“The Arc of Suffrage: from Lucretia Mott to Alice Paul” SwatTalk
with Jamie Stiehm ’82, columnist
Recorded on Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Lucy: I'm Lucy Lang, I'm the class of 2003. And I'm honored to introduce you to tonight's SwatTalk, "The arc of suffrage: from Lucretia Mott to Alice Paul," with Jamie Stiehm, Class of 1982. SwatTalks is an Alumni Council initiative to engage the broader Swarthmore community in seminars, featuring professors, students, and alumni excelling in their fields and sharing their knowledge and experience. Recordings of past SwatTalks are available on demand through swarthmore.edu. And I should say that when we first started talking about SwatTalks, maybe seven years ago on the Alumni Council, the idea of engaging people remotely through video, seemed really wild and crazy. And a huge debt of gratitude is due to Lisa Shafer in the Advancement Office, who saw the potential for this. And I think that we have all really benefited from the fact that Swarthmore was before many other colleges were and before Coronavirus, Swarthmore was already part of the process of trying to engage alumni through video communications. So thank you Lisa and everyone at the college who has helped make SwatTalks a reality, well before they needed to be a reality for us to be able to engage together. Before we begin, and although we are remote and we have listeners tuning in from around the globe, I'd like to honor the indigenous nations of what is now the United States and their land with great gratitude, and to acknowledge the genocide and continuous displacement of indigenous people. I also acknowledge the enslaved Africans, whose labor built this country during the colonial era. And beyond I acknowledge the harm inflicted upon the indigenous communities and people of color across the country, in particular that against black communities. And I think that all of this is highly relevant to the conversation we're going to have tonight. So I'm gonna ask you all to join me for a Quaker inspired moment of silent acknowledgement. We are honored to have an outstanding leader and scholar with us this evening. And it's a particularly moving night for me, and I think it is for many women from the Swarthmore community to think about being together on this Centennial. I had the good fortune today to visit the brand new as of this morning, Monumental Women sculpture in New York City's Central Park. And this is the first sculpture in Central Park that depicts real women rather than fictional women or wood limbs. So I'm feeling particularly inspired by the women who came before, who fought so hard to give us the right to vote and particularly attuned to the Swarthmore women who have been such an important part of this incredible movement, that continues to inspire activism for women and others in this incredibly challenging political moment. So we couldn't ask for a better speaker tonight than Jamie Stiehm. Jamie fell under the spell of Lucretia Mott's portrait in Parrish Parlor. Now a Mott scholar, Jamie has written and spoken widely on the power of Mott's voice. A history major at the college, Jamie pursued a journalism career and found that working at the CBS News Bureau in London, reporting for the Hill Newspaper in Washington, and covering the colorful City of Baltimore for The Sun, gave her the experience, insight and skills, to crossover, to writing a syndicated column for Creators Syndicate. Her opinions columns have appeared in major dailies, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Sanford Francisco Chronicle, including one just yesterday that I counsel you all to look up, and many points in between. Throughout tonight's conversation, we invite respectful questions from you and the audience through the chat feature, the bottom of your Zoom screen. I'll incorporate your questions throughout the conversation as appropriate and apologize that we may not get to all of them. We have an hour together, and I know it's going to be a very rich conversation. When you put a question in the chat feature, please include your name and your class year or affiliation to the college in your question. And now I'm so pleased to welcome Jamie Stiehm, and ask Jamie to begin to tell us just a bit about why you felt it was important to have this conversation for the Swarthmore community specifically, on this day.
Jamie: Lucy thank you so much. I'm delighted to be with you and everyone this moment in time. Today, 100 years ago today, the 19th Amendment was certified into law, and that was a very long struggle. The road from 1848 of Lucretia Mott to 1920 Alice Paul, was truly an arc of justice. And they are both the best kept secrets in American history. Even at Swarthmore, we didn't learn what champions Alice Paul and Lucretia Mott were, and how they were related to each other by the Quaker religion. They were both birthright Quakers, and that is not an accident. Quaker women were always on the frontier of slave emancipation and later women's suffrage, peace movements and they don't talk about it much. They're self effacing, and that's why I thought all of us tonight could honor the hard work that they did, so that you and I, and all the women here will participate in democracy.
Lucy: So in preparing for tonight's conversation, Jamie offered some new insight for me about the gender views of language that we use even often as feminists in talking about the legacies that we're here to try to and explore together. So Jamie can you start by setting some definitions for us, including suffrage, activist, advocate, and other terms that you think will be useful to listeners, so that we have a shared language throughout.
