|The Autobiography of Jessie Jack Hooper was written in manuscript form circa 1934-1935. A letter addressed to Lorna Warfield (Jessie's daughter) from Joseph Schafer, Superintendent of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, indicates that it was sent to them for review. This typed copy was produced in 1940 at the Milwaukee Law Library and bound at the Milwaukee Handicraft Project by the Works Progress Administration. It contains materials relating to her work with the Women's Suffrage Movement; Prohibition Movement; League of Women Voters as Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee; and the National Committee on the Cause and Cure for War. Several other copies are in existence: one at the Oshkosh Public Library; one in Milwaukee; and another in Madison. The location of the original is unknown. The entire book has been transcribed. Excerpts relating to her activities during the Suffrage Movement appear below:
"Mr. Hooper was probably in favor of woman's suffrage before he was married, for almost immediately afterward, at his suggestion, it became his practice to share with his wife the privilege of voting. One year Mr. Hooper would vote as he chose, and the following year he would mark his ballot according to the desire of Mrs. Hooper.
It became known in Oshkosh that Mrs. Hooper marked the ballot for every election and she would meet on the street men who were running for office. They would stop her and say: "Mrs. Hooper, is this your year to vote or Ben's?" If she said it was her's they would continue to talk with her: if she said it was Ben's, they would walk right along and pay no more attention to her."
"At the time of the World's Fair, or Columbian Exposition, in Chicago, in 1893, Mrs. Hooper's Father rented a large apartment for two months for the families of his two daughters, Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Peck, so they might have an opportunity to enjoy the Fair without leaving their children at home without getting over-tired.
The first International Conference of Women was held in Chicago at that time. Mrs. Hooper became very much interested in it and heard there for the first time, a suffrage speech. It was made by Susan B. Anthony and the crowd was so great that it seemed impossible to get the next speaker into the Hall. Miss. Anthony said: "time was when it did not take policemen to keep people away from a woman's suffrage meeting." She said she would speak in another hall to relieve the crowd so they might get the next speaker in. That was the first and only time Mrs. Hooper ever saw Susan B. Anthony.
The next speaker was Helen Cardner. You can scarcely imagine a more charming personality. The seats were not only all filled, but all the standing room was occupied and yet you could have heard a pin drop in that hall during her speech.
Mrs. Hooper saw much of Helen Cardner in after years in the suffrage work. Helen Cardner was the first woman to receive an appointment by a President of the United States. She was appointed a member of the Federal Civil Service Commission by Woodrow Wilson."
Mrs. Hooper decided that she was tired of trying to dig a hole with a teaspoon, that what was needed was a steam shovel, so she threw all her energies into the woman suffrage movement
and took a prominent part through the long fight for the franchise in Wisconsin from 1909 to 1920. She spent much time at the legislature lobbying for suffrage. When she first went to the legislature to work for suffrage, a newspaperman asked her what she was there for: ""For suffrage"". He said: "Your cannot get anything through this legislature unless you can get by Billy Austin." She said: "If you please, who is Billy Austin?" He replied: "The Brewery lobbyist." He was absolutely right. Mr. Austin, a brilliant Milwaukee lawyer, was hired by the brewery interests to stay in Madison every moment that the legislature was in session. He did not confine himself to working against anti-liquor bills but worked against the suffrage legislation and practically all welfare legislation. The Lieutenant Governor told Mrs. Hooper that he had seen Mr. Austin sit in the gallery of the Senate and tell his men in the legislature, with his hands, how to vote. The liquor interests were against woman's suffrage and fought it to the last ditch.
The first winter Mrs. Hooper worked in the legislature for suffrage, the only comment she heard coming from the legislators was that she had on the best looking hat there.
In November, 1915, Mrs. Hooper discussed equal suffrage with a large circle of assemblymen, Mr. F. _____? Ettinger reported on it as follows:
"Mrs. Hooper certainly convinced the group of men gathered about that she had the subject well in hand.
"A charming woman, slightly gray and of nice poise, with a keen insight into matters pertaining to state, with fine logic and a disposition so sweet and affable that at times, when sarcastic sallies were engaged in I marveled at her rare presence of mind and self-control.
"One assemblyman made the assertion, when Mrs. Hooper stated that the women wanted to help the men and assist them in the affairs of state, "Don't you know, madam, that politics is rotten to the core, so you see what you are up against." Someone suggested that "this fact would give her a fine campaign argument when button-holing the members." Another said, "Can't you see that politics is such an unstable article that women are apt to become corrupted?"
"She was right there with a hot retort and had them standing on the heads after finishing her statement.
"You know I am acquainted with a member of women who are married to nothing but rakes of men and yet they have kept sweet and true, and do you mean to tell me that politics is worse, after a woman has gone through this soul-despairing test? Be fair now and give us an equal chance. We have come down here to beg assistance from you men. Reverse conditions and what would you men say? Shouldn't we enjoy the same right as you do?.
"Thomas G. Cretney said that "men were what women made them. If they should enter politics the home would be neglected, but I'm willing to vote for your measure just to give you a chance. Personally, I don't believe women ill be as well off as they are now, if allowed to vote."
"We don't want a chance. We are not on trial nor, seeking mercy, but what we beg is simple justice. We want some valid rights in the matter and want you to consider it from the standpoint of principle. "Well". He replied, "a woman can't vote intelligently anyway." "Oh, I don't think it's fair to say that, but it goes to prove that women are not considered at all."
