The Campaign in Pennsylvania in 1914

Patterson Leads Pittsburgh Suffrage Parade

Hannah J. Patterson, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Party (center) carries the Pennsylvania State banner in the Pittsburgh Suffrage Parade

Building State-wide Support

Much of 1914 was spent building up membership in the Pennsylvania Woman's Suffrage Association and in organizing the state into political precincts in the same way that major political parties were organized. The leadership continued to lobby the legislature in Harrisburg to pass the second round of resolutions. The goal was to have a finely tuned organizational structure to persuade men to vote for the amendment and to turn out the vote in November.


Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Party Conference Held

The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Party, like all organizations associated with the National Woman Suffrage Association was strictly non-partisan. As Chair of the Party, Hannah Patterson called for a Party Conference on March 11, 1914 in Harrisburg. Patterson outlined the political policy to the 75 district leaders and county chairman who attended.

She urged that the party work for the defeat of candidates to the state legislature who opposed submission of the amendment no matter which party they represented. As many candidates as possible had been interviewed in person or by letter by a committee from the suffrage organization in their district.

The United States senatorial and gubernatorial candidates likewise had been asked to announce their positions. All had replied favorably. Consequently, the Woman Suffrage Party confined its campaigning to opposition of those candidates for the legislature whose replies had been unfavorable. After the May primaries Miss Patterson announced that the nominees pledged to the cause had in most cases won. The most notable victory for the women occurred in Lackawanna County, where the Scranton Equal Franchise League defeated Senator Walter McNichols. P 76.

Jennie Bradley Roessing

Jennie Bradley Roessing Explains Opposition to Militant Methods

In a March 1914 Suffrage Edition of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Jennie Bradley Roessing explained in detail why she believed the militant methods favored by the Pankhursts and other suffragists in England was the wrong approach, especially in the United States.

"Lest my attitude should seem due to ignorance of the English movement, may I intrude the personal information that my father is an Englishman of the most English type, that I have visited often enough in England to understand most of the dialects, that I have been brought up on English traditions and history, and that I am at least not uninformed about England nor unacquainted with its customs and some of its people.

"Perhaps for this reason I do not feel the same reluctance to criticize militancy that my American sisters often show. The militant movement seems wrong to me because it is fundamentally opposed to the current of modern development and civilization.

"Putting aside all possibility of loss of life from the expanding pursuit of violent measure, militancy is yet to be deplored because it violates a basic principle for which our modern conscience stands. I ask you to consider and analyze the excuse that the English women are driven to such methods and that election reform in England has always been accompanied by rioting and disorder.

"Is it not just this same subtle, pernicious, excuse that cannibals used when they told the missionaries that the tribes always had eaten each other; that immoral men and white slavers use then they tell us that prostitution always had existed and the health of men depends upon its continuance; this same insidious excuse that the war party presents to the advocates of universal peace – that because differences have been adjusted in certain ways in the past the same kind of activity is justified today.

"Every reactionary in history holds up this same world worn excuse and just as we cannot admit it in the cause of peace so we must deny it in suffrage and every other form of real human progress. We must stand with real reformers and advance because we are using better methods, because we believe in advanced and not reactionary methods, because we want to go one step forward without going two steps back.

"Above all should we women in civilized countries stand for constructive work and honorable, legitimate, particularly in rural districts, to save the cause in their community by making a plain statement in regard to Mrs. Pankhurst’s visit to America at this time and her rumored appearance in Philadelphia, that finally I gave out an interview that the State association had not invited Mrs. Pankhurst to speak in Pennsylvania – that officially I would not receive Mrs. Pankhurst if she came into the State and that I would not sponsor any meeting at which she spoke.

