The Lesson of Women’s Suffrage – Never Fail to Vote

March 15, 1917

The National Woman’s Party was the militant wing of the suffrage movement. They took part in public demonstrations for the right of women to vote in the United States. They picketed, held parades and demonstrations. They were eventually arrested and imprisoned, some held hunger strikes.

The publicity spurred the discussion that lead to the women’s right to vote and hold office in 1920.

The Night of Terror is a date lost to history for most. On Nov. 15, 1917, the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote. For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food was infested with worms.

The crime was picketing the White House for the right to vote.

Forty guards wielding clubs rampaged against the 33 women who were convicted of obstructing sidewalk traffic.

Lucy Burns
They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

Dora Lewis
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her unconscious. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.


Alice Paul
When one of the suffragist leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

Woodrow Wilson and his cronies tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. The doctor refused. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: ‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’


Mrs. Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a sixty-day sentence.


Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown , New York

Informal, three-quarter-length portrait of Edith Ainge of Jamestown, New York, standing in front of National Woman’s Party headquarters in Washington, D.C., wearing a suit and hat and holding across her body a flag with a modified version of the New York State seal with the motto “Excelsior” (“Ever Upward”).

A caption on an alternate photograph in the same folder reads: “Miss Edith Ainge, of Jamestown, N.Y., who served sixty days in the government jail and workhouse for picketing the White House with a suffrage banner.”

Edith Ainge, of Jamestown, N.Y., native of England, served five jail sentences. Sentenced 60 days in Occoquan Workhouse for picketing Sept. 1917, 15 days in Aug 1918, Lafayette Square meeting, and three short terms in District Jail in Jan. 1919, watchfire demonstrations.

Berthe Arnold, CSU graduate

Berthe Arnold, of Colorado Springs, Colo., the daughter of a prominent physician, was educated at Colorado State University and a student of music in Philadelphia. She worked as a kindergarten teacher and was a member of the DAR. Arrested January 1919, watchfire demonstration, sentenced to five days in District Jail. She was one of the speakers on the “Prison Special” tour of Feb-Mar 1919.


Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk , Conn.

Served a three day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, ‘Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.’

No woman should ever fail to vote and when we see people risking their lives in countries like Iraq to cast a ballot, no one, man or woman, should stay home on election day. Too many fought for the right we take for granted.



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