PAGEANT FOR THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SENECA FALLS CONVENTION, 1848-1998
Readings from the First 75 Years of the Womenís Rights Movement, with
ROBERTA WALLACH as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Inez Milholland.
BILL JOHNSON, Mayor of Rochester, as Frederick Douglass.
PATRICIA LEWIS as Susan B. Anthony and Lucy Burns.
DENA TYLER as Edna St. Vincent Millay and Reporter. DOLORES JACKSON RADNEY as Sojourner Truth. ELAINE GOOD as Lucretia Mott. PHYLLISA GRIFFIN as Frances Harper. PROF. J. WILLIAM JOHNSON as Prof. Johanson KEN KLAMM as Reporter. ALICE TEPPER MARLIN as Maud Younger.
Scriptwriter and Assistant Producer: John Tepper Marlin
Producer: Nan Johnson
Director: Jean Gordon Ryon
Choral Finale by AKOMA Womenís Gospel Choir
led by Arlette Miller Smith
Original Music for Title Song Composed by: Clairissa Breen
Original Music Arranged by: Janet Forbes-Poles, AKOMA
Script Consultants: Nina DaVinci-Nichols and Arlette Miller Smith
Period Music coordinated by Jim Kimball and played by Kimball, Dick Bolt and Karen Canning
Production Manager: John Quinlivan
Lights by Derek Madonia, Sound by Daniel Zawierucha
Costumes by Peggy Savlov
GEVA THEATRE, ROCHESTER, NY WEDNESDAY, JULY 15, 1998 8:30-9:30 p.m. Take Up the Song 9:30-10:00 p.m. Reception at the Theater: Punch and Cookies; and Ice Cream by Ben & Jerryís
Characters in Order of Appearance........................................................................ Readers Reporter [Female] (sequences 1, 3, 6) .................................................................... Dena Tyler Reporter 2 (sequences 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)......................................................... Ken Klamm 1. Professor Johanson........................................................................ Prof. J. William Johnson 2. Lucretia Mott ......................................................................................................... Elaine Good 3. Elizabeth Cady Stanton................................................................................. Roberta Wallach 4. Frederick Douglass............................... The Hon. William A Johnson, Mayor of Rochester 5. Sojourner Truth............................................................................... Dolores Jackson Radney 6. Susan B. Anthony............................................................................................... Patricia Lewis 7. Frances Harper.................................................................................................. Phyllisa Griffin 8. Inez Milholland............................................................................................... Roberta Wallach 9. Maud Younger........................................................................................... Alice Tepper Marlin 10. Lucy Burns ........................................................................................................ Patricia Lewis 11. Edna St. Vincent Millay ................................................................... Dena Tyler
TAKE UP THE SONG
Sequence 1. WHY ROCHESTER? [19th century Map of northeastern United States, with dots going from NYC up to Albany, then a pause and westward to Buffalo. Voiceover by JTM:] Why was the Rochester area the birthplace of the womenís movement? Because Rochester women in the mid-19th century were on the frontier, in the midst of change, on the edge of the settled United States. Industry and commerce had gone up the Hudson from New York City to Albany, and then in one great drive to the West, the Erie Canal in 1825 connected the Hudson to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. [Photo of canal.]
The new canal and then the railway, steaming with barges and locomotives, cut shipping costs to a tenth of what they were. Rochester became a major stop, and jobs multiplied. [Map again of the Northeast. Dots go from Kentucky through Cincinnati and Ohio, from West Virginia and Maryland through Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, up through New York State, to Rochester.] Meanwhile, from the south, from the slave states of Kentucky and Maryland, fugitive slaves drove themselves north seeking freedom. They fled through the free states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Quakers and their anti-slavery allies helped the slaves north, to the relative security of upstate New York and then on, beyond the reach of slavehunters, to Canada. [Old map of northeastern United States, now showing the Atlantic and Europe. Little matches ignite in Europe and float across the Atlantic to New York City.] The year 1848 was one of brushfire revolutions. They were mostly doomed, but were significant, foreshadowing revolutions that would come later. Starting in early 1848 in Paris, each event encouraged fringe groups elsewhere to believe they had a chance at prevailing. Populists remembered the unfinished programs of the American and the French Revolutions. Religious revivals also spread. Ignited in the Syracuse area, they went west to Rochester and east to Albany. The valley became so inflamed with religious fervor, it was dubbed the ďburned-over district,Ē producing Mormonism, the Hicksite Quakers and many other movements. The Quakersí respect for women led directly to the campaign for womenís rights.
Sequence 2. LUCRETIA MOTT (1848) REPORTER [Male] Hello, Iím here to speak with Lucretia Mott. Are you her? Good. Mrs. Mott, could I check a few facts? You were born in 1793 in Nantucket. Your family moved to Boston in 1804. Your seafaring Quaker father, Captain Thomas Coffin, was an odd duck, because he believed that women should be educated. Was that considered a preposterous idea at the time except in Quaker circles? LUCRETIA MOTT It was. In your 20s, you became a recorded minister. Was that unusual for a woman? MOTT If thee only knew! In the orthodox Christian churches, it was unheard of. But the man who founded the Society of Friends, George Fox, converted an influential woman, Margaret Fell, and she later became his wife. She worked hard to make women equals among Friends, speaking and preaching. At the business meetings, the women met separately, but could send a delegate to the menís group. No other religious group allowed women to play such a role in church affairs. It was a special honor to be a recorded minister, and many women were given this honor. REPORTER And, Mrs. Mott, you showed your gratitude by turning on these Friends, didnít you? MOTT Thee asks a sharp question to which thee knows the answer. I spoke only the words of God that welled up within me, inspired by Mr. Hicks. I was accused of abandoning the principles of the Friends, but my husband and I were defending these principles. REPORTER Wasnít your falling out with orthodox Quakers the reason they rejected you in London? MOTT Friends speak truth to power. The Friends in London had the power, I spoke the truth, and they chose to silence me and all other women in the railed-off guest area in the hall. My husband James was as mortified as I. It was an attack on the entire American delegation. My only consolation was meeting dear young Elizabeth Cady Stanton. REPORTER Why were you in the Rochester area in 1848? MOTT James and I came to the Rochester area every July to address the Genesee Yearly Meeting. The Friends liked me to speak on the evils of slavery and the rights of women. Ten years before, Genesee Yearly meeting was prodded by the Waterloo monthly meeting into making the menís and womenís business meetings of equal status. So the women especially liked me to talk against arguments based on St. Paul, that women must keep silence in the church.
