Great War: Anti-Suffragists for Patriotism and War Preparedness
By the time the Great War began in Europe in July 1914, suffrage organizations in New York were large enough and diverse enough to enable members to have several different points of view. Many suffragists, such as Crystal Eastman, adamantly opposed war and belonged to peace parties and similar organizations. Some suffragists refused to engage in any activities related to war work, such as selling war bonds, because they had no voice in deciding whether or not the country should go to war in the first place. Members of the Woman’s Party, which had split from the National American Woman Suffrage Association, held vigil outside the White House, confronting President Wilson for his hypocrisy in fighting for democracy in Europe, while denying it to the women citizens at home. Arrested and force-fed when they conducted hunger strikes, they won sympathy and brought new attention to the cause. However, many suffragists supported war preparedness and Red Cross efforts, raised money for airplanes and ambulances, sold war bonds, and gathered information on the talents and resources of individual women who would be available to help the government in the event that men had to serve overseas. At the same time, virtually every anti-suffragist supported war preparedness, and later, the war effort itself.