Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001 Page: 30
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TO BE "SETTLED RIGHTF
The Dallas Campaignfor Woman Suffrage, 1913-19
BY ELIZABETH YORK ENSTAM
I n mid-June of I916, the Democratic Party
held its national convention in St. Louis.
Woodrow Wilson was sure to win renomination
for President, so the convention's excitement
would have to come from other sources.
And indeed, "An optimistic little army of women
[is] pouring into St. Louis," The Dallas Morning
News reported, with great hopes and high expectations
for the cause of woman suffrage. Only a
week earlier in Chicago, the Republican National
Convention refused to endorse the suffrage
amendment to the United States Constitution,
but the women had reason to hope for better
treatment by the Democrats. Twenty-one
women would be seated at the Democratic convention,
thirteen as duly elected delegates and
eight as alternates. Moreover, women were filly
enfranchised in twelve states, where they helped
to elect a total of ninety-one members, or onefifth
of the Electoral College.l Presidential candidates
had to feel a little uneasy about ignoring
the issue of woman suffrage.
With women's political star rising, the suffragists
planned a number of demonstrations for
the Democratic convention. The most spectacular
occurred on opening day. Lining both sides
of the street between the delegates' hotel and the
Coliseum, several hundred suffragists stood
shoulder-to-shoulder, all wearing white hats and
white dresses with yellow "Votes for Women"
sashes, and all carrying yellow parasols. With
three Dallas women among them, the Texas delegation
stretched for half a block, each Texan
with a small yellow "lone star" pinned to her
dress. To get from their hotel to the convention
hall, the Democrats had to walk for twelve blocks
between the two rows of women, who watched
in silence as the men passed.2
Known ever afterwards as "The Golden
Mile," the demonstration in St. Louis gave evidence
of the efficiency and the degree of organization
achieved by the National American
Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In
I916, when many people believed the enfranchisement
of women to be only a matter of time,
the NAWSA counted more than I,ooo,ooo
members in forty-four state associations. The
NAWSA headquarters in Washington, D. C.,
operated on a yearly budget of more than
$Ioo,ooo, received an annual income of
$750,000, and held a separate fund of nearly
$I,000,ooo bequeathed specifically for the cause
by Miriam Folin Leslie, editor and publisher of
the magazine Leslies Weekly.3 Along with money
and members, the NAWSA had another, particularly
valuable asset, a nationwide network of
state associations, each made up in turn of local,
grassroots societies. In Texas, the suffrage organization
in Dallas was among the largest, and one
of the most effective.
Dallas County, in fact, was something of a
suffrage stronghold with a total of thirteen local
associations, more than any other county in Texas
and most of them organized under the leadership
of Dallas women.4 Despite its prominence, the
Dallas suffrage organization ran a campaign that
exhibited few of the characteristics usually associated
with the American suffrage movement.
Instead of parades and outdoor rallies with signs
and banners, songs and chants, the Dallas suffra
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001, periodical, 2001; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/32/: accessed April 2, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.