REPORTER Reports are that you were a thrilling preacher, and courageous to take on St. Paul! MOTT [Present tense: Lights up on her, off everywhere else.] Clergymen have used St. Paul to support State laws and customs that keep women in subjection. They note that In Corinthians 14 he urged women to keep silence in church. But his concern was that the women in Corinth were being disputatious and distracting. He was not enunciating some divine principle. St. Paul also wrote that women should keep their heads covered, repeating a tradition based on the myth that evil spirits possess women by holding on to their hair. That of course is pure superstition. Clergymen also misquote the Bible to denounce other reforms, temperance and abolition. But the Bible cannot properly be used to support the sins of drunkenness and slavery, nor can it be used to support subjection of women. Where does the Bible tell me that I as a woman cannot preach? No-where. On the contrary, if we us look closely at the Bible, we find supreme authority for women preachers. On the great day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended, the spirit of prophecy also descended, not just on men, but on women as well. Peter exclaimed that this fulfilled what was foretold by the prophet Joel, ďI will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Upon my servants and my handmaidens I will pour out my spirit.íĒ Now can anything be clearer than that?
Sequence 3. ELIZABETH CADY STANTON (1848) REPORTER [Female] Iím here to talk to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Ah, Mrs. Stanton. You were the daughter of strict Presbyterians in Johnstown, New York. They were not noted for educating women. What childhood events influenced your becoming a leader among women? STANTON Can we say of great sadness that it was an influence? I think so. All my brothers died during my childhood. I clearly remember the death of the last of my brothers. My father Daniel Cady was a fearsome man, a judge. Everyone called him Judge Cady. He was distraught when my last brother died. He told me fervently: ďElizabeth, I wish you were a boy.Ē I promised I would try to be all that my dead brother had been. And I meant it. REPORTER Did your father appreciate your efforts to be the young man of the family? STANTON At first, I thought so. He sent me to Emma Willardís seminary for girls in Troy. I studied hard and did well. But... then... he would not let me go on to college. He thought it was uncustomary for a young woman. REPORTER That must have been hard to understand. Is that why you gravitated to rebellious young men? First was Charles Grandison Finney, a revivalist who claimed to have met Jesus on a street in Rochester. Then your cousin Gerrit Smith, who left the Presbyterian Church because he said it condoned slavery. Were you, uh, intimate with any of these men? What about the man you fell in love with in 1839, Henry Stanton? STANTON Youíre making my life into a caricature. Henry was an agent for William Lloyd Garrisonís anti-slavery society. I saw the men you call rebels as knights, like St. George, slaying the dragons of evils like slavery. Henry was the personification to me of St. George. REPORTER But wasnít it easy enough, when you first met him, for him to champion the universal right to vote, because he didnít have to suffer any consequences for his views? Didnít his views change when he decided to become more political? STANTON Thatís very cynical of you. Henry and the others decided that they wanted to be more effective in ending slavery than Garrison was. They believed this required engaging in single-minded political action to end slavery. Womenís rights had to be secondary. REPORTER So womenís rights got in the way. You defend Henry, but in fact at the time you felt betrayed again, didnít you, just as you were by your father? Did you realize that this man you were considering marrying against your fatherís advice was planning to quit the anti-slavery society that employed him? Married to a rebel among rebels, what kind of future was there for you? Or did you marry Henry just to get away from your father, regardless of the consequences? Did you marry so you could sail away to the London convention? STANTON You put it so crudely. I was young and foolish. Many things were happening at once. Yes, I was so looking forward to the anti-slavery convention. No, I didnít fully realize what Henryís breaking with Garrison might mean in London... and afterwards. I was looking forward to getting away from my father, because he had broken my heart. REPORTER But you went from the frying pan to the fire, didnít you? Henry also broke your heart. At the convention, you were forced to sit in silence while your own husband, fresh from his marriage vows, did nothing. Was he obsessed with his political calculations? STANTON Iím not sure Henry could have done anything. But I did feel abandoned. If I hadnít met Lucretia Mott, I donít know what I would have done. I spilled my heart out to her. Her inspiration channeled my disappointments into action! REPORTER Then why did it take you two so long to do anything? I mean, eight years... STANTON Motherhood claimed me... At first, in Boston, life wasnít so hard. I had well-trained servants and an active social life. But then Henry told me that there wasnít enough of a future for him in Boston. To be an anti-Garrison abolitionist with political prospects, he had to move to Seneca Falls, where people were more attuned to his way of thinking. REPORTER You were never enthusiastic about this move? STANTON [Spotlight on her, other lights off.] Never! It is worse than I feared. Imagine. My three children came down with malaria soon after we arrived. Our residence is on the outskirts of town. The roads are often very muddy and without sidewalks. Henry is frequently away from home. My servants are poorly trained and my children grow in number almost every year. I am overwhelmed. Much that was once attractive in domestic life is now irksome. I am starved for friendship. I have books, but no stimulating companionship. My love of the beautiful and artisticóall fade away in the struggle to accomplish what is absolutely necessary from hour to hour. All this is sweeping across my soul. It seems as if all the elements are conspiring to impel me to some onward step. By the time of Lucretia Mottís visit, my only thought is a public meeting for protest and discussion. I pour out my heart to Lucretia in letters and eagerly seek a visit with her. It is arranged for Thursday, July 13, 1848. I count the minutes to the time of our meeting at the Waterloo home of Hicksite Quaker Mary Ann McClintock. When we all are together the sheer energy in that room makes us, on the spur of the moment, call a convention for the following Wednesday, to consider the rights of women. Suddenly, we are caught up in a frenzy of activity. We reserve the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls for two days, the first for women only and the next day open to men. We place a notice to appear the following day in the Seneca County newspaper. We advertise the speaker as Lucretia Mott, the best known of us. We decide we need some kind of manifesto for women. The five of us draw up a statement of womenís rights. Inspired by the Declaration of Independence and the Garrisonian anti-slavery sentiments, we call it our "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions." I knew that by recommending an appeal for women to have the vote, I would annoy many, including Henry. But I am astounded that Lucretia opposes me. She says, as we discuss the resolution: ďThee will make us ridiculous.Ē I just ask to have it put before the meeting on July 19. I say, let the meeting decide. REPORTER [Lights up on the reporter again.] Wasnít it risky to set the date in July, during the harvest season? Did you get as many people as you expected? STANTON We didnít expect many people could get away from their farms. But in addition to a large crowd of about 270 women, 32 men showed up on the first day, the day when men were not invited. We decided to let the men remain. It was a stroke of good fortune, not only because we had no experience conducting a meeting, but because Frederick Douglass was thereby inspired to speak.