Jamie: Yes language, words matter. Often Lucretia Mott and Alice Paul and other women like Jane Adams are yet described in Google or dictionaries or encyclopedias as activists or reformers. That is a word that diminishes their contribution. They were champions, they were major figures. They were leaders and they were recognized as such in their time, but their power gets sort of lost in translation along the way. And in our discussion tonight, I'm gonna tell you how Lucretia Mott embraced both abolition and women's rights. And for her, they were one in the same. We have some direct descendants joining us tonight from Maine I think or Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Hallowells, so welcome. Quaker women were willing to take personal risks, to advance human rights and Lucretia Mott's house in Philadelphia, was almost burned down by a mob. Alice Paul was forced fed in jail. That just gives you a sense of how they were champions, they were not reformers or activists. I want everyone here tonight should go away with major figure, not in women's history, but in American history or champions, on the tip of your tongue.
Lucy: So with that shared understanding, let's start at the beginning. Can you talk a bit about Mott's background and her role in founding the college?
Jamie: She was one of several Quaker founders in 1864 during the civil war because their work was done. They had brought the nation to, the Emancipation Proclamation. Let me go to 1793 when a bright little girl named Lucretia Mott was running free on an island called Nantucket. She was an island girl and not many people knew Nantucket was a Quaker community around 1800. So it was also a whaling capital. So men and boys would be gone for years at a time, including her sea captain father, Thomas Coffin. She's a Coffin. And so Lucretia helped her mother and all the women of the islands had to be very regularly independent and self-reliant, and know how to take care of not only children, but animals and their own little businesses and take the boat to Boston to bring back candles and other supplies. So Lucretia Mott, was predisposed to be America's first feminism. She grew up away from the mainland and all the myths about domesticity there. And also because she was a Quaker, she lived on school street and she went to a coed school that the Friends had built for boys and girls. So she never ever had any distinctions growing up, between male and female. And someone asked about her intellectual life or her education. When she was growing up, there were no colleges for women. I mean, Alice Paul was highly educated, but Lucretia Mott only went as far as a Quaker high school. Did you have any other questions about her upbringing? Her father was a sea captain and very romantic girlhood, Quaker girlhood.
Lucy: Is there more about Quakerism in particular, that fed into what ultimately became her role in the college's birth?
Jamie: Yes, from a very young age, she was educated about slavery. She read the English poet Cowper, she memorized "The Task." So she was outraged personally as a girl in Nantucket about slavery. Because she lived in a safe seafaring community, she knew about the Middle Passage. And when she finally came a young woman relocated to Philadelphia, that was very much the Quaker city. That was where the American Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1833 by Garrison and the Motts were founders also. And the first event was held in the Mott House. So she was very predisposed to take action against slavery. And she became famous for that. She became internationally famous for that. And then it seemed only logical to take the same rubric, same paradigm and apply it to women's rights, women's citizenship. For her, Lucy they were very much one in the same. Universal moral equality, that is the Quaker bedrock belief.
Lucy: So Judith Hallett wonders, what kind of education her brother has received on Nantucket? Was it the same education she received?
Jamie: Yes, it was. Because this school that was founded by the Friends, was entirely coed open to boys and girls alike and they were treated the same. And as you may know from Quacker meetings, boys and girls are both expected and empowered to speak.
Lucy: And Anne Cod from the class of 82 asks why she relocated to Philly and Linda Mantle asks how she became a mom. So if you could give a little personal history on that.
Jamie: Okay, a Mott. Well, I mentioned the Quaker boarding school that she attended that was in Dutchess County. And she then became a teacher for the girls wing of the boarding school and a very handsome young man named James Mott taught in the boys wing. And they fell in love when she was 17 and married when she was 18, and Philadelphia was the logical place for a young Quaker couple to go. Their wedding was in the Pine Street Meeting House. Which is where Dolley Payne, who later became Dolley Madison, her first husband was a Quaker. She was born Quaker, and that's where her wedding took place as well.
Lucy: The questions are coming fast and furious, which will not surprise you to learn from a Swarthmore crowd, but Walter Poppenbond from the class of 1970 asks whether she was a Hicksite Quaker.
Jamie: Yes. And Hicksite Quakers Lucy, were radical. But that was not the Main Line Quakers like over at Haverford. They were the Swarthmore, later Swarthmore, radical Quakers and Elias Hicks was the headmaster of this boarding school. She was deeply influenced by not just believing in principles and equality, but acting upon those principles in everyday life. And she was willing to persuade James to change his business from cotton to wool, he was a wool merchant. And she didn't, I don't think she refused to buy or eat sugar for a long time, also a slave product. So as a young woman, she was already taking shape as a leader, as an opinion or thought leader, we would say in our day.