"Some one suggested there would be quite a battle on the floor when the measure came up.
"Mr. W. Woodard's remarks produced much mirth when he interjected, "No, I'm not afraid of the battle, for I've had many a battle at home, but if women are going to have much more to say, well, I won't have a ghost of a show at home. Judas Priest, women have all to say now. If you can fix it so I can have a little more to say at home then I'm with you."
"Well," Mrs. Hooper replied, "I think we can arrange that for you." "All right" said Mr. Woodard, "I'd like to see the men all whipped into line."
"No, you are wrong there. We don't want to whip or drive them into it. We want them to be fair and impartial. We just want our rights and the sad part of it is that we came down here to beg for them. I have property of home, pay taxes, and it was my taxes that helped to erect this expensive capitol building. Still I had no voice in the matter. You will find engraved on the walls of this edifice, a "government of the people, for the people and by the people." I would read, a "government of men, for men, and by men."
Assemblyman Carl Pieper spoke up: "I think both are wrong. It is a government of commissions, for commissions and by commissions." And a hearty laugh resounded through the lounging room.
In closing her informal remarks Mrs. Hooper said: "Webster defined women as being "people" and you all know that this government is a business of the people, and so it follows that all the people should have an equal voice in all matters pertaining to the welfare of the state and nation. If I'm a stockholder in a corporation or a member of some large firm, I have my vote. If you men believe in fair play, and I'm sure you do, then grant us our equal rights with you, in this so-called government of the people, for the people and by the people."
"The strong, careful arguments she put forth deserve the best consideration of thinking men and it is my opinion that her cause will receive splendid support from the present members of the legislature."
REST TENT AT COUNTY FAIR
The Suffrage Association in Oshkosh thought it would be a good thing to have a Rest Tent at the County Fair where they would take care of the small children while mothers visited the exhibits, where there would be fresh spring water provided in sanitary cups for mothers and children: So a member was deputized to find out what rent they would have to pay for space near the main building in which to place this tent. The Fair Association would not rent them any space where it would be of any value to place a tent, so they did not have any that year. The next year Mrs. Hooper suggested that she go to the Fair Association. She went to the president of the Association and told him that the Suffrage Society would take care of a Rest Tent if the Fair Association would furnish the tent and place it in a convenient place so the women might see the exhibits and have a safe place to leave their children. She told him that of course the women would expect to hand out their literature and have a sign, "Suffrage Tent". This they expected to recompense them for the time and labor they would put in during the Fair. He very willingly agreed to furnish the tent and the space. Mrs. Hooper has always maintained that you could accomplish a great deal more by offering to do a favor that to ask for one.
The women conscientiously took care of the small children and even babies, so the mothers could enjoy the Fair and feel safe about them.
The next year the Fair Association of its own accord, offered to furnish free tickets to the women working, gave Mrs. Hooper a free pass for herself, an automobile for the whole time of the Fair, furnished ice for the water, and there was always someone ready to do anything the women wanted done.
The following year they cam to the Suffrage Society to see if they were not going to take charge of the tent that year. This was kept up until the Fair Association put up some new buildings with proper equipment for a Woman's Rest Room.
When Mrs. Hooper was not working in the Legislature she was making speeches through the state and doing everything she could to work up sentiment for suffrage. Mrs. Hooper became very active in the woman suffrage movement and took a prominent part through the long fight for the franchise in Wisconsin from 1909 to 1920.
She began her campaign for equal suffrage by urging women to vote on the only question on which they were privileged to vote, "the school question". In an address she said, "I ask every women in Oshkosh and Winnebago County, every women that is interested in the welfare of the city and county to get out and vote on the school question. I realize that it is humiliating to vote on but one question at an election, identically, the same as one would treat a child at a banquet giving it a graham cracker as a special treat. We must pocket our pride and go out and vote on the school question.
If women turn out in large numbers to the polls on Tuesday it will make you realize that we want to vote. This special plan to women of the city of Oshkosh and County of Winnebago to vote is made in the interest of the welfare of the women and children particularly.
Mrs. Hooper continued as speaker of the state and was in attendance at the Annual Suffrage Convention in Washington in 1915, when Mrs. Catt was elected to the presidency. All the women in Wisconsin who were working for suffrage had to pay all their own expenses as there was never more money in the treasury than was necessary to pay the salary of the executive secretary, office rent and for literature.
Mrs. Catt's Election to
Presidency of Suffrage Association.
The Annual Women Suffrage Convention was held in Washington in 1915. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw had been president, but had announced she would not run for another term. All the states except New York wanted Mrs. Catt for president. New York state had just finished a campaign for the suffrage and had lost. They were going to start immediately on another campaign and Mrs. Catt had promised to be their president and handle the campaign. They of course, did not want to give her up. Mrs. Hooper was first vice-president of the Wisconsin Suffrage Association, Mrs. Yo___? was president but was not able to attend the convention and Mrs. Hooper was acting president. The presidents of different states called upon Mrs. Catt to beg her to allow her name to be presented for president. They felt like criminals when she looked up at them with those blue eyes of hers and said: "I am so tired", but they knew if they were to secure the suffrage they must have her leadership. Then she said she could not accept unless the New York delegation would ask her to, she could not break her promise to them that she would be their president.
