Nothing Less
Baltimore magazine|August 2020
Baltimore and Maryland women stood on the frontlines of the suffrage fight.
Ron Cassie

“Men their rights and nothing more; women their rights and nothing less.” —Susan B. Anthony, whose last speech was given in Baltimore at the 38th annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1906.

The afternoon’s events began when women from several states in the West and Midwest, already granted the right to vote, were invited to an informal meeting with President Woodrow Wilson at the White House. Afterward, those in the delegation on September 16, 1918, lavishly praised his words of support for universal women’s suffrage in the United States.

“I am, as I think you know, heartily in sympathy with you,” Wilson told the visiting women. “I have endeavored to assist you in every way in my power, and I shall continue to do so. I will do all I can to urge the passage of this amendment by an early vote.”

It sounded good. But the members of the more militant National Woman’s Party, based in Washington, D.C., including suffragists from Baltimore and Maryland, were not impressed when they received a copy of Wilson’s remarks two hours later. The president’s words fell far short of a promise of passage for what had become known as the “Anthony Amendment”—in honor of renowned women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony—which had first been introduced some four decades earlier. In the spring of 1918, hopes had been briefly raised by similar encouragement from Wilson. Then, Senate leaders from his own party were once again allowed to filibuster the amendment.

For more than a year and a half, the National Women’s Party had been stationing “Silent Sentinels” to picket near the White House gates. The slogans on their banners highlighted the hypocrisy of Wilson zealously campaigning for democracy around the world while doing nothing to guarantee voting rights for half of his own country. The Sentinels braved cold and snow, spring downpours, Washington’s swampy humidity, as well as assaults by mobs angered that they had the audacity to criticize the president while the country was at war. They also faced arrests and increasingly harsh prison sentences, including abuse and solitary confinement at the infamous Occoquan Workhouse. They protested their conditions inside the prison with hunger strikes, and some prisoners, including women’s rights leaders Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, endured three-a-day force-feedings.

Now, some 40 members of the National Woman’s Party marched from their headquarters to Lafayette’s statue across from the White House, with their purple, white, and gold banners held high. There, 26-year-old Baltimore suffragist and NWP field organizer Lucy Branham held aloft a copy of Wilson’s recent statement in one hand and a flaming torch in the other. Branham, raised by a staunchly suffragist mother and physician father, had gotten involved in voting rights activities since earning her graduate degree from Johns Hopkins University. She’d been arrested during the silent picketing at the White House a year earlier and served two months in the District’s jail and Occoquan Workhouse.

“We want action!” Branham declared.

Then, she set a copy of the President’s statement ablaze.

“The torch which I hold,” she announced, according to dispatches that made national news, “symbolizes the burning indignation of women who for a hundred years have been given words without action.”

Branham would later participate in the NWP’s “Prison Special” tour of 1919 (see photo), when women who had been jailed for their activism traveled the country, typically in their prison dresses, to speak of their experiences. Her mother, also named Lucy, was later arrested as well.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

RELATED STORIES

School's Out

Why Black parents aren’t joining the rush to send their kids back to class

8 mins read
Mother Jones
May/June 2021

BURGLAR STEALS THE KITTY – BUT LEAVES A CAT!

A CAT burglar who raided the kitty at an Oregon restaurant fled on foot, but left a key clue behind — his personal pet feline, according to cops!

1 min read
Globe
April 19, 2021

APPLE TV+ GIVES A STRAIGHT-TO SERIES ORDER FOR LADY IN THE LAKE

Apple announced on March 10, 2021, that it had given a straight-to-series order for a new TV show titled Lady in the Lake.

4 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #491

DAYS'S BEN TO CIARA: REMEMBER OUR LOVE

A distraught Ben confides in Jake about the situation with Ciara. Jake suggests giving Ciara the memory serum, but Ben notes there are a few issues with that. Jake thinks Ben needs to talk to Ciara and do whatever he can to jog her memory. “Jake pretty much slaps the sense into Ben because Ben is getting beat up by this on a few different rounds trying to get her to remember,” explains Robert Scott Wilson (Ben). “Jake tells him to get over there and keep fighting. Not that Ben’s giving up, but Jake is the one to kind of light a fire under him, so he takes his advice.”

2 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
March 29, 2021

The Time Is Now

Ethan Wilson looks to lead a talented South Alabama club back to a regional

3 mins read
Baseball America
February 2021

Baltimore beat down shows Giants are far from being a contender

The Ravens’ loss proves that the Giants need better talent if they hope to become contenders.

4 mins read
The Giant Insider
February 2021

Amani Lewis – More Blessed to Give

For Amani Lewis, the portraits are much more than a likeness.

10 mins read
JUXTAPOZ
Winter 2021

Bonding Through Birds

Kindness spreads through this Kentucky nursing facility, but it starts with feathered friends at a window.

3 mins read
Birds & Blooms
December 2020/January 2021

Giants head West for toughest opponent so far

The Giants will be faced with one of their biggest challenges of the season when they travel to Seattle to take on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Although the infamous “12th Man” will be absent in this matchup due to Coronavirus-related restrictions, pulling off a road win in Seattle is still going to be a very tough task for Joe Judge’s team. Now in his ninth season, Wilson is having a spectacular year and is well on his way to winning his first NFL MVP Award. Patrick Graham has the nearly impossible job of figuring out how to contain the Seahawks’ dynamic quarterback. The Giants’ front seven must continue to get in Wilson’s face and not let him escape and make big plays with his legs. They clearly have one of the league’s best offenses, but Seattle’s defense has struggled tremendously this season. Daniel Jones needs to continue to methodically move the ball down the field against this vulnerable Seahawks’ secondary and keep Wilson on the sideline. In order to slow down Wilson, the Giants’ secondary must figure out how to take away his two favorite targets, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Here are TGI’s keys to victory against Seattle:

2 mins read
The Giant Insider
December 7, 2020

What Works For Me - Silver Linings Playbook

Baltimore Ravens head coach JOHN HARBAUGH has clinched a playoff berth in eight of his 12 seasons—and he’s not even the most competitive member of the family.

1 min read
Men's Journal
November - December 2020