The Campaign in Pennsylvania in 1915
The Enabling Act Passes to Add the Suffrage Amendment to the November Ballot
In March 1915, the state legislature passed the bill to add a referendum to the November ballot granting women the right to vote. The bill had to pass both houses in successive legislative sessions in order to place the referendum on the ballot in November. Newspaper coverage touted the success of Jennie Bradley Roessing and Hannah Patterson’s efforts. “Through their remarkable work in steering the suffrage amendment through the shoals and backwaters of two legislatures commanded an immense interest and admiration from both men and women who know anything of their work.” Pittston Gazette March 20, 1915. See also Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. After this successful lobbying in Harrisburg, the final months of the three year campaign consisted of rallying the public to the cause. The new rallying cry was “It’s Up to You, Mr. Voter”.
"Go Back to the Declaration of Independence"
On March 26, State Suffrage Party leaders met at the Hotel Sterling in Wilkes-Barre. Hannah Patterson spoke to the audience about the three questions that are asked of women regarding suffrage - Do they want to vote? Will they vote if they get it? Will their vote provide any real benefit to the community and the Commonwealth? Her argument was that those same questions should be asked of men.
“It is the only logical position for one who believes the old fundamental doctrine upon which this country’s history is founded, that all just governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed.’ You go back to the Declaration of Independence to find that. Custom, tradition, and the prejudices founded upon them, have always been obstacles in the path of progress. They were the reasons urged against the Declaration of Independence, just as they are sometimes urged against us now.
“Government is society organized for its own protection. Men who vote and control and make the laws are not government, are not society. They are simply the machinery which society has come to use. Men have managed government and men have been chiefly occupied in commerce and manufacture. We have gradually come to look upon the protecting, the safeguarding of commerce and manufacture as the chief and most sacred functions of government.
"Other duties of government that may have to do with health and the home have got pushed aside to a minor position or no position at all. While I believe that woman’s desire for the ballot today has risen in many specific instances, such as a pressing need to have the power to improve on some disastrous civic condition right at home, but I believe that there is something vague and often unrealized, something fundamental, but truly vital, underlying this great movement among women in all the countries of the Western world today. It is an instinct for liberty, for democracy.
"In the history of a nation, it was a primal necessity to establish acceptable government. Then next, the tendency was to extend the suffrage to new classes of people. With the United States, we had in the beginning votes for church members only, in the first colonies; and the voters had to belong to one kind of church. Next the right was extended to property owners. Next, it broadened to include adult white males. Next, the color line was taken away; and we have left now, in all but eleven States of the freer West, an aristocracy of sex, distinguishing against women as citizens on the ground of sex only. Will Pennsylvania be added to the eleven free states? The answer depends on how much, you and I are ready to give of devotion and service for the next six months."
Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Party Convention - Hannah Patterson at the Helm
In April, Hannah Patterson called for a Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Party Convention to be held in Harrisburg to lay out the work for the final push to get out the vote in November. Suffrage Party leaders in each county as well as legislative leaders attended. A reception hosted by Hannah Patterson and Jennie Bradley Roessing was held to welcome Maud Younger of California who gave a speech on "Special Work on Election Day".
A calendar for the remainder of the campaign was developed: "May and June 1915: Open-air work, especially street meetings to continue through the summer and fall. July 1915: auto tours of rural sections. August 1915: suffrage booths at county fairs. September 1915: Headquarters at full strength so that the climax of the campaign – a house to house canvass of registered voters – can be carried out effectively".
A film was shown of the casting of the Justice Bell which had been conducted the week before in Troy, New York."
Once the work had been done to pass the enabling act, newspapers began to cover the active part of the campaign. The Daily Notes newspaper in Canonsburg reported on the activities of the women across the state. The paper acknowledged that, "It no doubt will surprise the voters of the state when they begin to understand the complete and well-organized campaign that has been planned to line up and lead them to the polls in November, with suffrage sentiment in their hearts, ready to make an affirmative mark in the space left for them to express their opinion on the amendment.
"Few men in Pennsylvania realize that for the last five years the women have been forming and perfecting a political organization built upon party lines, with branches in sixty-two counties with legislative districts, townships and boroughs formed, under the care of chairmen, who already are at work swinging sentiment for the amendment, doing pre-election work and each day enlisting thousands more under the yellow “votes for women” flag.
"Five years ago there was no woman’s political organization in Pennsylvania. There were many suffrage societies and clubs, woman’s rights organizations and little groups of women who, in a valiant way, were trying to break down masculine, as well as feminine, prejudice against their widening public influence. Today there is a big political party, known as the Woman Suffrage Party, with hundreds of thousands of men and women enlisted in its membership. At the head of this organization stands a woman who bids fair to become one of the biggest women leaders in the country, Hannah J. Patterson of Pittsburgh.