The job of those state presidents then was to get the New York delegation to ask Mrs. Catt to accept the national presidency, and they did not want to do it. In the hall Mrs. Hooper met Mrs. Ogden Reed, whom she had known as a girl. Mrs. Reed was then treasurer of the New York Suffrage Society. The New York delegation was just going into a meeting to decide what they were going to do. Mrs. Hooper was so excited she took Mrs. Reed by the shoulders and shook her and said: "Helen Reed you go right in there and tell them you want Mrs. Catt to be the national president." She said: "I don't want to." Mrs. Hooper said: "Well you go in and do it just the same." The New York women asked Mrs. Catt to take the National presidency.
A very funny incident happened in the last New York campaign. They were in desperate need of money. It was almost the end of the campaign: the officers were at Mrs. Reed's for dinner. She had had a gift of a $500 bill that day and was looking forward to springing a wonderful surprise on the rest of the officers. She had put the bill under her napkin when she sat down at the table so she would be able to flourish it. When she was ready for her surprise she reached for the bill and it was gone. They looked everywhere for it but could not find it. Then they saw a little dog, the pet of the family, with a corner of the bill sticking out of his mouth. The bill had evidently slipped on the floor and he had eaten it. It was a desperate situation but suffragists are quick thinkers. They took the small dog to the bathroom, gave him a dose of ipecac and he threw up the chewed up the bill. They sat up until after midnight piecing the bill together and the next day took it to the bank and got cash for it.
UP THE WOLF RIVER FOR SUFFRAGE
One summer Mrs. Hooper invited a group of suffrage workers to make a trip up the Wolf River on her Father's boat, the MARY E. The boat accommodated twelve people beside the engineer. The boat was decorated with pennants and suffrage banners. They went up the Wolf River, stopping at each town where suffrage speeches were made by those on the boat, some of them from the top of the boat, sometimes street speeches and at other times speeches in halls.
People in the towns seemed very much interest in this group of women with no men on board except the engineer and Mr. Jack, Mrs. Hooper's father, the Captain of the boat.
SUFFRAGE WORK IN IOWA
Born and raised in Iowa, Mrs. Hooper gave her services in Iowa for six weeks during the suffrage campaign, and made, in Des Moines, the first street speech ever made there by a woman. The Des Moines paper gives the following account of a street speech made by Mrs. Hooper:
"While Mrs. Benjamin Hooper of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was making a suffrage speech in the street at Fourth Street and Court Avenue last night, a motor car crashed into the machine in which she was standing and nearly tipped it over, but Mts. Hooper never stopped talking.
Mrs. Hooper, in Des Moines for the suffrage amendment campaign here, stood on the running board and started to address the crowd. Another big automobile tried to pass between the suffragists' car and the curb. There was a crash. Men in the crowed pressed forward, believing surely some of the women would be injured. Mrs. Hooper did not even lose her balance, however.
"You men have no more right to govern me than I have to govern you," she urged calmly. "It properly is a job that belongs to both of us."
"The crowd cheered her for her pluck if not for the argument, although as strictly a suffrage proposition the street speech made an impression.
"Mrs. Sloan's motor car was badly scratched, a fender bent and one light smashed. "What became of the machine that struck yours?" Mrs. Sloan was asked. "Why, I don't know; I guess it's gone on", she said. "Who was driving it?" "Why really, I don't know. You see, I didn't pay much attention, we were so interested in Mrs. Hooper's talk."
The press gives the following description of Mrs. Hooper:
"Mrs. Hooper, wearing a long seal skin coat, a small and becoming hat of blue silk and gold lace and with a bunch of pink roses at her waist stepped from the coupe at Seventh and Walnut streets at 8:30 o'clock and faced a mob of men with the smile and manner of a society woman among friends. The street-car bells clanged, the hoarse-voiced newsboys called their election extras hundreds of men shouted their approval or disapproval of the election returns. Mrs. Hooper smiled at the men in appreciation of the situation and almost futility of speaking amid the din. Her manner was unperturbed by what was going on about her. Her smile won her many friends immediately."
Mrs. Hooper had some exceedingly funny experiences in this Iowa trip. She spoke in all sorts of places, large towns and small. In one place she had to speak from a moving picture platform and the only way she could get up to it was to climb a ladder right in front of the audience. She has always wondered how the audience could have kept from laughing as it must have been a very funny spectacle.
She was speaking in Clinton, Iowa, one afternoon when it was announced to her there was to be a meeting that night in a town called Lost Nation, and she might get a chance to speak there. She could not possible reach the town before nine o'clock in the evening and had to rush for a train that would get her there. The reason the women were most anxious to have her get to Lost Nation that night was that the next day there was to be an anti-suffrage speaker there. She hurried to the train and made her speech between nine and ten o'clock. She secured much enthusiasm and as she stepped on the train the next morning, the anti-suffrage speaker got off.
Mrs. Hooper was asked if she would be willing to speak in Council Bluffs being told they did not even know whether she could get a hearing there as the anti-suffrage sentiment was so strong. She said it made no difference to her where she spoke. When she arrived in Council Bluffs she found that three very prominent women had taken charge of the suffrage campaign there. These women were so prominent that people did not dare turn them down when they asked for the opportunity to have Mrs. Hooper speak at their meetings. There were luncheon meetings, afternoon meetings, and evening meetings. One night it was eleven o'clock before Mrs. Hooper had an opportunity to speak to the Train Mens' Union, as they had their meeting first.
