Remembering the forgotten history of the Women's Suffrage Movement's "Night of Terror"
The Silent Sentinels picketing the White House in 1917.
When we tell our children about the fight for women's suffrage in America, we often tell a sanitized version of the story. We talk about letter-writing campaigns, activist conferences, and stirring speeches — and occasionally, we mention defiant suffragists being hauled to jail. But we often shy away from the darker truths about the sacrifices and suffering many suffragists had to endure in the fight for women's right to vote.
One especially notorious event, the "Night of Terror," when 33 suffragists from the National Women's Party, who had been arrested for protesting outside of the White House, were brutally beaten and tortured at the Occoquan Workhouse, a prison in northern Virginia took place a little over 100 years ago on November 14, 1917. For many of the women, the physical and psychological consequences of their harrowing experience would be lifelong. Their stories horrified the nation, galvanizing public support for the Women's Suffrage Movement and bringing new momentum which helped pass the 19th Amendment, recognizing women's right to vote, three years later. The freedom to vote, however, had come at a cost, and that cost was borne in part by these women.
To mark the recent 100th anniversary of the Night of Terror, A Mighty Girl is telling its story, so that people who were unaware of this ugly part of women's rights history can see just one example of what activists had to sacrifice during the decades-long fight for women's right to vote. While it is a painful story to tell and to hear, it is crucial that we remember — so that we use our right to vote well, and so that we never allow ourselves to lose ground for which so many women fought so hard. Continue reading Continue reading