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tv   Suffragists the 19th Amendment  CSPAN  August 17, 2020 10:36pm-11:56pm EDT

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>> up next on american history tv, author rebecca roberts on the decade leading up to the passage of the 19th amendment and how women gained the right to vote. she is the author of "suffragits & the 19thamendment." >> i'm the president of the white house historical hosted this
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discussion. relive your history here on american history tv on c-span three. my name is stewart and i am president of the white house historical so season, it is my privilege to welcome you back to historic house and white house to store coal association for another one of our wonderful lectures. tonight is one of the annual national heritage lectures that we do in partnership with the u.s. capital historical society and the u.s. supreme court historical society. we have our wonderful colleagues from both here tonight and my great friend jane campbell, the new president of the capitol historical society. and i like to welcome her tonight. on june 4th, 1919, the 19th amendment was passed and sent to the states for ratification. the sufferagists used the white
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house as a backdrop to challenge inequity and bring attention to the cause and tonight we look forward to hearing more about their successful efforts to secure women's rights to vote. before i introduce our speaker, i have a couple of other introductions and things i'd like to share. first of all, we have guests from smith college here tonight. the washington club of smith college. stand up. stand up for washington. the smith college crowd. that's great. they're our special guests tonight. we're honored to have them. i'd also like to tell you a little bit about the white house historical association and for those who have been with us before, you know i love to talk about our wonderful mission that was begun in 1961 by first lady jacqueline kennedy and remember she was only 31 years old when her husband was inaugurated president of the united states. but at that young age, she had the vision and the foresight to know that what she and
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president kennedy needed then others would need over the course of time and that would be to have a private partner. nonpartisan, we accept no government funding whatsoever. but all of the resource we raise go to our education programs, to teach and tell the stories of white house history going back to 1792 and tonight is a part of that education outreach program. we also provide resources directly to the white house to maintain the museum standard of the state floor and the ground floor and the nonpublic historic rooms that mrs. kennedy envisioned maintaining and we have done that with every president and first lady since the kennedys and we're honored to do so. tonight our format will be i will introduce our wonderful speaker. and then following her remarks ann compton who you know as a wonderful friend of ours and a wonderful friend of yours, will come up and have an interview session and don't worry, this
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podium is going to be removed and set aside so all of can you have an unobstructed view of their conversation. ann is very supportive of us as an organization and she is of many things here in washington, you know her best as a former reporter and white house correspondent. she was the first woman assigned to cover the white house for network television. she worked for abc news for 41 years, retiring in 2014. you really haven't retired. you're very involved in active and engaged in things. i know with us, with the miller center and many other endeavors. her career spans seven presidents, ten presidential campaigns. she traveled to all 50 states, six continents, and an interesting of the many, many interesting anecdotes and stories about ann's years in covering the white house and the president, is the
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compelling story of her being with president bush, george w. bush on september 11th, 2001 as the only broadcast reporter that traveled around the country with him on that day. and will soon be coming up on 20 years, anniversary of that occasion. and we want to do something special to talk about the white house on 9/11. so we thank ann for her friendship and for being with us to take this series of lectures forward. we'll have another one in september on the role of pat nixon in the white house. this is the 50th anniversary of the nixons coming into the presidency and mrs. nixon becoming first lady. she is an unharolded first lady with her legacy with the white house and what she contributed in terms of artifacts. really american artifacts to the american collection and we'll be celebrating that with a lecture in september. and then in october, very exciting news. our dear friend has a brand new
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book that is going to be out in october. and for the first time ever, he's finally unlocking his recipe box and sharing the recipes from his service to five american presidents from jimmy carter to george w. bush and his wonderful confections that he created as executive white house pastry chef for those many years. jennifer pickens is an author of white house christmas is going to have a new book out on ceremonies at the white house and so we'll have a conversation with the chef and jennifer pickens at our event in october. so stay tuned for news on both of those occasions. and now for our prime event, very fortunate and in for a treat tonight to talk about this very important and timely happening in our nation's history and on the centennial of this important historic occasion. we have rebecca boggs roberts here as our speaker. and rebecca has been, i
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understand, many things in her life and her career and not limited to just these. she's been a journalist, a producer, she's been a tour guide. she's been a forensic anthropologist. she's been an event planner. she's been a political consultant. she's been a jazz singer. she's been a radio talk show host. and currently, she is curator of programming for planet word, a museum set to open in 2020. she's also found time to be the mom to two twin boys and wife and a great keeper of the family in line and on top of that, all of that, she's an author. she has written a wonderful book on the subject we are here to learn about tonight. and this part of american history and white house history. so with that, i'll have rebecca come up and then we'll remove the podium and rebecca and ann can have a conversation at the end. you're being invited to pose
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your questions as well. (applause) >> thank you all so much for having me. thank you, stewart. just to set the record straight, i actually have three sons, not to brag. but the twins have a little brother. so the sufferage movement really dates from seneca falls in 1848 and then to ratification in the 19th amendment in 1920. in the interest of brevity and focus, i'm not going to cover all 72 years. in fact, i'm going to ignore the 19th century and the first decade of the 20thcentury as well and really focus on the final push for the amendment. but if you have any questions about other parts of the movement, other players in the movement, i'll be more than happy to answer them when we go to q&a. i like to start with this image of the program from the 1913 sufferage march down pennsylvania avenue. it is the only image in color.