Lucy: So Cheryl Macola Davis from the class of 1972, asks having not attended college herself, how did she get involved in founding Swarthmore?
Jamie: Well, this is many years later, 1864. She was on the front lines of the slave emancipation movement. She was known far and wide as a speaker. She had a radiant presence that Frederick Douglass praised in his autobiography. So by 1864, she was 71 or 72. She was past her prime, but there was work to be done during the civil war. Since Quakers were pacifists, they did not participate. Right? However, some of their Hallowell sons did participate in the 54th, the famous 54th Regiment that Robert Gould Shaw led and died in action. And then the next Hallowells, that is how Hallowell took over from him. So she was from the old school. She felt that they had advanced the public mind. So effectively over 30 years of moral suasion, of petitions, of her talks, all at her sermons all over the land. She was invited to Washington by John Quincy Adams to speak to Southern slave owner congressmen. She had this power of persuasion, but by 1864, the best work that they felt they could do, was to found a college. Joseph Parrish, the Whartons, the Hallowells, the Motts, they got together and they planted trees. She planted one right next to Parrish. And she said, this is a perfect establishment. And any young student will be happy to be here. So this is one of the last great acts of her life, was to be a founder of Swarthmore College.
Lucy: So can you explore a little bit more how her views were different from that of her contemporaries who were also identified as suffragists?
Jamie: They weren't that different. She was a champion. She was the main speaker at Seneca Falls. She was the reason people came to Seneca Falls from all over Upstate New York, including Frederick Douglass. So Frederick Douglass, when he appeared on the scene, he had tremendous charisma as an order. He humanized the slave experience and Frederick Douglass to his everlasting credit, he was the one that said, "You have to include the vote in your demands." She was not the one who initiated that, it was Frederick Douglass that did, but she and Douglass had a great affinity and friendship with each other. He was a woman's rights man, as well as an abolitionist. She was a women's rights founder, as well as abolitionist. They were two of the very few who championed both movements.
Lucy: So that leads really nicely into a question that Bob Pusher in the class of 1971 has asked, which is, did she live long enough to have any known feelings about the fact that early Swarthmore did not accept black students?
Jamie: No. She would not have been pleased about that. No, not at all. That would have gone against everything she believed in, and that she stood for. But I'm surprised because she was the first Philadelphia woman to have integrated gatherings in her home, in the Mott home. And Sojourner Truth was a great friend of hers. And she had a female anti-slavery society. She founded, Lucretia welcomed both black and white women to that society. So she was the very first integrator in American political life.
Lucy: Well, this is backtracking a little bit, but Marty Spanninger who didn't include her class, but I can tell you it's right around mine the class of 2003, asking about why the change from cotton to wool, that economic decision and how was her philosophy part of that, if it was?
Jamie: Well, cotton was a slave product and wool was not considered to be an exploitative product. And apparently it did set them back financially for a time, but she really was the conscience. And she and James were extremely close. Neither one of them did anything that the other disagreed with, and to his redounds to his credit that he traveled with her everywhere. Wherever she was speaking, James was there. It could be Indiana. They traveled to Ohio with Frederick Douglass and he was incredibly supportive, and even it goes beyond supportive. He recognized her genius and he wanted to help her achieve that as a woman in a society that, in which we women were essentially blind legally.
Jamie: And let me add that the voice is one thing that nobody can take away from you. And that was true of Frederick Douglass, fantastic presence in voice. And that was true for Lucretia Mott. And these are two outsiders to the power structure, who became so mesmerizing on the anti-slavery speaking circuit, because they had voices that, reverberated over a country and over a century. And the reason we don't know as much as we should about Lucretia Mott is because, she wasn't a writer like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, whom she mentored. She was a speaker Lucy, but we don't have any recordings of her voice. She was the early figure and suffrage, and Alice Paul was the last figure. They're like bookends.
Lucy: So before we get to that, the other end of the book, Peggy Pickett Roski wonders from the class of 62, whether Lucretia and James had children.
Jamie: Yes, they have five children.
Lucy: So she wasn't at all busy while she was changing the world.
Jamie: Well, apparently she just had a great system for making dinner. She did have help in Philadelphia. She lived on North 9th Street. The Mott's dining room could seat 50 people. It was a salon and she loved it. She was an extrovert. She loved the more people that were in her dining room for dinner, the better. If it was a runaway slave, sit down, and she cooked Nantucket dishes for them. And she had, I think four daughters and one son named Thomas and a young son named Thomas who died when he was only three. And his last words to her, before he died were, "I love thee mother." And then he died and she never got over that.
