One Half the People
The Fight for Woman Suffrage

"The Fearless Spirit
of Youth. . ."

Anne Firor Scott and Andrew MacKay Scott

Urbana and Chicago

One of the differences between NAWSA and the Woman's Party lay in the way the members of each saw themselves. NAWSA women believed in being solid,knowledgeable, highly organized and diplomatic. Woman's Party members were more inclined to see themselves as warriors. Lavinia L. Dock of Pennsylvania, 60 years old, was an often-arrested member of the Woman's Party. She was a trained nurse, and had worked at the Henry Street Settlement in New York. In all, she served forty-three days in prison for her suffrage activities. Her article, reprinted here from the Woman's Party newspaper, gives a good sense of how many Woman's Party members saw themselves.

The Young Are At The Gates

If any one says to me: "Why the picketing for Suffrage?" I should say in reply, "Why the fearless spirit of youth? Why does it exist and make itself manifest?" Is it not really that our whole social world would be likely to harden and toughen into a dreary mass of conventional negations and forbiddances--into hopeless layers of conformity and caste, did not the irrepressible energy and animation of youth, when joined to the clear-eyed sham-hating intelligence of the young, break up the dull masses and set a new pace for laggards to follow?

What is the potent spirit of youth? Is it not the spirit of revolt, of rebellion against senseless and useless and deadening things? Most of all, against injustice, which is of all stupid things the stupidest?

Such thoughts come to one in looking over the field of the Suffrage campaign and watching the pickets at the White House and at the Capitol, where sit the men who complacently enjoy the rights they deny to the women at their gates. Surely, nothing but the creeping paralysis of mental old age can account for the phenomenon of American men, law-makers, officials,administrators, and guardians of the peace, who can see nothing in the intrepid young pickets with their banners, asking for bare justice but common obstructors of traffic, nagger'-nuisances that are to be abolished by passing stupid laws forbidding and repressing to add to the old junk-heap of laws which forbid and repress? Can it be possible that any brain cells not totally crystallized could imagine that giving a stone instead of bread would answer conclusively the demand of the women who, because they are young, fearless, eager, and rebellious, are fighting and winning a cause for all women--even for those who are timid, conventional, and inert?

A fatal error--a losing fight. The old stiff minds must give way. The old selfish minds must go. Obstructive reactionaries must move on. The young are at the gates!


The Suffragist, June 30, 1917

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