The Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913 was a march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. on March 3, 1913, organized by the suffragist Alice Paul for the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The march was scheduled on the day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration to “march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded”, as the official program stated.
American suffragists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns spearheaded a drive to adopt a national strategy for women’s suffrage in the NAWSA. Both women had been influenced by the militant tactics used by the British suffrage movement and recognized that the women from the six states that had full suffrage at the time comprised a powerful voting bloc. The women persuaded the NAWSA to endorse an immense suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. that was to coincide with newly elected President Wilson’s inauguration the following March.
The parade itself was led by lawyer Inez Milholland and included ten bands, five mounted brigades, 26 floats, and around 8000 marchers,including many notables such as Helen Keller. African-American women were asked to march separately at the end of the march, because white suffragists were concerned about losing the support of southern voters. A delegation of black women from the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago, including founder Ida B. Wells, were planning on marching at the end in a segregated unit. However, Ida B. Wells joined the Illinois delegation in the middle of the march. After a good beginning, the marchers encountered crowds, mostly male, on the street that should have been cleared for the parade. They were jeered and harassed while attempting to squeeze by the scoffing crowds, and the police were sometimes of little help, or even participated in the harassment. Over 200 people were treated for injuries at local hospitals.Despite all this, most of the marchers finished the parade.
The mistreatment of the marchers by the crowd and the police caused a great furor. Senate hearings, held by a subcommittee of the Committee on the District of Columbia, started on March 6, only three days after the march, and lasted until March 17, with the result that the District’s superintendent of police was replaced.
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