Camera icon. This link bypasses navigation taking you directly to the contents of this page.

How to Use the Images


Inquiry Question

Historical Context


Photo 1
Photo 2 and 3
Photo 4
Photo 5
Illustration 1


Table of

Visual Evidence

Photo 6: Burning Wilsonís speeches in Lafayette Park, September 1918

[Photo 6] with link to larger version of photo.
(Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman’s Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress; Harris & Ewing, photographer)

Questions for Photo 6

1. The women are standing in front of a statue. Whom does it commemorate? Locate the statue on Map 2. Why do you think the National Woman’s Party (NWP) might have picked this as an appropriate location for their protest?

Look carefully at the woman in the center of the image. Her name is Lucy Branham and she is holding a torch in her right hand. The charred piece of paper in her left hand is a speech by President Wilson. Lucy Branham called the burning a “symbolic act.” The women wanted action from the president, not just words. Do you think burning his speeches was an effective way to make their point?

Do you think the First Amendment protects symbolic acts? Why or why not? If so, which clause applies?

When the women began throwing copies of Wilson’s speeches into “watch-fire” urns in front of the White House and in Lafayette Park in October, soldiers and sailors rushed the women and overturned the urns. Why do you think people reacted so violently to the watch fires?

At one point, the women burned a picture of President Wilson. This action was highly controversial, even among other NWP members. Why do you think this might have been the case?

Do you think the First Amendment would protect the burning of speeches or pictures? Why or why not? If so, which section of the First Amendment would apply?

Click for a larger version of Photo 6.



Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.