By Cassandra Berman
Graduate student, Brandeis University
Louise Parker was born in Maine in 1868. A teacher in New England, she attended but did not graduate from the State Normal School in Framingham, Massachusetts. In 1892, she married William Mayo and together they established a farm in Framingham, where they raised their seven children.
Mayo was active on town committees and drove a wagon that transported children to school. She joined the Framingham Equal Suffrage League in 1914, eventually serving on its executive board. In 1917, she travelled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the National Woman’s Party’s July 14 "Bastille Day" demonstration in front of the White House. Mayo, along with fifteen other women, was arrested for violating a "Peace and Order Act." They were fined twenty-five dollars each. Upon refusing to pay, the women were taken to the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, where they were to each serve a 60-day term. During sentencing, they were told they could pay their fines at any time to avoid the workhouse. They all chose to serve time rather than pay the fine.
Mayo and the other protestors, however, served only four days of their sentence. Amidst fears of a hunger strike and reports of poor workhouse conditions, President Wilson quickly issued a pardon. Though they initially refused to accept the pardon, the women were released on July 19. Mayo returned to Framingham and did not participate in further high-profile suffrage demonstrations, though she did receive a "jail door pin" from the National Woman's Party in honor of her service to the suffrage movement.
Mayo died in 1952. In 2005, an intersection in Framingham was named in honor of Mayo and fellow suffragist Josephine Collins.
"Sixteen Militants Begin 60-Day Term," Washington Post, July 18, 1917; "Suffs Are Pardoned," Washington Herald, July 20, 1917; Anita C. Danker, "Grassroots Suffragists: Josephine Collins and Louise Mayo, A Study in Contrasts," New England Journal of History, 67:2 (2011): 54-72.