One of these women had a colored man, cleaning house and he asked if they would bring their speaker to a Pink Tea they were having in their church. Their idea of a Pink Tea was the having the letter T cut out of pink paper and strung all over the room. The cakes were frosted with pink, the colored girls had big pink crepe paper bows pinned on their hair. The minister, who had only two teeth in front, which did not hit, made a long introductory speech, and then they had music, three girls singing, all with good voices but no two singing in the same key. It was most difficult for Mrs. Hooper to keep a straight face when she got up to speak, but evidently she pleased her audience as the man who had asked that she come there, (and was most gorgeously dressed in evening clothes), had requested that she come again Sunday afternoon to speak to many of their people who were not at the Tea. When Mrs. Hooper and the other ladies arrived Sunday afternoon they found this gentleman most perfectly dressed in afternoon clothes.
The only suffrage meeting held in Council Bluffs was when Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt came for a Sunday evening meeting and these same women who had handled Mrs. Hooper's speaking, succeeded in closing every church in Council Bluffs on Sunday evening so the people could go and hear Mrs. Catt.
A young woman who was talking to Mrs. Hooper during her stay in Council Bluffs, said she was a little girl when her mother entertained Mrs. Catt, and she was humiliated when she went school because there was a suffragist staying in her home, "and now" she said, "I'm just turning over heaven and earth to get an opportunity for my sorority to have the honor of being introduced to Mrs. Catt." Council Bluffs carried for suffrage.
SUFFRAGE PARADE IN CHICAGO
In 1916, the suffrage parade took place in Chicago. The day of the parade Chicago experienced the most dreadful rainstorm it had known for many years but the women gathered by the thousands to march. The first section met in a vacant store building on Michigan Avenue. The procession was to be headed by a exceedingly small baby elephant, which was to wear a yellow and black satin blanket. Owing to the bad weather he was taken into the building with the women. He was the friendliest sort of little fellow. He reached up and wound his trunk around the neck of a woman who was standing with her back to him and had not seem him. She jumped right into the air and let out a most awful shriek. This little elephant headed the procession with his yellow blanket, notwithstanding the weather
They started at exactly the moment scheduled, fell in line with raincoats over their white dresses. Even thus prepared, in many cases the color from the yellow jackets ran all over the white dresses. They carried umbrellas as long as the wind permitted. Mile after mile they marched to the Coliseum, where the Republican Convention was being held, and began pouring into the building just in time to hear an anti-suffragist stating to the convention that the women did not want the vote.
The next morning a man said to Mrs. Hooper, "Did you march in that parade?" She replied that she did and that her daughter and two nieces marched in the same line with her. (The women were marching four abreast.) He then remarked: "My partner and I were seated by a hotel window on Michigan Avenue when we heard, in all that frightful storm, a band playing.
We knew the fireman's parade had been called off on account of the weather and could not imagine what it was. Looking out, my partner said: "My God, those women are marching in all this storm. If they want the vote as bad as that they surely ought to have it."
COUNCIL OF 100
Mrs. Hooper was a member of the Council of 100 called in Washington by Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, the President of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association, in February, 1917. This Council was called to plan what action should be taken in the event the United States was dragged into the World War. A note was prepared and sent to Secretary of War Baker, urging settlement of international difficulties without an armed conflict, and out-lined what the members of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association might do in a patriotic way should war become inevitable.
This was the first woman's organization to offer their services to the Government of the United States.
SUFFRAGE WORK IN WASHINGTON
During the latter part of the suffrage campaign Mrs. Hooper spent much time in Washington, working shoulder to shoulder with the leaders who finally brought to the women of America the privilege of the ballot. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association until it went out of existence.
The National Suffrage Association rented a large house in Washington for the last years of the suffrage movement, where those who were lobbying in Congress lived together and had their offices. Much of the time Dr. Anna Howard Shaw and Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt were living there.
There were many funny and interesting incidents that came up in the suffrage house. One day Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton dropped in to have a little visit with Dr. Anna Howard Shaw. They were reminiscing and Mrs. Upton asked Dr. Shaw if she remembered an incident which had happened many years before when Dr. Shaw was going about making speeches. In those days suffragists had rather a hard time and often their meetings were broken up by rowdies. They always opened their meetings with prayer. Mrs. Upton was on the platform with Dr. Shaw when she saw some rowdies come and felt quite sure they were there to break up the meeting. She said to Dr. Shaw: "Anna, you pray while I go and get the police". And Dr. Shaw said: "I prayed for everything in the heavens above and the earth below and I thought the police never would come."
Most of the time there were about sixteen living in the suffrage house. They were all working desperately hard and no one can understand how nerve-racking the work of lobbying is unless they have experienced it. I think there never has been so well organized a lobby for the securing of legislation for the benefit of the people generally, as the suffrage lobby. Every man in Congress was card-catalogued. They had his history from childhood up, not what you get in the Congressional Record, but what had been secured from back home. They knew every man's prejudices, his fads and foibles, also those of his wife, if he had one: his religion, his political affiliations, what offices he had held: in fact they knew so much about them that Mrs. Hooper said she thought the legislators would not have slept nights if they had known how much the women in suffrage house knew about them.
Every evening Mrs. Catt held a lobby meeting. At that meeting the women reported who they had seen during the day and just what the conversation had been then another list of legislators were allotted to the different women. They always went in pairs. One reason was that if there was any question about what the conversation had been it would always be two to one on their side. Then, very sad to say, there were a very few offices no woman would like to go into alone.
