Adelaide M Balch, NAWSA Report, 12-9-18

Document Five: Adelaide M. Balch, Report of the National American Woman Suffrage Association Political Committee, 9 December 1918, National American Woman Suffrage Association Papers, Library of Congress (Microfilm, reel 38, container 55).


    This report by Adelaide M. Balch, Chairman of the Political Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, informed members of the association where new elected Congressmen, Senators, and Assemblymen of New York stood on several issues potentially related to woman suffrage: as well as on the suffrage issue itself: prohibition, labor laws, and wartime profiteering.  NAWSA's questionnaire and the responses of the politicians illustrate the personal contact necessary for sucessful lobbying .

    Balch mentioned how hard the women in the committee had worked to secure these answers from the legislators. They were persistent in their efforts to see exactly who they could count on and who they could not.

Report of

P O L I T I C A L     C O M M I T T E E

December 9th, 1918.


    The purpose of this report will be to give as briefly as possible the results of the work done by the Political Committee in so far as it concerns the candidates who were elected on November 5th. The following summary is based on the returns published in the Times of Nov. 6th, which may be subject to correction.

    Out of a total of 110 elected Congressman, Senators and Assemblymen in the five Counties, we have replies from 91, leaving 19 who did not reply,- 1 Congressman (Riordan), 5 Senators and 13 Assemblymen. If the Socialist candidates were successful as stated in the Times in the 17th A.D. N.Y. and 23rd A.D. Kings, they must also be included in these districts. Mr. Solomon of the 6th A.D. Kings signed and sent in a blank questionnaire, and Mr. Donnelly, of the 13th A.D. Kings, when interviewed, refused to place his name on any paper in answer to any question.

    Let us now turn to an analysis of the replies from the 91 successful candidates.

    It is hardly necessary to state that all answered the first question more or less vehemently in the affirmative.

    #2. ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF WOMAN SUFFRAGE? WILL YOU SUPPORT THE FEDERAL SUFFRAGE AMENDMENT IN ITS PASSAGE THROUGH CONGRESS AND ITS RATIFICATION BY THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE? We find in the answers an equal unanimity of sentiment. Mr. Ellenbogen of the 7th A.D. N.Y., who distinguished himself by saying "Not exactly, but I am resigned to it" was defeated by Mary A. Lilly. Mr. L.M. Black, 6th Senatorial, replies "Yes, but I am opposed to picketing to the annoyance of the President." Mr. Burlingame, 8th Senatorial, "On three occasions in the Senate I have voted for the referendum. I am somewhat disappointed because all women did not enroll in the best party." C.E. Russell, 9th Senatorial, and J.S. Tomey, 10th Senatorial, replied YES to first clause and left second clause blank

    #3. DO YOU FAVOR THE RATIFICATION OF THE PROHIBITION AMENDMENT? YES comes from six of the Senators and Assemblymen-elect, two Rep., 3 Dem., 1 Fusion. The balance are in favor of a referendum; a few say NO or leave the question unanswered.

    #4. DO YOU FAVOR EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK FOR MEN AND WOMEN? Apparently all are in favor of this measure as all answer YES, except T.S. Smith, 16th Congressional, who leaves it blank.

    #5. ARE YOU IN FAVOR OF LEGISLATION AGAINST ALL PROFITEERING? F. La Guardia, Fusion, lately returned from military service overseas and reelected to Congress, says, "See my bill providing death punishment for profiteers." Mr. Burlingame, 8th Senatorial, says, "I favor legislation against profiteering in a bad sense, YES." Mr. Carroll, 11th Senatorial, and Mr. Lentol, 14th A.D. Kings, leave question blank. Wm. C. Dodge, 20th Senatorial, "YES, and if possible there should be a criminal prosecution."

    #6. Do you favor the creation by law of a Wage Commission which shall fix in different industries and localities the least upon which girls and women can live in decency and health?

All replied YES.

    #7. Do you stand by the maintainence of our present labor laws?

    T.F. Smith, 16th Congressional, left it blank. C.D. Donohue, 5th A.D. N.Y., wants improvements; Wm. W. Pellet, 10th N.Y., will give more study to the problem; E.J. Flynn, 2nd A.D. Bronx, believes in it as a war measure; Mr. Cox, 2nd A.D. Kings, says there is room for improvement. The balance of the replies indicate YES to this question.

    Due appreciation should be accorded to the members of the committee who worked during a long period and up to the last moment in order to obtain a reply from each and every candidate. This entailed innumerable letters, telephones and often many calls before the object was achieved, and called for patience and tact on the part of the interviewer. And may I not express a word of thanks to those with whom it was my pleasure to work at Headquarters, - Miss Rosina Flanly who acted as Secretary and made out unending lists and schedules in her usual efficient manner; - Mrs. McCutcheon who presided over the clipping department; - Mrs. Valet, who could always be depended upon when most needed to serve in any capacity; - Miss Doughty, who arranged a method of keeping a record obtained from all sources possible of the political past present and future of each candidate, which was found very valuable on and before election day in the distribution of information.

    The bulletin issued just after election has told you of the demands made upon us for assistance by women before and on that day. The number who telephoned in or called for information gave the best evidence of the great need of continuing and enlarging the scope of this department. Many women were absolutely ignorant of the first political step to be taken, while others came in armed with the sample ballot furnished by their party, asking for the latest word in regard to the candidates named thereon. Some women stated that they depended upon us for help as account of close application to war work, nursing, etc., they had not had time to study up the political questions involved in the campaign; and again some came to us with perplexing problems. I recall in particular one very intelligent colored woman who had been permitted to register in the wrong booth, and she returned there on election day was not permitted to vote, and in her indignation and distress came to the "Woman's Party" as she termed it, to help her out. We called up the Board of Elections but upon investigation found we could do nothing but sympathize in her great disappointment and impress upon her the necessity of giving her address more distinctly in future when registering.

    The little I have done in connection with this committee has been ample repaid by the pleasure derived from working in cooperation with the other members of the committee and from the political knowledge obtained thru performing the duties of chairmanship.

                                                            Respectfully submitted,
                                                                 Adelaide M Balch