5 Days for Democracy

The Women’s March: A Novel of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession

by Jennifer Chiaverini

On March 3, 1913 the day before Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th President of the United States, suffragettes marched down Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C. The women were demanding an amendment to the Constitution giving all women the right to vote. The reader learns of the events before, during and after the parade from the perspective of three women who were there. Alice Paul, a Quaker from Pennsylvania, was one of the organizers. Activist Ida Wells-Barnett from Illinois was insistent that black women also deserved the right to vote. “Militant suffragist librarian” Maud Malone from New York was not afraid to challenge anyone with regard to women’s suffrage. At a town meeting, she even interrupted president-elect Woodrow Wilson regarding his stance on all women’s right to vote. He ignored her question by saying it was a states’ issue.

Approximately 5,000 marchers walked the same route that the inaugural parade would take the next day. Nine bands, twenty-four elaborate floats, and four mounted brigades were featured along with the marchers. Security was lax. The police did not provide what was necessary to keep the spectators under control and more than 300 women were injured along the parade route. (The crowd was estimated at 250,000.) Eventually, U.S. Army troops arrived to clear the street so that the procession could continue.

Later a handful of suffragettes were invited to meet with President Wilson who listened politely. He believed that it was a states’ issue and not a federal issue. The 19th Amendment which guarantees American women the right to vote was adopted on August 18, 1920.

The book is historical fiction, but it’s obvious that the author did substantial research. This is a good introduction to the struggle women faced in getting the right to vote.

The women highlighted in The Women’s March include:

Maud Malone
1873-1951
Ida Wells-Barnett 1862-1931
Alice Paul
1885-1977
from the artifact walls of the National Woman Suffrage Parade

~Emma

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