A Review – Elisabeth Freeman

I really like fiction. Historic fiction is one in all my favorites and I believe that lots of people get their historical past info from these books. The nice factor is that the majority historic fiction authors are fairly good about sticking with the info though they make up dialogue and personalities, therefore the fiction. But when you realize one thing in regards to the topic, it’s exhausting to know what’s actual and what’s not.

Jennifer Chiaverini has the repute of being somebody who sticks with the info however makes the characters come alive for us. Her e-book, The Ladies’s March– A Novel of the 1913 Ladies’s Suffrage Procession is in regards to the Suffrage march in 1913, which upstaged President-elect Wilson’s inaugural and made it clear that the suffrage challenge couldn’t be ignored. In studying it, I discovered myself questioning what was truth and what was fiction, and what her sources have been. She didn’t footnote her sources, which might not be typical in a piece of fiction, however a be aware on sources would have been useful.

Chiaverini did reveal one plot invention that allowed her to tie collectively her three heroines—Alice Paul founding father of the Congressional Union and mastermind of the March; Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the anti-lynching journalist, civil rights employee, and black suffragist from Illinois; and Maud Malone, a disruptive determine from NY who persevered in asking politicians of all stripes what their place was on girl suffrage. Within the e-book, Maud is among the hikers with Common Rosalie Jones. The writer acknowledges within the e-book’s afterword that Maud Malone “in all probability wasn’t” on the Pilgrim’s Hike from NY to DC within the chilly month of February 1913.

Our heroine, Elisabeth Freeman, was on that hike, each muddy inch of it, and like Maud Malone she was an outspoken speaker keen to shake up the same old social order to talk out for suffrage and different causes. This weblog has been mining her large scrapbook of newspaper clippings and memorabilia; the Pilgrim Hike and Ladies’s March have been probably the most detailed of any of her actions. (As an apart, Maud Malone does present up within the clippings in Upton Sinclair’s protest of Rockefeller’s bloodbath of putting miners.) In trying by way of the numerous pages of clippings in regards to the hike I discovered a number of attention-grabbing references to the questions raised within the e-book.

Crowds greet Hikers into Washington DC 1913
Common Rosalie Jones and her band of hikers have issue making their manner by way of crowded streets.

A lot was made from the tough dealing with of the marchers by unruly crowds that the police have been incapable of, or unwilling, to restrain. College students from an Agricultural Faculty in Maryland did jeer them on their hike, however within the e-book, these bullies confirmed up on the March to proceed their harassment of the hikers. I ponder if this half was true. The crowds ‘welcoming’ the hikers into DC have been enormous; one estimate put the group alongside the route into DC as 100,000 and close to Suffrage HQ they put it at 25,000 in a single block, making it troublesome to move by way of. Footage of the entry present the huge crowds and you’ll solely think about some jostling or worse. And I’m positive some rowdies took benefit of the scenario to tough up some uppity girls. However those self same rowdies from the Agricultural Faculty? I doubt it.

The infighting between “Common” Rosalie Jones and the mainstream suffs is fascinating and was actual sufficient, however I might like to know extra background. The middle of the controversy was a letter from Dr. Anna Howard Shaw President of NAWSA. Rosalie had requested that she write a letter to President-elect Wilson, which they might ship. The nearer they bought to Washington politics, the much less the optics of that appeared like a good suggestion. So NAWSA HQ instructed Rosalie at hand the letter over to Alice Paul, head of the Congressional Committee for supply, sparking a battle within the newspapers. Ultimately, no assembly with the President occurred, though the most important demonstration certainly had extra of an impression on him than the fairly timid letter would have.

Gen. Jones, for her half, acknowledged that the letter was the explanation for his or her hike (which it wasn’t) and that nationwide was simply “jealous” of the publicity she was getting (which was the purpose–the outstanding protection). Genevieve Champ Clark, daughter of the Speaker of the Home, wrote her model of occasions and mentioned, “Earlier than I stumbled on these heroic girls…I had regarded the hike as form of a lark.”

Pilgrim Hikers met by representatives of the Congressional Committee of NAWSA
Pilgrim Hikers met by representatives of the Congressional Committee of NAWSA (in white at entrance). Gen. Rosalie Jones could also be immediately behind white horse. Elisabeth Freeman in wagon,close to mounted policeman, surrounded by crowds.

Chiaverini appears to indicate that nationwide and Paul thought the Hike was ill-advised and maybe a “distraction” created by rogue gamers. Paul was proper that “message management” was very important. I can’t think about a nationwide occasion of this magnitude at present being upstaged by a handful of unaffiliated partisans. When you’re going to stage a large protest you need a united entrance. However the hike offered entrance web page suffrage copy for the higher a part of a month within the dailies. And as Col. Ida B. Craft at all times identified, the individual to individual contact gained many converts to the trigger.

