Nov. 15, 1917: Suffragists Beaten and Tortured in the “Night of Terror”

picketing the White House in 1917

Suffragists picketing the White House in 1917. Image: Library of Congress.

On Nov. 15, 1917, about 20 women were subjected to beatings and torture at Occoquan Workhouse, a prison in Virginia, in what became known as the “Night of Terror.” They had been arrested for peacefully picketing for universal suffrage in front of the White House.

President Woodrow Wilson had led the country into WWI to “make the world safe for democracy.” The demonstrators called attention to the need for complete democracy at home, where women (and in many states, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos) lacked voting rights.

Here is a lesson on the early suffrage movement called “Seneca Falls, 1848: Women Organize for Equality.”


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