Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Blanche A. McPherson, 1881- ?
By Imani Santos
Undergraduate, State University of New York College at Oneonta
Blanche A. McPherson lived in Utica, New York. She was born in 1881 and was married to Andrew McPherson, a salesman for a plow company. They had a daughter, Dorothy, born in 1909. The census in 1930 found the family living in Louisville, Kentucky, where Andrew was now employed as an automobile salesman. There was no occupation given for Blanche in either census year.
McPherson was a member of the National Woman's Party along with women like Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Anne Henrietta Martin. The National Woman's Party, founded by Paul and Burns, utilized controversial public demonstrations in order to pressure political leaders to pass a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote in the United States. On August 6, 1918, about fifty women held a meeting in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, protesting Senate delay in action on the woman suffrage amendment. McPherson and Clara Wold held a banner with the words, “We protest against the continued disfranchisement of American women, for which the President of the United States is responsible; We condemn the President and his party for allowing the obstruction of suffrage in the Senate; We deplore the weakness of President Wilson in permitting the Senate to line itself with the Prussian Reichstag by denying democracy to the people; We demand that the President and his party secure the passage of the suffrage amendment through the Senate in the present session.” Police arrested McPherson, along with forty-seven other women. Some of the group were charged with “climbing a statue,” others with “holding a meeting on public grounds. Most of the group of forty-seven were soon found guilty and went to jail. Apparently, McPherson did not go to jail; it is unclear whether she was not charged or chose to pay her fine rather than spend time in jail.
Sources: “50 Suffragists Held For Demonstration Before White House,” Pittsburgh Daily Post, August 7, 1918; “50 Women Arrested in Suffrage Parade,” Logansport Pharos-Tribune, August 7, 1918; “Fifty Women Arrested at Lafayette Square, Washington,” Buffalo Courier, August 7, 1918; “Police Break Up Suff Demonstration,” Buffalo Commercial, August 7, 1918; “Women's Protest Against Disfranchisement Broken Up by Federal Police, Suffragist, vol. 6, no. 30, August 17, 1918, 5; Inez Haynes Gillmore, The Story of the Woman's Party (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1921), 355, 357.