Lucy: And Kathy Sharp O'Neill in the class of 1970 says, that you've used the term slave emancipation more than abolition. Do you see there as a distinction in between those words?
Jamie: No I don't. It could be an abolitionist, anti-slavery or slave emancipation, they're interchangeable. Thank you for that question.
Lucy: So Alice Paul wasn't born until five years after Mott died. Would she had known about Mott, how much she had known about her, what brought Paul to the college. And what about Paul's childhood led her on the path that she ultimately took, that paved the way for so many of us.
Jamie: Yeah, right. Lucretia Mott was very much part of her Quaker education, her family, dinner table conversations. She was also a birthright Quaker, descended from William Penn in New Jersey. Morristown, New Jersey was a Quaker community. So both of these women, girls, they grew up in an incredibly complete and secure, Quacker environment world. When they were impressionable, it formed their whole philosophy for the rest of their lives. Lucretia Mott was influenced by Mary Wollstonecraft as well. I don't know about Alice Paul, but we know that she had a great education at Swarthmore College. And she graduated in 1905. She was a modern, Lucretia Mott was the 19th century. But Alice Paul came from a Quaker revolutionary background and she took that Quaker nonviolence, revolutionary spirit, and she applied it to the languishing women's rights movement, women's suffrage movement. And instantly, there were suffragists here in America, and there were suffragettes in London. So. And Alice Paul was influenced by them. She went over to London to hang out with the suffragettes and she was arrested with them, while she was studying for a master's degree. So she learned a lot of their more confrontational, visible strategies. And she took them back home and she energized a movement that had no forward motion, because Susan B. Anthony had died and there was kind of a vacuum. And she's like, "Okay, throw out the old playbook. I have a whole new way of approaching the vote and we are going to focus it on the president of the United States. Not on anybody else. We're not going to Kansas or to Cleveland for convention, state by state. "There's one person who's gonna hear from us or see us "every single day," and that was Woodrow Wilson.The Princeton man, and I like to say that this, the true story is, Swarthmore woman versus a Princeton man.
Lucy: So tell us more about what it was that ultimately brought Paul into the public spotlight?
Jamie: Okay. This is 1913. 1913 is when a new president is going to be sworn in. His name is Woodrow Wilson. He's coming from the Princeton train station with all these students singing tiger songs with him. Okay? So that's, he's very pleased and proud of himself. He's 56 years old. Lucy, she's 28. So if you do the math, he's twice as old as she is. And he has a PhD. He's the only president that has one. He doesn't even know that she has a PhD too. He thinks he's the political genius. But Alice Paul is the political genius. And when he arrives in Union Station, which is brand new built by Daniel Burnham, the Chicago architect, it is completely empty. Where is everybody? He, just like Donald Trump, wanted to know about his crowd sizes, he complained about the Inauguration Day attendance. Well, Woodrow Wilson demanded to know where his supporters were. And the answer was, they're all at the suffrage praiser. So that was a brilliant,
Lucy: Big drop.
Jamie: That was a brilliant way of saying hello. And there were thousands of women up and down Pennsylvania Avenue by the Capital. Some of them were assaulted by the police, they're victims of police brutality. And that resonates with today. And the cavalry had to be called out to protect the women who came from Philadelphia. They came from the seven sisters schools. This was a new generation and they were young. Just like the recent protests we've seen, have been, have had a new wave of people who felt so strongly that they wanted to be counted and heard. These women were there to claim their rights to citizenship. And they had college degrees and they were not taking no for an answer. And it would take as long as it took. Alice Paul had it all mapped out. It took five years for him to change his adamant opposition to votes for women. Five years from 1913 to 1918.
Lucy: And Kat asks about Alice Paul's view of Wilson's racism.
Jamie: I think she was very, she wasn't disappointed. She had a very low opinion of him. So when he segregated the federal workforce, he imposed Jim Crow on the federal workforce that just fit with her whole hierarchical, elitist view of him. You know Woodrow Wilson is, his whole legacy is being re-evaluated right now.
Lucy: Yeah. So Bob Mueller from the class of 68 asks about Mott's attitude towards the International Workingmen's movement that grew during her heydays. So perhaps that's related to just what you were saying.
Jamie: Mott or Paul?
Lucy: About, I'm sorry, Paul.
Jamie: Okay that's a good segue into saying, she was totally single issue,
Jamie: Completely single issue. There's only a very straight line to achieving, one is suffrage. Nobody had ever achieved it before. She felt that she could not or would not divert her energies with any other movement, because women, as we may know from history, those who study the 1870s, women did not receive the vote after the civil war. And a lot of like Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, they had worked to free enslaved people. So there was an expectation or an unwritten understanding that they too would be enfranchised in 1869, 1870. That didn't happen, so they felt very, I know they felt somewhat, let down.
