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Barack the Wilsonian?

I was at my activist meeting the other day when one of my activist buddies showed me an interesting snippet from a Woodrow Wilson speech.

 The speech was given at a women's suffrage meeting in 1916.I wish I had noted the book that I copied the speech (simply for proper citation purposes).

“…we rejoice in the strength of it, and we shall not quarrel in the long run as to the method of it. Because, when you are working with masses of men and organized bodies of opinion, you have got to carry the organized body along. The whole art and practice of government consists not in moving individuals, but in moving masses.

It is all very well to run ahead and beckon, but after all, you have got to wait for them to follow.  I have not come to ask you to be patient, because you have been, but I have come to congratulate you that there was a force behind you that will, beyond any peradventure, be triumphant and for which you can afford a little while to wait.”

Of course, President Wilson did not endorse a federal amendment for the women's right to vote at this suffrage meeting, though he would endorse women's suffrage publically two years later.

I will come back to that in a moment…




my activist buddy noted strong parallels between Wilson's speech to women's suffrage and President Obama's speech at the A-gays cocktail party:

“For we know that progress depends not only on changing laws but also changing hearts.  And that real, transformative change never begins in Washington.”

“It's not for me to tell you to be patient…”

we must recognize that real progress depends not only on the laws we change but, as I said before, on the hearts we open.  For if we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that there are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters — not yet.”


No, this isn't Presidental plagiarism but it is interesting that both Wilson and Obama struck similar themes. But the best part, though, was not Wilson's words to the is the response of suffragist Anna Howard Shaw:

“We have waited long enough for the vote, we want it now.” she said. and turning to the president, added, “and we want it to come in your administration!”

yet the A-list gays clapped and clapped and clapped again for President Obama without issuing anything like the words of Anna Howard Smith, apparently.

And what did the women suffragists do?

1917 Beginning in January, NWP posts silent “Sentinels of Liberty” at the White House. In June, the arrests begin. Nearly 500 women are arrested, 168 women serve jail ti their jailers. North Dakota, Indiana, Nebraska, and Michigan grant presidential suffrage; Arkansas grants primary suffrage. New York, South Dakota, and Oklahoma state constitutions grant suffrage.
1918 The jailed suffragists released from prison. Appellate court rules all the arrests were illegal. President Wilson declares support for suffrage. Suffrage Amendment passes US House with exactly a two-thirds vote but loses by two votes in the Senate.
1919 In January, the NWP lights and guards a “Watchfire for Freedom.” It is maintained until the Suffrage Amendment passes US Senate on June 4. The battle for ratification by at least 36 states begins.
1920 The Nineteenth Amendment, called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment, is ratified by Tennessee on August 18. It becomes law on August 26. 

Women forced Wilson and the states to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, that's what they did.

Anyone who knows any history of this period in time of the CD actions of American women suffragists, feel free to add your comments.

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