"Upon investigation, I found that no Philadelphia suffrage organization had invited Mrs. Pankhurst to speak there and that her appearance in our Eastern city was not under suffrage auspices. This uniform declination of the important suffrage organizations throughout the State to entertain Mrs. Pankhurst has been a sad blow to the Anti-Suffragists who to my actual knowledge, have been desirous to have us cooperate with Mrs. Pankhurst, knowing that in Pennsylvania we could not take a more fatal step and eager to spread abroad over the State the information that cooperation with Mrs. Pankhurst means approval of her methods.

"For in this case, we cannot separate the woman from the method – Mrs. Pankhurst is militancy. To cooperate with her meetings is to give sanction to her deeds. To condemn militancy and cooperate with Mrs. Pankhurst’s meetings is like condemning Tammany Hall and voting for Charles F. Murphy. We must be courageous enough not only to condemn the wrong but the doer thereof. To decline to do so is to allow the sentimental philosophy which refuses to pass judgment because all human judgment is capable of mistake and should therefore never be exercised.

"I am not one of those who expect that equal suffrage will bring about any great immediate radical change, it has always seemed to me natural that men and women of the same family should hold somewhat similar political views, much as fathers and sons and brothers now do. It is to the general uplift that we must look for the ultimate advantage of equal suffrage.

"Opening up equal opportunities for women to education – which cost a long struggle bitterly opposed as this for equal suffrage – did not suddenly change the status of society. But who questions the powerful influences, the liberal education of women is exerting on society today, - not only on women but equally on men. Some share with daughters the benefit of the broadened view and widened experience of mothers and teachers. One great value of placing on women their share of responsibility in government is that they will be compelled to read and think and be informed about public affairs.

"If when their fathers are busy, we mothers are able to give intelligent answers to our boys’ questions regarding public men and measures, do you question they will be better prepared for the duties of citizenship?

"Whatever the situation in England, there is no call for militancy in the United States other than that needed to arouse the protected, prosperous, comfortable and happy women of the nation to a sense of their obligation to society, to a realization that “equal suffrage” is a fundamental reform on which many are interested depend for furtherance."

Pennsylvania Politicians Support Suffrage

In April, The News-Journal newspaper in Lancaster, Pennsylvania ran a collection of letters from Pennsylvania politicians declaring their support for suffrage. The men included Senator Boies Penrose, Senate candidate and later governor, Gifford Pinchot, and A. Mitchel Palmer, a Democratic Congressman who would later become U.S. Attorney General in the second Wilson administration, among others. In Penrose's letter, he doesn't say that he supports women's suffrage, but rather that he supports the right of the suffragists to work through the political process.

Also included with the politician's letters was a lengthy letter by Hannah Patterson explaining why the Suffrage Party organization was better than the Club or League organization.

Patterson Explains the Problem with Philadelphia Club Women

"The value of the Woman Suffrage Party form of organization as opposed to the league or club form, is that the Party has a direct political effect entirely lacking in the club. The plan is not original with Suffragists, but has been evolved by voters of a century of political experience. It has been found to be the most effective possible organization in all political work, and should prove correspondingly effective to Suffragists in their work of preparation for a suffrage campaign.

"The object of the party is to crystallize into an effective working force the suffrage sentiment which already exists, in order, first, to secure the passage of the Woman Suffrage Bill for the Legislature, and second, to secure a favorable majority when the amendments is voted upon at the polls.

"For the purpose of organizing the party in our State, Pennsylvania has been divided into twelve divisions, each division containing from five to seven counties. Within each of these divisions a county organization has been formed and within each county the legislative district is organized, with the result that back of each member of the Legislature and State Senate there is a definite constituency demand for votes for women.

"During the past, while Equal Suffrage was a matter of the remote future, the club form of organization could carry on an educative campaign, slowly arousing people to the justice and expediency of enfranchising women. Now that suffrage has been raised from the plane of academic discussion to that of practical politics, the club form of organization is both too slow in action and indefinite in the results obtained. While a club might work for years and do splendid work, nevertheless in the end it would not be able to definitely tabulate the results of its work.