Lucy: Yeah. So that may be a starting point for an answer to a question about how to distinguish between Mott's and Paul's version of suffrage.
Jamie: Okay. I don't think there was much of a distinction. No, I really don't think because they both came from that Quaker universal emancipation, universal equality arc. And I know that Alice Paul's strategy, was radically different than Lucretia Mott's. Lucretia Mott was the voice, right? But Alice Paul was the lightning-like strategy out in the streets making it visible to all. And that's how she built public sympathy, public support, rose over those years because it became more personal. A lot of men, even in Wilson's cabinet said, "Do you really have to lock up my daughter or my wife or my sister or my mother?” Politicization often comes from personal experience. So she made it more personal.
Lucy: I'll leave it to a professor to ask this. But Professor Douglas Perkins from Vanderbilt asks, how their both informal and formal educations influenced their work so strategically, and then in their philosophy.
Jamie: All right. I said that there were no colleges for Mott to go to, but she was very, very bright. She captured Mary Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" on her coffee table, her whole life so visitors could see it. I know that was a major self-taught education, an influence on her. That was, Mary Wollstonecraft published that in 1792 during the enlightenment. So it has the life, liberty. Yeah, the Declaration of Independence applied to us, to women and the French Revolution as well. Whereas Alice Paul was highly educated, and she knew the law cold. She has a PhD. And I think, I don't know this because she is not as easy to read or to know. She was a private person, but I think her whole life was her public, her public leadership. I don't think she ever took a day off. And her law and political science were applied toward changing the law and not only one amendment to the constitution, but she is also the author of the "Equal Rights Amendment." And you asked about the connection to Lucretia Mott? She was inspired by Lucretia Mott. She named the ERA, the "Lucretia Mott Amendment." And that is the best arc that I can possibly give you this evening. And it has not yet ratified, but one of these fine days.
Lucy: So that leads nicely into a question from John Goodman, class of 1960. There's been a lot of discussion around the Centennial about racism in the Suffrage Movement and John Goodman asks, "Was Alice Paul openly supportive of votes for black women as well as white women?"
Jamie: Yes. Let me clarify that the 19th Amendment, obviously it was for all women, for black and white women. That was her vision. And unfortunately it's southern racism and Jim Crow suppression of voting rights for both black men and black women, continued from the 1920s all the way through the Civil Rights Acts of 64 and 65, in 60s. And I think it's a little unfair she's getting a bad rep because it's not fair to hold suffragists who wanted to advance all women responsible for Southern racism. She's anything but a Southern racist.
Lucy: And Theresa Rankin from 75 follows up. And I imagine that the answer is sort of similar. But where does she stand on the southern strategy to achieve white women's support by not addressing black women's inclusion? Did she expand her single focus on women's suffering? Did she ever say anything about assuring that Native American women, Asian American women, as well as African American women, would be able to vote while she focused on her pressure on Wilson? And what do we know?
Jamie: Okay, okay. There's a woman named Carrie Chapman, Carrie CCC. She was the other wing of the Suffrage Movement and Carrie Chapman, I can't remember the Catt. Catt, yeah. She was more, she was guilty as accused as you just read it out. She was more leaning, tilting toward bringing Southern women into the movements or at the expense of black Southern women. And Alice Paul did not have that strategy. Her strategy was very black and white. It was for all women, regardless of race, regardless of religion or creator, anything else. It was universal. And she was single issue, but she was a woman's woman. Lucretia Mott was not single issue. Lucretia Mott did not discriminate between any of her causes or her movements. I think that her vision may be more lasting in the very long run.
Lucy: And there are some questions from Shannon Loudon in the class of 1985, around this question of racism in the suffrage movement. And I wonder if what you're describing is, is it a distinction between strategy and philosophy that these women had at totally different points in political time?
Jamie: Okay, I know that Alice Paul deplored Carrie Chapman Catt. She couldn't stand her. They did not speak. So there was no alliance or teamwork or anything like that. They really were two different directions and strategies. And Carrie Chapman Catt was the state by state approach. Alice Paul as I explained, like that was the 19th century. The 20th century is the federal presidential strategy. And they deferred on more things than just personality. So there was a rift.
Lucy: And what would you say, looking back with the benefit of history each of these women, perhaps each separately, and then in the arc that you framed so beautifully, what did they teach us about how to effectuate social change?
