20 states and the District of Columbia
That pretty much sums up our itinerary. The 48 cities are those in which the envoys spent at least one night, and we’ll be following their route pretty precisely, except for a few days in Kansas when they backtracked a bit and we’ll take a more direct route.
The weather here has been crystal clear and hot the last couple of days, with cool, starry nights, which sounds similar the weather leading up to the envoys’ departure. (Pretty much all similarities between our departure and theirs end at this point, however.) Alice Paul and the Congressional Union (CU) were masters at staging political theater, so the envoys’ send-off came at the end of a three-day conference that was the country's first-ever meeting of women voters. The CU recruited delegates to the conference from the 12 states that had already granted women voting rights, and the schedule was carefully orchestrated to bring women to the point where they “elected” the envoys to be sent to DC. In fact, Alice Paul had already cajoled Sara Bard Field and Frances Joliffe to serve as the envoys (some earlier picks had refused), and of course the Swedes had the car, so while their identity was kept a secret until they were nominated, that had all been agreed to ahead of time.
The women voters of the west were sending the envoys as messengers to Congress and the President to demand an amendment to the US Constitution enfranchising women. Implicit in this was a warning; support the federal amendment or we’ll organize the 4 million women voters to oppose you in 1916. President Wilson would be running for re-election then, as well as a third of the Senate and all of the Representatives, and the Democratic Party was in the majority. If you don’t support our amendment, the women were telling the Democrats, you risk losing the Presidency and your majority in Congress.
This was a flexion of women’s political muscle the country was not accustomed to and which many found abhorrent. Women simply weren’t supposed to behave this way. While it didn’t produce the amendment immediately the strategy sure got the Democrats’ attention.
We are women clad in new power.
We march to set our sisters free.
Lo! Has rung the chime from Freedom’s tower…
No more we bend the knee imploring.
No longer urge our cause with tears.
We have rent asunder binding fears.
We are women strong for women warring.
At the appointed hour, the crowd escorted the envoys to the gates. Here’s how the Bulletin reporter described it:
"Then, all at once, the great brightly colored picture and its dark background began to disintegrate and fade. The court darkened, but bright masses of women were forming in procession to escort the envoys to the gates of the Exposition. Orange lanterns swayed in the breeze; purple, white and gold draperies fluttered, the blare of the band burst forth, and the great surging crowd followed to the gates."
Okay, so our departure isn’t going to be anything like that. It will be daylight, and there won’t be any crowd cheering us on, except maybe in my head. I like to imagine that scene at the PPIE, though. It also amuses me that the envoys didn’t actually leave San Francisco for another week or so; they apparently needed to register their car and it took a while to sort that out (no Fed-ex in those days…) So in the end they left just as we plan to this morning, they got in their car and drove away.
Yesterday we went and strolled around the Palace of Fine Arts, which is the last remaining building from the PPIE. It’s set in a lovely park, fronted by a narrow lagoon filled with swans, ducks, and egrets. While it’s only a tiny portion of what was there (the PPIE covered some 640 acres) it was fun to imagine people strolling around the grounds 100 years ago.
|Marian Doub, her Dad Bill, and husband Bob Thawley|
Thanks for a great visit. Love you much!