"By reason of her political acumen, her grasp of the bigness of the movement she is leading, and her absolute faith in the cause and the people she has enlisted under her leadership, Hannah Patterson has come to be symbolic of the best influence of woman in politics. Pennsylvania, before the end of the present campaign, will know more about this woman with the direct, open eyes, the fine idealistic face, the frank manner and magnetic personality. It will better understand why, during the three years the party has been under her leadership, it has rolled up membership, gained influence, spread propaganda of suffrage into all but a few of the most remote counties of the state.
"In Allegheny county alone, Miss Patterson’s home county, 25,000 persons have signed yellow slips signifying their belief in the equalization of political rights between men and women. No matter how just and righteous the cause, no matter how unassailable the contention, or how fundamentally correct the movement, it will suffer and lapse for want of inspired and able leadership.
Mrs. Frank M. Roessing, president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association, knew this when she appointed Miss Patterson to undertake the formation of the party which eventually was to crystalize suffrage activity and weld it into one organized mass of people and opinion."
An article on Pennsylvania's suffrage movement in the The Daily Republican (Monongahela, PA) on May 8 was typical of the coverage of Hannah Patterson's work that year:
"Miss Hannah J. Patterson, Chairman of the Woman Suffrage Party of Pennsylvania, is a Wilson College graduate and one of the best known suffrage organizers in the United States. Officers of the National Woman Suffrage Association and suffrage workers familiar with the situation in other campaign states say that Miss Patterson in the Woman Suffrage Party plan has devised the simplest, most comprehensive and certainly effective form of organization to be found anywhere in the country. As an always active member of the Civic Club of Allegheny County, a men’s and women’s organization, and through Juvenile Court, Consumer’s League and Child Labor activities, Miss Patterson came to see the enormous amount of time lost by women trying to improve conditions by indirect methods. These repeated experiences so crystallized her inherited suffrage sentiments that when the suffrage forces of Pittsburgh looked for an organization leader Miss Patterson’s innate fitness for the position was recognized and she took up the work there in 1911. From there she quite naturally gravitated to the organization leadership in the state in December of 1913."
Publicity methods were discussed at the convention including the popular suffrage gardens. Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger funded the cost of creating a copy of the Liberty Bell, known as The Justice Bell and while at the Woman Suffrage Party Convention, met with Hannah Patterson, Jennie Bradley Roessing and Florence Piersol to lay out the tour route. The casting of the bell had been filmed the previous week in Troy, New York.
Patterson continued to supervise the 18 district organizers and seventy additional lower level organizers. The workers visited all 67 counties, sponsoring booths at county fairs, addressing women’s clubs, teacher’s institutes, holiday picnics, farmers’ institutes, men’s organizations, political, church, college and factory meetings, holding open air meetings. A Speakers’ Bureau was organized. The Bureau made a study of the characteristics of each county; industry, agriculture, character of population and the local political situation. The speakers were then offered who would be acceptable to the community as well as to the particular meeting.
Philadelphia Needs Help
After the Woman Suffrage Party Convention on April 8 - 9, it was decided that Philadelphia needed more support in organizing their campaign for suffrage. An announcement was made that the state association would open branch headquarters in Philadelphia. The Newport News reported on April 16, "Mrs. Roessing, the state chairman, said the state board had requested Miss Hannah J. Patterson, chairman of the Woman Suffrage Party, to take charge of the new headquarters. An advisory council of 100 men and women, will be formed to assist in the conduct of the suffrage campaign in Philadelphia.
Suffrage Babies and Suffrage Gardens
"To prove how well taken care of suffrage babies are, the suffragist mothers of Pennsylvania will mobilize their offspring at various points in the State early in June and hold “suffrage baby” shows. The idea originated in Pittsburgh and will be carried out there in conjunction with the “Better Baby Week” planned by Dr. J. F. Edwards, director of public health, during the first part of June.
"Final plans have not been completed by the suffragist mothers in other parts of the state, but it is said “suffrage baby” shows would probably be held at the same time in Philadelphia, Reading, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Johnstown, Altoona, Erie and Lancaster. It was added that there are enough chubby suffrage “snookums” in any one of those cities to prove once and for all that the pursuit of the ballot is not impairing the status of Pennsylvania childhood."
Merchants Pay Pretty Tribute to “The Cause”
Suffrage Gardens Blossom in Store Windows All Over the State
Although the thousands of suffrage garden seeds distributed by the PA WSA have not had much of a chance yet to develop into budding plants, the state is already dotted with hundreds of beautiful yellow gardens. This early materialization of the suffragists’ plan to make the entire state blossom with the suffrage colors this summer has been made possible through the hearty cooperation extended to the women by the leading merchants of a number of towns and cities.