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the great thing about 20th century history is all the photographs but they're black and white. and this original program shows you how extraordinarily colorful everything was in this march. all the contemporary accounts talk about that as well. also the colors are really deliberate. in fact, almost everything in the sufferage movement is really deliberate. not only do these colors represent things but purple is a very rich, saturated color. gold, less so. white, of course, is the absence of color. these things show up really well in black and white photographs. that's all on purpose. and also if you want to see the artifacts of the movement in all their beautiful colorful glory, the belmont house capitol hill on the senate side, constitution second has all of the original banners. but also because we're in this centennial year, there are a bunch of terrific exhibits going on.
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there is one opening soon at the smithsonian. so go out and see all the artifacts in their glory. we're lucky enough to be in the town where they are curated. so this march, the 1913 march was the first civil rights march. there had been parades down pennsylvania avenue. but this idea of taking a cause to the core of federal washington was alice paul's idea. and it started the capitol at the legislative branch and marched all the way down pennsylvania avenue to the white house to the executive branch. and that was absolutely symbolic. and it was the day before woodrow wilson's inauguration. so if that sounds familiar, the same weekend as the inauguration of a president they hadn't voted for in order to remind him that he ignored women's voices from the parm of his administration, those parallels are very, very strong.
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let me see if this is advancing. i, of course, don't have my glasses on. so if it's not on i don't have any way of knowing that. so this is obviously the capitol end of pennsylvania avenue. pennsylvania avenue is a really, really broad street. was then, is now. and so they were able to plan this really grand procession, all of these floats, marching bands, working women marched by profession and matching outfits. this is the harold of the parade and the idea was she would get up on her horse at the beginning way down on the capitol end of pennsylvania avenue and a bugler would sound that the parade had begun. and a few blocks later that bugler would be picked by another bugler to the treasury department on 15th street which has that big marble plaza out front. we get to the tablot in a mo.
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but you can see how this is all, you know, the horses are all spaced perfectly. they all have fabulous hats on. this is all very, very, very thoroughly planned. just behind jane pearlson was ines mullholland on her horse. you saw that at the state of the union when the women members of congress chose to wear white, this image showed up a lot. i also love this image because this shows you what a great publicist alice paul was. she was a labor lawyer. she was a really accomplished professional. but all of the, you know, breathlessly sexist press of the day never failed to talk about how pretty she was. they called her the most beautiful sufferagist. and her reaction was, you know what? if you're going to talk about how pretty she is of how smart, i'm going to put her in a white dress and white horse and put a star on her head and then maybe
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you'll take hir picture and we'll get coverage out of it. so this image comes back in sufferage lore. but that was her on her horse. the working women as i said marched by profession. these are the nurses. the teachers marched together. the writers marched together. they purposely stained costumes with ink. college women marched by alma mater. i am certain there were smith women there. we have pictures from some of the other seven sister schools. i looked for smith. i couldn't find them. and the whole idea was that this grand procession would end at 15th street, at the treasury department where this tablot would go on. so it was a fascinating art form that involves some sort of tortured allegory where people would pose and this is columbia summoning the virtues. that is colombia there in the armor. the virtues were like peace and prosperity and it involved children and togas and live doves. it was a whole thing. it had very little to do with
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sufferage. boy did it look great in pictures. this is still the cover of my book 100 years later. and again, absolutely strategically planned to be that way. there was a grandstand in front of treasury, set up for the inaugural parade set for the next day. and alice paul did get permission for her vips to sit there. so there was a live audience for this tablot. that was not the main audience. the idea was this would be published in newspapers all around the country the next day. there are the children in togas. it was march 3rd. a little chilly in early march in washington. the children were barefoot on the marble steps. but the parade begins. bugle sounds. the tablot gets the signal to start. they start. they perform their beautiful tablot and then they stand there and in dignified silence. the parade would process in front of them, fold in the back of the parade.
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and they would perform and triumph. there will be rousing applause from the audience and it would be a great day. so the tableau goes ahead and there is no parade. and the tableau finishes and they're maintaining their poses, no parade. they have no way of knowing where the parade is, why it is held up. it is getting a little cold up there on the treasury and finally they go into the treasury department and why hasn't the parade come down pennsylvania avenue. that's why. so for orientation, we're standing -- this picture is taken at about 12th street, where freedom plaza is now, that tower that dominates now, the trump hotel and looking back towards the capitol. it is a six-lane road with really broad sidewalks and it was absolutely shoulder to shoulder crowded. and i don't know how much detail you could see, there is a lot of hats in that picture. it was all men.
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they weren't there for the suffrage parade. it was a side show and they were very poorly behaved. they tripped the woman and spit on them and yelled names. the police did nothing to stop them, in some cases the police joined in the spitting and the tripping and the name calling. and you can't get a parade through that crowd. alice paul realized that her perfectly planned parade was about to go away. and she drove a car up and down the parade route to try to sort of zigzag through the crowd to get them back up and it didn't work at all. the crowd poured back in behind her as soon as the car went by. finally they literally called in cavalry and they rode their horses into the crowd enough so the parade could fight their way down. so instead of the tableau performing at d.a.r. hall in triumph, all of the
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women show up at d.a.r. hall, filthy, furious, cold, angry, horrified that this massive crowd of these jerky men have completely ruined what should have been this meticulously planned triumphant day. alice paul realized it is the best thing that ever could have happened. that a lovely parade would be in the news for a day and the near riot would keep the suffrage movement in the news for weeks. that is what happened. there was a congressional hearing, the police chief almost lost his job. there was a whole thing. and again to notice how good the women were at manipulating the press. so not entirely sure what i should be pointing this at in order to make it change. over here. okay. so this is "the washington post" the next day. and i love these headlines. the language is so spectacular. if you could read it.
