Public Demonstrations

Suffragists publicly demonstrated for their rights in many ways. When the nation prepared to celebrate its Centennial in July 1876, the National Woman Suffrage Association ceremonially impeached the government for its treatment of women and issued a Declaration of the Rights of Women. Gage, Anthony, Blake, and Sara Spencer, using the tickets permitted to them to attend the ceremony, gave a copy of the Declaration to the chairman and left the building, scattering copies of the Declaration throughout the shocked audience. They then appropriated an empty bandstand outside and read the Declaration aloud, after which they adjourned to the First Unitarian Church for a five-hour meeting with speeches and music.

When the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886, the New York City Woman Suffrage Association rented a steamer and joined the water parade with protest banners during the dedication ceremonies. The Statue is “a gigantic lie, a travesty, and a mockery,” charged the suffragists. “It is the greatest sarcasm of the nineteenth century they said, to represent liberty as a woman, while not one single woman throughout the length and breadth of the Land is as yet in possession of political Liberty.”

1876 protest flyer. This flyer was printed in 1876 supporting the enfranchisement of women, with reference to the American Revolution and women's suffrage in England. Courtesy of Claremont Colleges Library.

Declaration and protest of the women of the United States by the National Woman Suffrage Association. July 4th, 1876. When the nation prepared to celebrate its Centennial July 1876, the National Woman Suffrage Association impeached the government for its treatment of women and issued a Declaration of the Rights of Women. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Statue of Liberty, 1875-1886. When the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York harbor on October 28, 1886, the New York City Woman Suffrage Association rented a steamer and joined the water parade with protest banners during the dedication ceremonies. Courtesy of University of Michigan.