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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

New Tactics and Renewed Confrontation

More than 3,600,000 women have a vote in Presidential elections. It is unthinkable that a national government which represents women, and which appeals periodically for the suffrages of women, should ignore the issue of the right of all women to political freedom.

—Lucy Burns, 1913

When Harriot Stanton Blatch returned to the United States in 1902 after years in England, she bluntly noted that “the suffrage movement . . . bored its adherents and repelled its opponents.” She founded the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women (later the Women’s Political Union) to attract more working-class women to the campaign. She and others, including Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, introduced militant street tactics used abroad. Challenging existing notions of women’s place in public, they commanded the attention of elected officials and the press by staging open-air meetings, trolley and automobile tours, and parades. In December 1912, Paul and Burns began planning a national suffrage parade in Washington. They overcame initial resistance from National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) leaders but soon exacerbated underlying racial tensions within the movement.