Sequence 4. FREDERICK DOUGLASS (1848) REPORTER [Male] The only person of color at that meeting in Seneca Falls was one of the 32 uninvited men, the former slave, Frederick Douglass. He came to Rochester in 1847 because anti-slavery women in the area supported his newspaper, the North Star. Mr. Douglass, So your newspaper survived because of the support of the abolitionist women. Did you ever feel embarrassed by your need to get money from these earnest women? DOUGLASS Sir, you have not lived through the childhood I had. You are fortunate that you did not have to learn the alphabet from people who had to break the law to teach you. You have not seen, as I have, the poverty and shame that my people suffered under slavery. If you had seen these things, then to liberate your brothers and sisters I would bet that you would take money from the devil himself. The good women of Rochester were far from being devils. I am just filled with gratitude for their help in my work. REPORTER Is your gratitude what inspired you to get up and speak at Seneca Falls? DOUGLASS Truthfully, yes. Most of the Seneca Falls resolutions were easy to support and passed by a large majority. For example, the group was of one mind in declaring invalid any laws that do not treat men and women equally. But when Elizabeth Cady Stanton proposed her resolution that women work toward obtaining as their "sacred right" the "elective franchise," controversy erupted. It was opposed by Lucretia Mott herself. It looked to me that it would fail to pass if I didnít say something, so I spoke up. I felt I owed it to these ladies. [Lights on him only, off the reporter.]. I urge you not to abandon this resolution that women should actively seek the elective franchise. Some greet this idea with contempt and believe it to be absurd. All the more reason to introduce the idea at the earliest possible time, to allow us all more time to overcome our feelings of absurdity. These feelings arise from male arrogance. We men have felt fully equal to the work of governing the world without the help of women. But with what result? Is not the story of the world one of war and bloodshed? Does not the hand and voice of women naturally rise against the shedding of human blood? Would not the vote of women contribute to a more balanced government, to a more peaceful world? For you women, denial of your participation in government divests you of a large measure of your natural dignity. With the power of the ballot in hand, will not women ascend to a higher elevation in your own minds as well as the minds of men? Your mental and moral power now is fettered, like a chained lion. Who is afraid of a gun if it is known to be empty? The exclusion of my race from participation in government has been morally wrong, and it has also been a mistake, because it takes from my race motives for high thought. If the outside world brands a class as unfit for this or that work, the character of the class will come to conform to the character. I say to you women, do not throw away the possibility of demanding what should be your right! Demand the vote for the same reason we colored men demand it. Demand it because you want to make yourselves as useful citizens as men do. Demand it because all the arguments for men participating in Government have equal force for you women. I humbly wish you... Godspeed. Sequence 5. SOJOURNER TRUTH (1851) REPORTER [Male] Iím supposed to interview someone. I think this is the place. But Iím not sure I have the right name. TRUTH Over here, honey. Ainít reporters lookiní for me too often. But I could give you a story. Címon here. My name was Isabella. Isabella Baumfree. But I waínít born free. I was born into bondage in the land of Pharaohs. When I left the house of bondage, I waínít goiní to keep nothiní of Egypt on me, aní so I went to the Lord aní asked him to give me a new name. And the Lord gave me Sojourner, because I was to travel up aní down the land, showiní the people their sins, aní beiní a sign unto them. Afterward I told the Lord I wanted another name, Ďcause everybody else had two names; and the Lord gave me Truth, because I was to declare the truth to the people. So my name is Sojourner Truth. God told me to travel around to speak against slavery and to speak against the mistreatment of womenfolk. Thatís what Iíve done. I never did know where my money would come from, but people were good. They gave me food and sometimes shelter and I keep on tryiní to do the Lordís work. REPORTER Youíre the one Iím supposed to talk to. They said you were the earliest freedwoman to champion the womanís cause. But you werenít at Seneca Falls. TRUTH [Spotlight on her, off the reporter.] It werenít long after Seneca Falls, three years, I go up to that woman's convention in Akron. And in the back of the hall a white clergyman says women should not vote because Eve was a woman? And he says that what is wrong with Eve is that she started Original Sin and caused the Fall of the human race. The truth is, I think, 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women of the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about women not voting? That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. But nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man -- when I could get it -- and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne 13 children, and seen them most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And... ain't I a woman? If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them. Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner Truth ain't got nothing more to say.