Always after a conversation with a man the lobbyists would retire to the ladies dressing room and write up every word that had been said between the congressman or senator and themselves, before calling upon another man. In this way there was no chance of mixing up the different conversations. On their return their reports were put in the card catalog.
Every morning the women took their allotment, went to the office and read up on every man they were to call upon, not only his history and back-ground but also all other conversations other lobbyists had had with him.
Mrs. Maud Wood Park was head of the lobby and was most wonderful in handling it. Mrs. Park came home one night and told a exceedingly funny story on Mrs. Hooper who had been working with her that day. They had called on a congressman from New York. Mrs. Hooper was talking to him and he was watching her so earnestly she thought she was making a great impression on him, when all at once he said: "Mrs. Hooper, do you think blondes fade more quickly than brunettes?" Mrs. Park told this incident at the dinner table and you may be assured the women had a great deal of fun with Mrs. Hooper about. They afterward found out this Congressman was a bachelor and quite attentive to a blond woman living in the same boarding house with him.
One night Mrs. Park and Mrs. Hooper were coming down the hill from the Capitol, both of them limping on high heel shoes, both of them having at home good ground grippers but not daring to wear them for fear they would say: "Just look at those awful shoes, that is what we are coming to if the women get the vote." Mrs. Hooper said to Mrs. Park: "If I ever get a chance to do anything in Congress the first thing I will do is to have nice thick linoleum put on the floors of those awful marble corridors."
The women working on the lobby in Washington were from every part of the country and had all sorts of religious and political faiths, they were working until their nerves were frazzled and yet I think there never was a criticism made in that house of any other woman working there. They were all working and thinking of the things so much more important that they never thought whether they liked or disliked the little things about the different members.
Mrs. Catt was the president of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association and their great commander-in-chief. Every one knew Mrs. Catt was giving her very life for the work and when she gave an order each felt it must be carried out no matter whether it seemed possible or not. Mrs. Hooper came down to breakfast one morning and Mrs. Catt said to her: "You go home tonight and get two more votes from Wisconsin or we lose in the House:" Mrs. Hooper said: "I have every vote I can get in Wisconsin." Mrs. Catt replied "Go home and get two more votes or we lose."
Mrs. Hooper had no idea how it was possible to get the votes; she only knew it must be done. The time was short and it was exceedingly stormy winter weather. When she came into a town she could not wait for walks to be cleaned but waded in snow up to her knees. There were only two districts in which to get those votes. In one of them Mrs. Hooper had no acquaintances. In one place she went into the Hotel office and asked the clerk who was the most important man politically in the city. The clerk gave her the name of a judge. She called upon him, told him she had just come from Washington and what she thought it would do to his party if they were responsible for the failure of the suffrage amendment at that time. He asked her if he might call in a newspaperman and a lawyer and if she were willing to tell them what she had told him. She said she was. He called in these men and told them: "Our candidate had no opposition in the last election. This lady can come up here and make all kinds of trouble for him. Mrs. Hooper said she could not have changed a vote in that district but she sat there and looked as though she could. Their representative in Congress had been against the suffrage amendment, no one was able to change his view-point: he was a northern republican but was standing on states rights. They evidently told him he had better switch for he voted for the amendment.
In the other district the congressman was equally opposed to the suffrage amendment and Mrs. Hooper was not able to secure the cooperation of prominent politicians in his district because they happened to be mad at him at the time and refused to write to him. Finally she put her pride in her pocket and went to see a machine politician. It was so late that the only thing that would reach Washington in time was a telegram. The politician told her he had received a letter from the congressman and that he wanted to know "what the boys thought about it." The politician said: "What do you want me to do?" Mrs. Hooper replied: "I want you to wire him that it will be to his own best interest to vote for it." He wired the congressman just than, and while the women had worked with him up to the night before the vote was to be taken and he was absolutely against it, he voted for it the next day.
When the vote was taken in the House Mrs. Hooper was too ill to know whether her cause had won or lost, but her efforts were repaid, for it had won, and the two votes secured were the deciding factors. The measure was lost in the Senate, so it had to go through the House again, but the next time the suffragists had plenty of votes and some to spare. The man who urged his congressman to vote for the suffrage amendment went to Congress himself before it came up for another vote. He was not asked to vote for it because of course everyone knew he was for suffrage, having urged another congressman to vote for the amendment. When the vote was taken he voted "No" and his delegation asked him what in the world he did that for, saying that it was popular now. He said he got mad at his wife and did it to spite her.
WORK IN WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE
When the fight grew close to victory Mrs. Hooper was legislative and congressional chairman for the Wisconsin State Suffrage Association, and with the help of Miss. Edna Wright "put through" the presidential bill in the Wisconsin Legislature of 1920, and later worked alone, securing, also in 1920, the ratification of the Nineteenth Federal Amendment. Mrs. Hooper had the honor of being chosen by the National Woman Suffrage Association as the representative for Wisconsin in the flying squadron that went to Connecticut to plead for a special session for the ratification of the Federal Suffrage Amendment. The National Suffrage Association called on each of its state auxiliaries to supply their best speaker to present the case of the women of her state to the governor of Connecticut.