Seeing the opportunity to pay a delicate compliment to the suffragists, these merchants have converted their “show windows” into suffrage gardens, using yellow tulips, jonquils and daisies to carry out the suffrage color scheme. In a number of these displays, blue and gold posters bearing suffrage mottoes have been set in panels in the background to show the uninitiated that the display is for the benefit of the suffragists.
Suffragists Support Good Roads Day
The story of the suffragists’ desire to help in the improvement of the public highway is best told, perhaps in the letter which has just been sent to their county and city chairmen by Miss HJP, State Chairman of the PA WSP. In this letter Miss Patterson says:
“The Government has fixed May 26th as a state-wide Good Roads Day, and has called upon men, women and children to help. As all suffragists are deeply interested in the development of PA, this opportunity to cooperate in the improvement of the state will appeal to all our women.
“The State Highways Department suggest that the best way for the women to help is in providing lunches for the workers along the highway. Will you please appoint a committee to confer with the township roads supervisors as to how to best cooperate in your immediate location.
“The State Highways Department further says: ‘You needn’t cook a great big dinner; you needn’t cook a market basket full of sandwiches; you needn’t brew a dozen gallons of tea or coffee. But you can furnish a ham, several loaves of bread, buckets of cool spring water with dippers in them, and you and the children can carry this to the nearest point beneath the shade trees along the road at the noon hour and call the workers from their toil to partake of refreshments.’”
Woman Suffrage Won the Pennant!
On July 7, The Philadelphia Phillies held a Suffrage Day event at the ballpark. Hannah Patterson through out the first pitch and suffragists filled the stands and handed out suffrage literature. The event was credited with turning around the luck of the Phillies that season and was covered in a newspaper article in October when the Phillies won the National League Pennant
The Phillies of course, played an important part in the bringing of the National league flag to this city after 33 years, but the suffragists by no means were idle while this task was being accomplished. Indeed they lay claim to the fact that they alone changed the Phillies’ luck in July and started them pennant-ward. What good is a good team if it has bad luck, say the suffs; and they brought the luck. Records seem to substantiate their claims.
In addition to the Phillies being ardent suffragists (which also contributed and important part in their success), the Phillies set apart July 7 of this summer as “Suffrage Day.” This was at the crucial stage of the game. Chicago was leading and the Phillies seemed to be running in bad luck. On July 6, the day before “Suffrage Day,” the Phils had lost a hard game to New York by the score of 5 to 1. A double-header was scheduled for the following day and the prospects looked hard. The New York team felt “cocky” and expected to clean up, for the Phils had been playing indifferent ball. The Phils admit they felt just a little gloomy.
The suffrage went up en masse to see the fame, occupying the boxes. A $10 gold-piece was offered to every Phil player who hit a home run. The first game was close and heartbreaking for the Phils. They lost, 5 to 4. The suffs, undaunted, cheered all the more lustily. They second game was all the harder, but Demaree pulled it out of the fire and the Phils won, 1 to 0. It was a great day. The suffs made speeches and the Phillies vowed to keep their winning streak up. They did.
Now the suffs say that in return for the good luck they brought every member on the team should vote for woman suffrage at the polls on November 2. Not only the team, but also every loyal Philly rooter, for it was largely through them, the suffragists say, that the pennant came to Philadelphia.
The suffs are not going to stop at bringing the National League championship to Philadelphia. They are going after the world’s series championship. They figure that if they changed the Phillies’ luck therefore enabling them to capture the flag, they should attend the world’s series games. The suffragists are thinking seriously of attending some of the games in a body, as they did on “Suffrage Day.”
I am in Favor of Anything the Devil is Against"
and I am against everything the Devil is in favor of" declared Evangelist Billy Sunday in stating his views on Women's Suffrage. "I want you to understand that I am not standing for Votes for Women because it is popular. I stood for Votes for Women when it was not as popular as it is now, and I am standing for it today. They say women would make an awful mess of it if they voted. Well, I would like to know if they could make a greater mess of it than the men have made. The nation that refuses to grant the request of women to protect their homes from the forces of evil is doomed, whether it is this or any other nation."
Republican county chairmen predicted that the amendment would fail by a two to one margin. Boies Penrose’s fingerprints were all over the loss. Sample ballots – commonly used checklists handed out at the polls to remind voters of their party’s positions – were created that showed a “Yes” checked for amendments 2, 3 and 4 but a “No” checked for amendment 1 – the suffrage amendment.