Sequence 6. SUSAN B. ANTHONY (1872) REPORTER [Female] Susan B. Anthony, you werenít at Seneca Falls. You were a young school-teacher then, four years younger than Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Your father had moved to Rochester three years before. Were you predisposed to accept the suffragist message? ANTHONY Oh, yes. My father was a deeply religious Quaker. On Sundays, abolitionists including Frederick Douglass would meet on our farm. I soon became a friend of Frederick Douglass and a participant in the Underground Railroad. I was also involved in the temperance movement, where I was distressed at how women were treated. I once went home to my father and threw myself on my knees, sobbing, saying to him that I felt like working only for the cause of women. He said to me: ďIf thee must, thee must.Ē REPORTER How did you make the great connection with Stanton? ANTHONY My parents and my sister Mary were at the first convention in Rochester, soon after the Seneca Falls meeting. They were favorably impressed with it and with Elizabeth. Two years later I read of another womenís rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. I was especially impressed by remarks of Lucy Stone. Lucy wondered why epitaphs of married women commonly omitted their maiden names and described them as ďrelictsĒ of a man whose name was carved instead. I resolved on the spot never to be a ďrelictĒ of any man. I met Elizabeth the following year, in 1851, and attended my first womenís convention in Syracuse in 1852. I have never looked back. REPORTER You say that Douglass was your friend and Lucy Stone was a key influence in waking you up to becoming active in the movement for womenís rights. Yet you broke with these two allies after the Civil War ended in 1865. Some say in your desperation to win votes for educated women, you were prepared to jettison the less educated black women of the south. You and Stanton in 1868 accepted money from a known foe of votes for black women, to publish a newspaper advocating an ďeducated suffrage.Ē ANTHONY Yes, I did break with Frederick Douglass, and he was disappointed in us. He was very eloquent at that 1869 meeting of the Equal Rights Association. He said that blackness for his race was a matter of life and death, that negroes were were hunted down and lynched because of their color, whereas women were not threatened because of their gender. He said that the black woman was threatened ďnot because she is a woman, but because she is a black.Ē It was very difficult and sad for us. Elizabeth and I were torn. As abolitionists we both have done more than almost any other women for the freedom of former slaves. But we knew if we stood by while the spoils of victory from the Civil War were enjoyed only by men, we would most likely never in our lifetime see women get the vote. The proposed Fifteenth Amendment as much as shut the door on women by allowing continued electoral discrimination against them. Yet we women had borne the pain of the war as much as men, as we tended to the wounded and coped in households bereft of its breadwinners. We noted as a factual matter that adding more male voters would mean adding ďignorant negroes and foreigners to make laws for women to obey.Ē We were speaking the truth, painful though it was for us to say. We had no choice but to walk out of the Equal Rights convention to form the National Woman Suffrage Association. REPORTER Why shouldnít history brand you as an ingrate? Hadnít Douglass been enormously helpful to the womenís movement? Didnít he help you focus on the vote as your goal? ANTHONY Douglass certainly deserved the right to vote. But very few former slaves were so well educated. Of course we were grateful when Douglass supported votes for women. But women helped him publish his newspaper; women like me helped keep open the stations of his underground railroad. Itís not as though the debt goes only one way. And, when women had to choose between going along with the Fifteenth Amendmentís giving rights only to men, most women activists supported Stanton and me and made votes for women the priority. When Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe broke with us, I think the records will show that relatively few women leaders, black or white, joined them, except in the western states. REPORTER Why was that? Why did prominent black American women leaders, like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, support your National Woman Suffrage Association against the plea of Frederick Douglass? ANTHONY Perhaps it was friendship, but I prefer to think it shows that despite what Douglass said, colored women identified themselves first as women, second as colored. Our group was the best known and we made friends with women leaders from all races and creeds. Our break with Douglass wasnít personal. We were desperate not to be deflected from our goal of votes for women. Douglass forgave us. On December 25, 1869, when it looked as though ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment was imminent, he promised to devote himself again to extending suffrage to all women. But by that time it was too late for women. Our opportunity was gone. We lost. REPORTER Itís a dark chapter in your History of Woman Suffrage. It took another 50 years for women to get the vote. ANTHONY Our chance was right after the War between the States. We missed it. A nation can only absorb so much change. Once the North crammed three Federal amendments down the throats of southerners, resistance in the South stiffened against yet another Federal voting rights amendment. A cause needs organization, but it also needs a favorable environment, and that had gone. It would take another war for the environment again to be as favorable. From 1869 on, we had only small victories, and we paid a heavy price for each of them. In 1872 I brought 50 women to register to vote in Rochester. More than a dozen of us actually voted, even though it was against the law. We were arrested under a local statute that was originally written to prevent freed slaves from voting and carried a possible sentence of three years in jail. REPORTER Your defense has become famous. Who was the judge? I remember you once called him ďsmall-brained.