Jamie: Well, Lucretia Mott has personally taught me since I was at Swarthmore, and fell under her gaze is to use your voice, speak up. I personally spoke up at a one or two fraternity hazing or hateful actions. I stopped in person by myself. I remember it very clearly, and I am never afraid to say or speak up if something happens that is wrong, but I also do public speaking here in Washington and Philadelphia, wherever I am invited. And the power of voice is something that we women should exercise more often. I think we silence ourselves and Lucretia Mott is someone who we use our historical imagination. I think she could inspire us to be more, be braver and more opinionated, and to run for office like you are Lucy. She would love that. And Alice Paul teaches us about an incredibly tight disciplined political strategy. And if she was alive today, she would mobilize all the different social media. She rounded up thousands of women on short notice in Washington in 1913. Think what she could do today. And she did not let the fact that a newly elected president was taking office. She didn't let that slow her down a step. She was not intimidated by Woodrow Wilson when many other people were. And she prevailed. The reason she prevailed is, finally he realized he had to surrender, but he had a very good reason for doing so. And that was when America was entering World War I at his best. This was his chance to shine on the world stage and for us to be a world power. And so he very wisely said, "Well we are so glad that women are participating in the war effort. And many nurses are being shipped overseas over there. And we're reliant on them to turn off the lights at night." And to do all the things that women were doing to keep patriotic duties that they were doing for the war effort, he then switched sides and he urged Congress and the States to ratify the amendment. But the war, as I mentioned earlier, was kind of, loosened things up, including the president of the United States.
Lucy: So thinking about this question of inspiration, Kerala Shepard from the class of 1972, asked the question that you may or may not be able to answer more in your capacity as Alumni Council, about whether incoming students are getting information today about Swarthmore's history in the women's movement. I mean, when I entered in 1999, I don't think there was any kind of intentional teaching about this incredibly rich history that you've described for us.
Jamie: I am very grateful for that question, because there's no college, there's no university in the United States, not Harvard, not Bryn Mawr, not Radcliffe, there's no college that has a prouder richer legacy for women's rights and suffrage, and slave abolition for that matter, than Swarthmore College. And people at Swarthmore don't even know that. We are not taught about this, there's Alice Paul Center, but I never knew until I went to the library, The Friends Historical Library and looked up all these facts and documents of Lucretia Mott which were there for the taking. I've already seen her history paper and her but it was all, but because I had loved her portrait in Parrish Parlor, there needs to be a more intentional teaching about this arc of suffrage from Lucretia Mott to Alice Paul. And I've envisioned a sculpture, an abstract sculpture of one, and the other women outside Parrish or someplace very central to represent the arc of suffrage.
Lucy: Yeah. There are so many thoughtful questions here. One is from Christina Straubach who asks of Susan. "I've heard Alice Paul described as asexual. Lucretia Mott as a wife and mother. I've recently read about Boston marriages. Do you think sexuality has a place in this discussion or is it too subject to social mores for this history?"
Jamie: Lucretia and James had a very close, loving marriage. I have considered that the great unknown about Alice Paul. I don't know of any documents that show that she had a lesbian lover, a Boston sister, Philadelphia sister. I mean she was extremely driven, and even by her close allies in the campaign, and she lived in Washington the rest of her life, right in Capitol Hill. There's no mention of a close, intimate relationship. And if I do find out that there was one, I'll put the word out. But she's hard to know personally. Lucretia Mott is much easier to imagine talking to, I get the sense that Alice Paul never had a day off. She was always on the job.
Lucy: Yeah. It's such an honor to have descendants of both of these subjects of our conversation on the call today. And Jocelyn Wolf, a descendant of Lucretia Mott, thanks you Jamie for all you do "o bring her into the light, and asked for you to elaborate more about when her house almost burned down.
Jamie: Oh yeah. The mob came to get her. There was a new meeting hall, an assembly hall for the abolitionist. Because churches around Philadelphia didn't want to have them meet there, it was dangerous. This is the 1830s, which is a very ugly, nasty time in American history. It was the Jacksonian era. There were not many police forces in the cities and there were a lot of anti-left abolitionists mobs. So when this new hall opened, Southern medical students in Philadelphia saw that black and white women were working together. There was a word for it, amalgamation. So this was at Lucretia Mott's direction that they were working together. And that enraged these thousands of young Southern men in Philadelphia, and they burned the new hall down. They burned it. And the very day the week that it opened, we dedicated, this was in 1938 I believe. 1838. The spring of 1838. And so Lucretia Mott and James and her friends, they went to her house. They retreated to North 9th Street. And the mob said to the Motts, to the Mott house and a Quaker friend of the Mott's, the poet. The poet James is a poet Whitaker? Anyway, a Quaker directed the mob the wrong way. They were closing in on the Mott house and she was waiting for them by the her. And I'd like to say it was a good thing for the mob that they didn't get to her house, because she would not have let them have their way. She was very brave. They both were very brave. That's another quality, they had physical courage. And that was a terrible, damning, depressing week in Philadelphia that this brand new, beautiful hall was in cinders and ashes. And the mayor let it happen, because he was afraid of the mob.
