hand points to the ocean, without marveling over the ingratitude of the nation that ignored her supreme service. To Saccawagea is due the opening up of the entire western country. There was no one to guide Lewis and Clark except this Indian, who alone knew the way; and she led the whole party, carrying her papoose on her back. She was only sixteen, but she brought every man safely through an experience of almost unparalleled hardship and danger, nursing them in sickness and setting them an example of unfaltering courage and endurance, until she stood at last on the Pacific coast, where her statue stands now, pointing to the wide sweep of the Columbia River as it flows into the sea.
This recognition by women is the only recognition she ever received. Both Lewis and Clark were sincerely grateful to her and warmly recommended her to the government for reward; but the government allowed her absolutely nothing, though each man in the party she had led was given a large tract of land. Tradition says that she was bitterly disappointed, as well she might have been, and her Indian brain must have been sadly puzzled. But she was treated little worse than thousands of the white pioneer women who have followed her; and standing: there to-day on the bank of her river, she still seems sorrowfully reflective over the strange ways of the nation she so nobly served.
The Oregon campaign of 1906 was the carrying out of one of Miss Anthony's dearest wishes, and we who loved her set about this work soon after her death. In the autumn preceding her passing, headquarters had been established in Oregon, and Miss Laura Gregg had been placed in charge, with Miss Gale Laughlin as her associate. As the money for this effort was raised by the National Association, it was decided, after some discussion, to let the National Association develop the work in Oregon, which was admittedly a hard state to carry and full of possible difficulties which soon became actual ones.
As a beginning, the Legislature had failed to submit an amendment; but as the initiative and referendum was the law in Oregon, the amendment was submitted through initiative patent. The task of securing the necessary signatures was not an easy one, but at last a sufficient number of signatures were secured and verified, and the authorities issued the necessary proclamation for the vote, which was to take place at a special election held on the 5th of June. Our campaign work had been carried on as extensively as possible, but the distances were great and the workers few, and as a result of the strain upon her Miss Gregg's health soon failed alarmingly.
All this was happening during Miss Anthony's last illness, and it added greatly to our anxieties.
She instructed me to go to Oregon immediately after her death and to take her sister Mary and her niece Lucy with me, and we followed these orders within a week of her funeral, arriving in Portland on the third day of April. I had attempted too much, however, and I proved it by fainting as I got off the train, to the horror of the friendly delegation waiting to receive us. The Portland women took very tender care of me, and in a few days I was ready for work, but we found conditions even worse than we had expected. Miss Gregg had collapsed utterly and was unable to give us any information as to what had been done or planned, and we had to make a new foundation. Miss Laura Clay, who had been in the Portland work for a few weeks, proved a tower of strength, and we were soon aided further by Ida Porter Boyer, who came on to take charge of the publicity department. During the final six weeks of the campaign Alice Stone Blackwell, of Boston, was also with us, while Kate Gordon took under her special charge the organization of the city of Portland and the parlor-meeting work. Miss Clay went into the state, where Emma Smith DeVoe and other speakers were also working, and I spent my time between the office headquarters and "the road," often working at my desk until it was time to rush off and take a train for some town where I was to hold a night meeting. Miss Mary and Miss Lucy Anthony confined themselves to office-work in the Portland headquarters, where they gave us very valuable assistance. I have always believed that we would have carried Oregon that year if the disaster of the California earthquake had not occurred to divert the minds of Western men from interest in anything save that great catastrophe.
On election day it seemed as if the heavens had opened to pour floods upon us. Never before or since have I seen such incessant, relentless rain. Nevertheless, the women of Portland turned out in force, led by Mrs. Sarah Evans, president of the Oregon State Federation of Women's Clubs, while all day long Dr. Pohl took me in her automobile from one polling-place to another. At each we found representative women patiently enduring the drenching rain while they tried to persuade men to vote for us. We distributed sandwiches, courage, and inspiration among them, and tried to cheer in the same way the women watchers, whose appointment we had secured that year for the first time. Two women had been admitted to every polling-place—but the way in which we had been able to secure their presence throws a high-light on the difficulties we were meeting. We had to persuade men candidates to select these women as watchers; and the only men who allowed themselves to be persuaded were those running on minority tickets and hopeless of election—the prohibitionists, the socialists, and the candidates of the labor party.
The result of the election taught us several things. We had been told that all the prohibitionists and socialists would vote for us. Instead, we discovered that the percentage of votes for woman suffrage was about the same in every party, and that whenever the voter had cast a straight vote, without independence enough to "scratch" his ticket, that vote was usually against us. On the other hand, when the ticket was "scratched" the vote was usually in our favor, whatever political party the man belonged to.
Another interesting discovery was that the early morning vote was favorable to our Cause the vote cast by working-men on their way to their employment. During the middle of the forenoon and afternoon, when the idle class was at the polls, the vote ran against us. The late vote, cast as men were returning from their work, was again largely in our favor—and we drew some conclusions from this.
Also, for the first time in the history of any campaign, the anti-suffragists had organized against us. Portland held a small body of women with antisuffrage sentiments, and there were others in the state who formed themselves into an anti-suffrage society and carried on a more or less active warfare. In this campaign, for the first time, obscene cards directed against the suffragists were circulated at the polls; and while I certainly do not accuse the Oregon anti-suffragists of circulating them, it is a fact that the cards were distributed as coming from the anti-suffragists—undoubtedly by some vicious element among the men which had its own good reason for opposing us. The "antis" also suffered in this campaign from the "pernicious activity" of their spokesman—a lawyer with an unenviable reputation. After the campaign was over this man declared that it had cost the opponents of our measure $300,000.