Ē ANTHONY His name was Judge Hunt. Commonly in a case the subject of prosecution is allowed a chance to speak as legal arguments are made, the jury decides on guilt and the judge renders an opinion with his decision about a sentence. Judge Hunt had a different approach. He wrote his decision before legal argument began. During five hours of legal argument, I was not allowed to speak. His view that the due process clause, the Fourteenth Amendment, did not apply was made clear as he directed the all-male jury to bring a guilty verdict. Only the next day, before pronouncing the sentence, did he finally ask whether I had anything to say. REPORTER Did you say anything to the judge? ANTHONY [Light on her alone.] Yes, your honor, I have many things to say; for in your ordered verdict of guilty you have trampled under foot every vital principle of our government. My natural rights, my civil rights, my judicial rights are all alike ignored. Robbed of the fundamental privilege of citizenship, I am degraded from the status of a citizen to that of a subject; and not only myself individually, but all of my sex, are, by your honorís verdict, doomed to political subjection... Sentence can not, in justice, be pronounced against me. Your denial of my citizen's right to vote is a denial of my right of consent as one of the governed, the denial of my right of representation as one of the taxed, the denial of my right to a trial by a jury of my peers as an offender against law... Of all my prosecutors... not one is my peer... All are my political sovereigns. And had your honor submitted my case to the jury, as was clearly your duty, even then I should have had just cause of protest, for not one of those men was my peer...Failing to get justice, I ask not leniency at your hands but rather the full rigors of the law... REPORTER [Light up on his side.] What was the sentence? ANTHONY $100 plus costs. REPORTER That was a lot of money those days. How did you respond? ANTHONY [Light on her only again.] May it please your honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty. All the stock in trade I possess is a debt of $10,000, incurred by publishing my paper, The Revolution... I shall work on with might and main to pay every dollar of that honest debt, but not a penny shall go to this unjust claim. Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God. REPORTER Did you ever pay any of the fine? ANTHONY I am pleased to say, I never... did... pay... a... penny. [Light fades on her side.] REPORTER [Male] Where is she? Whereís the woman Iím supposed to be interviewing? REPORTER [Female] Whatís her... name? REPORTER [Male] Frances... [looks at his pad] Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. Frances Harper. REPORTER [Female] [Points.] Thatís her. Iím outta here. [Exits quickly.] Sequence 7. FRANCES HARPER READINGS (1885, 1895) REPORTER [Male] [Sees woman coming in from the shadows and pushes a tape-recorder mike at her.] Ah, Mrs. Harper. Youíre on my list of suffragists to interview. Leading suffragists. [Looks at his pad.] Youíre on the list as a leading black suffragist in the post-Civil War period. You are the right Frances Harper? FRANCES ELLEN HARPER I suppose I am. I fly a flag with simple colors, the flag of universal suffrage. Some of the black women leaders who supported the Anthony-Stanton group were silent when their white sisters were willing to accept literacy tests as a prerequisite for voting. I donít blame women like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth for their silence. They depended completely on help from the good Quaker women and their white suffragist friends. What choice did they have? I certainly couldnít help them. After I sided in 1869 with Lucy Stone and her American suffrage group, I burned my bridges with the Anthony-Stanton National group. REPORTER But 21 years later the National and American wings of the suffrage movement were merged into NAWSA [pronounced NAW-sa]. Didnít that mean that finally the womenís movement was speaking with one voice, for all women? HARPER That would have been ideal. But no, that one voice was the voice of expediency, and not a voice for all women. Frankly, NAWSA believed it was politically unwise to support votes for all women in the south. Look at the trouble they gave Ida Wells-Barnett when she tried to organize her Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago. No, NAWSA was afraid of being one voice for all women. Why do you think Mary Church Terrell felt the need to set up the Women Wage-Earners Association for black domestics and other low-paid black workers, which led to the National Association of Colored Women and then the NAACP? NAWSA did not see as part of its mission fighting for those rights for those women. REPORTER [Amazed.] Are you saying this was an oversight, or that it was deliberate? HARPER This was no oversight. Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1895 actually said that uneducated women should not be allowed to vote. Her daughter Harriot, and Susan B., to their credit, both immediately opposed her. But then Susan B. herself said many times that votes for women and rights for negro people were separate issues. In her personal life, Susan B. showed the greatest respect for negro women. She once fired a white secretary on the spot for refusing to do work for Ida Wells-Barnett because she was black. But in her official capacity as leader of NAWSA, Susan B. was prepared to sacrifice black people on the altar of her view of woman suffrage. She even asked her friend Frederick Douglass not to appear at the NAWSA meeting in Atlanta, for fear it would provoke southern hostility to her cause. The same year, Carrie Chapman Catt argued that male voters in city slums of the cities and the ďignorant foreign voterĒ posed ďgreat dangerĒ to America. Her proposed solution was to cut off the slum vote and give it to educated women. This is the woman who six years later became Susan B.Ďs hand-picked successor.
REPORTER But, Mrs. Harper, youíre educated. Youíre not opposed to people being educated? HARPER [Light on her alone.] Education should not be a prerequisite for voting. Education doesnít say anything about rights or about the character of the voter. Should educated wickedness, violence and fraud be counted more than the votes of honest people? Southern politicans have said that they fear that black women voters would be a lot more ďdifficult to handleĒ than black male voters. They are right. Black women have nothing to lose, because they live the hard lives of the unenfranchised. I wrote a short poem about this once: Day after day did Milly Green / Just follow after Joe, And told him if he voted wrong / To take his rags and go.
REPORTER With all due respect, Mrs, Harper, you could afford to be more independent of NAWSA than many of your black sisters. HARPER I was fortunate to make a modest living as a traveling poet and lecturer, usually alone except when I had my daughter as company. REPORTER So when you traveled all over the nation, you were both raising the publicís consciousness about the plight of black women and raising your standard of living. HARPER Thatís true. But donít think itís so easy. [Spotlight on her alone.] The women I want to reach the most canít pay me anything. The people who can pay me are not the people I want to reach. Sometimes I speak twice a day. When I lecture to women privately, I never charge a fee or take up a collection. Last night I spoke in a schoolhouse with not a single glass window. I did not get one cent for my lecture, but God bless them, they had adorned my table with roses. Today I am in a lowly cabin where two apertures in the wall serve as windows. I start by reading poetry. For example, hereís the end of a poem I wrote about husbands who refuse to support their wivesí right to vote: Some thought that it would never do, for us in Southern lands, To change the Fetters on our wrists for the Ballot in our hands. Now if you donít believe Ďtwas right, to crowd us from the track, How can you push your wife aside and try to hold her back?
