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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Changing Strategies of NAWSA and NWP

I have worked all my life for suffrage, and I am determined that I will never again stand up on the street corners of a great city appealing to every Tom, Dick, and Harry for the right of self-government.

—Harriot Stanton Blatch, 1916

The momentum, which had started to build in 1910–1914, when seven states, all in the West, passed women’s suffrage, came to a halt in 1915–1916. Suffragists experienced one demoralizing loss after another in state referendum campaigns across the country. During those two years, only one vote was taken in Congress on the federal amendment, a defeat in the House in January 1915. By the end of 1916, Carrie Chapman Catt, back at the helm of NAWSA, had begun to implement her “winning plan” and predicted that 1917 would be “The Woman’s Hour.” Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, disappointed that women voters in the 1916 presidential election had failed to defeat Wilson, began 1917 by introducing the new and dramatic strategy of picketing the White House.