In 1907 Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont began to show an interest in suffrage work, and through the influence of several leaders in the movement, notably that of Mrs. Ida Husted Harper, she decided to assist in the establishment of national headquarters in the State of New York. For a long time the association's headquarters had been in Warren, Ohio, the home of Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton, then national treasurer, and it was felt that their removal to a larger city would have a great influence in developing the work. In 1909 Mrs. Belmont attended as a delegate the meeting of the International Suffrage Alliance in London, and her interest in the Cause deepened. She became convinced that the headquarters of the association should be in New York City, and at our Seattle convention that same year I presented to the delegates her generous offer to pay the rent and maintain a press department for two years, on condition that our national headquarters were established in New York.
This proposition was most gratefully accepted, and we promptly secured headquarters in one of the most desirable buildings on Fifth Avenue. The wisdom of the change was demonstrated at once by the extraordinary growth of the work. During our last year in Warren, for example, the proceeds from the sale of our literature were between $1,200 and $1,300. During the first year in New York our returns from such sales were between $13,000 and $14,000, and an equal growth was evident in our other departments.
At the end of two years Mrs. Belmont ceased to support the press department or to pay the rent, but her timely aid had put us on our feet, and we were able to continue our splendid progress and to meet our expenses.
The special event of 1908 was the successful completion of the fund President M. Carey Thomas of Bryn Mawr and Miss Mary Garrett had promised in 1906 to raise for the Cause. For some time after Miss Anthony's death nothing more was said of this, but I knew those two indefatigable friends were not idle, and "Aunt Susan" had died in the blessed conviction that their success was certain. In 1907 I received a letter from Miss Thomas telling me that the project was progressing; and later she sent an outline of her plan, which was to ask a certain number of wealthy persons to give five hundred dollars a year each for a term of years. In all, a fund of $60,000 was to be raised, of which we were to have $12,000 a year for five years; $4,500 of the $12,000 was to be paid in salaries to three active officers, and the remaining $7,500 was to go toward the work of the association. The entire fund was to be raised by May 1, 1908, she added, or the plan would be dropped.
I was on a lecture tour in Ohio in April, 1908, when one night, as I was starting for the hall where the lecture was to be given, my telephone bell rang. "Long distance wants you," the operator said, and the next minute a voice I recognized as that of Miss Thomas was offering congratulations. "The last dollar of the $60,000," she added, "was pledged at four o'clock this afternoon."
I was so overcome by the news that I dropped the receiver and shook in a violent nervous attack, and this trembling continued throughout my lecture. It had not seemed possible that such a burden could be lifted from my shoulders; $7,500 a year would greatly aid our work, and $4,500 a year, even though divided among three officers, would be a most welcome help to each. As subsequently arranged, the salaries did not come to us through the National Association treasury; they were paid directly by Miss Thomas and Miss Garrett as custodians of the fund. So it is quite correct to say that no salaries have ever been paid by the National Association to its officers.
Three years later, in 1911, another glorious surprise came to me in a very innocent-looking letter. It was one of many in a heavy mail, and I opened it absent-mindedly, for the day had been problem-filled.
The writer stated very simply that she wished to put a large amount into my hands to invest, to draw on, and to use for the Cause as I saw fit. The matter was to be a secret between us, and she wished no subsequent accounting, as she had entire faith in my ability to put the money to the best possible use.
The proposition rather dazed me, but I rallied my forces and replied that I was infinitely grateful, but that the amount she mentioned was a large one and I would much prefer to share the responsibility of disbursing it. Could she not select one more person, at least, to share the secret and act with me? She replied, telling me to make the selection, if I insisted on having a confidante, and I sent her the names of Miss Thomas and Miss Garrett, suggesting that as Miss Thomas had done so much of the work in connection with the $60,000 fund, Miss Garrett might be willing to accept the detail work of this fund. My friend replied that either of these ladies would be perfectly satisfactory to her. She knew them both, she said, and I was to arrange the matter as I chose, as it rested wholly in my hands.
I used this money in subsequent state campaigns, and I am very sure that to it was largely due the winning of Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon in 1912, and of Montana and Nevada in 1914. It enabled us for the first time to establish headquarters, secure an office force, and engage campaign speakers. I also spent some of it in the states we lost then but will win later—Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan—using in all more than fifteen thousand dollars. In September, 1913, I received another check from the same friend, showing that she at least was satisfied with the results we had achieved.
"It goes to you with my love," she wrote, "and my earnest hopes for further success—not the least of this a crowning of your faithful, earnest, splendid work for our beloved Cause. How blessed it is that you are our president and leader!"
I had talked to this woman only twice in my life, and I had not seen her for years when her first check came; so her confidence in me was an even greater gift than her royal donation toward our Cause.
XIV. RECENT CAMPAIGNS
The interval between the winning of Idaho and Utah in 1896 and that of Washington in 1910 seemed very long to lovers of the Cause. We were working as hard as ever—harder, indeed, for the opposition against us was growing stronger as our opponents realized what triumphant woman suffrage would mean to the underworld, the grafters, and the whited sepulchers in public office. But in 1910 we were cheered by our Washington victory, followed the next year by the winning of California. Then, with our splendid banner year of 1912 came the winning of three states—Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon—preceded by a campaign so full of vim and interest that it must have its brief chronicle here.