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this headline should be woodrow wilson inaugurated the 28thpresident. instead wilson gets half and the other column says women's beauty, grace and art bewilder the capitol, miles of fluttering femininity present entrancing suffrage appeal and there is a photo of the tableau. so this is not a particularly well planted story from the national women's party. this is how the men covered the parade without any guidance from the women. so it all is talking about how pretty it all was and, oh, by the way there was some bad behavior. this is a much better example, the chicago daily tribune. so again woodrow wilson not the headline. this column here, mobs of capital defy police and hoodlums hurl caustic remarks at the marchers and this paragraph down here the lead
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has 17 superlatives and the biggest crowd, the widest street, the angriest mob, the most beautiful girls. all through. and it is terrific press. but also look at the editorial cartoon. there is little pencil neck woodrow wilson thinking he gets the spotlight on the day of the inauguration, but ta-da, there is the suffragist sort of bright eyed literally stealing the spotlight from him. so, the 1913 march was sort of the turning point for the final push to actually get the amendment through congress. and in addition to being a great publicity ploy, it was a reintroduction of the federal amendment into the strategy. so i'll race through a little bit of political history. feel free to ask questions later because i'm going to go real fast. the original suffragists and you know their name, elizabeth
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katie stanton, lucy stone, they were abolitionists and they came to suffragist because they wanted can not be done without the vote. there were major women's rights advocates across the board. when -- after the civil war the reconstruction amendments were passed and they enfranchised black men but not women. there were people like lucy stone and julia ward who said we're abolitionist and we'll take this and we'll fight for women next and there were people like elizabeth katie hanson and susan b. anthony who said if we don't get this now and we can't support the 15th amendment if it doesn't include women. so it was a huge split. and they started tearing -- formed competing organizations and tore each other down in the press. but also they continued on two
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separate avenues for getting sufrage passed. with the stanton and anthony fashion pushing the federal amendment and the stone howe blackwell faction pushing a state by state strategy. because the reconstruction amendments had been hailed as federal overreach by the former confederacy so this was considered safer. it is not crazy to go state by state. if enough states pass suffrage you have more men supporting it that it becomes inevitable. the amendment has languished since just after the civil war. so the 1913 march on the white horse, there was a big old banner that said we demand a constitutional amendmenten enfranchising the women of this country and that is called the great demand banner and you could see it at belmont paul. in addition to the march being a great publicity ploy was an announcement that the federal amendment was back and this was
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going to be a major strategy going forward. so it was really alice paul who was pushing this switch to the amendment and also these much more public tactics. she was very young. only in her early 20s at the time of the parade and she had become a follower of anna line pankhurst. the suffrage movement had the slow and steady movement within the lines and then they have the pank hurst, mother and daughter, were totally radical and very, very militant. eventually alice paul's faction of the american movement became called militant. they had nothing on the british movement. these women were started by throwing bricks through windows and escalated to try to set the prime minister house on fire and they burned down the botanical gardens and smacked police men in the face to get arrested.
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they were not playing around in fact, i think -- i love this. this is a british paper that the headline said trouble expected in london tonight. suffragets and women will break into the house. everyone expected it. the other thing is an ad from a glazyer saying if suffragets break your windows, call me. i'll put them back in. it was the edinburg paper so it has this scottish, they may break windows but the wee boy. and the word is suffragist. the british press made fun of
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british suffrage movement by calling them suffragette. and like nasty women, and deplorables, generations later they co-opted the title and wore it with pride. everybody is a suffragette from the british movement. there is your lesson for the day. so with these lessons from the british movement, and alice paul was arrested and went to jail and force fed in british jail and she absolutely participated in the guerrilla tactics. when she moved back to the u.s. in 1910 she wanted to use some of those tactics to breathe new life into the american movement which was really languishing. stanton and anthony and the founding mothers were dead by then and this split had lost everybody time and energy. so she, alice paul, worked with the national american women's suffrage association. the two factions after the civil war had finally come back together. and formed this overriding major group. carrie chatman and anna shaw
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were the leaders and they let alice paul set up a washington office, like ngo's do. this is across the square from where we are now. it has a light yellow facade. one of the facades preserved by jackie kennedy and now the court structure rises up behind it. originally it was the congressional office, the lobbying arm of the national american woman's suffrage association and from the beginning alice paul went rogue and she started publishing a competing newsletter and went out and sought her own money and finally the national american women's suffrage association kicked her out and told her they were already nervous about her tactics and said if you're going to pursue this pank hurst modelled aggressive stance, you can't do
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it under the umbrella of the national. so they split. they stayed at cameron house and called themselves the national women's party. so throughout1914, 1915, they continued to push for an amendment and they had a parade and big booth at the world's fair in san francisco in 1915 and a cross country road trip, it was still shocking to see women drive. where they gathered petition signatures across the country. they had some success with some publicity but not a whole lot of success getting support for the federal amendment. the national was continuing to push the state by state strategy and they were having very little success there. by the 1916 election there were ten states that allowed women the right to vote. almost all of the big empty states out west. so wyoming was first. montana, idaho.
