Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2014 Leah N. Johnson
The woman suffrage movement in America lasted nearly an entire century. The movement formally began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention and concluded in 1920 when the Susan B. Anthony amendment was ratified. Throughout this time period the movement changed dramatically. At the turn of the century the excitement and radical nature of the movement that prevailed at mid-century had been exhausted. Suffragists worked with no sense of immediacy, under the assumption that universal suffrage would come eventually, whether it in their lifetimes or their daughters’ or granddaughters’. This all changed, however, in 1913 with the Woman Suffrage Procession.
The parade catalyzed the movement, sparking the beginning of the end. An examination of the parade itself, the planning process, and its aftermath reveals the importance of the procession and the changes it provoked. It first served as a platform for a new suffrage leader and a new suffrage group. Alice Paul, a young suffragist who had been involved in the movement in England, planned the procession as her first major responsibility on the US suffrage scene. Throughout the parade planning and aftermath she established herself as a strong leader. She also led the way for a younger and more radical suffragist organization, the Congressional Union, that would soon split from the dominant suffrage organization to pursue more aggressive tactics. Secondly, the suffrage parade demonstrated and catalyzed a transition of strategy, tactics, and sentiment. At the parade a younger cohort of suffragists began utilizing more militant tactics and adopting a sense of immediacy and determination. Finally, the parade altered the movement by raising awareness across the country that had not previously existed. The excitement of the procession caught the attention of government officials, the general public, and - most importantly - the media. The combination of a new leader and association, the transformation of internal attitudes, and new-found awareness put the suffragists on the path towards victory. The parade breathed new life into the movement, catalyzing the final push to success.
Johnson, Leah N., "Victory's Catalyst: Alice Paul and the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913" (2014). CMC Senior Theses. 912.
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