After equivocating for the first few months of 1912, Wilson took a firmer stand against federal action to ensure woman suffrage, arguing it was a non-issue. He recognized that Roosevelt's endorsement of woman suffrage would aid Roosevelt in the six states allowing women to vote in presidential elections, but Wilson also recognized that a similar switch of his own would appear too pragmatic and calculating.
Wilson, then, tried to distance himself from the debate entirely. The following is from Arthur S. Link's masterfully edited The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, volume 25, page 438. It is the transcript of Wilson's "Campaign Address at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn" on October 19, 1912. Maud Malone, "a militant suffragette," interrupted Wilson's speech on the country's problems with monopolies. The following account recorded their public conversation.
How do you think Wilson handled Ms. Malone's questions?
"Mr. Wilson, you just said you were trying to destroy a monopoly, and I ask you, what about woman suffrage? The men have a monopoly on that.
"Woman suffrage, madam, is not a question that is dealt with by the national government at all, and I am here only as the representative of a national party.
"I appeal to you as an American, Mr. Wilson.
"I hope you will not consider it a discourtesy if I decline to answer this question on this occasion. I am sure that the lady will not insist when I positively decline to answer that question now.
"Why do you decline?
"I was trying to draw your attention to the circumstances which brought about the present political situation, an unprecedented situation in the experience of the country, the great monopoly in the United States.
[After the police forcefully ejected Ms. Malone and took her to jail, Wilson concluded the episode.] "Ladies and gentlemen, this is a serious matter. It was very much against my will and wish that the lady should be ejected. . . The question was not pertinent to what I was discussing and, of course, it is not pertinent to the national campaign, but I am sincerely sorry for the incident."
To learn more about the positions the Republicans, Progressives, and Socialists took regarding woman suffrage in 1912, be sure to visit their pages. Through this website you can also examine the arguments the antisuffrage forces and prosuffrage forces used in their struggles.
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