Letter Describing the 1913 Suffrage Parade

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Florence Hedges worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a plant pathologist. She marched in the 1913 Woman Suffrage parade in Washington as part of the College Women section along with other graduates from the University of Michigan and one of their male professors. Their "Scientific Research" banner drew comments: "It ought to be domestic Science," and "Well this is evolution." On March 9, she wrote her father a detailed account of the parade. Florence Hedges didn’t believe the crowd was "bent on making trouble" but the lack of police control gave "… the hoodlums which are always to be found in a crowd, an opportunity to do anything they really liked." Some of her companions "could feel the hot breath of the people—often whiskey-laden—in their faces."
On the day before the 1913 presidential inauguration, more than 5,000 women marched up Pennsylvania Avenue demanding the right to vote. Women from around the country came to Washington in a show of strength and determination to obtain the ballot. More than 10,000 spectators crowded the parade route. Some were simply boisterous but others were hostile. They spilled past the barriers and off the sidewalks, clogging Pennsylvania Avenue. Police officers were unable or unwilling to hold back the crowds and after the first four blocks the parade stalled as the marchers couldn’t pass through the mob. A cavalry unit from Fort Myer was finally called in to restore order and the parade finished hours late. The public was horrified, and a one-day event became an ongoing story, with demands for an investigation of the police department’s failure to protect the women.
A transcription of the letter follows:
Currently not on view
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Political and Military History: Political History, Women's History Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
Woman Suffrage
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Women's Suffrage
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paper (overall material)
overall (unfolded): 10 5/16 in x 6 7/16 in; 26.162 cm x 16.35125 cm
National Museum of American History
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