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and they had like 11 people living in them. so they were enfranchising everybody to maximize the political power. but in 1916 every state that had suffrage on the ballot voted it down. woodrow wilson, who was a real enemy to suffrage. he was against it for so many reasons. he kept coming up with new ones. he had lots of reasons to be against suffrage. and he was re-elected in a landslide. so 1916 wasn't successful for the movement, they felt like the tactics weren't working. and then at the end of 1916, ines mulholland collapsed on stage and shes had anemia and nobody realized how sick she was and she was giving a speech on stage in california and she never recovered and died a few
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weeks later. her sister said the final words, mr. president, how long must women wait for liberty? maybe they were. it is a great line. but she is, as you might imagine, immediately became a martyr to the cause. she literally died in the cause and that image of her on the white horse, this looks like a holy card. she was almost sainted. you could see the original painting of this at the belmont hall. that was the end of 1916. as 1917 dawned, they haven't gained a single state, twisted a single voter, we still have this president who is not interested in helping us sway anybody in congress. we need to do something new. and at the beginning of 1917 they came up with the idea of picketing the white house. i promise if you go to the
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white house there will be picketers there. there always are. feel free to remind them it was alice paul's idea. this is the first time anybody had done this. check out the visuals. the women in the dark coats against the white house, that banner that said mr. president, how long must women wait for liberty. inez mullholhand's maybe last words in dark letters on a light background. this is all made for the pictures. and pictures are great. so at the time in the space there was sort of a curiosity. people were interested in the white house pickets. that is interesting. this is january and february 1917. it is really cold out there. but people would come by and sometimes women would come to washington to participate and there were theme days, there was a college day where again i looked for smith college pictures. there is new york day. it looks like new york got a rainy, terrible day. and they stayed out there
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throughout january and february of 1915. and there are bringing warm bricks to stand on and one woman had a fur coat that she passed around and they all got to wear the fur coat for 20 minutes. and it was curiosity. and even though it was new. they said the women chained themself -- nothing is illegal. standing in front of the white house with a sign isn't against the law. they didn't want to keep it up. it was hard to recruit people to do it but all tactics get stale after a while. so the intention was that at wilson's second inaugural they'd had one grand picket and meet with wilson. unlike in 1913, march of 1917, this is one of the gross early spring days in washington. where the rain is coming in
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sideways and the wind is just bitter and but they were out there. there is a great news account of describing they're holding wooden poles that had wood stain on them and the stain dripping down the women's wrists in the freezing rain. so they go out and march around the white house and they try to go into the white house to meet with president wilson and they are barred. the security said mm-hmm, can't come in here. so they go around to the 15th street gate and barred, tried the ellipse and barred. so what do you do now. they circled the property four or five times. finally they go back to cameron house here on lafayette square and say well we're going to keep the pickets up. if he won't meet with us, we're not stopping. we're going to keep going with the pickets. so they keep up throughout the spring of 1917. by the end of april, u.s. is
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now involved in world war i. now what do you do? right? do you keep criticizing the president in this very public way? while we're at war. you know public opinion is going to turn against you. people are going to think you're traitors. they decided, yeah, you know, if president wilson is going to be out there saying this war is important to make the world safe for democracy, while continuing to be the biggest stumbling block to enfranchising half of his own voters and they're going to keep pickets up. and they leaned in. this said president wilson are deceiving russia. they say we are a democracy, help us win a world war so that democracies survive. we the women of america tell you america is not a democracy. 20 million american women are denied the right to vote. president wilson is the chief opponent of the national enfranchisement, make this nation free and tell our government it must liberate the
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people before it could claim free russia as an ally. and again this message is not for the people walking by. this is for photographs and newspaper coverage. today this would be a tweet. that is the whole idea. public opinion does in fact turn against the women. someone tearing down the russian envoy banner. the police never did anything to stop this kind of stuff. what do the women do? they go ahead and call president wilson, kaiser wilson. 20 million american women are not self-governed, take the beam out of your own eye. now they're calling the president a kaiser while we're at war with germany. finally the president has had enough. tells the police force, get them off my sidewalk. i don't care what you have to
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do. they're not breaking any laws. so the police arrested them for a made-up charge for obstructing the traffic on the sidewalk. which is not a thing, right. and haul the women into jail and say, $5 fine or a night in jail. assuming all of the women are going to say here is my $5, i can't possibly go to jail, i'll never do it again, every single one of the woman say bring it. i'll go to jail. there are 30 more women who will pick up the pickets tomorrow. so that whole crew gets arrested. $5 fine, four nights jail. fine, four nights in jail. i got no problem with that. there is more women who will do it. so this escalated so crazy throughout the summer and fall of 1917 that these women are getting sentenced to 60 days in the work house for standing on a corner with a sign. which is not, in fact, breaking any laws. but they kept calling the bluff of the sentencing judge and they kept choosing the jail time.
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and they took the pankers tactics of demanding political prisoner status and going on a hunger strike. some of them were force fed here in d.c. jail which is just as horrible as it sounds, it involves forcing a tube down your throat and yanking the tube out and women got their teeth pulled out if they closed their mouth against the tube and they're not breaking any laws. they're demanding a voice in democracy. the major women's suffrage association was horrified by all of this, right. that the national women's party was being this tacky. but it kind of worked for both of them, right. kerry chapman capp said i'm not that crazy, you could meet with me. i'm a reasonable human being. it worked for her. and if it had just been the national women's party this would have just been a side show. you needed the real work of lobbying and organizing at the
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same time. so finally in the fall of 1917, i'm sure you've heard the story, a bunch of women were sent down to the work house in virginia and the warden down there decided that he had had enough and he ordered the guards to pick the women up bodily and that workhouse for the most part, women were sent into the communal area where they stayed together but there were punishment cells, individual cells. and the warden ordered his guards to pick the women up and drag them through the dark to these punishment cells which were unlit and unheated and open toilets and rats and everything horrible you could imagine. and the women were physically picked up, the guards picked them up and hurled them into these cells. so several of them smack their heads against the cinder block,
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one woman passed out and her cell mate thought she was dead, had a heart attack. lucy burns starts calling out the role of the women addressed in the dark to see if they can answer and who is okay. the warden yells at lucy burns and they chain her with his arms above her head in this dark freezing cell all night long. for standing on a corner with a sign, all right. this becomes known as the night of terror. word gets out about this sort of treatment. and public opinion starts to turn back in favor of the women. the other thing that happened in fall of 1917 is new york passed suffrage. which was hugely important. most populous state. finally even some of the most recalcitrant members of congress thought gosh it looks like women are going to vote. maybe they should vote for me. so as 1918 dawned there was some momentum around a federal amendment. the president still not on board. i don't show these pictures since we're here on lafayette square. this is the lafayette statue, right in front of the white
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house on the far side of lafayette square. throughout the spring of 1918, they would hold the national women's party would hold protests at the lafayette statue. at once point they were kicked out of cameron house, the next building over before they moved up massachusetts avenue, they bought cameron house and expanded into it. so they moved to this side of the square, to the jackson place side. so they would stand at the lafayette statue and every time the president would give a speech, they would burn it and set them on fire. they did that in front of the white house as well. that banner said, president wilson is deceiving the world when he appears as the prophet of democracy. president wilson has opposed those who demand democracy for this country. he is responsible for the disenfranchisement of millions of americans and we in the world know this, the world will find him out.