Mrs. Catt wrote April 15, 1920 to Mrs. Hooper and other representatives of the 48 states: "It is a last call for service of this cause. I know it will mean a great sacrifice on the part of many of you, and also on the part of the National officers who assume the responsibility of the undertaking. The campaign as planned will be a dead failure and produce no result if several states are unrepresented. It must be a national campaign with every state there or it will be only a flash in the pan. We are, therefore, counting on you to hold the week of May third open. Our advisors at this present moment believe the campaign to be absolutely necessary, certain to go forward, and we know it will be the final victory." She also persuaded the legislature to repeal a referendum bill which it had passed earlier in the session and which had been signed by the governor.
With the securing of the ratification of the federal amendment for woman's suffrage and the repeal of the referendum, Mrs. Hooper's work at the legislature was finished. She sent a note of appreciation of the courtesy shown her in all the years she had worked among the legislators, and with it a basket of flowers to each house. After she returned home, the legislature passed a joint resolution of appreciation for the way she had handled her work. Such a resolution had never been passed before in the history of the Wisconsin legislature and it stirred up quite a disturbance among the anti-suffragists. In the following quotation from a newspaper report of the affair, "it is alleged they have misstated her words and also exaggerated the material on which the resolution was written as it was on ordinary state stationary.
"Special to NORTHWESTERN, Madison, 1920"
"The Wisconsin State Association opposed to Woman's Suffrage has sent a letter to Governor E. L. Phillip, in which they ask that the gift of an illuminated vellum-bound testimonial to Mrs. Ben Hooper of the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association authorized by the Wisconsin Legislature, thanking her for the flowers sent both Houses after they approved the suffrage amendment, be investigated. The association opposed to suffrage claims that the legislature had no right to appropriate money with which to buy a gift for an individual for services rendered for a minority interest in the state.
"According to Mrs. Francis E. Day of the Association Opposed to Woman's Suffrage, Mrs. Hooper stirred up a "hornets' nest" for the suffragists when on Thursday in the report to the suffrage convention at the public library she embodied the statement that the Wisconsin legislature at its last session presented her with an illuminated testimonial in vellum, thanking her for the flowers sent both Houses, and resolving "that the legislature appreciated the persistent and courageous efforts of Mrs. Hooper in behalf of woman's suffrage."
Mrs. Hooper never made the statement that the letter sent her by the legislature was "an illuminated testimonial in vellum."
SPECIAL SESSION CALLED BY GOVERNOR
In order that the women of this country might have an opportunity to vote in the 1920 election, it was necessary for the western states, whose sessions of the legislature had closed before the amendment had passed the United States Senate, to call special sessions to ratify. These states were not especially interested as in all but one of them the women already had the vote and in that one state the governor was opposed to suffrage.
The Suffrage Association used all the persuasive powers they could by mail, and then Mrs. Catt sent four women to the West, two taking the northwestern states and two the southwestern states. Mrs. Minnie Fisher Cunningham of Texas and Mrs. Hooper were selected as the women to persuade the governors of the southwestern states to call special legislative sessions.
Mrs. Hooper had only been home from Madison a very short time, where she had been working for nine consecutive weeks for the suffrage, when she received a telegram from Mrs. Catt, saying: "Meet Mrs. Cunningham in Chicago for southwestern trip. Work political and imperative." Mrs. Hooper's husband said: "You can't go, you are all worn out." Mrs. Hooper replied: "I cannot say I won't. Mrs. Catt is giving her very life to the work, she knows exactly what I have been doing: if she had someone who she thought could do this piece of work as well as I could and who had not been working so hard, she would have sent them." Mr. Hooper said: "Ask your Doctor." Mrs. Hooper did not ask him, she told him she was going. She met Mrs. Cunningham in Chicago and they started west. They had round trip tickets but their first stop was to be in Reno, Nevada. They were sitting out in the Observation car which was full of people, when the conductor came through, looked at their tickets and said in a loud voice: "Reno." Everyone looked at them as though they thought they were going out to Reno to get a divorce. They arrived Sunday morning. They had letters of introduction to two women in Reno. One of them living out on a ranch, and also a member of the legislature. They called these women up and both came to the Hotel to see them. The woman living in town suggested they all take luncheon with her as her husband and son were away and they could talk things over better than at the hotel. The woman living on the ranch said she would take them there. They went down supposedly to get into an auto when they found her conveyance was a one seated buggy with an old horse hitched to it, which was tied by placing a piece of railroad iron on the ground which was attached to a rope wrapped into his bridle.
In those days women were wearing skirts down to their feet and very narrow. Mrs. Hooper tried a number of times to reach the step of the buggy but each time her dress prevented so long a step. Finally she just had to pull it up and climb in. Both Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham were quite large and when they got into the narrow seat the buggy was quite filled. The woman driving had to place her knees against the dashboard in order to stay on the little edge of seat she was able to secure between them. She was as thin as the other two women were fat. She took them right down the main street of Reno when the people were all going home from church. You just cannot imagine anything funnier. Mrs. Hooper said she would have given anything for a kodak picture of it.
The division of labor between Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham was as follows: Mrs. Cunningham was to write the reports to the office in Washington and Mrs. Hooper was to look after the transportation. That Sunday night while Mrs. Cunningham was writing her report, Mrs. Hooper drew a picture of them going down the main street in the old buggy. Mrs. Cunningham enclosed it to Mrs. Catt who said the description and the picture disrupted the work in the office.
Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham were sent out to persuade the governors of the different states to call special sessions to ratify the suffrage amendment. In order to reach Carson City, the Capitol of Nevada, it was necessary to go by auto, as there was no railroad. The two Reno women were deputized to secure an auto and chauffeur and they accompanied Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham to Carson City.
After seeing the Governor and talking with him, (Mrs. Hooper said what she admired most in Nevada was Governor Boyle and his wife.) The Governor agreed to call a special session. After that in place of talking in glittering generalities, he talked about how he wanted to make his state institutions the best in the country. He invited the four women to go to the Governor's Mansion and meet his wife. They had afternoon tea with her and found her most charming. She said: "Of course you are not going back without going up to Lake Tahoe." They said they had no time, but she told them it was only about twelve miles from there so they negotiated with their chauffeur to make the trip. She failed to tell them it was twelve miles very nearly straight up. They had a new auto road going up to the lake but it was so steep they had places about every mile or so, where you could get water for engine as you had to go up all the way on low. Mrs. Hooper sat in the front seat with the chauffeur and soon discovered he had never made the trip before. She would turn to look at the scenery and would discover the driver was also looking at the scenery, so she was almost cross-eyed trying not move her head.
By the time they had reached a hotel at Lake Tahoe the dinner hour was over and they could get nothing to eat, and the only way to get to Reno was to drive around about two-thirds of the lake. After they left the lakeshore it was very dark and the chauffeur got lost, and they arrived at a house where a dog was ready to eat them up. Between one and two o'clock in the morning they finally reached a railroad eating-house where they could get ham, eggs and coffee. I am sure food never tasted better to any human beings than to those women. It was three o'clock in the morning before they reached Reno.
The next stop was to be in Phoeniz, Arizona, but in order to reach there from Nevada they had to go to San Francisco and then down through California and back east to Arizona.
The traveling expenses on this trip were being paid by the Leslie Commission, Mrs. Frank Leslie in her will having left a large portion of her estate to Mrs. Catt to be used for suffrage work. When some particularly amazing incident happened and Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham were laughing until the tears rolled down their cheeks, they would say they wondered what Mrs. Leslie would think if she knew what fun they were having out of her bequest.
When they reached Phoenix they found that the governor was out in the state on a 'good roads' trip. They asked his secretary where they could locate him. He told them, but said it was no use as the Governor would not call a special session. However, their job was to get in touch with the governors and persuade them to call the special sessions, so they followed the Governor and finally located him at Flagstaff. You have never seen such a look of surprise on anyone's face as the Governor's when he discovered who they were and what they wanted. He did not want to see these ladies at all, but they finally persuaded him to promise he would call the special session.
(In all his conversation with the, whenever he spoke of his wife he always called her "mother.")
They went into a hotel in Flagstaff not expecting to find modern conveniences, but Mrs. Hooper thinking she would be a little facetious, went up to the desk and asked for a room with two beds and a bath. She got just that. When they went up they found a large room with two beds and a bathroom right in the room without even a curtain to shut the bathroom fixtures from the rest of the room. The only way one could take a bath was for the other to go to bed and turn her face to the wall.
When Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham were in Flagstaff, there was a cloud burst which washed out railroad bridges both east and west of them. The hotel was very unsatisfactory in Flagstaff, so they concluded they would run up to the Grand Canyon and stay until the roads were open to Santa Fe. Mrs. Hooper had visited the Grand Canyon before but it was Mrs. Cunningham's first visit and when she came to the rim of the Canyon she gasped: "It isn't true, it can't be true." She was so overwhelmed with the grandeur of it.
From Arizona they went to Santa Fe, New Mexico. That was the one state, which did not have suffrage. The Governor was a Mexican and they were told before they went there that it was useless as the Governor might say he would call the session but he never would do it. When they arrived there they found that the Governor was ill and had gone to California for his health, so they tried to get in touch with the state chairman of the republican party and the state chairman of the democratic party. From one of these chairmen it seemed almost impossible to get any information. They did not seem to be able to get him to talk at all. Finally Mrs. Hooper asked him if he thought the reason the calves were having black leg was because they had had so much rain and the vegetation was too rich. She did not dare look in Mrs. Cunningham's direction, but it started the chairman talking and they secured all the information they wanted. After they got out Mrs. Cunningham said: "Where in the world did you hear about the calves having black leg?" She was almost doubled up with laughter. Mrs. Hooper replied that she had read about it in the paper the night before. She had tried every subject she could think of to get the chairman to talk and finally as a last resort she tried the black leg among the calves.
They were ordered from there to Salt Lake City to attend the Governor's convention. The Governor from New Mexico was there and as they had never met him they wanted to be introduced so they appealed to the Governor of Arizona. He had not wanted to see them in Arizona but when they asked a favor of him, that he introduce them to the Governor of New Mexico, he adopted them as his warm friends. He introduced them to the Governor of New Mexico and they found him one of the most courteous men they had ever met. He told them he did not believe in suffrage , that he thought they would be sorry if they got it, but that his people wanted it and they had a right to have it and that he would call the special session, which he did, and New Mexico ratified.
Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham were in Salt Lake City for a week. At the noon hour each day they went to the Tabernacle to hear the wonderful organ recital which is given there. They thought as the Governor of Arizona had been so courteous to them, it would be only kind to invite his wife to attend these recitals with them. Always in speaking of her they had called her "mother" and each day they had to almost bite their tongues to keep from saying "mother" to her.
