Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: Article relates the plight of suffragists who were arrested for picketing the White House in 1917.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, August 2008]
Origins: The history of women's suffrage in the United States is a complex subject that cannot be done justice in a few paragraphs, so for the purposes of validating this item we'll merely note that the activists in the forefront of the universal suffrage movement in the early
In the spring of 1917, shortly after Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated for his second term as president and the United States declared war on Germany (thus officially bringing the U.S. into World
The threat of arrest added a new element to the picketing campaign. It was one thing to stand outside for a few hours holding a banner. It was quite another thing to go to jail for it. Paul, mindful of her own experiences in English prisons, advised her followers of the possible consequences. While she hoped that the response would be positive, she knew that each woman had to make up her own mind on theAlthough it's difficult to determine at this remove exactly what treatment was afforded to the arrested suffragists during their confinements (because one side had a vested interest in minimizing such reports and the other in exaggerating them), the ordinary conditions at jails, prisons, and workhouses of the era were typically grim:
Between June 22 and June 26, police made twenty-seven arrests. In all instances, the picketers were charged with obstruction of traffic and released without penalty. On
The next series of arrests produced the same penalties. On
[T]he conditions under which the suffragists were imprisoned were not very different from the conditions that prisoners had to endure as a matter ofThe "Night of Terror" referenced above took place at Occoquan on
Newly arrested and convicted suffragists had arrived at Occoquan and were in a holding room awaiting further processing. Without warning, Superintendent Whittaker burst into the room, followed by anywhere from fifteen to forty guards. Pandemonium broke out. Whittaker shouted orders to guards to take this prisoner or that prisoner — often identified by name — to the cells. The scene was one of bedlam, intentionally disorienting. Suffragists feared for their lives and the lives of their compatriots. May Nolan, a seventy-three-year-old Floridian with a lame leg that she had to take pains to treat gingerly, was literally dragged off between burly guards, each of whom held an arm, despite her assertions that she would go willingly and despite the pleas of other suffragists to refrain from injuring her leg. Dorothy Day had her arm twisted behind her back and was purposefully slammed down twice over the back of an iron bench. Dora Lewis was thrown into a cell with such force that she was knocked unconscious. For several frantic minutes her companions believed that she was dead.By 1918 the NWP's emphasis had shifted to lobbying for the remaining votes needed for passage of a federal suffrage amendment to the Constitution. That amendment was finally approved by Congress on
I firmly believe that ... Whittaker had determined to attack us as part of the government's plan to suppress
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