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these were called the watch fires. women were arrested for lighting a fire after dark and other completely made-up things throughout 1918. by fall of 1918 there is midterm, right. and there are a couple of votes in congress that don't quite make it there. it passes the house, not the senate, passes the senate not the house. doesn't quite get there. 1918 a new congress is elected and enough pro suffragists are elected because new york passing suffrage that 1919 looks like it might actually happen. so almost exactly 100 years ago in june of 1919, the 19th amendment finally passed both the house and the senate. so now it goes to the states for ratification. this is alice paul. she made a flag where every time a state ratified she would sew a star on. and there were 48 states and you needed 36. so a bunch of states passed it right away.
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wisconsin, michigan, illinois. a bunch of states voted it down over the summer of 1919. almost entirely in the south and almost entirely for overtly racist reasons. they were not interested in enfranchising a single new black voter. they were systematically dismantling black male voting rights with jim crow laws and they wanted no part of new black voters. so momentum kind of stalls. by spring of 1920, 35 states have ratified. you only need one more. five have voted it down. and of the eight left, five won't bring it to a vote. those are all very specific reasons about governors not wanting to call special sessions and so on. a lot of inside politics which would be happy to go into if anybody is. interested there is a crazy --
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which everyone thought would be 36 states. now the last two states are montana and tennessee. north carolina -- it's all down to tennessee. it's a summer of 1920. it's august. it's really hot. everyone stays up in nashville. the entire national press board, all the catholic church. the civil war veterans. the liquor lobbies. the press suffragists were yellow. the aunties wore red. there was one who wore both just to confuse you. the liquor lobby was there to set up what they called the gym beat suite where they get all that legislators to drunk to vote. unbelievable dirty -- phone calls saying you need to get back to memphis. your son is sick.
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this goes on for like a week and no one knows how this is going to go. the state senate passes it. it's all down to the state assembly. a couple of days before the actual vote, there was a vote that could be seen as a -- you could sort of see it as an indication -- it's a tie. we're down to the last state. finally the actual day arrives. some people have their red roses, yellow roses. it's 100 degrees. people are hanging all over the gallery of the states. when guy changes his vote. harry burn. he was in his twenties. he was the youngest member of the legislature. his mentor was an absolute --
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women or too stupid and fragile to vote. but he changes his vote to guess. it takes a little while for people to realize that early in the role, somebody has changed their vote. did harry burns say yes? did harry burn changes vote? why did harry burn change his vote? who is larry burn? mr. burns, why did you change your mind? mr. burn, you're responsible for the suffrage? what was the changed your mind? >> turns out his mommy told him to. so he had in his pocket a letter from his mother that says vote for suffrage. he says to all these reporters, it's because my mom wrote me
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this letter. i really think that a mother's advice is the best thing. embroidered on a pillow. that is how -- finally they could embroider the 36th star from the balcony of the center right out here. at is how close to american women came to not getting in 1920. it's an amazing story, but with that and and i are going to talk a little bit. thank you very much. (applause) >> well.
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do any of those political tactics sound familiar? rebecca, what was it about the women in that particular time who were able to hold together the strategy and the effectiveness? these were smart, educated and incredibly inventive women who would not take no for an answer. >> they really were. i'm continually impressed the more i learn. with how savvy they were. i think we have the tendency to think that history is linear and progressive, and that every generation does a little bit better than the generation before. and they pushed the envelope a little bit more. these women were doing this 100 years ago. they could not introduce legislature or vote for it while being female, so they could do everything up to actually making a --
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and it's amazing to me now, especially because so much of this history is kind of a condescending -- look at the cute dresses. they affected the largest historical change in american democracy. >> it was a bloodless revolution. they did it with their brains. they did it on their own and did it with no power. by definition, they had no power. it made it happen. it took a long time. there were a lot of defeats. it is an unbelievably impressive radical feet. what made them able to do it is some of it was a new generation. all the things we've seen social media now. i think that there were more
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educated women. i think that there were more opportunities for women to have a public life so a lot of objections to the women voting was the home would be destroyed because women would abandon the domestic sphere for the public sphere. as more women were in the public sphere -- then i think the leadership that emerged, the original ladies were really impressive. but these final -- this final group. and i don't want to take anything away from these women. they were brilliant strategists. the fact that they were there to lead it through to the end. >> there is an interesting story from the actual amendment -- was not carry? was not invited nor was alice paul.
