1913 October 18

British Suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst Barred from U.S. – Later Admitted


The famed British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst was barred from entering the U.S. on this day. She was scheduled to address a suffrage rally at Madison Square Garden. Detained at Ellis Island, she was then ordered deported as an “undesirable alien.” American suffrage leader Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party lobbied for her entry and hired a lawyer for a possible law suit. President Woodrow Wilson intervened and ordered Pankhurst admitted to the U.S.

Pankhurst addressed a crowd of 3,000 at the planned suffrage rally at Madison Square Garden on October 21st. She was heckled by some members of the crowd. Interestingly, many prominent moderate suffragists did not attend the rally because they disagreed with her militant tactics on behalf of women’s suffrage in England, which led to many arrests and her conducting a hunger strike while in jail. It was not clear whether the hecklers were opponents of women’s suffrage or critics of Pankhurst.

Also on this day, the former mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, George F. Bemis, a wealthy real estate investor, sent a telegram offering to help fund a $100,000 bond to protect the U.S. government against any “untoward actions” by Pankhurst if she were released in the U.S.

Read a biography of Alice Paul: Mary Walton, A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot (2010)

Learn more: Ellen Carol DuBois, Woman Suffrage and Women’s Rights (1998)

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