In this “heroic narrative” (The Wall Street Journal), discover the inspiring and timely account of the complex relationship between leading suffragist Alice Paul and President Woodrow Wilson in her fight for women’s equality.
Woodrow Wilson lands in Washington, DC, in March of 1913, a day before he is set to take the presidential oath of office. He is surprised by the modest turnout. The crowds and reporters are blocks away from Union Station, watching a parade of eight thousand suffragists on Pennsylvania Avenue in a first-of-its-kind protest organized by a twenty-five-year-old activist named Alice Paul. The next day, The New York Times calls the procession “one of the most impressively beautiful spectacles ever staged in this country.”
Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? weaves together two storylines: the trajectories of Alice Paul and Woodrow Wilson, two apparent opposites. Paul’s procession of suffragists resulted in her being granted a face-to-face meeting with President Wilson, one that would lead to many meetings and much discussion, but little progress for women. With no equality in sight and patience wearing thin, Paul organized the first group to ever picket in front of the White House lawn—night and day, through sweltering summer mornings and frigid fall nights.
From solitary confinement, hunger strikes, and the psychiatric ward to ever more determined activism, Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? reveals the courageous, near-death journey it took, spearheaded in no small part by Alice Paul’s leadership, to grant women the right to vote in America. “A remarkable tale” (Kirkus Reviews) and a rousing portrait of a little-known feminist heroine, this is an eye-opening exploration of a crucial moment in American history one century before the Women’s March.
Journalist Cassidy's vivacious biography of militant activist Alice Paul, one of the undersung heroes of the American women's suffrage movement and a key player in the adoption of the 19th Amendment, looks at her in the context of and in contrast to President Woodrow Wilson, whom Paul and her peers considered their primary antagonist. Cassidy highlights, with clear admiration, Paul's energy, vision, and persistence, crediting her with pushing for methods of engagement that are still key to protestors today marches, picketing at the White House, lobbying, silent protest, noncooperation with arresting officers, and hunger strikes. Her radical push for a constitutional amendment put her in conflict with others in the movement like Carrie Chapman Catt, who preferred a slow, state-by-state approach grounded in the willingness of men to accept the idea of women voting. The depiction of Wilson is conflicted, sympathizing with his stress and fatigue, but ultimately painting him as a failure and an unworthy opponent. Cassidy's descriptions of the protests and marches led by Paul and her supporters are delightful, full of boisterous color and drama, and featuring the full texts of the wordy (and cheeky) banners used. This engaging history brings the suffrage struggle to life.