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Rival Suffrage Organizations

By its annual convention in January 1916, the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association had grown to 215 local branches and over 50,000 members. At the convention, it re-organized along the lines of political districts. Local leagues no longer had direct representation on the state board but instead elected representatives to a county board that was represented on the state board. In Middlesex County, Helen Andrews Minkler (1887–1970), an officer of the New Brunswick Political Study Club, was elected county chair. Hazel Sullivan of Stelton, chair during the referendum became first vice president, while Edith Ramsey (1867–1950) of Perth Amboy became second vice president, Sarah Selover of South River, treasurer, and Lottie Pratt of New Brunswick (1880–1966), wife of Rutgers professor Frank Pratt, secretary. The organization committed itself to “keep something going at Trenton all the time, to conduct an educational campaign for women, and to support the Susan B. Anthony bill in the United States Congress.”

Meanwhile, major changes were afoot in the suffrage movement at the national level, which had implications for New Jersey and Middlesex County. The failure of the referendum in New Jersey and the other Eastern states cast doubt on the value of the state-by-state approach. Anna Howard Shaw stepped down as NASWA president and was replaced by Carrie Chapman Catt (1859–1947), who refocused the organization’s energies firmly on the drive for a federal amendment. At the same time, Alice Paul’s Congressional Union (CU) continued to advocate a more radical approach. In late October 1915, the Congressional Union began to organize in New Jersey. A brief attempt at collaboration with NJWSA failed, although a number of Women’s Political Union members became officers of the new organization. The CU believed in holding the party in power accountable for the failure of women’s suffrage and adopted a strategy of campaigning against them. Lillian Feickert and her allies perceived that in New Jersey, where politicians from both sides of the aisle supported women’s suffrage, this policy would be unworkable. The New Jersey Branch of the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage (NJCU) was established on December 1, 1915. Alison Turnbull Hopkins (1880–1951) of Morristown was elected president and Mary Pattison (1869–1951) of the Colonia section of Woodbridge Township, was elected secretary. Purple, gold, and white were chosen as the colors of the new organization. The New Jersey Woman’s Suffrage Association used the colors orange (or gold), blue, and white. Suffragists often wore white dresses to symbolize the femininity and purity of the suffrage cause.

After Woodrow Wilson’s re-election in 1916, Alice Paul and the national CU in Washington began picketing the White House. Women wearing sashes and carrying banners stood silently day after day, rain or shine. The women, known as the “silent sentinels,” initially attracted positive media attention. In March 1917, the NJCU changed its name to the National Woman’s Party, New Jersey Branch. The National Woman’s Party (NWP) had been formed by CU activists in Western states where women already had the vote. It now combined with the Congressional Union to campaign through state congressional districts for the passage of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. During the NWP convention that March, thirteen NJWP members took part in a mass picket at the White House. Almost 1,000 women, including Mary Pattison of Colonia, stood outside in a cold spring rain. NAWSA leadership was very critical of the pickets especially at a time when war with Germany seemed imminent.

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Wilson Opposes Suffrage

This National Woman’s Party broadside urges women’s suffrage supporters to vote again Wilson in the 1916 election.

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Silent Sentinels

Alice Paul’s “silent sentinels” picket the White House as a young woman glides by on roller skates. Their banner reads “Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”


Votes for Women Sash

This sash was worn by Margaret D. Haines (1884–1966) of Newark, a member of the Women’s Political Union of New Jersey.

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Margaret D. Haines

Margaret D. Haines and her sister Florence were active members of the Women’s Political Union of New Jersey. Both women volunteered overseas during the First World War, and, after women won the vote, were elected members of the New Jersey Assembly, the first sisters to serve. Margaret D. Haines is photographed wearing her suffrage sash.