If We Women Stand Together
Oct 20, 1916 — Palace Hotel, San Francisco CA
Men and women of San Francisco, how do you do?
I have come to ask the enfranchised women of the West to use your political power to set free the unenfranchised women of the East.
The men have been doing all the emancipating. Lincoln freed the black man; Alexander of Russia freed the serfs. Never before have the women had the opportunity that you women of the suffrage State have of freeing women.
The Democrats would have granted votes to women if they ha believed that women would stand by each other. The President himself said that women cannot deliver the vote. That is the way of the politician. It is all a case of political pressure. Show the politician that you have the votes, and you will get what you want.
. . .
You can not stand loyal to women’s rights and vote for the Democratic party. If you stand together and pile up a protest vote, victory is ours — the long fight of sixty years is over. If you are united to smother and defeat a party which ignored your claim to freedom the end of the long battle will be in sight. If you do not you betray the cause of women and postpone the victory. If you stand firm, whoever comes in on November 7, be he Democrat or Republican, will do what you want, because he will know your power. I don’t care who is elected President of the United State, but I don’t want the Democratic party swept into office on the votes of women. If we women stand together and register a big protest vote against President Wilson and the Democratic party which has betrayed us, we will get what we want. The world needs women just as women need activity and responsibility of citizenship.
I come to you as a messenger from the disfranchised women of the East, from the disfranchised women of the nation, organized in protest against their disfranchisement. Our message is directed to the voting women of the West. We women who are not yet citizens, who are not yet free, pray the boon of your hands. We ask you a favor. We want you to set us free. We want you women to enfranchise women. We want you women of the West to confer the freedom on the women of the East that freedom that you enjoy.
We beg you to set the seal of your disapproval upon the Democratic party, the party that has denied the women’s claim to self-government. No woman, no loyal woman who respects her sex can give her support of the Democratic party which denied freedom to the women of the United States. We are opposed to the Democratic party because the Democratic party opposed suffrage. I propose to spread the record of the Democratic party for your consideration. It isn’t a pretty record. I don’t blame the Democrats for not wanting it known.
The Democrats pushed the suffrage amendment to a vote realizing that defeat was certain. They blocked it in committee, then hitched it up with other amendments, the prohibition amendment, and some of its advocates were prevented from voting for it because of the measure it was tied to. They refused to put the party behind it. President Wilson refused to aid us. He refused fourteen times over in just as many excused. He first said that there was nothing in his party platform about suffrage and he couldn’t step outside the party platform. We believed him then, but after his refusal to help us he jammed through the Panama tolls bill which was outside and in direct contradiction to his early platform. We were amazed at his lack of faith. We said, “Mr. President, why is there no freedom for women, you who say that you have almost a reckless enthusiasm for liberty?”
“I believe in states’ rights,” he replied, “and therefore cannot and will not help you.” We believed him that time, too, but after his assertions he passes the child labor bill, the federal road bill, excellent measures, but why is there no federal legislation on a matter so fundamental to women?
I only want you to know President Wilson, ladies, so that you can recognize him as the politician that he is and mete out to him just what he deserves. Get together, ladies, and hit. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If it’s good for men to get together and combine, it’s good for women.
Source: “Brilliant Suffrage Leader Holds Wilson to Answer,” Oakland Tribune, October 22, 1916, p. 21.
Also: “Defiance Flavors Mrs. Boissevain’s Appeal: Militant Suffrage Advocate Sways Throng,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 22, 1916, p. 37.