Throwback Thursday: Silent Sentinels 1917

Posted on Updated on

Silent Sentinels Photo One
Photo Credit:

One hundred and two years ago, today, a group of women, organized by Women’s Rights Activist Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party (NWP), began a picketing and protest campaign in front of the White House during the Wilson Presidency. Known as the Silent Sentinels, the protest began after a meeting with the President regarding suffrage proved fruitless with Wilson stating to the women to “…concert public opinion on behalf of women’s suffrage.” The silent protest was a new strategy for the National Suffrage Movement and served as a constant reminder of Wilson’s lack of support.

Silent Sentinels Photo Two
Photo Credit:

Originally founded as the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CUWS) after the 1913 woman suffrage parade, they broke away from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), a more moderate group. CUWS only lasted three years and morphed into the NWP. The Suffragist was their weekly newsletter, containing essays, progress reports and notes on the President’s continuing indifference.

There were differing public reactions. Some approved, assisting with holding banners, bringing beverages and donating money. Some opposed their actions, including the leader of the NAWSA, Carrie Chapman Catt, whom preferred political tactics via individual states instead of a national amendment. She feared a male voter backlash.

Silent Sentinels Photo Three
Photo Credit:

Anti-suffragist mobs could be violent (worsening after the US entered World War I) spurred by the more insulting banners that compared Wilson to Kaiser Wilhelm. The New York Times called the protests “…silly, silent and offensive.” Massachusetts Representative Joseph Walsh referred to them as “…bewildered, deluded creatures with short skirts and short hair…” and “…nagging, iron-jawed angels.”

They were harassed, arrested, tortured and abused. Hunger strikes were met with forced feeding. On the night of November 14, 1917, known as the “Night of Terror“, the superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse (prison), W.H. Whittaker, ordered the nearly forty guards to brutalize the suffragists. The treatment stories angered many Americans, creating more support. The protesters were finally released November 27 & 28, 1917, Alice Paul having spent five weeks there.

President Wilson finally announced his amendment support on January 8, 1918. The House barely passed the amendment the next day but, the Senate waited until October to vote. It failed by two votes. Protester arrests resumed August 6, 1918 and, by December, protestors were starting fires and burning Wilson effigies in front of the White House. Alice Paul encouraged people to vote against anti-suffrage Senators during the 1918 elections. The House, again, passed the amendment on May 21, 1919 and the Senate followed June 4 ending the six-day-a-week protest. The Nineteenth Amendment was adopted August 18, 1920.

See Iron Jawed Angels film.

Silent Sentinels Photo Four
Photo Credit:

19 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Silent Sentinels 1917

    badfinger20 said:
    January 11, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Hard to believe by this time it took this… for the 19th amendment be passed.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      January 11, 2019 at 2:12 am

      Yep. Two & a half years. What shocked me was reading about how brutal it was for the women. Sexual assaults, horrible torture in prison…one woman had a heart attack from the abuse.

      During my research, I found Britain’s version of Alice Paul…Emmeline Pankhurst. She is the one that influenced Paul.

        badfinger20 said:
        January 11, 2019 at 4:01 pm

        Sometimes I don’t understand or comprehend the world I live in… It should not ever have come to this…

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          January 11, 2019 at 9:46 pm

          Neither do I. And, I agree.

            badfinger20 said:
            January 11, 2019 at 10:21 pm

            I was raised by my mom…(and sister) after she was divorced from my dad when I was 5 and the woman worked 3 jobs for my sister and me…She worked harder than any man I know….
            So that women are below whatever doesn’t fly… but saying that…modern feminists I think go to far at times…hell modern everything goes to far at times.

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              January 12, 2019 at 1:32 pm

              My Grandmothers helped raise me. My parents were very young. They were two very strong women, living thru wars & the Depression…

              And, I agree with your last two statements.

    bottomlesscoffee007 said:
    January 11, 2019 at 7:21 am

    Reading this, reminds me of what feminists are saying today as well.
    Whether I agree with what these women did or did not do is neither here nor there.
    I could point out different stances that they took, but it would be pointless as we have discussed our differences prior.
    I just don’t understand that if these women made these sacrifices. Why aren’t their gains celebrated by the feminist of today?
    Perhaps, history is not for the faint or weak hearted. Since most of today’s “societal” problems are history taken out of context purposely.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      January 11, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      “Why aren’t their gains celebrated by the feminist(s) of today?”

      That is a damn fine question, Coffee. The women back then…tougher than the snotty brats of today. Occasional-Cortex is no Alice Paul or Emmeline Pankhurst. And, I didn’t include everything I read in my post (I’m not reinventing the wheel). In fact, the women in the UK were way ahead of the women here. Other countries were ahead of both. This was a worldwide shift in consciousness, not just a bunch of bitches in the US aggravating Wilson for two and a half years.

      The torture was horrific. Those women went thru a hell. But, look back at Malleus Maleficarum.

      Anyway, most of the feminists, today, are riding on the coattails of those that came before them & did the actual work. I hear a lot of hot air & see desperate attention seekers.

      Until a true balance is struck between masculine & feminine, just like Yin/Yang, we will continue to drown in nonsense.

        bottomlesscoffee007 said:
        January 11, 2019 at 2:46 pm

        This is one of many symptoms of an affluent society.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          January 11, 2019 at 9:45 pm

          What? Us drowning in nonsense?

            bottomlesscoffee007 said:
            January 11, 2019 at 10:23 pm

            “Us” in the relative term. Not you and I, but if this is the society we live in, we may very well be dragged down with it.

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              January 12, 2019 at 1:42 pm

              I agree. I was wondering about your symptom of an affluent society. Are we talking about the same thing or were you referring to something else?

                bottomlesscoffee007 said:
                January 12, 2019 at 6:10 pm

                Just how everything is an epidemic. We are not trying to actually help or save anyone from anything serious in this country.

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  January 12, 2019 at 7:12 pm

                  The world is going crazy. No doubt. But, saving people from themselves? That is a tall order. And, there are those that don’t want to be saved.

                  Remember when you asked me what I got out of the Chris Thomas material? One of the things I took away from his books, essays and interviews was, every soul has a life path that they designed for themselves. They have their own lessons to learn. It would be arrogant of me to try and step in to tell them I think they need to change. Not my place. The only thing(s) I can change is(are) what is solely associated with me.

                  Of course, I am referring to adults, not children. Rearing children is a different issue.

    JT Twissel said:
    January 11, 2019 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t think the struggle is quite over but women do have more tools at their disposal – social media being one of them.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      January 11, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      There will always be struggle as long as there are those that seek to manipulate & control.😠

    bereavedandbeingasingleparent said:
    January 12, 2019 at 6:18 am

    Unfortunately the struggle is not over.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      January 12, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      I agree. Now, it’s all of us.

Leave A Note ~ Share A Thought

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.