Annie Smith Peck participated a great deal in the suffrage movement – from marching in suffrage parades and acting as president of the Joan of Arc Suffrage League to writing numerous editorials in favor of suffrage. This being said, she always seemed to want to have things done her way – even if it meant quitting the show before it was over.
Following this line, here are two of my favorite vignettes that describe Annie’s notoriety and involvement (or lack therof) in the suffrage movement as well as a FABULOUS VIDEO that celebrates our fight for the right to vote:
In 1911, a woman walked into the Women’s Suffrage Headquarters in New York to purchase a ticket to the next political meeting on the votes for women movement.
“I am sorry,” replied the secretary, “but I have nothing left except the second gallery. Perhaps you would not care to climb as high as that.”
I don’t know that I would object to climb to the second gallery,” said the visitor calmly. “I am Annie Peck.”
So the secretary, then recognizing Miss Peck as the famous mountaineer, had no further hesitation in presenting her with a second gallery ticket.
True story # 2:
In 1916, Former Governor of New York and then Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Charles Evan Hughes ran against President Wilson in the presidential election. Annie had decided to campaign for Hughes (who endorsed a federal suffrage amendment), and so joined other suffragists on the “Hughes Special” train, which traveled from the east coast to the west coast and back again, while the women stopped to make political speeches along the way. However, Peck was not granted as much opportunity as she wanted to give speeches for Hughes and suffrage. In fact, she was not permitted to speak at three stops along the way. When they arrived in California, and Annie found out that she was not scheduled to give a speech there either, she got off the train. From there, in classic Annie Peck fashion, she returned to New York on her own, where, she reasoned, “I can talk for thirty or fifty minutes five or six times a day.” After all, she noted, “I can’t tell all I wish to in the five minutes they gave me on the train.”
So, in celebration of both Women’s History Month and the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington D.C., I leave you with a modern-day take on suffrage – an Emmy Award-winning video created by Soomo Publishing that is an homage to the women who fought for our right to vote.
I especially like the reference to Tennessee state legislator Harry Burn. As in real life, in the video, he looks at his red rose (signifying opposition to women’s suffrage) and the note in his side pocket written by his mother, which tells him to “be a good boy” and “vote for suffrage.” Previously planning to vote “nay,” at the last minute, Burn followed his mother’s advice by breaking the tie in favor of ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment and guaranteed all women the right to vote. Legend has it that poor Harry had to hide in the attic of the capitol until the mob that was after him desisted!
There is also reference to suffragists being force-fed – a horrendous practice used on hunger-striking suffragists who were jailed for demonstrating in public. Yes, this was really done to women who wanted the vote!
And of course, the lyrics “I want to wear pants! I want my suffrage! And independence!” remind me of Annie.
WARNING! You may never be able to sing along to the real lyrics to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” again, but I think this video is totally worth the risk. Enjoy!