Atlanta’s daring suffragists of 1915

The women of Atlanta were a determined and energetic group in 1915 and it was a good thing they were. Despite almost solid opposition from the male politicians who ran the state, the various suffragist organizations planned and executed one of Georgia’s grandest suffrage marches on Tuesday, Novem-ber 16, 1915.

 

Headed by Miss Eleanor Raoul on a prancing white horse, 500 local and state suffragists gathered at noon at the intersection of Peachtree and Ponce de Leon. The women [and some male supporters] marched on foot, rode horses, drove automobiles and posed in groups aboard decorated floats. One area observer commented, “There were all sorts of suffragists from the youngest and prettiest debu-tante to ladies who have passed their eightieth year.” One of the final parade features was a little boy symbolically driving a donkey cart with the banner, “Georgia Catching Up.”

 

The parade route was straight down Peachtree to Five Points and the then Whitehall. The women suffragists and their supporters were then scheduled to hold a conference in the City Auditorium. Un-fortunately, the parade ran afoul of the city’s police and fire departments who were scheduled to lead the parade with a mounted detachment and keep the busy roadway clear. At Cain and Peachtree streets, the police allowed side street traffic to pour onto the Peachtree parade route. The suffragists “collided with street cars, automobiles, trucks, cabs, wagons and other vehicles” rushing into the pa-rade participants.

 

As Miss Raoul commented, the promised mounted police due to clear the path never showed up and the suffragists encountered a “mass of traffic that was coming our way at full tilt.” Dodging about the streets, the marchers took a full hour to go the few blocks from Cain to Whitehall streets. Life wasn’t easy for Georgia’s suffragists in 1915 but most lived to see the triumph of their cause a few years later. Raoul went on to found the Atlanta chapter of the League of Women Voters.

 

–Dick Funderburke