Early in the Governor's convention a woman from the Woman's Party arrived. The wife of the Governor of Utah was giving a big luncheon in honor of the Governors' wives. She had invited Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham to be her guests. Her husband stated that he did not want this Woman's Party woman invited. She was making a terrible nuisance of herself, asking the governors to have their pictures taken with her: sitting down at the table when they were eating, and trying to bully them in order to get an opportunity to speak before the convention. The secretary of the convention, who happened to be an acquaintance of Mrs. Hooper's, came to her and asked if she and Mrs. Cunningham wanted to be heard at the convention. Mrs. Hooper said certainly not, that they did not come there to interfere in any way with the business of the convention, but that they were unable to find some of the Governors in their own states so came to talk to them personally. Consequently the Woman's Party women did not get an opportunity to speak.
When the Governor's wife called at the Hotel to usher her guests out to the Country Club this woman of the Woman's Party stepped up to her and said" "I am going to your luncheon and I think I may as well go in your car." And walked out and got into the car.
One morning the Governor of Arizona came out from the breakfast table and said to Mrs. Hooper: "I am a very calm man and I have just had a good breakfast but five minutes of that Woman's Party woman just makes my hair pull, can't you do anything with her?" Mrs. Hooper said" "I do not know her, never saw her before, she does not belong to our organization and I do not know anything I could do but kill her and I would hate to do that." He replied: "Well, I am glad you are here."
Mrs. Hooper and Mrs. Cunningham had letters to the prominent Mormon women and to prominent Gentile women and they found them associating together very freely. One day they were a little early for the noon organ recital and a young Mormon was talking to the tourists in the grounds. Someone asked him if the Mormons still had plural wives. He said: "No, it is against the law of the country. Probably there have been just as many plural wives in Chicago and New York as in Salt Lake City, except that the Mormons were compelled to support their plural wives and in other places the men can throw them aside when tired of them." "Besides", he said: "No young men now would take the responsibility of plural wives, he would not be able to support them and the Mormon Church demands that we do that."
At that time Utah had their first Gentile Governor and you often heard people say, "When is a Jew a Gentile?" The answer being, "In Utah", as that Gentile Governor was a Jew.
About a month later all of the governors called special sessions and ratified, which included New Mexico, whose governor then was supposed to be an anti-suffragist. Wisconsin was the first state to ratify.
Every one should realize that women would not have had the vote if it had not been for the untiring work and ability of Mrs. Catt.
LAST NATIONAL SUFFRAGE CONVENTION
The last Woman's Suffrage Convention was held in Chicago. The executive board of the Suffrage Association had been asked to send in suggestions of a pageant for the convention. Mrs. Hooper asked her daughter if she would not work out something for her to hand in, so her daughter, Mrs. Warfield, made colored drawings of women in the costume worn each year that a state carried for suffrage. This pageant was accepted by the executive board and was presented at that convention. They were able to find among the old costumes stored away in Chicago, one that had been worn in each of those years. The plan had been to have the president of the Suffrage Association in each state wear the costumes, but they found that the waist lines of the women in those days were so small that no one but a young girl of fifteen or sixteen could possibly get into them.
The pageant was held in the Gold Room of the Congess Hotel. There was a broad stair case built from the balcony down to a platform about four or five feet high which served as a stage. There were buglers at either side of the entrance in the balcony opposite the staircases, with banners giving the year represented. A girl in the costume of that year would walk down the stairs and out on the platform and back up the stairs, the first one going to the top step and sitting down close to the side. During each of these promenades the most popular air of that year was played by the orchestra. When each year had been presented and the women were seated on either side of the chairman, the buglers again blew a particularly loud blast and Mrs. Catt appeared a the head of the stairs in light blue draperies.
It was a most beautiful sight with her white hair and lovely face, making a most gorgeous and effective ending to the pageant."
"The Milwaukee Journal thus speaks of the happy ending of the long saffruge fight in 1919. By E. A. Hoffman:
There is no happier woman in the state today then Mrs. Ben Hooper of Oshkosh. She was a pioneer suffrage leader of the state and eight years ago came to Madison as a legislative agent to create sentiment favorable to woman suffrage. In those days for a man to advocate woman suffrage was to consign himself to political "Limbo". For a woman, it meant ostracism except in the Circle of Amazons and eccentric maiden ladies. But Mrs. Hooper was not deterred by ridicule or discomfited by failure. She persistently clung to the hope that some day Wisconsin would see the promised land was among the first to forecast that woman suffrage would be a national success.
Speaking of Wisconsin's ratification of woman suffrage, Mrs. Hooper said: "I consider Wisconsin the banner state on suffrage and the present legislature the best the state has ever had.
It has done everything that is humanly possible for our cause. And not only the women of the state but those of the nation are grateful. I very much appreciate the courtesy shown me for the last eight years while here in favor of the cause."
On Feb. 21, 1920 at Milwaukee the Old Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association, that had worked for and won the vote, passed peacefully out, and here was born the New Wisconsin League of Woman Voters the first political weapon of Wisconsin women. Mrs. Hooper was elected president of the league by a unanimous vote. Her preparation as chairman of the Wisconsin Legislative and congressional committee for five years and her two years in Washington lobbying as congressional chairman, and her journeys in speaking campaigns from coast to coast, made her eminently fitted for this presidency."
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