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5,000 Women March, Beset By Crowds

Creator: n/a
Date: March 4, 1913
Publication: The New York Times
Source: Available at selected libraries

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Demonstration at Capital Badly Hampered and Congress Is Asked to Investigate.




Authorities Denounced by Dr. Shaw -- Wonderful Allegory Tells Story of the Ages.


Special to The New York Times.


WASHINGTON, March 3 -- In a woman's suffrage demonstration to-day the capital saw the greatest parade of women in its history. In the allegory presented on the Treasury steps it saw a wonderful series of dramatic pictures. In the parade over 5,000 women passed down Pennsylvania Avenue. Some were riding, more were afoot. Floats throughout the procession illustrated the progress the woman's suffrage cause had made in the last seventy-five years. Scattered throughout the parade were the standards of nearly every State in the Union. It was an astonishing demonstration.


It was estimated by Gen. John A. Johnson, a Commissioner of the District of Columbia, that 500,000 persons watched the women march for their cause. Imagine a Broadway election night crowd, with half the shouting and all of the noise-making novelties lacking; imagine that crowd surging forward constantly, without proper police restraint, and one gains some idea of the conditions that existed along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the Treasury Department this afternoon. Ropes stretched to keep back the crowds were broken in many places and for most of the distance the marchers had to walk as best they could through a narrow lane of shouting spectators. It was necessary many times to call a halt while the mounted escort and the policemen pushed the crowd back.


A Woman in Command.


There was delay at the start of the parade at the Peace Monument. The Grand Marshal, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, the wife of an army officer and a splendid horsewoman, finally gave the order to march. In every side street near the Capitol were organizations waiting to fall in line. Weather conditions were ideal. The sun shone brightly and it was just cold enough to make walking enjoyable. The waiting paraders took up the march with zest.


It was when the head of the procession turned by the great Peace Monument and started down Pennsylvania Avenue that the first indication of trouble came. Hearing the bands strike up, the crowds on both sides of the avenue pushed into the roadway. At once the police authorities knew that they had not made proper plans for keeping the spectators in restraint.


Looking down the avenue the paraders saw an almost solid mass of spectators. With the greatest difficulty the police were keeping open a narrow way. As far as the eye could see, Pennsylvania Avenue, from building line to building line, was packed. No such crowd had been seen there in sixteen years.


Automobiles to Clear Way.


Commissioner Johnson at once ordered nine automobiles, flying white and blue police flags, to clear the line of march. Slowly these went ahead, the crowds falling back before them. Women screamed, and at times there was frantic struggling by those seeking to get out of the way. After the automobiles had passed the crowd surged back again. The marchers were pushed about, and at Fourth Street had to come to a halt. Commissioner Johnson asked some members of a Massachusetts National Guard Regiment to clear the way. They laughed, and one militiaman told the Commissioner that he had no orders to act. At Fifth Street the crowd again pressed in and progress was impossible. Officers of the Thirteenth Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard, were appealed to, and they agreed to do police duty. So did some of the members of Gov. Sulzer's staff.


Even then it was possible to keep open only a narrow pasageway -sic-, and through this the suffragists passed, four abreast. There were other delays along the way. It was nearly nightfall when the last of the marchers reached the grounds back of the White House, where the parade was disbanded.


Through all the confusion and turmoil the women paraders marched calmly, keeping a military formation as best they could. The bands played and hundreds of yellow banners fluttered in the wind. The marchers smiled on their friends. The taunts of the curious they disregarded. Two New York women shared in the honors of the day. One was Miss Inez Milholland and the other was Gen. Rosalie Jones, who with her hikers occupied a place near the end of the line. Miss Milholland was an imposing figure in a whte -sic- broadcloth Cossack suit and long white-kid boots. From her shoulders hung a pale-blue cloak, adorned with a golden maltese cross. She was mounted on Gray Dawn, a white horse belonging to A. D. Addison of this city. Miss Milholland was by far the most picturesque figure in the parade.


Interest in the Hikers.


All in brown at the head of her hiking suffragists marched Gen. Rosalie Jones. The army of the Hudson marched behind the New York delegation, which traveled here by train. Carrying her yellow pilgrim staff and a great bunch of roses, Gen. Jones walked in front of the line of women who accompanied her on the hike from New York to Washington. Every one wanted to see the hikers and Gen. Jones. "Which is Gen. Jones?" was the question that was asked a thousand times by curious ones before the parade was over.

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