Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Alice Edith Binsse (Mrs. Schuyler Neilson) Warren, 1863-1950
By Ann Marie Linnabery, assistant director, History Center of Niagara
Alice Edith Binsse was born on August 26, 1863 to Louis B. and Mary Carpenter Binsse. The Binsse family (originally Binsse de St. Victor) emigrated from France to Haiti in the 1770s and came to New York in the early 19th century. The Carpenters had been in America since 1630. Alice's family lived at 40 West 19th Street, a block away from the home of young Theodore Roosevelt, future president of the United States. Louis Binsse and Theodore Roosevelt Sr. both owned importing businesses and the families traveled in the same social circles. The only difference was that the Binsses were Catholic and the Roosevelts were Protestants. Alice attended school at the Sacred Heart Convent in Manhattan. On December 13, 1886, Alice married Schuyler Neilson Warren who had converted to Catholicism. Like the Carpenters, the Warrens had been in America much longer than the Binsses but by the time of the marriage, both families had gained prominence in New York Society. The couple were married by a Catholic priest, but the ceremony was held in the bride's home and attended by only a few guests. A small reception was held in the home afterward. The Warrens had six children, three sons and three daughters, between 1892 and 1908.
When Alice Warren first became associated with the woman's suffrage movement is uncertain. Though her name appears frequently in the Society pages of the New York papers, her real involvement in many organizations did not begin until the early years of the 20th century. An editorial in the New York Times in 1906 attributed to "Alice E. Warren," explains that she had lost her hearing "just as my school days were ending and I learned to read the lips almost immediately, [and] I have always identified myself with the hearing world." Despite this, she admits that "the constant force which drives all deaf people to seclusion is gaining the upper hand on me," and appeals to other in her situation "to get together and learn how to be happy!" If this Alice E. Warren is Mrs. Schuyler Warren, it may explain why she became active in many endeavors after 1906. Before getting involved with the suffrage crusade, Alice Warren was active in many Catholic organizations, particularly those that concerned orphans, girls and young women. Her first foray in to the suffrage movement may have been through the League of Political Education, an organization formed to acquaint women with knowledge of politics and current affairs that was "tolerant and fair with no religious or political bias." The name was later changed to the "Town Hall" to reflect the lectures, discussions and other community-minded activities that took place there. Mrs. Warren later wrote a short history of the League for the New York Sun.
One of the first mentions of Alice Warren's suffrage activity came on May 6, 1911 when she participated in a parade in support of that cause as she marched down 5th Avenue to a women's rights rally in Union Square. Six months later, she was elected to the Board of Trustees of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). By 1912, Mrs. Schuyler Warren was the chairman of the Platform Committee of the Equal Franchise Society. She was responsible for organizing representatives of other suffragist groups at a mass meeting held in Carnegie Hall on March 23rd to benefit the Society's free feminist library. Over the next several years, Alice Warren attended and actively participated in numerous suffrage meetings, rallies and parades. She was part of a delegation of Catholic women from several major cities to travel to Baltimore in February, 1917, to meet with Cardinal James Gibbons, Archbishop of that city, to ask "advice regarding certain aspects of the modern 'woman movement' among which will be suffrage." In October of 1917, Alice Warren was one of dozens of women who spoke at a NAWSA meeting in Carnegie Hall in which Carrie Chapman Catt was prepared to answer attacks that the anti-suffragists were threatening to make at the meeting. Only two challenged her and Mrs. Catt promptly answered their assertions by pointing out neither of them were true statements. This was followed by the annual meeting and the speeches by the suffragists including Mrs. Schuyler Warren. In 1919, she was a volunteer in the campaign to elect Republican Fiorello LaGuardia President of the Board of Aldermen of the City of New York. Although Mrs. Schuyler and several other women on the committee were Democrats, they supported LaGuardia in an effort to defeat the Tammany Hall candidates. Their work on his behalf paid off and he was elected. He was later elected Mayor in 1933.
Alice Warren's suffrage activities continued even after the vote was won. In 1920, she joined the Democratic Women of the 17th Senatorial District to fight the renomination of Senator James W. Wadsworth, the Republican candidate. He had been against woman suffrage and was also not in favor of a national prohibition of alcohol, two issues that the Democratic Women supported. Vice Presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of the featured speakers at a dinner held in support of the organization. Alice Warren was in attendance as well. Wadsworth won the election but was defeated six years later by the Democratic candidate, Robert F. Wagner. Mrs. Warren also campaigned for Al Smith, a fellow Catholic, in his runs for New York State Governor and U.S. President.
One of the last times that Mrs. Schuyler Warren was prominently featured in the newspaper, and the only known photo of her that was published, was in January of 1932 when she attended a dinner for Mrs. Gifford Pinchot, who was running for Congress as a "dry" candidate. She is in a group photo with eight other people who attended the dinner. It is unclear whether she supported Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, but the "wet" candidate, for President in 1932, although she belonged to many of the same social and political organizations as Roosevelt's wife, mother and other female relatives. A year later, her husband, Schuyler Warren, died at the age of 75.
In 1941, at the age of 77, Alice Warren wrote a lengthy editorial in the New York Sun entitled "New York of the '80s: Recollections of One Who Knew Its Social Graces" in which she described what the city was like in those days for a wealthy, young woman who moved in the best social circles.
Alice Edith Binsse Warren passed away on October 12, 1950 at St. Luke's Hospital in Manhattan. She was 87 years old. Her obituary lists all of her associations with Catholic organizations but neglects to mention her many years of work toward woman's suffrage. She is buried in St. Peter's Cemetery in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Ancestry.com: Alice Edith Binsse and Alice E. Warren
Family trees, census records, death record
Forty-third Annual Report of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association, Louisville, KY, October 19-26, 1911, p. 156.
"News of Women's Clubs," New York Evening Post (New York, NY), May 3, 1911, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Suffrage Association Meeting," Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), February 20, 1895, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Mrs. Mackey Back in Suffrage Work," New York Herald (New York, NY), March 5, 1912, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Plan Biggest Suffrage Meeting Ever Held Here," New York Sun (New York NY), March 24, 1912, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Suffragist Dare Ignored by Antis," New York Times (New York, NY), October 21, 1917, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Host of Volunteers Appeal for Votes," New York Herald (New York, NY), October 19, 1919, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Democratic Women Fight Wadsworth," New York Tribune (New York, NY), March 2, 1920, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Wets Attacked by Mrs. Pinchot as Bad Element," Brooklyn Daily Eagle (New York, NY), January 17, 1932, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"On the Suffrage Line," New York Tribune (New York, NY), October 13, 1917, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Suffrage Rally Tonight," New York Tribune (New York, NY), October 20, 1917, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"To Ask Cardinal's View on Woman Movement," The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY), February 13, 1917, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"How Women Started the Town Hall," New York Sun (New York, NY), November 11, 1937, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"The Best of a Bad Bargain," New York Times (New York, NY), February 3, 1906, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"New York of the '80s," New York Sun (New York, NY), October 17, 1941, Accessed through Fultonhistory.com, January 14, 2020
"Requiem Offered for Alice E. Warren," The Tablet (Brooklyn, NY), October 21, 1950, Accessed through Newspapers.com, January 30, 2020