Less than a century ago, women in the United States were not guaranteed the right to vote. Many courageous groups worked hard at state and local levels throughout the end of the 19th century, making some small gains toward women’s suffrage. In 1913, the first major national efforts were undertaken, beginning with a massive parade in Washington, D.C., on March 3 — one day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Organized by Alice Paul for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the parade, calling for a constitutional amendment, featured 8,000 marchers, including nine bands, four mounted brigades, 20 floats, and an allegorical performance near the Treasury Building. Though the parade began late, it appeared to be off to a good start until the route along Pennsylvania Avenue became choked with tens of thousands of spectators — mostly men in town for the inauguration. Marchers were jostled and ridiculed by many in the crowd. Some were tripped, others assaulted. Policemen appeared to be either indifferent to the struggling paraders, or sympathetic to the mob. Before the day was out, one hundred marchers had been hospitalized. The mistreatment of the marchers amplified the event — and the cause — into a major news story and led to congressional hearings, where the D.C. superintendent of police lost his job. What began in 1913 took another seven years to make it through Congress. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment secured the vote for women. [Source]
Suffragist Alice Paul, in a 1913 photograph. Paul was born in New Jersey, earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, then traveled to England and became friends with members of the women’s suffrage movement there. She soon became very active herself, and, on returning to the United States soon after, joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her first actions as part of NAWSA were to organize a massive parade in Washington, D.C. to promote a new constitutional amendment that would guarantee women’s right to vote in the U.S.
March 3, 1913 photo at the Suffrage Parade, showing marchers (left to right) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Mrs. Althea Taft, Mrs. Lew Bridges, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, Alberta Hill and Miss F. Ragsdale. (Library of Congress)
The hike lead by “General” Rosalie Jones from New York to Washington, D.C., for the March 3, 1913 Suffrage parade. Photo taken in Newark, New Jersey on Broad Street, just north of West Kinney Street, on February 12, 1913. Rosalie Jones is walking behind the first car. (Library of Congress)
Lawyer Inez Milholland Boissevain prepares to lead the Suffrage Parade, on March 3, 1913. (Library of Congress)
German actress Hedwig Reicher wears the costume of “Columbia” with other suffrage pageant participants standing in background in front of the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., on March 3, 1913. The performance was part of the larger Suffrage Parade of 1913. (Library of Congress)
Spectators crowd in on the passing Suffrage Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, on March 3, 1913. (Library of Congress)
The crowd converges on marchers, blocking the parade route during March 3, 1913, suffrage procession, in Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)
This photo is captioned “Crowd breaking parade up at 9th St., March 3, 1913.”
The crowd surrounds and slows a Red Cross ambulance during the Women’s suffrage procession, on March 3, 1913. Dozens of marchers were injured during the march, shoved and tripped by spectators.
But the march of time was not stopped, and the 19th Amendment became part of the Constitution on August 26, 1920.