Lucy: I mean, some of this stuff that you really couldn't make up. It's so fantastic. And I think that it's almost literary the extent to which Swarthmore is like a locus of this incredible arc. But fast forwarding to the present, two people have asked me, Nancy Murdoch and also Hannah from the class of 2005, ask, what Alice Paul would do right now to get the ERA passed? And also Hannah you're on the hook, whatever Jamie tells us, you and I are gonna do. Okay?
Jamie: She would have adapted her strategies to the times. But I think her fundamental belief was to be visible in the public square. And just, messaging people and calling them is fine. It moves the rock a little bit at hill, but I think she always believed that direct action would be the most effective. And the ERA is close to ratification, if they don't apply the time limit. Virginia just recently ratified it. And I know that Speaker Pelosi was thrilled about that, and the House is pressing for the time limit to be removed. Of course the Senate hasn't even voted on that yet. And as I interviewed Speaker Pelosi just a week ago on women's suffrage, and she said she was heartbroken, that so many of the celebrations that she had planned had to be canceled. But here we are tonight, and I'm just very honored that all of you are here with Lucy and me. And it means a lot, and it means that we can take some heart and courage from their unwavering vision.
Lucy: So Raina Salada, the class of 1997, asked for you to maybe compare and contrast the Mott campaign for equality, with the state of women's equality today. So a separate and apart from the ERA question.
Jamie: Okay. The 1848 Declaration of Sentiments, was modeled very closely on the Declaration of Independence. Stanton was the author of that document, but she borrowed heavily from Thomas Jefferson and just basically shown a light on the other half of the population. What I would say is that Paul just took a more advanced in a more radical direct, "You can't miss me. You can't miss me Woodrow Wilson when you come outside your gate. I'm burning your speech in a bonfire Woodrow Wilson right here in front of your house." That's nonviolent resistance. They both believed in that as Quackers. But nonviolent resistance is not for the faint of heart. It doesn't mean that if you wear a bonnet, that you're sweet. Alice Paul was not sweet, nor was Lucretia Mott. They were willing to rock the patriarchy structure, the slave power that they witnessed.
Lucy: I wanna make sure to give everyone an opportunity to surface their questions. So very specifically, Amy Kapinski Cameron in the class of 95, is asking about whether Alice Paul approved of the segregation of black women at the women's rights parade in 1913, recognizing that she was not like Catt philosophically, but what--
Jamie: I'm glad that question came up because I wrote about that in the San Francisco Chronicle essay, which is the sad truth that Washington was a Jim Crow's city. It's the Southern city and South of the Mason-Dixon line. And Alice Paul was working with the police to get permission for the march, closely with the police chief. And it was by police order that black women were to follow the Jim Crow back of the bus, back of the march. And so, yeah. That happened, but I might add that Ida Wells, who was incredibly fiery Chicago journalist, an anti-lynching journalist, came from Chicago and she marched with the Illinois delegation. So the people didn't follow that absolutely.
Lucy: You talked a bit about Paul's trip to the UK and that influencing her. And in your view, how are these issues or are they uniquely American?
Jamie: Well, I mean we used to be like, the last best hope on her, not anymore. But the world does watch what we're doing, and I think it's unfortunate there's always been such a contradiction between our stated ideals and the practice since 1776. Are they uniquely American? Well in Britain, in London, the suffragettes were not enfranchised until 1920, the same year. And in Switzerland and France, it was much later. So American women and British women were really part of, they were the avant-garde of suffrage. And Lucretia Mott relied on her voice, on her salons, on her Quaker faith, much more visibly than Alice Paul did. I hope that answers the question. These are excellent questions. It's like a Swarthmore seminar.
Lucy: Right, a Swarthmore seminar where you're on the spot the whole time. John Goodman from the class of 1960 is familiar with the history that I'm not familiar with about during the founding of Swarthmore that the Pennsylvania legislature had to be lobbied to change the law, to allow women to own property, in order for the board of managers and student body to be coed. Are you familiar with that history?
Jamie: No. Actually I did not know that, but Anna Davis Hallowell who was a Mott, she was on the board of managers. I didn't know that the law had to be changed, 'cause I thought Philadelphia was one of the more free thinking States.
Lucy: So thank you John for giving us all some homework, we'll have to follow up on that for Women's Equality Day next year for the "Centennial Plus One." Nicole Jassy would like to know whether Alice Paul played field hockey. Do you know that?