To begin, we conducted in 1912 the largest number of campaigns we had ever undertaken, working in six states in which constitutional amendments were pending—Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Arizona, and Kansas. Personally, I began my work in Ohio in August, with the modest aspiration of speaking in each of the principal towns in every one of these states. In Michigan I had the invaluable assistance of Mrs. Lawrence Lewis, of Philadelphia, and I visited at this time the region of my old home, greatly changed since the days of my girlhood, and talked to the old friends and neighbors who had turned out in force to welcome me. They showed their further interest in the most satisfactory way, by carrying the amendment in their part of the state.
At least four and five speeches a day were expected, and as usual we traveled in every sort of conveyance, from freight-cars to eighty horse-power French automobiles. In Eau Clair, Wisconsin, I spoke at the races immediately after the passing of a procession of cattle. At the end of the procession rode a woman in an ox-cart, to represent pioneer days. She wore a calico gown and a sunbonnet, and drove her ox-team with genuine skill; and the last touch to the picture she made was furnished by the presence of a beautiful biplane which whirred lightly in the air above her. The obvious comparison was too good to ignore, so I told my hearers that their women to-day were still riding in ox-teams while the men soared in the air, and that women's work in the world's service could be properly done only when they too were allowed to fly.
In Oregon we were joined by Miss Lucy Anthony. There, at Pendleton, I spoke during the great "round up," holding the meeting at night on the street, in which thousands of horsemen—cowboys, Indians, and ranchmen—were riding up and down, blowing horns, shouting, and singing. It seemed impossible to interest an audience under such conditions, but evidently the men liked variety, for when we began to speak they quieted down and closed around us until we had an audience that filled the streets in every direction and as far as our voices could reach. Never have we had more courteous or enthusiastic listeners than those wild and happy horsemen. Best of all, they not only cheered our sentiments, but they followed up their cheers with their votes. I spoke from an automobile, and when I had finished one of the cowboys rode close to me and asked for my New York address. "You will hear from me later," he said, when he had made a note of it. In time I received a great linen banner, on which he had made a superb pen-and-ink sketch of himself and his horse, and in every corner sketches of scenes in the different states where women voted, together with drawings of all the details of cowboy equipment. Over these were drawn the words:
WOMAN SUFFRAGE—WE ARE ALL FOR IT.
The banner hangs to-day in the National Headquarters.
In California Mr. Edwards presented me with the money to purchase the diamond in Miss Anthony's flag pin representing the victory of his state the preceding year; and in Arizona one of the highlights of the campaign was the splendid effort of Mrs. Frances Munds, the state president, and Mrs. Alice Park, of Palo Alto, California, who were carrying on the work in their headquarters with tremendous courage, and, as it seemed to me, almost unaided. Mrs. Park's specialty was the distribution of suffrage literature, which she circulated with remarkable judgment. The Governor of Arizona was in favor of our Cause, but there were so few active workers available that to me, at least, the winning of the state was a happy surprise.
In Kansas we stole some of the prestige of Champ Clark, who was making political speeches in the same region. At one station a brass-band and a great gathering were waiting for Mr. Clark's train just as our train drew in; so the local suffragists persuaded the band to play for us, too, and I made a speech to the inspiring accompaniment of "Hail to the Chief." The passengers on our train were greatly impressed, thinking it was all for us; the crowd at the station were glad to be amused until the great man came, and I was glad of the opportunity to talk to so many representative men—so we were all happy.
In the Soldiers' Home at Leavenworth I told the old men of the days when my father and brothers left us in the wilderness, and my mother and I cared for the home while they fought at the front—and I have always believed that much of the large vote we received at Leavenworth was cast by those old soldiers.
No one who knows the conditions doubts that we really won Michigan that year as well as the three other states, but strange things were done in the count. For example, in one precinct in Detroit forty more votes were counted against our amendment than there were voters in the district. In other districts there were seven or eight more votes than voters. Under these conditions it is not surprising that, after the vigorous recounting following the first wide-spread reports of our success, Michigan was declared lost to us.
The campaign of 1914, in which we won Montana and Nevada, deserves special mention here. I must express also my regret that as this book will be on the presses before the campaign of 1915 is ended, I cannot include in these reminiscences the results of our work in New York and other states.
As a beginning of the 1914 campaign I spent a day in Chicago, on the way to South Dakota, to take my part in a moving-picture suffrage play. It was my first experience as an actress, and I found it a taxing one. As a modest beginning I was ordered to make a speech in thirty-three seconds—something of a task, as my usual time allowance for a speech is one hour. The manager assured me, however, that a speech of thirty-three seconds made twenty-seven feet of film—enough, he thought, to convert even a lieutenant-governor!
The Dakota campaigns, as usual, resolved themselves largely into feats of physical endurance, in which I was inspired by the fine example of the state presidents—Mrs. John Pyle of South Dakota and Mrs. Clara V. Darrow of North Dakota. Every day we made speeches from the rear platform of the trains on which we were traveling—sometimes only two or three, sometimes half a dozen. One day I rode one hundred miles in an automobile and spoke in five different towns. Another day I had to make a journey in a freight-car. It was, with a few exceptions, the roughest traveling I had yet known, and it took me six hours to reach my destination. While I was gathering up hair-pins and pulling myself together to leave the car at the end of the ride I asked the conductor how far we had traveled.
"Forty miles," said he, tersely.
"That means forty miles AHEAD," I murmured. "How far up and down?"
"Oh, a hundred miles up and down," grinned the conductor, and the exchange of persiflage cheered us both.
Though we did not win, I have very pleasant memories of North Dakota, for Mrs. Darrow accompanied me during the entire campaign, and took every burden from my shoulders so efficiently that I had nothing to do but make speeches.
