Biographical Database of Militant Woman Suffragists, 1913-1920
Biography of Lena Horowitz
(Also spelled Harivitz or Hurewitz)
By Karen Seehausen, independent historian
In February 1919, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union called for a work stoppage at garment factories in Hartford, Connecticut. The union demanded higher wages and shorter work days for factory employees, most of whom were women and girls, immigrants or children of immigrants. On February 7, strikers positioned themselves in front of the Elite Waist Company on Union Place and confronted employees as they left the building with jeers of "scab" and "strike-breakers." The Hartford Courant described the demonstration as the most serious of those initiated by strikers since the garment factory employees walked off the job a week before. According to the newspaper account, women in the crowd were thrown to the ground and a policeman on duty nearby who rushed to the scene was pushed and punched while attempting to subdue the strikers. Seven strikers were arrested including Lena Harivitz (Horowitz). Most of Lena's personal history is unknown. Apart from the address, No. 8 Bethel St., listed for her in the newspaper account of the strike and arrest, we know little. Another demonstrator, Sam Rosen, a union organizer, was also listed as living at No. 8 Bethel St. At the arraignment that night, the seven were charged with breach of the peace. The next day Lena Horowitz and the others appeared in court to answer to the charges. Connecticut lawyer George Day represented the strikers. Seated with him and the defendants was his sister Josephine Day Bennett (Mrs. M. Toscan Bennett). George and Josephine, affluent and socially prominent, were outspoken and visible supporters of organized labor and women's suffrage. In addition to championing the rights of workers, Josephine worked tirelessly for woman's right to vote. See her biographical sketch [LINK to Bennett bio sketch] here in this database. She was an officer of both the Connecticut Woman's Suffrage Association and the Connecticut Woman's Party and served on the advisory council of the National Woman's Party (NWP). In January, she had been arrested while participating in the watch fire demonstrations in Washington D.C. protesting the failure of the Senate to pass the 19th Amendment. Sentenced to five days in jail, Josephine took part in a prison hunger strike.
During the hearing on February 8, the judge concluded that the breach of peace charge against Horowitz and the others was frivolous. However, he found the allegations of assaulting the police officer to be serious and he directed Horowitz and two others to produce a peace bond in the amount of $300. In the following weeks, protests continued at garment companies in and around Hartford. Under the conditions of the bond, Horowitz could not join them or she would forfeit the money.
In March however she was back on the picket line-in New York City. When President Woodrow Wilson arrived at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City on March 5, 1919 to give a speech promoting the League of Nations, he was met by a demonstration organized by the National Woman's Party (NWP) demanding passage of the 19th Amendment. The picketers, numbering close to 200, attempted to break through a police barrier; the protest turned into a violent confrontation with police. Six suffragists were arrested but the protesters "walking three paces apart, holding the purple, white and gold high above their heads" marched into the evening. Among them was Lena Horowitz from Connecticut.
There is no record that Lena was a member of a woman suffrage organization or that she had marched previously or ever again in favor of passage of the amendment. It is possible that in the time they spent together waiting for Lena's case to be called on February 8, Josephine Bennett talked with Lena about the power of the vote and women's right to it. Perhaps Josephine was so persuasive in arguing that the best chance for working women to have both "bread and roses" was through the ballot box that Lena took the train to New York City and joined the fight.
"Seven Arrests Follow Fighting Between Striking Waist Makers and Employees of Elite Waist Company-Workers Assaulted When They Attempt to Pass Pickets". Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.). 08 Feb 1919; p 1. newspapers.com/image/367330965/?terms=Striking%2BWaist%2Bmakers
"Strikers on Bonds to Keep Peace". Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) 09 Feb 1919, p 20. newspapers.com/image/367331937/?terms=strikers%Bon%2Bbond
C50 "Suffrage Headquarters, 55 Pratt Street. Mrs. George Day at the Files, Mrs. M Bennett at the desk, Miss C M Flanagan at the register, Miss Elizabeth Flanagan at the multigraph". In HCOLL photographs noted in the holdings of the Hartford Public Library. Accessed online at https://hplct.libguides.com/hhc-resources/suffrage
"Mrs. M. Toscan Bennett Burns President's Speech. Arrested in Washington," Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) 09 Jan 1919; p 2. newspapers.com/image/36943146/?terms=Mrs.%2BM.%2BToscan%2BBennett
"Three Women Fined for Intimidation". Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) 13 Feb 1919, p 6. newspapers.com/image/367334413/?terms=Three%2BWomen%2BFined%Bfor%2BIntimidation
"3 Arrests Follow Another Clash of Garment Makers". Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) 20 Feb 1919; p 1. newspapers.com/search/#query=3+Arrested&ymd=1919-02-20&s_place=Hartford%2C=Connecticut
"Suffs Fight in Street to Burn Wilson Speech". The New York Herald (New York. NY). 05 Mar 1919; p 1-2. newspapers.com/image/207313818/?items=Suffragists%2FMetropolitan%2BOpera%2BHouse
Day, Meagan. "How Class-Conscious Women Garment Workers Shaped the Movement for Women's Suffrage," jacobinmag.com/2020/08/women-suffrage-vote-19th-amendment-suffragists.