Suffrage in 60 Seconds: Deadly Political Index

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Have you ever tried to speak with someone that clearly does not want to hear what you have to say? It's quite intimidating and it can be difficult to stand your ground.

This is Maud Younger, head of the National Woman's Party Lobbying Committee. She and other courageous suffragists encountered this type of uncomfortable situation regularly when they patrolled the halls of Congress. Maud and her fellow female lobbyists made a daily trudge to the Capitol to make the case for women's right to vote. While women did find many allies in the halls of Congress, many non-pro-suffrage congressmen were uninterested, irritated, or became enraged when approached about suffrage. Maud encountered many legislators that tried to justify their stance, saying that women in their state don't want the right to vote, or that his constituents did not desire woman suffrage. The lobbyists would write these details on reports they brought back to their headquarters. A growing card catalog that became known as the "Deadly Political Index" provided the intelligence needed to sway politicians. Acting on congressmen's own words, the National Woman's Party would often dispatch someone to their district. Any congressman who claimed his opposition to suffrage was due to lack of support in their state would be flooded by letters from voters and women back home. From 1916 on, the years in which Maud Younger was in charge of the Lobby Committee, 22 Senators changed their position in favor of suffrage. In June 1919, when women finally won the legislative battle for the right to vote, many of these Senators were necessary for the passage of the amendment.

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1 minute, 42 seconds

Maud Younger, chief lobbyist of the National Woman’s Party, greased the gears of democracy. While the unrelenting force of the National Woman's Party protests kept the momentum of the movement, would the 19th Amendment have gotten through Congress without suffragist lobbyists? Ranger Lorne has the details of the Deadly Political Index.

Although the most familiar images of the fight for Votes for Women may be the picketers holding banners aloft in front of the White House, the battle could not have been won without the women Lobbying for Suffrage.

Part of a series of articles titled Suffrage in Sixty Seconds.

Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Women's Rights National Historical Park

Last updated: September 1, 2020