Jamie: I think she did. Yeah. She was a good athlete and after she graduated from Swarthmore, she went to Europe and she rode her bicycle around France and then into Paris on a bicycle. So that gives you the motif of how adventurous she was. And she was very willing to break convention. The first thing she did when she was in jail, was to take an object and break a window in jail, so she could communicate with her friends. She's a terrific, I mean I can't think of a more relevant, inspirational figure for right now, straight to now.
Jamie: All right, I'm gonna put a moratorium on questions from the audience and just ask these last few, before we conclude. But one is from Raina Salada who wonders your perspective on the schism and current women's rights between social liberal, feminist and radical feminist?
Jamie: Well, I don't have a strong view on that, because I really think there's so much more that binds us together then divides us. I guess I would be classified among the somewhere in between, because I believe in Alice Paul's radical strategies, but I am a liberal by persuasion and women are not used to, men are socialized more as boys to be team players. When I was a Swarthmore, there weren't many team sports for women except for field hockey. And so Alice Paul may have learned some strategies and techniques of working together, that other women from that field hockey experienced. That's a guess, but it fits.
Lucy: Yeah. And then Linda Mantle asks, "Where was Alice Paul's PhD from and what was it in?"
Jamie: University of Pennsylvania. And I think it was political science, just like Woodrow Wilson, which is a wonderful joke on him that he totally underestimated her intellectual rigor and training. Because how many women had PhDs in 1912 or 13? Very few.
Lucy: Did she also have a JD Jamie?
Jamie: I think she did, yes. She was a brilliant woman. She was a political genius and Lucretia Mott was also, but she wasn't as educated. She wasn't as, I mean she was more from the heart, and Alice Paul was more from the head.
Lucy: Yeah. That's a beautiful way to put it. Thank you so much for all of these thoughtful questions from the audience. And Jamie, just some concluding thoughts from you. If you could channel these two women today, and speak to the generation of Swarthmore entering, the new generation of women entering Swarthmore now. Whatever entering looks like and we know that it's gonna--
Jamie: I'd love to do that in person. I mean, they need to know they're part of this parade, right? They started, but we need to not only stand on their shoulders, but to make progress in Speaker Pelosi's words.
Jamie: That, be proud. Know their life stories, know what they've accomplished, know that there's unfinished work to be done. Alice Paul died in the 1970s as a very old woman and she thought the ERA was on the cusp of being ratified into law. That she died thinking that. But she left, that is undone, right? But there's many other things that are undone. You could say childcare needs to be addressed. So many other morale building projects that women could pursue in unity, a sense of cohesion.
Lucy: Well, thank you so much for this Jamie. In preparing for this evening, Jamie and I and BoHee Yoon, the President of the Alumni Council had a lot of discussion about all of the important scholarship that is coming out about the really under reported role of women of color, queer women, and a whole diversity of women in advancing women's equality. And we recognize of course, that we're talking about two white Quaker women from Swarthmore history, who have also been in many ways under-recognized, but we want to be sure to acknowledge that they are one part of a very diverse and wide ranging movement that owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to women of color and all of the rich voices who've participated in suffrage and women's equality throughout American history. So with that, I want to thank you all so much for joining us. And I've asked Alumni Council President BoHee Yoon class of 2001 to conclude with a few remarks before we adjourn for the evening.
Jamie: This was wonderful, thank you.
Lucy: Thank you, great idea Jamie. I'm so glad that we were able to do it.
Jamie: It's wonderful, my pleasure.
Lucy: We'll all continue to tune in for SwatTalks and this will be posted to swarthmore.edu, and you're all encouraged to share it with other interested alums and others who are passionate about these incredibly important issues. Even once the Centennial passes, let's keep these women and the work that they've done very much in our thoughts, and perhaps the best way that we can honor them is by remembering to vote. BoHee?
BoHee: Thank you so much Lucy and Jamie, this has been one of the most wonderful and rich and special SwatTalks that we've had, especially to hear about fellow alumns of the college and hear about your really wonderful work Jamie. So thank you both so much. I'd like to close with a quote by Audre Lorde who was an amazing civil rights champion. Now I have remembered to use that. And the quote goes, "I am not free while any woman is unfree. Even when her shackles are very different from my own." And I think that that is exactly the sentiment that we're all feeling as we're continuing to fight for the Equal Rights Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. And as fellow American citizens are continuously disenfranchised as this selection is coming up. And so hope that everyone will vote, and thank you all so much again for tuning in for our SwatTalks. We really, really appreciate it.
Jamie: Thank you