Suffrage Militancy and Public Demonstrations
The 1914 Minneapolis Suffrage Parade
When Aretha Franklin and Tony Bennett came to town in 1968, they performed at the Minneapolis Auditorium. So, too, did the famed British suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst, when she visited in 1913. For more than fifty years, the Auditorium was Minneapolis's central meeting and performance space, hosting concerts, circuses, political rallies, and conventions.
The first incarnation of the Minneapolis Auditorium was built in February 1905 at the corner of 11th Street and Nicollet Avenue. The Auditorium later moved to 1301 2nd Ave. South, where the Convention Center now stands. Renamed the Lyceum Theater, it continued to host shows and concerts until 1973, when it was razed to make way for Orchestra Hall.
The Auditorium’s central location made it a great place to end a parade.
In 1914, the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association, under the leadership of Clara Ueland, organized a parade of nearly 2,000 suffrage supporters in Minneapolis—an event that had a dramatic impact on changing attitudes and perceptions about women who wanted the right to vote.
It may not have been the biggest in the nation, but the suffrage parade on May 2, 1914, was one of the most peaceful. Ueland was cautioned by the national parade in Washington, D. C. in 1913, organized by the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The parade in Washington had featured floats, bands, mounted brigades, and an estimated 8,000 marchers. Scheduled on the eve of President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, the parade drew thousands of observers along with angry rabble-rousers. More than 100 women were injured from attacks by the crowd when police did not keep order.
In contrast, the Minneapolis parade proceeded smoothly. Almost 2,000 marched the route from Second Avenue to Fourth Street, then to Nicollet Avenue and toward the Auditorium. The parade included men and women, high school and University of Minnesota students, small children and Boy Scouts. Forty women rode on horseback. In a common tradition of suffrage pageants, Julie Plant, Ueland’s future daughter-in-law, dressed as Joan of Arc. Merchants decorated their windows, and churches rang chimes. Afterward, the organizers thanked the mayor and chief of police for their support.
Helen Jones, a senior at Minneapolis’ Central High School and president of the Junior Mobile Suffrage Squad, observed:
“It’s been a great day! I feel as if I have been part in creating history.... We were told to keep our heads up, eyes in front of us, and to walk in dignity and silence .... I never felt so serious in my life and didn’t look at the crowd at all.... Some horrid men threw money on our flag and did and said other rather insulting things.”