From the Jan. 28, 1915 edition of the Gazette:

On Saturday afternoon the 23rd, a fair-sized company met at Mrs. F. P. Vincent’s residence in Oak Bluffs to meet Mrs. Wenona O. Pinkham of Boston, formerly of Colorado.

At the hour announced, a rainstorm set in which prevented several who expected to be present to hear the address on the subject of Votes for Women, and the great question which will come before the voters of this and other states in November next, on that subject as comprised in the amendment to the State Constitution to give equal suffrage to women.

Mrs. Pinkham’s address was full of information as to the history of the movement, its success and benefit to the states where women vote and the laws which, in those states, they have had a hand in making for the benefit of wage earning women and for the protection of children and along educational lines.

A rising vote of thanks was tendered Mrs. Pinkham for her able address. Mrs. Pinkham left for Edgartown on the afternoon boat.

On Sunday, Mrs. Pinkham spoke twice in Edgartown, before the Men’s Club at the Chapel in the afternoon and again in the evening in the auditorium of the church, where the congregation greeted the speaker, who was introduced by Rev. David R. Williams, the pastor.

Mrs. Pinkham is a gifted and interesting speaker and held the close attention of her audience. She presented many strong arguments why women should vote, only a few of which, for want of space, can be touched upon at this time, she said, in part:

“For one who has lived many years in the West where women have been voting in the various states for periods of time varying from twenty-five to two or three years, Votes for Women has become as much of a commonplace as Votes for Men.

“When I came East about two years, I was much interested in attending anti-suffrage meetings and reading anti-suffrage literature. I learned some very curious things about my own state of Colorado and the older Western states.

“It did not take long to become familiar with the common arguments urged against woman suffrage. One very often insisted upon was that women cannot go to war and therefore they ought not to vote. Of course, anyone who stops to think for a moment knows that the ability to vote is not based on the ability to fight. Many boys have gone to war before they were twenty-one, but out of 3,000,000 enlisted men in the Civil War, 2,000,000 were under 21.

“Men past 45 years of age, and men with impaired sight or hearing or other physical defects, are not disfranchised. At the time of the Civil War it was found that, out of every thousand lawyers, 544 were unfit for military service; out of a thousand physicians, 680 were unfit; out of 1000 journalists, 740 were unfit; and out of 1000 preachers, 975 were unfit. The only sensible argument is that only those should vote a war who have to share its burdens. And who will assert that women have not always borne part of the wight of war, even the largest part. ‘If they have not borne arms, they have borne the armies!’

“Florence Nightingale went to the Crimea to nurse the wounded soldiers but she asked for the ballot for women. Clara Barton, the founder of the greatest humanitarian agency in the world, the Red Cross Society, wanted the ballot. Mary Livermore, who did such splendid work at the head of the Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, wanted the vote. It is just to deny the ballot to such women as these on the ground that they cannot fight?

“Another very common objection is that women in this country ought not to vote because some women in England have become militant in their demand for the ballot. A few weeks ago, it sometimes seemed worthwhile to say quite a little about militancy, but today when all the damage wrought by the women in their ten years of warfare, the lives lost (a few of their own), the buildings destroyed, the pictures injured, the empty buildings burned, and the bombs harmlessly exploded, is compared with what is happening in one day of the men’s war that is now going on in Europe, it is so insignificant that it seems hardly worth mentioning! Militancy is not typical of the suffrage movement.

“There is no question before the American public today awaking more interest than that of equal suffrage. Especially is this true in Massachusetts since the Legislature has passed the bill submitting woman suffrage to a referendum of the voters in November, 1915. Men and women alike are realizing that they cannot afford to be uninformed upon such a great public issue. I trust that out of this meeting may grow the resolve on the part of all to be informed upon this great public issue and desire on the part of some, at least, to strive actively to translate into law their ideals of liberty, justice, and progress.”

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox