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This New Power

March 4, 1917 — Mass meeting, National Woman’s Party, Washington DC


I wish that during the sessions of this convention every man and woman in the United States, including the President of the United States, could have seen the spirit that was revealed in the convention. I believe that the idealism and the dedication and the unity of spirit which animated that entire convention at every session must have moved every individual who had ears to hear a great and noble message, and must have made them respond. At this convention, the National Woman’s Party, I believe, planted a great milestone in the progress of the woman’s movement toward liberty. Unanimously and without question this organization, as an organization, is committed in the future as it was in the past to securing the liberty and freedom of women through the Susan B. Anthony amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

We have waited a long time. We have plead, we have educated. Now we demand. We demand because we have today the power to demand. The solidarity of the women of the United States has been established in an epoch-making fusion at this convention. We are dedicated not only to the passage of the federal suffrage amendment, but we are dedicated to that same policy and method which has been so successful in the work of the Congressional Union and the National Woman’s Party, namely, continued opposition to the party in power, whatever party it be, so long as it refuses to ass the Susan B. Anthony amendment. And we are committed to focusing that power on the President of the United States because the President has more power than has any other representative of the people.

We are for a federal amendment because it is the simplest, the most direct way of getting suffrage for all the women of these United States. We are not content with any partial suffrage. Suffrage is partial so long as we have enfranchisement state by state, for that means that h political liberty of women is dependent on their geographical position. The matter of the franchise should not be a matter of local geography but a mater of national concern and national decision. The national enfranchisement of women is not an infringement of states’ rights. If the enfranchisement of the Negro by federal amendment, if the enfranchisement of the Indian, if the enfranchisement of the Philippino is not an infringement of of states’ rights then the enfranchisement of American women by federal amendment is not an infringement of states’ rights.

Another reason that we oppose the waste of vitality demanded by a referendum is because states’ rights are defeated within the states themselves by corruption at the polls. Even if you prove that an election went by fraud there is not any way of changing the results of that election.

Therefore, we say to you, Why should we use this worn-out, this antiquated method of getting suffrage by amending state constitutions when we have this new national power? We are no longer going to waste the vitality of women working on this old method when we have this new power, this new dedication and this new inspiration of the votes of women in the West to use. With the new solidarity of the women of the East and the women of the West, we are going to march forward demanding the federal amendment as we go. There is an old adage that if you want to stop radicals — and we are the radicals in the suffrage movement — do not give them all they want; just give them half of what they want. Now, there may be such a thing as giving to some of the suffrage organizations half of what they want and calling them off temporarily. But there is no such thing as giving us half of what we want. We demand the whole loaf and we are going to get it.



Source: The Suffragist, March 24, 1917, p. 5.