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in part because, where they good friends? >> no! imagine, it was said they detested each other, and so they decided we just won't invite either one of them to come here. but the idea that they all were able to pull that same direction, you think of what we know. at least of what i remember in history classes, when you get pass the victorian era and the industrial revolution. we enter a time in this new century where there is a progressivism and a kind of movement since communications are getting better technology is getting better. it is the political tactics that now really show that even throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, it is these
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kinds of skills. my favorite sliders newspaper. i am a reporter. a dear friend of her parents, both reporters, the roberts, that i've known since you were born. when you look at the front page of the washington paper at inauguration day, and president wilson has to share the front page with the bewildered editors who do not know what to -- they had to push against so much to get that covered. how could they be so media savvy? is it because they were on the outside pushing through? >> isn't that amazing? not only where they media savvy. they had no allies within the paper. there were female reporters. at least not routinely. there were a few here and
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there. they -- the washington post was fairly sympathetic. the new york times was anti suffrage, unapologetically anti suffrage all the way through. the coverage was really brutal. one of the things that women did that was so smart -- the day the 1913 parade, all these women had come from all over the country to participate. before they left town, the national women's party got them to each right up first persons account of their experience at the hands of the mob -- like the springfield illinois paper with say, mrs. george thurman was manhandled at this crowd and became a local story. doug it was the ability to turn the story in their favor -- that's not the story they thought they would be publicizing. and to get maybe unsympathetic reporters to cover it in a
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sympathetic way. they were really good at staying in the news. especially as world war i donned, there was a lot of news dominating the front pages. that's where the pickets were all about. >> the war comes along, and you have a president who actually had a showing of the birth of the nation in the white house. the early movie that glorified the klan. he thought it was just a wonderful movie. you're not only have women radicals, that you have a political establishment. they did not feel they needed to give anything. >> which will wilson really emerges as the guy of the story. he really does. i'm hesitant to judge a historical figure from contemporary norms, that his own contemporaries were pro suffrage. in the 19 -- teddy roosevelt has a suffrage
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and his platform. -- he was so -- i'm the leader of the democratic party. there is not a plank in the platform. now is his excuse. and he tried his estates right issue. that was really just, i don't want to tell the side of disenfranchising black women. the only excuse of him that i would give is, i really need to pay attention to world war i right now. at one point he said he would only pay tension to war measures. he came up with so many roadblocks, and it was really just basic sexism at the end of the day. since he managed to also be antisemitic and racist and sexist, i don't have a lot of nice things to say about which will wilson.
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>> when you think about how this era is taught in schools. when i grew up, the big wars, the big depression, the big things that should and shaped american -- do the suffragists get the credit they deserve? >> not even a little bit. i'm hoping that is changing. i think that the sort of white hot spot of the centennial will certainly change it right this minute. in terms of ongoing -- if you ask an average american who would take american history -- susan bee anthony was terrific, but she was -- by the time it actually passed. i don't think people learn this history anywhere near well enough. and it's not just that we should learn more women's history and we should have these role models for girls and
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all of that, but you're learning -- it's actually inaccurate american history if you don't understand the political amendments of the 20th century. >> i want to bring you forward. here we sit in a year where we have just had a presidential election where for the first time ever, one of the major party candidates was a woman who in fact when the popular vote. we live in a time right now where there is half a dozen women who are declared candidates for the presidency. do women vote? oh yes. women vote better than 50%. new york has lost its number one place. california is the biggest. texas is second. new york has lost out to florida as the third -- and the number of women who vote and all of those places makes a difference. what should we draw from what
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we see now? the place that are in many places of leadership. isn't it kind of it's still isn't it kind of a story, my -- my gosh, the gosh the first woman -- something or other. , we still have a hard time pulling away from that secondary role. >> i think it is changing quickly, in just one election cycle we have gone from the first woman nominee of a major party to the fact that there are so many women running for the democratic nomination that it is not even a remarkable thing about them. it is now the second sentence about them, right. and think i that all of the cabinet positions and in government it is going to change pretty fast. i think the fortune 500 ceo's and board members is changing more slowly. but i feel like every day there is a new stat that women outnumber men in medical men
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and women graduate degrees. women are poised to take her place with 50% of the power, there just needs to be more men giving it up a little bit. but i think that is all a legacy of the this movement. so when the 19th amendment finally passed, the national -- the big organization became the league of women voters. so they immediately recognized that their next role was to make women educated parts of the democracy. because voting is a habit. and there was just all kind of logistics about how do you register and where do you go and is it safe and all of those things that take a little while to become ingrained in the voting populous. and it has been a hundred years now. you know, as you say, women voters now outweigh men voters and there is a huge wave of female candidates after the
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2016 election and that is going to be more the norm going forward. >> one more question from me. what a remarkable location we're sitting in right now. lafayette square, called president's park, i forget when they made the change. but the statues out there representing the heroes, that the homes here like decatur house with his wife susan, the cameron house which was -- i forget, cameron was a senator i think. senator cameron from pennsylvania. who had a gorgeous younger wife, i'm told. who was having an affair with her neighbor henry adams. where do we get -- >> henry adams got around. >> and i could say this because i was married at saint john's church, my four children were
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baptized there and two were married there. why was i -- because covering the white house for over seven presidents, i was the youngest kid on the staff. i had to go over every week and cover the president of the united states going to church at saint john's. it is the only church i knew in town when my future husband bill -- but what is it about the real estate of the white house that the suffragists realized was kind of their pot of gold. >> none of it was an accident, right. so the cameron house headquarters originally if you're going to set up a d.c. office of a political movement and want to have access to federal power, that is a pretty good spot. and then of course they moved across to jackson place. the lafayette statue, they directly drew the connection with the marquee delafayette. that is not the most convenient statue of the white house that was the symbolism of him.