In Montana our most interesting day was that of the State Fair, which ended with a suffrage parade that I was invited to lead. On this occasion the suffragists wished me to wear my cap and gown and my doctor's hood, but as I had not brought those garments with me, we borrowed and I proudly wore the cap and gown of the Unitarian minister. It was a small but really beautiful parade, and all the costumes for it were designed by the state president, Miss Jeannette Rankin, to whose fine work, by the way, combined with the work of her friends, the winning of Montana was largely due.
In Butte the big strike was on, and the town was under martial law. A large banquet was given us there, and when we drove up to the club-house where this festivity was to be held we were stopped by two armed guards who confronted us with stern faces and fixed bayonets. The situation seemed so absurd that I burst into happy laughter, and thus deeply offended the earnest young guards who were grasping the fixed bayonets. This sad memory was wiped out, however, by the interest of the banquet—a very delightful affair, attended by the mayor of Butte and other local dignitaries.
In Nevada the most interesting feature of the campaign was the splendid work of the women. In each of the little towns there was the same spirit of ceaseless activity and determination. The president of the State Association, Miss Anne Martin, who was at the head of the campaign work, accompanied me one Sunday when we drove seventy miles in a motor and spoke four times, and she was also my companion in a wonderful journey over the mountains. Miss Martin was a tireless and worthy leader of the fine workers in her state.
In Missouri, under the direction of Mrs. Walter McNabb Miller, and in Nebraska, where Mrs. E. Draper Smith was managing the campaign, we had some inspiring meetings. At Lincoln Mrs. William Jennings Bryan introduced me to the biggest audience of the year, and the programme took on a special interest from the fact that it included Mrs. Bryan's debut as a speaker for suffrage. She is a tall and attractive woman with an extremely pleasant voice, and she made an admirable speech—clear, terse, and much to the point, putting herself on record as a strong supporter of the woman-suffrage movement. There was also an amusing aftermath of this occasion, which Secretary Bryan himself confided to me several months later when I met him in Atlantic City. He assured me, with the deep sincerity he assumes so well, that for five nights after my speech in Lincoln his wife had kept him awake listening to her report of it—and he added, solemnly, that he now knew it "by heart."
A less pleasing memory of Nebraska is that I lost my voice there and my activities were sadly interrupted. But I was taken to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Francis A. Brogan, of Omaha, and supplied with a trained nurse, a throat specialist, and such care and comfort that I really enjoyed the enforced rest—knowing, too, that the campaign committee was carrying on our work with great enthusiasm.
In Missouri one of our most significant meetings was in Bowling Green, the home of Champ Clark, Speaker of the House. Mrs. Clark gave a reception, made a speech, and introduced me at the meeting, as Mrs. Bryan had done in Lincoln. She is one of the brightest memories of my Missouri experience, for, with few exceptions, she is the most entertaining woman I have ever met. Subsequently we had an all-day motor journey together, during which Mrs. Clark rarely stopped talking and I even more rarely stopped laughing.
XV. CONVENTION INCIDENTS
From 1887 to 1914 we had a suffrage convention every year, and I attended each of them. In preceding chapters I have mentioned various convention episodes of more or less importance. Now, looking back over them all as I near the end of these reminiscences, I recall a few additional incidents which had a bearing on later events. There was, for example, the much-discussed attack on suffrage during the Atlanta convention of 1895, by a prominent clergyman of that city whose name I mercifully withhold. On the Sunday preceding our arrival this gentleman preached a sermon warning every one to keep away from our meetings, as our effort was not to secure the franchise for women, but to encourage the intermarriage of the black and white races. Incidentally he declared that the suffragists were trying to break up the homes of America and degrade the morals of women, and that we were all infidels and blasphemers. He ended with a personal attack on me, saying that on the previous Sunday I had preached in the Epworth Memorial Methodist Church of Cleveland, Ohio, a sermon which was of so blasphemous a nature that nothing could purify the church after it except to burn it down.
As usual at our conventions, I had been announced to preach the sermon at our Sunday conference, and I need hardly point out that the reverend gentleman's charge created a deep public interest in this effort. I had already selected a text, but I immediately changed my plans and announced that I would repeat the sermon I had delivered in Cleveland and which the Atlanta minister considered so blasphemous. The announcement brought out an audience which filled the Opera House and called for a squad of police officers to keep in order the street crowd that could not secure entrance. The assemblage had naturally expected that I would make some reply to the clergyman's attack, but I made no reference whatever to him. I merely repeated, with emphasis, the sermon I had delivered in Cleveland.
At the conclusion of the service one of the trustees of my reverend critic's church came and apologized for his pastor. He had a high regard for him, the trustee said, but in this instance there could be no doubt in the mind of any one who had heard both sermons that of the two mine was the tolerant, the reverent, and the Christian one. The attack made many friends for us, first because of its injustice, and next because of the good-humored tolerance with which the suffragists accepted it.
The Atlanta convention, by the way, was arranged and largely financed by the Misses Howard—three sisters living in Columbus, Georgia, and each an officer of the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association. It is a remarkable fact that in many of our Southern states the suffrage movement has been led by three sisters. In Kentucky the three Clay sisters were for many years leaders in the work. In Texas the three Finnegan sisters did splendid work; in Louisiana the Gordon sisters were our stanchest allies, while in Virginia we had the invaluable aid of Mary Johnston, the novelist, and her two sisters. We used to say, laughingly, if there was a failure to organize any state in the South, that it must be due to the fact that no family there had three sisters to start the movement.
