Today, November 15 marks the 97th anniversary of a very dark day in the history of the woman suffrage movement. It is the anniversary of the “Night of Terror,” a night of beatings and torture endured by the suffragists in the Occoquan Prison in Virginia. As reported on the Turning Point Memorial website:
In 1917, more than 70 suffragists were imprisoned in the Occoquan Workhouse, then part of the Lorton Prison complex, in retaliation for picketing the Woodrow Wilson White House for the right to vote. The reports of inhumane conditions, beatings and force-feeding at the workhouse electrified the country and became the “turning point” in the struggle for the 19th Amendment.
The Night of Terror was also reported in detail by Doris Stevens in her book, Jailed for Freedom. Originally published in 1920, it offers a remarkable, first person account of the sad details of the entire experience. It is not clear how many women from Long Island were involved, but we do know the prisoners included Lucy Burns of Brooklyn, and Dorothy Day of New York City.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Marguerite Kearns of the Suffrage Wagon website who has joined with the Turning Point Memorial to present a series of 14 podcasts reporting the happenings on that sad night. I urge you to access both these sites to get the full story of these brave women who sacrificed so much that we might have political freedom.