PRESIDENT PROMISES NO
AID TO WOMEN WORKERS
Who Plead With Him For His Assistance to the Cause of
Woman Suffrage—In Response to Pathetic Appeals of
the Plainly Dressed But Earnest and Determined Delegates Mr. Wilson Regretfully Tells Them That He Can
Urge Nothing Upon Congress That Has Not Received the
Organic Consideration of the Democratic Party.
Washington, Feb. 2. Women workers
who toil daily in the mills and the
mines and in the sweatshops and the
factories of the nation pleaded with
President Wilson today for his assist-
ance to the cause of woman suffrage.
The President regretfully told them as
he did a delegation last December that
he could not urge anything on Congress which had not received the organic consideration of the democratic party.
Today's demonstration--not the brass band, the street procession, the colored pennants and battle flags of the cause, but the tale of hardship, of the struggle to live on low wages, of the sanitariums for those who sickened at their work and the heart-breaking tragedies of poverty--affected the President deeply. As the delegation left the executive offices, discouraged and disappointed because they obtained no positive aid, they did not know that the President himself was depressed, perhaps even more than they, as he went to luncheon with his family. He told friends afterward he wishes he could help, but saw no way to do it. There is every reason to believe, however, that the day gave added stimulus to the President's desire for early legislation on social justice and industrial reform mentioned in his first annual message. Five hundred women--old and young--most of them plainly dressed but earnest and determined, went to the white
house, but only a committee of twenty -
five with five speakers gained audience
with the President, the others waiting
until the argument had ceased and Mr.
Wilson asked to shake hands with all.
Speeches by Delegates.
In voices often choked with emotion,
the five speakers recited a tale of modern industry, which they said, knew no
chivalry; where old and young women
worked side by side with men for inadequate wages and under conditions that
undermined health. Representatives of
the weavers, the laundresses, the capmakers, the hatmatkers, garment workers in ten eastern states addressed the
President. Mrs. Glendover Evans, of
Boston, one of the leaders of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage,
introduced them in turn and each presented a plea from her own viewpoint. "I don't have to make a speech to
you." said Miss. Rose Winslow, of the weavers,
"and I am so nervous that I could not make one if I wanted to--because I don't address Presidents every day----." "They are human, just like everybody else,' interjected the President with a smile. The President listened attentively to __________
"I need not tell you," he said, finally,
"that a group of women like this appeals to me very deeply indeed. I do not
need to tell you what my feelings are,
but I have already explained the limitations that are laid upon me as the
leader of the party. Until ihe party as
such has considered a matter of this
very supreme importance and taken a
position on it, I cannot speak for it-
and yet I am not at liberty to speak as
an individual either. All I can say is
that the strength of your agitation in
this matter undoubtedly will make a
profound impression." Mrs. Evans was disposed to remind Mr. Wilson that in a conversation with her at Seagirt, N.J., when he was a candidate for the presidency, he showed a much more encouraging attitude toward woman suffrage. "we worked our finger nails off then to get you elected," she said, and added reflectively, "but you were gunning for votes then." "Asking for the votes of the people," corrected the President mildly. "And we admired you for the way you did it." remarked Mrs. Evans.
The President said he was much more free to express his views then than he was now, but did not recall that he had taken any position on the question of woman suffrage. He never spoke on it in public during the campaign and to an iterrupting question once at a meeting in Brooklyn, declared it was a state issue. Persons close to the President say he believes it is a problem for the states to decide, though there is reason to believe he never has made up his mind definitely on the merits of the question. He does not feel it incumbent uppon him however, to take a stand on it until the democratic party has fully considered it and this is the answer which he is determined to give all delegations of suffragists who come to see him in the future.
The house democrats have called a caucus tomorrow to determine whether the recent unfavorable action of the rules committee on the proposal to create a committee on woman suffrage should be reversed. The President has expressed himself to one member of the rules committee as in favor of such a new committee. Most of the arguments presented today revealed the aim of the women to correct industrial conditions with the ballot as a legislative instrument. The President has told his friends that social justice should be administered by the United States government in all its branches regardless of the merits of the suffrage movement.
"Shaking and trembling," said Miss Margaret Hinchey of the laundry workers of New York, "we come to plead with you. You are so square and on the level and so much of a real democrat that I appeal to you to wipe out the injustice th____ _____the vote." Miss Mary Schneiderman of New York, representing the capmakers, spoke with emotion of the hardships of women in mills and mines. "We suffer side by side with the men" she said "and in constant fear of losing our jobs." As she told of many cases of suffering, the President's face showed his sympathetic interest.
"It is not a democracy when only half have something to say," contended Miss
Melinda Scott, of New Jersey, representing the capmakers union. "We will
be glad if you will mention our cause
in your next message."
The last speaker was Miss Rose Winslow of Pennsylvania, representing the textile workers. "You are entirely too fair and intelligent," she said, "not to know what is going on in the world. In many cases with the working women it is either the sanitarium for tuberculosis or the streets. I don't have to make speeches to you as we are too close."
The President smiled as Miss Winslow
who stood close to him, dropped her
voice to a conversational tone and con-
tinued her talk.
The President did not continue the discussion but expressed a wish to meet the
women who were waiting outside.
"But they told us we couldn't all come
in," remarked Mrs. Evans.
"It must be a misunderstanding," said
the President and he sent work(sic.) out that
he would like to have the delegates come in.
The women came in, single file, passing
in one door and out another. Some of the
women declined to shake hands with the President, marching
indifferently by, refusing to take his proffered hand. At
their exit, Dr. Mary Walker, in male attire, argued with the women that suffrage
was a state issue. She was not permitted
to enter with the delegation.
Pleas of the working women were
phrased eloquently and with a touch of
pathos and emotion as they described the hardships of women workers.
The President himself hastened the
handshaking ceremony, thereby ending the
discussion, though Mrs. Evans remarked
that only ten minutes of the allotted fifteen
had been used up. The President began shaking
hands, however, cutting off further discussion. As many of the women filed by carrying banners and with colored bands decorating their furs, they named their home states. There was a tiny child in line with her mother. "Hello, litte lady," said the President, "you wouldn't be old enough to vote any way, would you?" and the baby smiled. The delegation left the white house in groups in animated conversation, some pleased, others disappointed and some even saying they were angry. The bands departed without playing any more and the President and Secretary Tumulty crossed over to the white house quietly for luncheon.
The word was issued from the white house that the President would take a similar position on all delegations for woman's suffrage hereafter and that until the democratic party had taken a stand on the subject he would not try to force any opinion on it. President Wilson, so successful here his inauguration been twice corralled- once by one of the famous fourteen pilgrims that marched to Washington and again by five prominent members of the National Suffrage Association who called to urge him to recommend a suffrage amendment to the federal constitution in his message to congress. In his interview with the first lady, he smilingly allowed himself to be decorated with the yellow badge of the "Pilgrim Army of the Hudson," and expressed great regret for the unseemly incidents that marred the suffrage parade on March 3rd. In reply to the committee, President Wilson said that he would seriously consider the question, and they must not think he was opposed to them, if in the pressure, of so many other matters he should deem it best, just now, not to ask congress _____ ________ women's suffrage.
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