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at the base of the statue there is a naked female character reaching up to lafayette and she's supposed to be america. so they stood in front of female america with the marquee. and you saw those pictures. we've all seen pictures of the suffragists in front of the white house just having a female in that public space in the 19-teens was pretty transgressive already. and it was president wilson's backyard. they were very deliberate about making sure they stood in his way, almost literally. >> and a century plus of protests have been out on that sidewalk. and we've covered them. >> i think those anti-nuclear people basically live there. >> still do. we would love to take your questions. we'll try to get to as many and
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we have a couple of microphones. why don't we start, one microphone over here. do we have a microphone on this side. come on down here. if you could give a microphone right here. we'll start here if that's all right and end over here and as you want to ask questions please catch the eyes of our mic handlers and we'll get in as many questions as we can. welcome. >> good evening and thank you so much for a remarkable evening and it is a privilege to be in this space. and question to rebecca, rebecca, who could you point as your role model and what did you learn from the role model and what do we need to learn from a role model to move forward and get female president in the white house and get more females in senate and just have a tie turnover.
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because we have to do something together. please. >> so did you all hear the question? so from the suffrage movement, i kind of pick and choose the best aspects of each of these women. so alice paul was incredibly savvy and impressive and bold. she also really punted badly on some race issues. when the delta sigma theta wants to march in the 1913 parade she told them they had to march in the back. they didn't. they marched where they wanted to march. ida b. wells who had to march just went on in with the illinois delegation. so you want your heroes to be perfect and they're super not. so i would take sort of her boldness, i think she's someone i would admire more than like. i'm not sure i would want to have dinner with alice paul.
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kerry tutman cat was very funny and very organized. she was the one who had the grassroots organizations in every state and continued to motivate women to build on them. and so if you could kind of take the best of them. personally i also have a role model in my grandmother lindy bogs who was a member of congress, she represented downtown new orleans in the house. and there were very few women in the house. and one of her political mottos was, you could get everything you want to get done as long as you don't take the credit for it. when you think about it, it is pretty radical and also very female. so she was born before women got the right to vote. she was born in 1916 and went on to become a senior member of the u.s. house of representatives an then the ambassador to the vatican. and so the fact that she lived
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this history and was able to exploit it for her own good ends is -- will always be a role model. >> and watch her daughter and granddaughters. >> yes. it is very matriarchal crew. >> a question right over here and then pass this mic for the next question. good evening. >> thank you for the wonderful lecture. what was the reaction in old washington, the town, the hotels, to this massive group of thousands of dare i say it nasty women coming to town for something untoward and never -- >> for the parade or the movement in general. >> the march and what was the reaction in town. >> yeah, so it was interesting leading up to the march. so for instance, the police chief richard sylvester was really nervous about this parade. he knew that his police force
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was going to be stretched thin because the inauguration was next day and that end of pennsylvania avenue where the national theater is now, that was rum row. so all of the bars were there. and he knew that, you know, women marching in the street, which was already pretty shocking plus drunk men in town for the inauguration, plus stretched thin police force might equal bad news. and he kept saying things like, why don't you march down 16thstreet. you could still end at the white house. and alice paul kept saying, no. the whole point is to go down the corridors of power. so washington, i think, sort of didn't know what to make of it. they hadn't been the headquarters of suffrage. the groups had always been based in new york. and then on the actual day of the parade, you saw the reaction. the crowd was terrible. and then as more and more of these publicity stunts start happening here in town, i think sort of those of us who are locals, our equivalence of a
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hundred years ago, were kind of baffled. plenty were supportive. plenty were appalled. i think they represented the national opinion in microcosm. but the women weren't run out of town on a rail or anything. and washington has always been a town where women could make their mark. i mean going back to the early days of the city at the turn of the 19th century there were women who were able to start businesses here and have more power than other places because there went this kind of legacy history because it was a planned town and certainly wars because people fled to the capitol during the wars and there are roles for women when men are off fighting. so i think washington is always historically been an interesting place for women's history and the suffrage movement. >> we have a question right here. >> thank you. both of you. my question is can you address
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the role of edith wilson and how she felt about all of this? >> edith wilson is such a fascinating character. so president wilson's first wife ellen died during his first term. and he married edith wilson who was a socialite. and she was anti-suffrage. occasionally a theory will be sort of floated that maybe he came around because of her influence. there is no evidence for that. any public statements she made was anti-suffrage. his daughters were a little more sympathetic. but edith was not. now by the end of the second term, wilson had a pretty devastating stroke. and edith wilson was running his administration much more than i think we will ever know. and i don't think there is some cache of papers somewhere that will show us how powerful edith wilson was. i think that will always remain a secret. but she was the power behind
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the throne for definitely the last year of his administration. and there is no reason to think that she's the one who finally said, actually, women should vote. i know it would be a great story. he really came around to the luke warm degree he came around at all for totally political expediency reasons and he thought the democratic party should get a little bit of the credit for it. >> next question over here. >> yes. thank you both so much. and i was wondering, once the 19th amendment passed, how did women outside of washington react and how were they eager to register to vote or i'm just curious how that process happened. >> yeah. so the reason there was that big push in the summer of 1920 and all of that focus on tennessee was so that women would have the vote in time for the 1920 presidential election. and when the amendment was
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finally passed and church bells tolled and there was jubilation all around. how that actually played out into woman's voting behavior was a disappointment. some states purposely made it hard for women to register in time for the election. but even the states where women could, again it is a habit, they had necessarily done that before. they didn't necessarily know what to do. it felt a little bit like it wasn't their place. so there is no good data on voting by gender in those years. but anecdotally women did not turn out in enormous numbers. and more important, they did not vote substantially differently from the men in their socioeconomic class. there are a bunch of hanged ringing and editorials in the years after 1920 that women are just voting the way their