"Through the activity of party workers, organized by counties, legislative districts and even the precincts or election divisions within the legislative district, suffrage is taken into every city and town in the State, and even to the very doorstep of the voter. While the party can and does carry on the propagandistic work which the club organization has always promoted, it is able, by the very form of organization to tabulate the results of the its educative work in a way impossible for the club.

"Another valuable feature of the party form of organization is its democratic tendency. Women’s training has been anti-social. By the very nature of her life and activities her tendency is exclusive rather than inclusive. Through the party organization, women of every condition in life are working shoulder to shoulder, and the resulting increase in human sympathy the willingness to identify one’s self with the common lot, is invaluable in the development of the democratic government of which we are proud to be a part.

"The vigor with which the women of Pennsylvania have taken hold of the work under the Woman Suffrage Party makes certain our triumphant victory in 1915."

Patterson’s explicit criticism that “women’s training has been anti-social” and her activities “exclusive” rather than “inclusive” is clearly aimed at the suffrage clubs in Philadelphia. The high-status women from Philadelphia had bristled at being thrust into working with the lower classes of suffragists including labor union and immigrant women. They also bristled at working under the authority of PWSA leadership from Pittsburgh, especially Jennie Bradley Roessing.

This animosity is made clear in the book Lifting the Curtain: The State and National Woman Suffrage Campaigns in Pennsylvania as I Saw Them by Caroline Katzenstein. Katzenstein's book, which is widely cited by current historians of women's suffrage, successfully erases the three years of work done by Roessing, Patterson and the others in the PWSA from 1912 - 1915. She never once mentions the work of Hannah Patterson and only refers to Roessing one time. She discusses the work of the State Headquarters right up until 1912, when Jennie Bradley Roessing becomes president of the PA Woman Suffrage Association and then her narrative shifts to continually refer to the work of the Philadelphia women as if it represents the State. She refers to the office in Philadelphia as Headquarters. She does call the Harrisburg office State Headquarters when she mentions it at all, which is almost never after that point. The title of the book is a complete misrepresentation of the actual campaign in Pennsylvania.

Patterson Speaks on Suffrage Across the State

Patterson criss-crossed the state making speeches and explaining the suffrage plan. Newpaper coverage like this was typical:

"Miss Hannah J. Patterson, the State chairman of the Woman Suffrage Party and second vice-president of the Pittsburgh Equal Franchise Federation has worked with her heart and time for woman suffrage for several years and believed in it since her college days. Like so many other women who are doing constructive civic work, Miss Patterson realized how necessary the ballot is for quick, effective result of effort. In her own district of Pittsburgh, she has been a Civic Club director of the Juvenile Court, executive secretary of the Consumer’s League, an active student of politics, child labor and other subjects in which her happy fitness in education and nature make her so valuable.

“Every step of my life has led me deeper into the realization of the tremendous need for equal suffrage, all of my social interests have led straight to legislation,” says Miss Patterson when the question why is put to her.

"A few weeks ago Governor Tener appointed Miss Patterson a trustee of the mother’s pension fund for Allegheny County. Possessed of a magnetic personality, a quiet dignity underneath a delightful sense of humor and wide sympathy, Miss Patterson’s success in public work for good is a foregone conclusion. She is trusted, liked and welcomed again and again wherever she goes."

May 1914 Pittsburgh Suffrage Parade Line-up

Pittsburgh Suffrage May Day Parade

Suffragists across the country held May Day Parades in 1914. Patterson led a parade in Pittsburgh on May 2, carrying the state suffrage banner. Jennie Bradley Roessing had temporarily given up the presidency of the PA Woman Suffrage Association in February due to exhaustion. Patterson took over her responsibilities in addition to her own as Chairman of the PA Woman Suffrage Party. The parade line-up included mounted policemen, ten girls representing the ten suffrage states, a Grandmothers’ brigade, college women, a "Negro Women" delegation led by Julia Craig, a Men’s Division, Camp Fire Girls and Boy Scouts. Pittsburgh, Post-Gazette, May 2, 1914.

