On this date in 1917, Beulah Amidon, daughter of Judge Amidon of Fargo, was making a name for herself as a suffragist as she traveled the United States. Beulah, 22 years old, was said to be a suffragist since childhood. She had graduated from college in Fargo and then went to California, where she established legal residence so she could vote. Coincidentally, shortly after she moved, North Dakota passed limited suffrage for women. However, she would have to live in North Dakota for a full year again if she wanted to vote in her home state.
Still, the suffrage movement work took her all over the country. She was working on organizing a state conference of the National Woman’s Party in the south around this time, and had just finished campaigning for suffrage in North Carolina.
Before that, Beulah had joined the suffragists engaged in silently picketing the White House, a demonstration started in January by the Congressional Union for Woman suffrage. The women stood outside the gates of the White House in increasing numbers, wearing sashes in their colors of white, purple, and yellow, and carrying banners that asked, “Mr. President, what will you do for woman suffrage?” President Wilson could not get into the White House without passing their display.
While Beulah was in Washington D.C., she was honored in a curious way by her fellow suffragists—she was elected as the event’s “prettiest” picketer. Newspapers reported the suffragists did this to “appease the feverish curiosity of several thousand city editors who have been pestering the Washington correspondents to ‘dig up’ the prettiest girl on the suffrage picket line at the White House gates.”
That “Prettiest” picketer wrote this poem, titled “On the Picket Line”:
The Avenue is misty gray,
And here beside the guarded gate
We hold our golden blowing flags
The people pass in friendly wise;
They smile their greeting where we stand
And turn aside to recognize
The just demand.
Often the gates are swung aside;
The man whose power could free us now
Looks from his car to read our plea—
Sometimes the little children laugh;
The careless folk toss careless words,
And scoff and turn away, and yet
The people pass the whole long day
Those golden flags against the gray
And can’t forget.
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85053058/1917-01-10/ The Butte Daily Post, January 10, 1917, p1 and 3
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042414/1917-02-26/ed-1/seq-7 Grand Forks Herald, February 26, 1917, p7
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042224/1917-03-01/ed-1/seq-7 The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, March 1, 1917, p7
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042243/1917-04-16/ed-1/seq-1 Bismarck Tribune, April 16, 1917, p1
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042243/1917-02-21/ed-1/seq-5 Feb 21, Bismarck Tribune, Feb 21, 1917, p5
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042224/1917-03-12/ed-1/seq-7/ The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, March 12, 1917, p7
https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042224/1917-03-14/ed-1/seq-6/ The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, March 14, 1917, p6