Then I talk to them. ďNow is the time to be concerned about the future of our daughters. Now is the time to demand whatever is needed for the welfare of our race. Now is the time for women to plant the roots of progress under our own hearthstones.. We canít forget our troubles as black women, and how men mistreat us. We canít forget the terribly hard time we had in slavery. And now, in freedom, the subjection of black women has not ceased. A man told me that men must leave women alone or whip them. I tell you that women will never be free of this kind of slavery until we have the vote.Ē
Sequence 8. INEZ MILHOLLAND (1908, 1913, 1916) REPORTER [Male] Like Moses, the three great early suffragists never saw their goal achieved. It was left to their successors to cross over into the Promised Land of the Nineteenth Amendment. A new wave of leadership emerged at the beginning of the 20th Century. Students at womenís colleges became very active in supporting both workers and womenís rights, aided and abetted by suffragists among the faculty. I am speaking now with one of the most successful student activists, Inez Milholland. May I call you AYE-nez? Or is it Ih-NEZ? INEZ MILHOLLAND If you canít pronounce it, call me Nan. REPORTER Nan, is your success with the newspapers a reflection of the fact that your father was an editor of the New York Tribune? MILHOLLAND No, itís a reflection of the fact that I am gorgeous and I flirt with reporters. If you write a nice story about votes for women you may kiss me.
REPORTER Sounds good to me, but I donít know if my newspaper would approve of such an arrangement. [Straightening his tie.] You became a suffragist in London, I understand. MILHOLLAND We lived in London when my father was working on putting in pneumatic tubes for the post office there. I got to know Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter. Did you know we were all arrested? We were in jail. Have you ever been in jail? REPORTER I had heard that you were arrested. What happened at Vassar? Why did you have a meeting in a cemetery? MILHOLLAND (1908)
I asked the President of the College, Dr. James Monroe Taylor, whether we could celebrate the 60th anniversary of the womenís rights movement by holding a meeting in the Vassar chapel. He said no, that politics doesnít belong in a church. I said, wouldnít politics benefit from some religious contact? His answer still was no. I explained that we wanted to mark the recent death of Susan B. Anthony. I told him that the 60th anniversary would be celebrated with a trolley-car caravan leaving Seneca Falls and stopping in Syracuse and Albany, ending in Poughkeepsie. He said no, no, not at Vassar. So we welcomed the caravan off campus. We went across the road from the Vassar campus, and met at the Calvary Cemetery. REPORTER You made Dr. Taylor look very foolish in every newspaper on the East Coast. MILHOLLAND (1908) [Light only on her.] Welcome to Calvary Cemetery. Iím sorry we have to meet like this, but it gives us some solidarity with Susan B. and our other foremothers. Dr. Taylor threatened to expel any of us who would dare to attend. But 40 of us have shown up. Will he expel us all? We students here have asked ourselves this question: Do we want just to study history... or to make it? How can we enjoy a comfortable life when young girls are chained to their machines in factories? Sisterhood with other women is more important to me than a Vassar diploma. The Statue of Liberty is inscribed: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free." But when they get here, we ignore them, their women and their children. Only when women vote, will they breathe free. The Pankhursts in London have set us an example. They are prepared for any sacrifice; they are prepared even for death. More than 600 suffragettes are now in British prisons. We met 15 women just released from prison for suffragette activities, and escorted them in triumph through London. On every street corner a suffragette spoke to the men going to vote. After 20 years of rule, the local candidate was defeated. We women will never get the vote until we emulate the Pankhurst suffragettes and take more risks. REPORTER President Taylor has said of you when you graduated: ďWonderful girl. Iím glad sheís gone.Ē I hear you were the first woman accepted by the Harvard Law School. MILHOLLAND A lot of good that did me. The Harvard administration overruled the faculty and refused to admit me. Thank goodness the NYU Law School was more enlightened. REPORTER Once you became a lawyer, you defended factory girls. You marched with them before the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and were arrested while doing so for biting a police officer.. MILHOLLAND I donít regret it. The officer was being unnecessarily rough. The judge was on my side. He seemed to think the officer should have been grateful. REPORTERI believe the judge was a friend of your father. MILHOLLAND You know so much, why bother interviewing me? REPORTER That factory fire was a turning point for you. MILHOLLAND It was an outrage. [Pause.] Donít hold your breath about anyone being made responsible for the deaths of all these young girls. But we can at least hope for some new laws. REPORTER Tell me how you got to ride on horseback at the head of the two immortal suffrage parades in New York City in 1912 and in Washington, D.C. in 1913? You must have learned to ride at your upstate Essex County home. MILHOLLAND My leading the 1912 parade was an accident. I was asked to ride my horse in this big parade ever down Fifth Avenue by my favorite Vassar professor, Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I found myself at the front of the main contingent and the crowd loved it. So a year later, the National Womanís Party, the radical alternative to NAWSA, asked me to lead the Washington parade, the day before President Wilsonís inauguration. But I nearly didnít do the Washington parade because the night before, a delegation of black suffragists from a Howard University sorority visited me. They told me that they had been asked, at the last minute, to withdraw from the parade to avoid inflaming southerners and thereby setting back the suffrage issue in the Congress. REPORTER What did you do? MILHOLLAND I went to the parade organizers and I confronted them. [Spotlight on her alone.] The negro sorority at Howard University tells me you donít want them to be in the parade. Your reason is that the presence of three dozen black women would offend southerners. Maybe so. But the absence of Howard University would offend me. So if they canít march, neither can I. Iíll go back to New York. Before you tell me goodbye and good riddance, I should add that I have talked with other members of the New York delegation about this issue and they have said they will join me in withdrawing. Members of the New England delegations have said the same. We women will never get the vote if we are cowardly and abandon the principle of universal suffrage. I remember our silly 1909 suffragist parade in New York, when we were afraid to march and we had a parade down Fifth Avenue in a couple of dozen cars and I was the only woman in the parade who even drove her own car. That wonít do it. We must have courage. In three years the 20,000 Pankhurst women have brought woman suffrage to the sidewalks of practical politics in London. No Member of Parliament or Cabinet Minister can now get through a speech without being interrupted. The Government says it can't introduce a Woman Suffrage bill because they have no time for it. "Very well," say the suffragettes, "then you shall have no time for anything else, including making speeches." President Wilson says he won't support the Anthony Amendment because he believes it's a state's rights issue. Well, we will just have to make him pay attention to us. We are ready for the challenge. Just let our Howard University sisters march with us. REPORTER [Lights up again on both.] They must have backed down, since both you and the Howard women were in the parade on March 3rd. MILHOLLAND When President Wilson arrived at Union Station, the only people in the greeting party were a chauffeur, sent by President Taft for his successor, and Wilsonís staff. Everyone else in Washington was watching and reacting to our parade, the capital's greatest parade ever, close to 10,000 women marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. REPORTER The lead story in the New York Times called you ďan imposing figure in a white broadcloth Cossack suit and long white kid boots.Ē They said you wore ďa pale-blue cloak adorned with a golden Maltese cross.Ē They said: ďMounted on Gray Dawn, her white horse, Miss Milholland was by far the most picturesque figure in the parade.Ē MILHOLLAND My father was very proud of me. But being on a horse in front I was unable to see what was happening in the parade. The Howard University sorority contingent led by Mary Church Terrell was told to take up the very end of the parade, which was too bad. But when Ida Wells-Barnett, who came with members of her Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago, was asked to go to the back, she just waited for the Chicago delegation and slipped in with them. REPORTER Your father wasnít so proud of you later that year when you married a Dutchman, Eugene Boissevain [BWA-suh-vehn], without telling him. He didnít even know the name of the man you married until he read about it in the New York Times. MILHOLLAND Someone blabbed. We had a little ceremony in London. We were going to have the main ceremony when we got back to New York. The Times ruined it. REPORTER The Times couldnít have meant to upset you. They called you "the fairest of the Amazons." No wonder your husband fell in love with you. Your letters show you were in love with him. But you spent a lot of time away from him. You went to Italy to cover the war, until the Italian Government threw you out because of what you wrote. You were on Henry Fordís peace ship until you abandoned the shipís patriarchy. You dashed around the state defending convicted criminals. One would think you were trying to escape being at home. Did your husband approve of all this travel? MILHOLLAND He was busy with his importing businesses. He approved until near the end. REPORTER What do you mean? Why didnít he approve at the end? MILHOLLAND Gene supported my career as a lawyer, wherever it might take me. But he was not so happy about my last trip in late summer 1916, a campaign against Woodrow Wilson because he opposed the Anthony Amendment. He worried that I wasnít in good health. REPORTER Did he have reason to worry? MILHOLLAND (1916) Yes. At the end, I was so obsessed with the campaign for the vote, I didnít pay any proper attention to my health. I had tonsillitis and anemia, but I continued to travel on trains by night, making several speeches a day. At the end of the last speech I ever gave, in Los Angeles on October 23, 1916, I said: [Lights on Inez only.] The Party in power has had the ability to liberate the women of the United States, but its leaders have refused to exercise that power, on behalf of justice and freedom for us. They have refused to put the Party's machinery in support of the Anthony Amendment. Fourteen times the President has refused. Senate leaders forced it to defeat through a premature vote. House leaders buried it in Committee. Therefore I beg of you. (Inez coughs.) Enfranchised women of the West, do not lend your strength to the party that turns its face away from justice for this nationís women. You who now have the power that has eluded our sex for so long, will you use that power on behalf of your fellow women across the country? We have nothing but our spirits to rely on, but spirit is invincible. Soon the fight will be over. Victory is in sight. It depends on how we stand in this coming election -- united or divided -- whether we shall win and whether we deserve to win. In farm house and factory; by the fireside, in the hospital and school room, wherever women are sorrowing and working and hoping, they are praying for our success. We have only the hopes of women and our own spirit. But we have our mighty principle. [Someone comes up to help her. Inez coughs into a handkerchief.] No thank you. Iím fine. Will you join us by voting against President Wilson? Join me in asking President Wilson: "Mr. President, how long... how long must woment...wait for... liberty?" [She collapses.]
Sequence 9. MAUD YOUNGER (December 1916) REPORTER [Male] Nan Milholland lingered in hospital and died within weeks. Maud Younger was selected by Alice Paul, head of the National Womanís Party, to deliver the eulogy at Nanís funeral... ...So... was Nanís effort wasted? YOUNGER No. Although Nan lost her election battle, the closeness of the final count, and the public sympathy she attracted for it, helped sway opinion and assure the victory of the cause she fought for. REPORTER [Behind him is a sign that says "MR. PRESIDENT, HOW LONG MUST WOMEN WAIT FOR LIBERTY?"] A memorial service was held for Nan Milholland in the Capitol's Hall of Heroes, Statuary Hall, on Christmas Day, 1916. You gave the eulogy. Could you repeat the ending of this memorable tribute? YOUNGER [Light only on Younger.] So we salute Inez Milholland, the first suffragist to be honored in this Hall of Heroes. Nan surely was a hero. She lived loving liberty, and had liberty on her lips when she was struck down. She fell like a soldier upon the field of honor. She truly gave up her life for an ideal. Let our tribute to her not be just words that pass, nor a song that ends, nor flowers that fade. Let it be this: That we finish the task she could not finish; that with new strength we take up the struggle in which she fell fighting beside us; that with new devotion we go forth, inspired by her sacrifice to achieve full freedom for women and full democracy for the nation. Let this be our tribute to Inez Milholland. Sequence 10. LUCY BURNS (1917) REPORTER The year after Nan died, 1917, was frenzied for the National Woman's Party. Lucy Burns, from your native Brooklyn you went on to study at Yale and Oxford, then left your books behind and first joined the Pankhursts. Now you are Alice Paulís second in command. What is the goal of the National Womanís Party? LUCY BURNS The National Womanís Party is a more activist Second Front to speed up votes for women. REPORTER 10 Can you cite specific aggressive things your Party did that helped the suffrage effort? BURNS We were a big hit with the media. Nan was much loved and after her death hundreds of memorial services and meetings were held for her across the nation. At these meetings, we collected petitions and resolutions for the Anthony Amendment. On January 9, 1917, two weeks after the Milholland memorial on Capitol Hill, the Party sent a deputation of 300 women to call on President Wilson, bringing these resolutions. [Photo of White House.]