Suffragists Blundered

In July 1914, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on a meeting in Washington between the members of the Congressional Union led by Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson.

"Suffragists Blundered - So say certain women concerning Washington delegations. That the delegation of suffragists who visited President Wilson on Tuesday made a serious blunder is generally admitted by women here, including Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association.

"The Woman’s Congressional Union, of which Miss Alice Paul is secretary, and which has its headquarters in Washington, is blamed for acting prematurely, and without the authority to speak for organizations other than itself. It is thought the incident will only make wider the breach between the Union and the National Association, which seeks to obtain the vote in the separate States before carrying the suffrage issue to Washington. President Wilson on Tuesday said he could not give his official support to an exclusively State matter. When the delegation attempted to cross-question him, he left the room."

1914 NAWSA Convention Nashville

1914 NAWSA Convention in Nashville

Hannah Patterson was already making a name for herself in national circles by 1914. The Washington Herald on November 8, in reporting about the National Convention in Nashville, included Patterson in a list of important speakers among the best known suffragists in the country.

“The convention program sounds harmless enough, with reports of the Congressional committee, the executive secretary, and the press bureau, a discussion of the National Suffrage Publishing Co., the vote on the constitutional amendments, and the election of officer; but every one who has ever been to a suffrage convention knows that all of these dull topics will be dramatized into live issues when such women as Jane Addams, Desha Breckenridge, and Laura Clay of Kentucky; Kate Gordon of New Orleans; M. Carey Thomas, president of Bryn Mawr; Grace Wilbur Trout and Catherine McCulloch of Illinois; Maude Wood Park of Boston; Hannah Patterson of Pennsylvania; Mrs. Donald Hooker of Baltimore; Harriet Stanton Blatch and Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont of New York get the floor.”

The Washington Herald Newspaper Lays Out Conflict with Congressional Union

The newspaper also noted in its headline that delegates at Nashville gathering would have many big questions to decide, predicting that "Women will hardly decide to allow Congressional Union to invade states where it is not wanted".

"What shall the national association do? Shall it devote itself entirely to securing a Federal amendment or shall it consider Congressional work at the present time chiefly as good publicity and put the emphasis on helping the States whenever it wishes to raise money and influence legislators?

"Up to this time, the national has always worked in the States only with the cooperation and consent of the States presidents. The Congressional Union, as organization started by Miss Alice Paul and Miss Lucy Burns, last year when they were at the head of the Congressional committee of the national association, believes in working in any State even though the State Suffrage Association disapproves.

"This difference of opinion was one reason why Miss Lucy Burns refused to serve on this year’s Congressional committee of the National Association.

"It is also one reason why the executive committee of the National Association refused to admit the Congressional Union as an auxiliary to the national."

Board to Reflect Attitude

"How these questions will be presented to the delegates is uncertain. They may come up when Mrs. Medill McCormick, chairman of the Congressional Committee, reads her report. They probably will not be settled until the new board is elected.

"If the delegates think clearly, the personnel of the board will reflect their attitude on the whole subject of Congressional amendment work, the attitude of the National Association toward parties, and the attitude of the national toward the State associations which are its branches.

"Dr. Shaw will, it is assumed, accept the nomination for the presidency, without considering her own inclinations. When Susan. B. Anthony was dying, Dr. Shaw promised her to serve the National Association in any way it called upon her and she has, ever since 1904, been elected president. 

"The question is, “What kind of a board will she have?” will the delegates elect national officers who will be so in sympathy with the Union’s policy that they will appoint Miss Paul and Miss Burns on the Congressional Committee of the National Association, and will give that committee full power to do as it please, allowing the association to judge it only by results?

