Lorton in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Suffragist Commemorative Wall
The New York Times, 1917
Suffragists Will Picket White House
Plan to Post "Silent Sentinels" Bearing Emblems, Whom President Must Pass
Washington, Jan. 9 - Women suffragists, representing all parts of the country, disappointed over the result of an appeal which they made this afternoon to President Wilson in the East Room of the White House, held on indignation meeting and decided to adopt a new plan of campaign. They intend to post women pickets hereafter about the White House grounds. Their purpose is to make it impossible for the President to enter or leave the White House without encountering a picket bearing some device pleading the suffrage cause. The pickets will be known as "silent sentinels."
From January through November 1917, 91 "Silent Sentinels" peacefully demonstrated at the White House. They were among more than 160 suffragists who were jailed over the seven decades of the suffrage movement. After the United States entered World War I, public opinion turned against them as their messages became more critical of the president.
"Obstructing traffic and loitering were the charges. We weren't doing either one of them. We were marching. 'There were only four of us,' we told them, 'so we couldn't possibly obstruct traffic. Were were on the sidewalk; there was only one row of us. There was plenty of room."
Ernestine Hara Kettler, Feminist History Research Project
Undeterred, the suffragists continued to demonstrate peacefully and to be arrested and imprisoned on fabricated charges. With few exceptions, they were held here in Lorton, Virginia, at the Occoquan Workhouse. They were housed in a dormitory-like structure, no longer in existence but located on these historic prison grounds. Some were incarcerated in the District of Columbia Jail, including Alice Paul, leader of the National Woman's Party.
"Every conceivable lie was tried in an effort to force the women to abandon their various form of resistance. They were told that no efforts were being made from outside to reach them, and that their attorney had been called off the case. Each one was told that she was the only one hunger striking. Each one was told that all the others had put on prison clothes and were working.
Although they were separated from one another they suspected
Eunice Dana Brannan, Jailed for Freedom, 1920
Erected 2021 by Turning Point Suffragist Memorial Association.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Civil Rights • Government & Politics • Law Enforcement • War, World I • Women. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #28 Woodrow Wilson series list. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1917.
Location. 38° 40.925′ N, 77° 15.178′ W. Marker is in Lorton, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is on Lorton Road, one mile south of Ox Road (Virginia Route 123), on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 9751 Ox Rd, Lorton VA 22079, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Suffragist Commemorative Wall (here, next to this marker); "Forward Into Light," Toward Equality, 1920 - Present / The 19th Amendment (a few steps from this marker); Silent for Suffrage (a few steps from this marker); "Forward Out of Darkness" / Issuing a Call for Women's Rights (a few steps from this marker); Turning Point Suffragist Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Hard-Fought Ratification Campaigns in the States / The Continued Struggle for Voting Rights (a few steps from this marker); Building a Political Movement / Testing Constitutional Amendments (a few steps from this marker); Victories in 1917 / Suffragists Demonstrated Until Congress Passed the 19th Amendment (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Lorton.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 7, 2022. It was originally submitted on May 6, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 54 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on May 6, 2022, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.