REPORTER But what actually happened? BURNS President Wilson gave us a lecture. He said that while personally sympathetic to a national woman suffrage amendment, he had to work within his party, that if we knew more about politics we would know that "things ... are not accomplished by the individual voice, but by concentrated action." REPORTER How did the deputation of 300 react? BURNS We were furious. We were ready to burn down the White House. The Presidentís reaction was viewed as a desecration of Nan Milhollandís sacred memory. Nan was a martyr in our campaign for womenís rights. There and then the National Woman's Party decided to initiate a non-stop picketing of the White House until the President supported the Anthony Amendment. REPORTER Tell me about the picketing. BURNS We dressed up in suffragist uniforms and carried banners outside the Pennsylvania Avenue gates to the White House. Our most common banner repeated Nanís last words before collapsing on stage: "MR. PRESIDENT, HOW LONG MUST WOMEN WAIT FOR LIBERTY?" We picketers were in due course arrested and jailed, and as in England we were eventually taken out of more favorable quarters and put in with common criminals. In jail, we began a hunger strike and those considered close to death were force-fed. Many activist women were imprisoned and mistreated. I was one, and believe me, I was ready to die. The Pankhursts had martyrs; now we had one. We felt it would have been a privilege to join Nan Milholland. I starved myself willingly. I am told I was near death.
REPORTER Hereís a note that you wrote in jail and was smuggled out. Would you read it to us? BURNS [Light only on her.] Yesterday afternoon at about four or five, Mrs. Lewis and I were asked to go to the operating room for our clothes. We were told we were to go to Washington -- no reason given, as usual. When we were dressed, Dr. Gannon appeared and said he wished to examine us. We both refused and were dragged through the halls by force, our clothing partly removed by force, and we were examined. Of course the exam was of no value after such a struggle. Dr. Gannon told me I must be fed. I was held down by five people. I refused to open my mouth. Gannon pushed a tube up my left nostril. It hurts my nose and throat very much and made my nose bleed freely. The tube was drawn out covered with blood. The food dumped directly into my stomach felt like a ball of lead. My nostril, throat and the muscles of my neck were sore all night. After this I was brought to the hospital in an ambulance. I slept hardly at all. 11. EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY (1923) REPORTER Ah, Edna St. Vincent Millay, how have you been involved in the womenís movement? EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY Iím a poet, not political like Nan Milholland. But in my way I kept the fires of rebellion burning at Vassar and since then. REPORTER From your poetic perspective, tell me what impact Milholland had. MILLAY Iím biased, but Nanís death fired up the National Womanís Party, especially after President Wilson looked down his nose at the memorials to her and women picketed. As Alice Paul said once, if a creditor camps outside your door, you can either remove her or pay the bill. The President first tried to remove the women, and then paid the bill by supporting votes for women. REPORTER What about NAWSA? Didnít it play a key role? MILLAY Of course. NAWSA had supported the war effort, so the President could credit their work for his support of the Amendment, rather than the National Womanís Party, which included many pacifists like Nan. So the New York Times awarded a metaphorical "gold pen" to NAWSA, but also a "silver inkstand" to the National Woman's Party. REPORTER Your poetry was well regarded. MILLAY Well enough for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923. That emboldened me on July 18 to marry Eugene Boissevain [BWA-suh-vehn], Nanís widower. REPORTER I notice you mention the date you married. Any special significance to it?
MILLAY Yes. July 18 was the third Wednesday of July 1923, the exact day of the 75th anniversary of the day the womenís movement started in Seneca Falls. So I married the very day of the Seneca Falls anniversary that 15 years earlier Nan commemorated in the graveyard outside Vassar. By the time I went to Vassar we were all dedicated to womenís causes and we were so impressed with Nan. When she came to speak to us she told us she felt guilty about having tormented poor Dr. Taylor so much. But we enjoyed repeating the stories. Nan was our model Bad Girl. Little did we know that this strong, beautiful woman would be our nationís suffragist martyr. I am so proud of my associations with her. REPORTER Did you commemorate the 75th anniversary of Seneca Falls any way besides marrying Mr. Boissevain? MILLAY Yes. In November that year I did the equivalent of going to London to see the Queen. I was invited by the National Womanís Party to join with a bunch of suffragists to meet President Coolidge. REPORTER Why were you included? MILLAY Good question. I sang for my supper. The suffragists and I celebrated Seneca Falls by going from the White House to the Capitol. We paid homage to the large white sculpture of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the first permanent memorial to suffragists in the Hall of Heroes. I swallowed my doubts and agreed to do something I have sworn to myself never to do. I composed a sonnet for the occasion. Naturally, I dedicated it to Nan Milholland, and I am so glad I did it. Here it is: [Lights on her alone.] Upon this marble bust that is not I Lay the round, formal wreath that is not fame, But in the forum of my silenced cry Root ye the living tree whose sap is flame.
I, that was proud and valiant, am no more;-- Save as a dream that wanders wide and late, Save as a wind that rattles the stout door, Troubling the ashes in the sheltered grate.
The stone will perish; I shall be twice dust. Only my standard on a taken hill Can cheat the mildew and the red-brown rust And make immortal my adventurous will.
Even now the silk is tugging at the staff: TAKE UP THE SONG; forget the epitaph.
[Lights on her slowly fade, and come up on the AKOMA womenís gospel choir, which picks up the words and sings the finale, the sonnet set to new music.]