"This would mean not only that the Congressional committee would work in the States in whatever manner they desired, irrespective of the branches and the organization work. It would mean that the Congressional committee would oppose the Democratic party because of its failure to further a suffrage amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It seems unlikely that this will happen, for very few suffragists, ever the most ardent admirers of Miss Paul and Miss Burns, are willing to have their own States invaded without thier consent, and the policy of opposition to the Democratic party is being attacked by those in the equal suffrage States and the suffrage campaign States.

"The alternative of surrounding Dr. Shaw with a board who approve of policies radically different from those she believes in and those the national association has up to this time indorsed, is for the delegates to elect a board who will work for a Federal amendment without conflicting with the State campaigns and who will promise to adhere to a nonpartisan policy. In that case, next year’s Congressional committee would have to submit to the restraints put upon it by the board, just as Mrs. Medill McCormick’s committee has done this year.

"All suffragists, whether they believe in the policies the national has up to this time held, whether they are strong pro-unionists [Congressional Union]or whether they are believes in States’ rights [NAWSA], agree that the time has come to settle many things, and they are going to Nashville determined to settle them once and for all."

Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association meeting in Scranton

Hannah Patterson read a report at the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association annual convention in 1914 which was summarized in the Scranton Republican, on November 21: "Six organizers, under the direction of Miss Patterson, conducted a high-pressure campaign in Philadelphia during the week of October 19, 1914."

This was a typical procedure. The campaign consisted of noonday meetings and house to house canvasses and culminated in four mass meetings held simultaneously in City Hall Plaza on Saturday afternoon, October 24. At a mass meeting that same evening at the Scottish Rites Hall, Madam Rosika Schwimmer, Hungarian suffragist, spoke on “Women and War”.

The goal for 1914 was a woman suffrage party in each of the 67 counties. During 1913, Hannah Patterson had established committees in 30 counties; by the end of 1914, 59 counties were organized. Ultimately, all but 2 counties (Cameron and Pike) were organized. While the original plan of the PA WSP had called for 12 divisions, Miss Patterson revised the plan so that there were but 9 divisions, each including 7 or 8 counties, but there were never 9 division chairmen. In practice, the key officer was the county chairman. In many cases, especially the smaller counties, the entire responsibility for the campaign rested on her shoulders. (see Krone)

During 1914, 14 organizers covered the state. Eight of the 14 worked under the direction of Miss Patterson, four worked exclusively in Allegheny County, one did summer work for Philadelphia County, and the remaining one worked in the Delaware-Chester-Bucks-Montgomery district. These organizers formed new organizations, stimulated those already established, conducted booths at county fairs (51 fairs were covered during the 1914 season), addressed women’s clubs, teachers’ institutions, and political meetings, and spoke in churches, colleges, factories, and department stores. Speakers included Anna Howard Shaw, Sophonisba Breckenridge, Mary Church Terrell. (see Krone)

Annual State Convention in Scranton

The annual state convention of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association was held on November 20, 1914 in Scranton. In Patterson’s featured address, she described in detail the methods used by workers in Pennsylvania. She explained that throughout 1914, the PA Woman’s Suffrage Party members worked to increase awareness of the concept of woman’s suffrage. They formed new organizations and increased membership in those already established. They addressed women’s clubs, teachers’ institutes, political meetings, churches, colleges, factories and department stores.

“The strength of the party,” she said, “lies in the fact, first, that it is organized by governmental units and thus acquaints every prospective woman voter with the political district of which she will be a part when she becomes enfranchised, and second, that it provides a uniform working plan for every organization in the State. “In the last analysis, the success or failure of the campaign rests upon the shoulders of the precinct leaders. With a working leader in every one of the 6700 odd voting precincts in the State, we can carry the State for suffrage. I would urge upon the county chairmen the necessity of procuring active leaders for the voting precincts in their county, and that definite plans be immediately made so every precinct shall be canvassed by May 1, 1915.”

PA Campaign 1914