December 2014: Suffragist of the Month
TPSM’s December 2014 Suffragist of the Month: Elizabeth Stuyvesant
Formerly of Cincinnati, she lived in New York City and was a professional dancer. She came from a family in which duty to country was valued. Her great-grandfather died in the Revolutionary War, her grandfather in the Civil War, and her brother fought in France during World War I. She acknowledged her father’s influence on her life: “Growing up under the influence of my father’s genuinely libertarian nature” she received respect and intellectual stimulation that propelled her into college, social work, and the suffrage movement (Filene, 26).
For five years she did social work in New York City; she was active in settlement work and in the campaign for birth control. This brought her to decide to join the fight for woman’s political liberty through the suffrage movement.
She was a state organizer and active in the National Woman’s Party. As a “silent sentinel” in 1917, she was arrested on July 4, 1917, while picketing the White House for suffrage and sentenced to three days in the District Jail. She wrote “There was not one of us that did not come out of that experience with less awe for policeman, judge, and with established ideas and with a clearer understanding of the true nature of authority” (Adams, 35). She continued picketing, and in August she was among those attacked by a mob at the White House as the observing police officers did nothing to protect them. She was struck and her blouse was torn from her body (Stevens, 90).
As a working professional woman – in the minority then — she wrote an essay, “Staying Free” published in The Nation, a liberal magazine. Her essay was one of a series on the “Modern Women” of the 1920s. Her professional work included that for the Socialist Party in the New York City mayoral election of 1917 (Showalter, 7).
Sources: Elaine Showalter (editor), These Modern Women: Autobiographical Essays from the Twenties (New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1989), 7. Peter G. Filene, Him/Her/Self: Gender Identities in Modern America (Baltimore MD: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1974… 1998), 26. Katherine H. Adams, Michael L. Keene, After the Vote Was Won: The Later Achievements of Fifteen Suffragists (Jefferson NC: McFarland and Company, 2010). Dora Stevens, Jailed for Freedom (Troutdale OR: NewSage Press, 1963).