2.14 Two Parades

May 27, 2012

Hayes Perkins at a suffrage parade – imagine.  I expect you anticipate correctly: rowdy and discourteous.  Nevertheless, a quite remarkable passage from the diaries.  His presence in that crowd informs me, at least, of the scope and power of that civil rights movement that changed the course of the United States.

Sorry about the lack of a map.  Google Maps updated and the import function is glitching – again.  The desired import shows Hayes sailing from Southampton, to Cobh, across the Atlantic, and to Washington DC.

February 10, 1913 – March 4, 1913

Touring Southampton with “a fellow Yank from Buenos Aires,” Hayes’ diary demonstrates that secondhand information he records isn’t always reliable. The friend filled him full of tales of Harvey Logan, Butch Cassidy, and Harry Longebaugh marauding around Argentina with an army of 400 soldiers of fortune.

Harry Longebaugh (Sundance kid) seated left
Harvey Logan (Kid Curry) standing right
Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy) seated right

Kid Curry never went to Argentina and died in 1904 outside Parachute, Colorado. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fled from US law enforcement agents to Argentina in 1901 but were chased to Bolivia in 1908 where most biographers believe they were killed.  Some believe the pair went successfully into hiding, but in any case by 1913 they’d been gone for five years.

SS Majestic 1896

Hayes describes the SS Majestic on which he took passage from Southampton to New York as, “just another old packet.” (The Majestic had been pressed back into service on the transatlantic run after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 before being scrapped in May of 1914.)  Upon arrival at Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, Hayes remarks that nothing about the town has changed since his visit there fourteen years earlier – right down to “the same old hulks off Spike Island.”

After a few rough days out from Queensland on high seas with wind driving straight out of the north carrying spits of snow, both wind and water calm allowing the Majestic’s slightly green passengers on deck for the first time. Hayes writes, “there are so many Jews on board, chiefly from Russia, and Galicia in Austria. One wonders what influence they will have on the American people, whether good or bad. They don’t seem to have much to offer now.”

The lull in the storm only lasted one day.  A westerly gale blew up fighting the majestic all the way into dock at Tompkinsville, NY where “came doctors and immigration officials and customs to receive us, none of them courteous, for this is a lost instinct in the American people. It is a sign of weakness to show ordinary decency to a stranger in my own land.” After enduring much hustling and bawling and shoving about, Hayes went ashore to the pier. “The rest were whisked away to Ellis Island, where doubtless they will be put through the mill by other inquisitors there.”

After stopping to see some relatives in New York, Hayes arrived in Washington DC on February 28, 1913, just prior to the presidential inauguration of Woodrow Wilson.

His two-page derogation of the US congress describes the House of Representatives as a group unintelligent (though notably bald) schoolboys incessantly quarreling – and the Senate as a “a rather mediocre body of men,” (with considerably more hair). “All of them have reached the goal they now have arrived at by trickery, chance, influence from some corrupt corporation.”

On March 3, 1913, the day Wilson arrived in DC to little fanfare, Hayes and his cousin Adam joined the “ignorant and uncouth mob” (quoting Women’s Journal of March 8,1913) pictured below in an historic suffrage march.

15th and Pennsylvania Washington DC
March 3, 1913

Hayes puts the number marching in the parade at 5,000 surrounded by “250,000 of these low browed proletariat crowed against the flimsy cords that restrained them”

First in the parade came Inez Milholland “clad as a nymph and riding a white horse”

Inez Milholland

Then Fraulein Hedwig Reicher “rigged out as Semiramis.”

Hedwig Reicher

Other documentarians describe Reicher as depicting Columbia. But Hayes is sure he’s heard of Semiramis, “for she was the first to discover the utility of eunuchs and introduced them to her harem.”

By now “some bold and unknown adventurer stepped over the rope. Another followed him, then another. Then they began to come at a dozen at a time.” Hayes saw Carrie Chapman Catt looking as grim as the red faced Hedwig Reicher who “looked all any German officer could” riding high on “a float drawn by big horses and the crowd gave way before these heavy animals, respecting their weight alone.”

Carrie Chapman Catt

Not all the men present were heckling the suffragist; Hayes saw Richmond Pearson Hobson,”hero of the Merrimac incident in Santiago in Cuba,” marching with the women. In 1913 Hobson represented Alabama in the US House of Representatives. Marching with the suffragists must have required considerable courage, but the rowdies in the crowd taunted the handsome man mercilessly saying, “We know why you’re here.” From Hayes we learn that the women knew Hobson was handsome as well “and have before this given ocular (and oscular) evidence of their admiration.”

Richmond Pearson Hobson 1911

Hayes’ mean spirited mockery of the women’s march persists even when applauding a woman he describes as “the prize of the show … an old negro mammy, perhaps a washer-woman. She knew human nature and took it all with a grin.” This woman received and returned many compliments shouted from the mob, bowing finally to an enormous cheer from the men. “It was an honest tribute, for she did not hold herself above us.”

Thus, the root of Hayes critique of the suffrage parade:  “If they want equality with men, then they should learn to take it.  They want all the deference men show them as they are now and want the right to mix with men as one of the crowd.  They got it today and showed they couldn’t take it.”  An ironic stance from a wanderer who always holds himself to impossibly high standards of abstinence and chastity constantly mourning the failures of the dissolute men and women with whom he associates.

The next day’s parade featured President Wilson, “self conscious, frightened, looking every inch the school master he is,” accompanied by the outgoing President Taft who “looked like a brewer who had had a bad night.”

Presidents Wodroow Wilsonand William Taft
at Wilson’s inauguration 1913

William J. Bryan

The populist supporter of Wilson, William Jennings Bryan, “had the eye of everyman in the crowd. He Knew his audience, was like a jovial Nebraska farmer, which he is.”

Both outgoing President William Taft and wanderer Hayes Perkins (separately) slipped  away early from the pompous inaugural ceremony hoping to beat the rush for trains leaving the city.  A feeble hand clapping greeted Taft at the station.  As for Hayes:  “If Uncle Sam can dispense with my presence at future inaugurations, I shall be glad.  The entire proceeding is a bore, a nuisance to all concerned.  If they want to make a spectacle of this happening, why not change the date to sometime in midsummer?  At least people could keep warm.”  He caught a train heading south arriving in Richmond by nightfall.