From the Atlanta convention we went directly to Washington to attend the convention of the National Council of Women, and on the first day of this council Frederick Douglass came to the meeting. Mr. Douglass had a special place in the hearts of suffragists, for the reason that at the first convention ever held for woman suffrage in the United States (at Seneca Falls, New York) he was the only person present who stood by Elizabeth Cady Stanton when she presented her resolution in favor of votes for women. Even Lucretia Mott was startled by this radical step, and privately breathed into the ear of her friend, "Elizabeth, thee is making us ridiculous!" Frederick Douglass, however, took the floor in defense of Mrs. Stanton's motion, a service we suffragists never forgot.
Therefore, when the presiding officer of the council, Mrs. May Wright Sewall, saw Mr. Douglass enter the convention hall in Washington on this particular morning, she appointed Susan B. Anthony and me a committee to escort him to a seat on the platform, which we gladly did. Mr. Douglass made a short speech and then left the building, going directly to his home. There, on entering his hall, he had an attack of heart failure and dropped dead as he was removing his overcoat. His death cast a gloom over the convention, and his funeral, which took place three days later, was attended by many prominent men and women who were among the delegates. Miss Anthony and I were invited to take part in the funeral services, and she made a short address, while I offered a prayer.
The event had an aftermath in Atlanta, for it led our clerical enemy to repeat his charges against us, and to offer the funeral of Frederick Douglass as proof that we were hand in glove with the negro race.
Under the gracious direction of Miss Kate Gordon and the Louisiana Woman Suffrage Association, we held an especially inspiring convention in New Orleans in 1903. In no previous convention were arrangements more perfect, and certainly nowhere else did the men of a community co-operate more generously with the women in entertaining us. A club of men paid the rent of our hall, chartered a steamboat and gave us a ride on the Mississippi, and in many other ways helped to make the occasion a success. Miss Gordon, who was chairman of the programme committee, introduced the innovation of putting me before the audience for twenty minutes every evening, at the close of the regular session, as a target for questions. Those present were privileged to ask any questions they pleased, and I answered them—if I could.
We were all conscious of the dangers attending a discussion of the negro question, and it was understood among the Northern women that we must take every precaution to avoid being led into such discussion. It had not been easy to persuade Miss Anthony of the wisdom of this course; her way was to face issues squarely and out in the open. But she agreed that we must respect the convictions of the Southern men and women who were entertaining us so hospitably.
On the opening night, as I took my place to answer questions, almost the first slip passed up bore these words:
What is your purpose in bringing your convention to the South? Is it the desire of suffragists to force upon us the social equality of black and white women? Political equality lays the foundation for social equality. If you give the ballot to women, won't you make the black and white woman equal politically and therefore lay the foundation for a future claim of social equality?
I laid the paper on one side and did not answer the question. The second night it came to me again, put in the same words, and again I ignored it. The third night it came with this addition:
Evidently you do not dare to answer this question. Therefore our conclusion is that this is your purpose.
When I had read this I went to the front of the platform.
"Here," I said, "is a question which has been asked me on three successive nights. I have not answered it because we Northern women had decided not to enter into any discussion of the race question. But now I am told by the writer of this note that we dare not answer it. I wish to say that we dare to answer it if you dare to have it answered—and I leave it to you to decide whether I shall answer it or not."
I read the question aloud. Then the audience called for the answer, and I gave it in these words, quoted as accurately as I can remember them:
"If political equality is the basis of social equality, and if by granting political equality you lay the foundation for a claim of social equality, I can only answer that you have already laid that claim. You did not wait for woman suffrage, but disfranchised both your black and your white women, thus making them politically equal. But you have done more than that. You have put the ballot into the hands of your black men, thus making them the political superiors of your white women. Never before in the history of the world have men made former slaves the political masters of their former mistresses!"
The point went home and it went deep. I drove it in a little further.
"The women of the South are not alone," I said, "in their humiliation. All the women of America share it with them. There is no other nation in the world in which women hold the position of political degradation our American women hold to-day. German women are governed by German men; French women are governed by French men. But in these United States American women are governed by every race of men under the light of the sun. There is not a color from white to black, from red to yellow, there is not a nation from pole to pole, that does not send its contingent to govern American women. If American men are willing to leave their women in a position as degrading as this they need not be surprised when American women resolve to lift themselves out of it."
For a full moment after I had finished there was absolute silence in the audience. We did not know what would happen. Then, suddenly, as the truth of the statement struck them, the men began to applaud—and the danger of that situation was over.
Another episode had its part in driving the suffrage lesson home to Southern women. The Legislature had passed a bill permitting tax-paying women to vote at any election where special taxes were to be imposed for improvements, and the first election following the passage of this bill was one in New Orleans, in which the question of better drainage for the city was before the public. Miss Gordon and the suffrage association known as the Era Club entered enthusiastically into the fight for good drainage. According to the law women could vote by proxy if they preferred, instead of in person, so Miss Gordon drove to the homes of the old conservative Creole families and other families whose women were unwilling to vote in public, and she collected their proxies while incidentally she showed them what position they held under the law.
With each proxy it was necessary to have the signature of a witness, but according to the Louisiana law no woman could witness a legal document. Miss Gordon was driven from place to place by her colored coachman, and after she had secured the proxy of her temporary hostess it was usually discovered that there was no man around the place to act as a witness. This was Miss Gordon's opportunity. With a smile of great sweetness she would say, "I will have Sam come in and help us out"; and the colored coachman would get down from his box, and by scrawling his signature on the proxy of the aristocratic lady he would give it the legal value it lacked. In this way Miss Gordon secured three hundred proxies, and three hundred very conservative women had an opportunity to compare their legal standing with Sam's. The drainage bill was carried and interest in woman suffrage developed steadily.