An enormous scene within the e-book is the welcoming, or lack of it, by the Congressional Committee. They didn’t hook up as anticipated however Chiaverini places it on the hikers who modified the route with out telling anybody to maximise their publicity to crowds. Within the clippings I’ve, the 2 envoys astride white stallions, bought misplaced and belatedly discovered the hikers. One account put it, “the native committee, misplaced both purposely or accidentally, was late in greeting the pilgrims.” Stung by the battle over the letter, this added to the harm emotions.

“It was a bitter little band of courageous girls, who walked with heads erect from Fifteenth and H Streets NE to the Capitol after which by way of Pennsylvania Avenue,” wrote one paper. The hikers, nevertheless, have been having fun with the big crowds cheering them on when, at 12th St., two girls, “attired as heralds in white, dashed up on snow white steeds. They mentioned nothing to the ‘Common’ … however instantly took the pinnacle of the road.” Alice Paul confirmed up and mollified the hikers with a heat welcome. Nonetheless, a number of the hikers skipped the luncheon honoring them. (“Hikers are Vexed at Suffragettes” Feb 28, 1913; additionally “Public Greeting is Balm to ‘Hikers’ on Entry to Capital” each unidentified newspapers) The image right here exhibits the police escort and the 2 heralds and Elisabeth’s little wagon surrounded by a sea of individuals.

Picture of Pilgrim Hikers entering DC
Gen. Rosalie Jones leads her hikers into Washington DC escorted by mounted police. 1913.

A pleasant contact from The Lady’s March is the loyalty of the press corps embedded with the hikers. There have been 16 “struggle correspondents” overlaying the hike at one time or one other and so they have been unusually loyal and protecting of the hikers, so the concept that Rosalie might have insisted that they march with the hikers is believable, however that they fended off violent crowds is open to query in my thoughts. And would have these embedded journalists have joined the March? Once more, I’d like to see documentation of that, at the same time as I like the flourish.

(One clipping means that the journalists have been “advisors” to Jones, and clearly wished her to start out one other group however Jones repeatedly mentioned, “I’m a soldier and can observe orders” though that didn’t cease her from being publicly grumpy about it.)

Probably the most compelling character in The Lady’s March is Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the black girl who challenged the white suffragists to permit Negro Ladies’s Suffrage golf equipment to march. Within the e-book, “nationwide” is attempting to appease the Southern chapters who threatened to drag their assist if blacks have been allowed to march, in order that they waffled about black participation. Alice Paul was a Quaker so it’s fairly possible that in the first place she welcomed Negro participation earlier than nationwide politics got here into play. That is one space the place some actual documentation would illuminate this troublesome a part of suffrage historical past.

As for Common Jones, now we have a lower than stellar response on the problem. On the finish of an article about how Baltimore suffs weren’t keen to hike with the Pilgrims, there’s a quick merchandise “Negro Ladies Might Be a part of” which I quote in its entirety, to indicate the racism of the information writing on the time in addition to her response:

“There’s a cloud over the reason for suffrage and gloom within the hearts of the hikers this morning, owing to the threatened coalition with the military of the ‘emancipated sistahs’ at Hyattsville. The tip is heat that the coloured contingent will ‘jine de ahmy’ at Hyattsville and that no quantity of persuasion will deter them from their goal.

‘Common’ Jones has declared flatly that she doesn’t imagine the report, however she says that if the dusky champions of suffrage enter the hikers’ legion there shall be no sturdy objection.

‘We can’t with dignity pressure them to remain out in the event that they need to observe us into Washington, and I feel it’s sensible to make the most effective of the scenario and depart them alone.” (“Hikers Right here Are Pikers, Verdict of the Pilgrims, ‘Common’ Jones at Hyattsville Flays Baltimore ‘Suffrajokes’” n.d. however in all probability Feb 28, 1913, unidentified newspaper.)

Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Ladies’s March is unquestionably price a learn, even when, or really as a result of, it prompts questions. As a piece of fiction from a best-selling writer, individuals will learn it and get impressed to know extra about this unbelievable piece of historical past. Fortunately, this footnote in Suffrage historical past will get observed.


PS: And when you’ve got data to share, please put it within the remark part or contact me.

clipping of hikers entering DC
Clipping of Gen. Jones and her hikers getting into Washington DC concluding their hike from NY
order of marchers
This exhibits the marching order of the 1913 Ladies’s Procession. Notice Hikers are far again after worldwide contingents. This was printed within the newspaper and will have modified.


Elisabeth Freeman entering DC
Elisabeth Freeman main her horse drawn cart into Washington DC at finish of the Pilgrim’s Hike.


picture of crowds 1913
One other image of crowds greeting Pilgrim Hikers as they enter Washington DC


newspaper clipping
Clipping about hikers important of Baltimore suffragists.


list of hikers
Two lists, barely totally different, of the official individuals within the Pilgrim’s Hike, February 1913




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