On the 100th year since the 19th Amendment, let’s look how Scouts stood with suffragists

It’s March 3, 1913. It’s been 65 years since the country’s first women’s rights convention. Those pushing for women’s suffrage are marching in the streets of Washington, D.C., the day before President-elect Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration.

By the afternoon, spectators, including hecklers, have started congregating on the march participants’ route — police are losing control of the crowd. Angry hecklers begin assaulting the marchers, yelling insults and blocking their way.

That’s when 1,500 Boy Scouts stepped in.

As detailed in the April 1913 issue of Boys’ Life magazine, Scouts from six states along with the District of Columbia had volunteered to help the Inaugural Committee. They were stationed at the train station and emergency stations. But that afternoon, some were called to Pennsylvania Avenue. They were there not only to help with crowd control, but to also render first aid.

The boys had canteens and water bottles, and there is record that one boy handled 16 cases of fainting.

Police repeatedly relied on the Scouts, who formed a barrier around marchers and those who had fallen ill. Order was restored, and afterwards, both suffragists and anti-suffragists showed their appreciation for the Scouts’ actions. Suffragists even created a medal for the Scouts.

Looking back – and forward

Women’s fight for the right to vote is on display at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in Washington, D.C. For the past nine decades, it’s where the National Woman’s Party has met, and more recently, it’s where Scouts in the Report to the Nation delegation met with National Parks Service employees.

Scouts learned the history of women’s suffrage in America from park ranger and Eagle Scout Chip Dewell. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting women that right.

Afterward, George McDonald, NPS chief director of youth programs, and Al Lambert, BSA national director of outdoor adventures, spoke to the group, emphasizing the importance of the 104-year partnership between the National Park Service and the Boy Scouts of America.

”The future is extremely bright for both of our organizations,” McDonald says.

McDonald says he was very impressed by the delegates and their accomplishments. They are accomplishments of both boys and girls — now in every Scouting program.

”We change lives everyday, and we use the outdoors as our classroom,” Lambert says.

Check out photos from the day here.

About Michael Freeman 201 Articles
Michael Freeman, an Eagle Scout, is associate editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.