The special incident of the Buffalo convention of 1908 was the receipt of a note which was passed up to me as I sat on the platform. When I opened it a check dropped out—a check so large that I was sure it had been sent by mistake. However, after asking one or two friends on the platform if I had read it correctly, I announced to the audience that if a certain amount were subscribed immediately I would reveal a secret—a very interesting secret. Audiences are as curious as individuals. The amount was at once subscribed. Then I held up a check for $10,000, given for our campaign work by Mrs. George Howard Lewis, in memory of Susan B. Anthony, and I read to the audience the charming letter that accompanied it. The money was used during the campaigns of the following year—part of it in Washington, where an amendment was already submitted.
In a previous chapter I have described the establishment of our New York headquarters as a result of the generous offer of Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont at the Seattle convention in 1909. During our first year in these beautiful Fifth Avenue rooms Mrs. Pankhurst made her first visit to America, and we gave her a reception there. This, however, was before the adoption of the destructive methods which have since marked the activities of the band of militant suffragists of which Mrs. Pankhurst is president. There has never been any sympathy among American suffragists for the militant suffrage movement in England, and personally I am wholly opposed to it. I do not believe in war in any form; and if violence on the part of men is undesirable in achieving their ends, it is much more so on the part of women; for women never appear to less advantage than in physical combats with men. As for militancy in America, no generation that attempted it could win. No victory could come to us in any state where militant methods were tried. They are undignified, unworthy—in other words, un-American.
The Washington convention of 1910 was graced by the presence of President Taft, who, at the invitation of Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery, made an address. It was understood, of course, that he was to come out strongly for woman suffrage; but, to our great disappointment, the President, a most charming and likable gentleman, seemed unable to grasp the significance of the occasion. He began his address with fulsome praise of women, which was accepted in respectful silence. Then he got round to woman suffrage, floundered helplessly, became confused, and ended with the most unfortunately chosen words he could have uttered: "I am opposed," he said, "to the extension of suffrage to women not fitted to vote. You would hardly expect to put the ballot into the hands of barbarians or savages in the jungle!"
The dropping of these remarkable words into a suffrage convention was naturally followed by an oppressive silence, which Mr. Taft, now wholly bereft of his self-possession, broke by saying that the best women would not vote and the worst women would.
In his audience were many women from suffrage states—high-minded women, wives and mothers, who had voted for Mr. Taft. The remarks to which they had just listened must have seemed to them a poor return. Some one hissed—some man, some woman—no one knows which except the culprit—and a demonstration started which I immediately silenced. Then the President finished his address. He was very gracious to us when he left, shaking hands with many of us, and being especially cordial to Senator Owens's aged mother, who had come to the convention to hear him make his maiden speech on woman suffrage. I have often wondered what he thought of that speech as he drove back to the White House. Probably he regretted as earnestly as we did that he had made it.
In 1912, at an official board meeting at Bryn Mawr, Mrs. Stanley McCormack was appointed to fill a vacancy on the National Board. Subsequently she contributed $6,000 toward the payment of debts incident to our temporary connection with the Woman's Journal of Boston, and did much efficient work for us, To me, personally, the entrance of Mrs. Stanley McCormack into our work has been a source of the deepest gratification and comfort. I can truly say of her what Susan B. Anthony said of me, "She is my right bower." At Nashville, in 1914, she was elected first vice-president, and to a remarkable degree she has since relieved me of the burden of the technical work of the presidency, including the oversight of the work at headquarters. To this she gives all her time, aided by an executive secretary who takes charge of the routine work of the association. She has thus made it possible for me to give the greater part of my time to the field in which such inspiring opportunities still confront us—campaign work in the various states.
To Mrs. Medill McCormack also we are indebted for most admirable work and enthusiastic support. At the Washington (D.C.) convention in 1913 she was made the chairman of the Congressional Committee, with Mrs. Antoinette Funk, Mrs. Helen Gardner of Washington, and Mrs. Booth of Chicago as her assistants. The results they achieved were so brilliant that they were unanimously re-elected to the same positions this year, with the addition of Miss Jeannette Rankin, whose energy and service had helped to win for us the state of Montana.
It was largely due to the work of this Congressional Committee, supported by the large number of states which had been won for suffrage, that we secured such an excellent vote in the Lower House of Congress on the bill to amend the national Constitution granting suffrage to the women of the United States. This measure, known as the Susan B. Anthony bill, had been introduced into every Congress for forty-three years by the National Woman Suffrage Association. In 1914, for the first time, it was brought out of committee, debated, and voted upon in the Lower House. We received 174 votes in favor of it to 204 against it. The previous spring, in the same Congress, the same bill passed the Senate by 35 votes for it to 33 votes against it.
The most interesting features of the Washington convention of 1913 were the labor mass-meetings led by Jane Addams and the hearing before the Rules Committee of the Lower House of Congress—the latter the first hearing ever held before this Committee for the purpose of securing a Committee on Suffrage in the Lower House to correspond with a similar committee in the Senate. For many years we had had hearings before the Judiciary Committee of the Lower House, which was such a busy committee that it had neither time nor interest to give to our measure. We therefore considered it necessary to have a special committee of our own. The hearing began on the morning of Wednesday, the third of December, and lasted for two hours. Then the anti-suffragists were given time, and their hearing began the following day, continued throughout that day and during the morning of the next day, when our National Association was given an opportunity for rebuttal argument in the afternoon. It was the longest hearing in the history of the suffrage movement, and one of the most important.
