Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Miss Anna Constable, 1867-1922
By Sharon Davis, undergraduate student, Tompkins Cortland Community College
Anna Constable was born May 17, 1867 to Sarah Lippincott Richards and James Constable of Philadelphia. She had four siblings. The youngest of the group, she continued a legacy that began in her prominent, wealthy family. Anna's great-grandfather William Kerin Constable served in the patriot army during the American Revolution. Benjamin Wood Richards was an original member of New York City Board of Controllers, founder of the first Blind Asylum, and also Anna's grandfather. Anna Constable later moved to New York City with her family at a young age. In her adult life, she lived on 121 East Seventy-Sixth Street with her brothers Howard and Stevenson.
Anna participated in many protests, which brought together women who had an interest in the suffrage movement. Anna was arrested January 3, 1913 for her participation in the Women's Political Union "Voiceless Speech," a media technique Constable is credited with creating. She stood with other women in a shop window holding signs advocating women's rights. The demonstration was a message to the government and to the people, a message that embodied bravery and change. Many people were angered by this peaceful protest. Anna Constable believed police presence was uncalled for: "I do not know who made the complaint, but there seems to have been an intention to intimidate us." A 1913 New York Times article documented the statement of Anna Constable: "I was within my rights and working in the cause of common justice."
Anna Constable was a member of the executive board of the Women's Political Union (WPU), a New York City group which would merge with the National Woman’s Party (NWP) in early 1916. In March 1915, Anna Constable spoke at the Peg Woffington Coffee House at an event which officially nationalized the Congressional Union (CU). Chosen for her speech history and involvement in the movement, in June 1916, Constable participated in the "Suffrage Special," a train journey by selected CU suffragists to promote the founding of the National Woman's Party for women who had the vote in western states.
Anna Constable never married or had children. She died in February 1922 of heart disease in Booth Memorial Hospital in New York City.
Sources: Edward McVickar, Memoranda Relating to the McVickar Family in America (New York: self-published, 1906). "What Is Doing In Society," New York Times, April 18, 1903; "Women's 'Voiceless Speech': Story of Police Interference with it from the Woman's Side," New York Times, January 5, 1913; "Obituary Notes," New York Times, February 26, 1922; "Suffragettes On Tour: Will Invade West to Consolidate Women In 'Free' States," New York Times, April 9, 1916; "The Women's Political Union," Tribune Almanac and Political Register 1914; " Women Organize New Suffrage Move," New York Times, April 1, 1915.