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husbands and fathers tell them to me. or another interpretation is that their race and social economic dictated their priorities more than their gender. women did -- >>. >> >>, why spotted 11 clearly
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actual shredded sheathed vayu i don't want to imply that the national was doing that national women were doing publicity stones no >> they listed how the suffrage -- -- also little tips about lobbying. he is a golfer. go get someone to click off or he's a trunk. talk to him before five you can see his -- his wife is start smarter than he is. talk to her. they are amazing. they were short while of these
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attention grabbing things were going on, they were also quietly bending the air of members who actually had the power. it was certainly contemporary. >> interesting point as well, because that is a little more invisible. you make the political statement and you catch the nations attention but you have to work it multiethnic -- next question. >> early suffragists were pro abolition, many of them, also -- would you talk a little about what happened there? >> sure. so the temperance movement was definitely a major way a lot of women came to suffrage. like abolition, there were women who actually want to temperance and realized they wouldn't get it without -- a became suffragists as a sidebar. at first, the suffrage association with the temperance movement was useful to the
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search. they learned how to be organizers. they learned how to raise money. temperance movement was much better organized and historically more dug in. eventually, when you associate yourself with another movement, you inherit their enemies as well. as the 18th amendment became more and more likely and prohibition look like it was going to happen, the suffrage movement kind of pulled themselves away from temperance a little bit, in part because they didn't want to make enemies of what voters, but also, it is really hard to amend the constitution, as it should be. and so you don't really want to support another amendment getting there before. you so there was a lot of back and forth. there was a lot of overlap. the women's christian temperance union under francis willard supported suffrage, and so there were a lot of women who became politically active through temperance in the move to suffrage and vice versa, but
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ultimately by the final count down, the suffrage movement was trying to backpedal that association. >> we have time for one more question. where is the microphone? please. you've got the last. word >> great. you mentioned race. i was interested to see if you had done any exploration of women of color in this movement, and maybe if you could comment on some of the divisions between white women suffragists and women of color. >> yes. so this is an era of scholarship or i think you'll see a ton more coming out in the centennial year. there is a lot more focus on paying attention to african american suffragists with the centennial celebration, as there should be, because they have been largely written out of the. history within the national women's party, after that 1913 march with the segregation, they're continued to kind of be
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ongoing debates about how to welcome african american suffragists or not. and there were some pretty ugly chapters in there. there were overt appeals on the state by state strategy of going to southern states and saying enfranchised women, we will overwhelm the black vote. it is the best way to ensure white supremacy. that was not subtle. it was not imposed. they actually said those words. women's suffrage is the way to ensure white supremacy. and there were women like mary church terrell, who had like six masters degrees and spoke ten languages, and was unbelievably impressive, and so the white organizations felt that she was sort of non threatening, so they would invite her to things, and she would get there and say you need to pay attention to race. and then there were women like i did be wells who was not
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welcome at those meetings, but started african american suffrage associations, the alpha suffrage club and others. so there were for the most part, separate movements. there were black suffrage clips and suffrage clubs that weren't super welcoming to black voters. and people like mary church terrell and ida b. wells barnett would occasionally say we share all of your discrimination as women, plus we are black, and you've really got to pay better attention. but it's not, again, you want your heroes to be perfect. it is not part of the movement that you can be proud of as a 21st century american woman. and i think we're going to learn much more about it. >> let me bring this to a conclusion by asking you one more question from the purple stashes to the pink pussycat hats. what should americans who want to bring the playing field even
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more level now for women -- what should they draw? what important lesson or two can they draw from 100 years ago that will make a really substantiate of difference now? >> such a great question. actually think any political activist could learn from the suffrage movement, because they were successful. and so whether your cause is feminism or something else, there is just a lot of tactics you can steal from them, if you want to be a successful activist, but specifically in terms of the contemporary women's movements, i think this idea of the radical on the mainstream balancing each other out and making each other look good in contrast, and embracing that each has a role to play, i think the idea of paying attention to how things look, you know, in an instagram world, we think of that as a modern artifact, but actually, paying attention to how things work
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goes a really long way towards short cutting your message. i also think that that deplored of sentence, that we demand a constitutional amendment in franchising women, subject, verb, object. that's pretty easy to get behind. it's a really clear goal. it's got a very clear and point. it's very easy to explain and understand. i think the contemporary women's movements demands a lot of things, which we have evolved to do, but sometimes the message can get might eat with all of those different voices. >> so it really does come down to branding and messaging. please thank rebecca. (applause) >> thank you very much, rebecca roberts, and for all of you joining us here tonight. for our viewers on c-span who have been watching us, if you want to know more about the subject or other matters
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relating to white house history, our website, white house history .org is a red excellent resource. as we close, i would like to ask everybody to exit through the court yard. there are three doors. we have a little medical situation. here we will exit to the cater house and out onto lafayette park. thank you so much and have a great evening.
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on tuesday, a look at the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage. american history tv and see spans washington journal mark the 100th anniversary with an encore presentation of sunday's live program with pauline, vice chair the women's suffrage centennial commission. we will also take a tour of those four women exhibits at them smithsonian's national portrait gallery where historian kate will show images of suffrage leaders and political cartoons, and explain how the movement intersected with the abolitionist and temperance movements. watch tuesday beginning at 8 pm eastern and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span three. historian susan weir has written about suffrage leaders in her book why they marched. untold stories of the women who fought for the right to vote. their stors


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