During the session of Congress in 1914 another strenuous effort was made to secure the appointment of a special suffrage committee in the Lower House. But when success began to loom large before us the Democrats were called in caucus by the minority leader, Mr. Underwood, of Alabama, and they downed our measure by a vote of 127 against it to 58 for it. This was evidently done by the Democrats because of the fear that the united votes of Republican and Progressive members, with those of certain Democratic members, would carry the measure; whereas if this caucus were called, and an unfavorable vote taken, "the gentlemen's agreement" which controls Democratic party action in Congress would force Democrats in favor of suffrage to vote against the appointment of the committee, which of course would insure its defeat.
The caucus blocked the appointment of the committee, but it gave great encouragement to the suffragists of the country, for they knew it to be a tacit admission that the measure would receive a favorable vote if it came before Congress unhampered.
Another feature of the 1913 convention was the new method of electing officers, by which a primary vote was taken on nominations, and afterward a regular ballot was cast; one officer was added to the members of the official board, making nine instead of eight, the former number. The new officers elected were Mrs. Breckenridge of Kentucky, the great-granddaughter of Henry Clay, and Mrs. Catherine Ruutz-Rees of Greenwich, Connecticut. The old officers were re-elected—Miss Jane Addams as first vice-president, Mrs. Breckenridge and Mrs. Ruutz-Rees as second and third vice-presidents, Mrs. Mary Ware Dennett as corresponding secretary, Mrs. Susan Fitzgerald as recording secretary, Mrs. Stanley McCormack as treasurer, Mrs. Joseph Bowen of Chicago and Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw of New York City as auditors.
It would be difficult to secure a group of women of more marked ability, or better-known workers in various lines of philanthropic and educational work, than the members composing this admirable board. At the convention of 1914, held in Nashville, several of them resigned, and at present (in 1914) the "National's" affairs are in the hands of this inspiring group, again headed by the much-criticized and chastened writer of these reminiscences:
Mrs. Stanley McCormack, first vice-president. Mrs. Desha Breckenridge, second vice-president. Dr. Katharine B. Davis, third vice-president. Mrs. Henry Wade Rogers, treasurer. Mrs. John Clark, corresponding secretary. Mrs. Susan Walker Fitzgerald, recording secretary. Mrs. Medill McCormack, } } Auditors Mrs. Walter McNabb Miller, of Missouri }
In a book of this size, and covering the details of my own life as well as the development of the great Cause, it is, of course, impossible to mention by name each woman who has worked for us—though, indeed, I would like to make a roll of honor and give them all their due. In looking back I am surprised to see how little I have said about many women with whom I have worked most closely—Rachel Foster Avery, for example, with whom I lived happily for several years; Ida Husted Harper, the historian of the suffrage movement and the biographer of Miss Anthony, with whom I made many delightful voyages to Europe; Alice Stone Blackwell, Rev. Mary Saffard, Jane Addams, Katharine Waugh McCullough, Ella Stewart, Mrs. Mary Wood Swift, Mrs. Mary S. Sperry, Mary Cogshall, Florence Kelly, Mrs. Ogden Mills Reid and Mrs. Norman Whitehouse (to mention only two of the younger "live wires" in our New York work), Sophonisba Breckenridge, Mrs. Clara B. Arthur, Rev. Caroline Bartlett Crane, Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw, Mrs. Raymond Brown, the splendidly executive president of our New York State Suffrage Association, and my benefactress, Mrs. George Howard Lewis of Buffalo. To all of them, and to thousands of others, I make my grateful acknowledgment of indebtedness for friendship and for help.
XVI. COUNCIL EPISODES
I have said much of the interest attending the international meetings held in Chicago, London, Berlin, and Stockholm. That I have said less about those in Copenhagen, Geneva, The Hague, Budapest, and other cities does not mean that these were less important, and certainly the wonderful women leaders of Europe who made them so brilliant must not be passed over in silence.
First, however, the difference between the Suffrage Alliance meetings and the International Council meetings should be explained. The Council meetings are made up of societies from the various nations which are auxiliary to the International Council—these societies representing all lines of women's activities, whether educational, industrial, or social, while the membership, including more than eleven million women, represents probably the largest organization of women in the world. The International Suffrage Alliance represents the suffrage interest primarily, whereas the International Council has only a suffrage department. So popular did this International Alliance become after its formation in Berlin by Mrs. Catt, in 1904, that at the Copenhagen meeting, only three years later, more than sixteen different nations were represented by regular delegates.
It was unfortunate, therefore, that I chose this occasion to make a spectacular personal failure in the pulpit. I had been invited to preach the convention sermon, and for the first time in my life I had an interpreter. Few experiences, I believe, can be more unpleasant than to stand up in a pulpit, utter a remark, and then wait patiently while it is repeated in a tongue one does not understand, by a man who is putting its gist in his own words and quite possibly giving it his own interpretative twist. I was very unhappy, and I fear I showed it, for I felt, as I looked at the faces of those friends who understood Danish, that they were not getting what I was giving them. Nor were they, for I afterward learned that the interpreter, a good orthodox brother, had given the sermon an ultra-orthodox bias which those who knew my creed certainly did not recognize. The whole experience greatly disheartened me, but no doubt it was good for my soul.
During the Copenhagen meeting we were given a banquet by the City Council, and in the course of his speech of welcome one of the city fathers airily remarked that he hoped on our next visit to Copenhagen there would be women members in the Council to receive us. At the time this seemed merely a pleasant jest, but two years from that day a bill was enacted by Parliament granting municipal suffrage to the women of Denmark, and seven women were elected to the City Council of Copenhagen. So rapidly does the woman suffrage movement grow in these inspiring days!
