Women had been pushing for the right to vote since the founding of our nation, but their requests fell on deaf ears. Things got more serious around 1910 or so, when the National Woman’s Party began organizing parades and pageants which successively grew over the next few years. But they still weren’t getting the job done. The parades were becoming little more than entertainment for bystanders. And so at the beginning of 1917 they began to take things to another level.
Regular demonstrations were held right outside the White House, which included daily pickets and watchfires — burning of copies of Wilson’s speeches. Things moved along faster when a banner was unfurled as Russian delegates arrived: “We women of America tell you that America is not a democracy. Twenty million women are denied the right to vote. President Wilson is the chief opponent of their national enfranchisement”. Another referred to the president as “Kaiser Wilson”.
From the perspective of today, that’s not a big deal, but in 1917 that was viewed as almost criminal, and led to arrests and jail time. Yet daily demonstrations with provocative banners continued, and after 6 months of it Wilson had enough and changed his position to advocate women’s suffrage.