Recalling the International Council of 1899 in London, one of my most vivid pictures has Queen Victoria for its central figure. The English court was in mourning at the time and no public audiences were being held; but we were invited to Windsor with the understanding that, although the Queen could not formally receive us, she would pass through our lines, receiving Lady Aberdeen and giving the rest of us an opportunity to courtesy and obtain Her Majesty's recognition of the Cause. The Queen arranged with her chamberlain that we should be given tea and a collation; but before this refreshment was served, indeed immediately after our arrival, she entered her familiar little pony-cart and was driven slowly along lines of bowing women who must have looked like a wheat-field in a high wind.
Among us was a group of Indian women, and these, dressed in their native costumes, contributed a picturesque bit of brilliant color to the scene as they deeply salaamed. They arrested the eye of the Queen, who stopped and spoke a few cordial words to them. This gave the rest of us an excellent opportunity to observe her closely, and I admit that my English blood stirred in me suddenly and loyally as I studied the plump little figure. She was dressed entirely and very simply in black, with a quaint flat black hat and a black cape. The only bit of color about her was a black-and-white parasol with a gold handle. It was, however, her face which held me, for it gave me a wholly different impression of the Queen from those I had received from her photographs. Her pictured eyes were always rather cold, and her pictured face rather haughty; but there was a very sweet and winning softness in the eyes she turned upon the Indian women, and her whole expression was unexpectedly gentle and benignant. Behind her, as a personal attendant, strode an enormous East-Indian in full native costume, and closely surrounding her were gentlemen of her household, each in uniform.
By this time my thoughts were on my courtesy, which I desired to make conventional if not graceful; but nature has not made it easy for me to double to the earth as Lady Aberdeen and the Indian women were doing, and I fear I accomplished little save an exhibition of good intentions. The Queen, however, was getting into the spirit of the occasion. She stopped to speak to a Canadian representative, and she would, I think, have ended by talking to many others; but, just at the psychological moment, a woman rushed out of the line, seized Her Majesty's hand and kissed it—and Victoria, startled and possibly fearing a general onslaught, hurriedly passed on.
Another picture I recall was made by the Duchess of Sutherland, the Countess of Aberdeen, and the Countess of Warwick standing together to receive us at the foot of the marble stairway in Sutherland House. All of them literally blazed with jewels, and the Countess of Aberdeen wore the famous Aberdeen emerald. At Lady Battersea's reception I had my first memorial meeting with Mary Anderson Navarro, and was able to thank her for the pleasure she had given me in Boston so long ago. Then I reproached her mildly for taking herself away from us, pointing out that a great gift had been given her which she should have continued to share with the world.
"Come and see my baby," laughed Madame Navarro. "That's the best argument I can offer to refute yours."
At the same reception I had an interesting talk with James Bryce. He had recently written his American Commonwealth, and I had just read it. It was, therefore, the first subject I introduced in our conversation. Mr. Bryce's comment amused me. He told me he had quite changed his opinion toward the suffrage aspirations of women, because so many women had read his book that he really believed they were intelligent, and he had come to feel much more kindly toward them. These were not his exact words, but his meaning was unmistakable and his mental attitude artlessly sincere. And, on reflection, I agree with him that the American Commonwealth is something of an intellectual hurdle for the average human mind.
In 1908 the International Council was held in Geneva, and here, for the first time, we were shown, as entertainment, the dances of a country—the scene being an especially brilliant one, as all the dancers wore their native costumes. Also, for the first time in the history of Geneva, the buildings of Parliament were opened to women and a woman's organization was given the key to the city. At that time the Swiss women were making their fight for a vote in church matters, and we helped their cause as much as we could. To-day many Swiss women are permitted to exercise this right—the first political privilege free Switzerland has given them.
The International Alliance meeting in Amsterdam in 1909 was the largest held up to that time, and much of its success was due to Dr. Aletta Jacobs, the president of the National Suffrage Association of Holland. Dr. Jacobs had some wonderful helpers among the women of her country, and she herself was an ideal leader—patient, enthusiastic, and tireless. That year the governments of Australia, Norway, and Finland paid the expenses of the delegates from those countries—a heartening innovation. One of the interesting features of the meeting was a cantata composed for the occasion and given by the Queen's Royal Band, under the direction of a woman—Catharine van Rennes, one of the most distinguished composers and teachers in Holland. She wrote both words and music of her cantata and directed it admirably; and the musicians of the Queen's Band entered fully into its spirit and played like men inspired. That night we had more music, as well as a never-to-be-forgotten exhibition of folk-dancing.
The same year, in June, we held the meeting of the International Council in Toronto, and, as Canada has never been eagerly interested in suffrage, an unsuccessful effort was made to exclude this subject from the programme. I was asked to preside at the suffrage meetings on the artless and obvious theory that I would thus be kept too busy to say much. I had hoped that the Countess of Aberdeen, who was the president of the International Council, would take the chair; but she declined to do this, or even to speak, as the Earl of Aberdeen had recently been appointed Viceroy of Ireland, and she desired to spare him any embarrassment which might be caused by her public activities. We recognized the wisdom of her decision, but, of course, regretted it; and I was therefore especially pleased when, on suffrage night, the countess, accompanied by her aides in their brilliant uniforms, entered the hall. We had not been sure that she would be with us, but she entered in her usual charming and gracious manner, took a seat beside me on the platform, and showed a deep interest in the programme and the great gathering before us.