"Jailed For Freedom" Pin
The "Jailed for Freedom" pin depicts a jail door, with a heart-shaped lock and chain attached. Made of pewter.
Size: 1.25 x 0.75"
When the pins were first awarded here in the United States to suffragettes who had been jailed, the presenter remarked, "In honoring these women, who were willing to go to jail for liberty, we are showing our love of country and devotion to democracy.”
More information on the historic background and the event at which the award was made is below.
Historical Background: The pickets that led to jailing
"In January 1917, discouraged by President Wilson’s continued opposition to the suffrage amendment, Alice Paul, the leader of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) posted pickets at the White House gates—the first people to ever picket the White House. These 'silent sentinels' stayed on duty in all weather and in the face of threats, taunts, and physical violence. Using their banners and their quiet courage they asked, 'Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for their Liberty?' and "'Mr. President What Will you do for Woman Suffrage?' Hoping to provoke a response, the language on the banners became more inflammatory.
"They used the president’s own words against him and pointed out the hypocrisy of his leading the country into the First World War to defend freedom while denying it to the women of his own country. Crowds who believed the pickets’ activities were disloyal in a time of war attacked the suffragists and destroyed their banners.
"In July the police began arresting the pickets for 'obstruction of traffic.' When they refused to pay fines they were imprisoned. When they went on hunger strikes to demand the rights of political prisoners they were forcibly fed—a painful and invasive procedure. The pickets continued despite the risk. Paul had endured such treatment while she was in England. Although she knew what lay ahead and that she, as the organizer of the picketing, would receive a harsher sentence, she insisted on taking her place on the picket line. She was arrested in October. While in jail she was forcibly fed and threatened with commitment to an insane asylum. Reports of the long sentences, abuse, and the courage of the suffragists became public and all prisoners were released in November.
"In a December ceremony the imprisoned suffragists were awarded with small silver pins in the shape of prison doors with heart-shaped locks. The 'Jailed for Freedom' pins were designed by Nina Allender.
The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution enfranchising women was ratified in August 1920."
The ceremony where the pins were awarded
"The Woman’s Party conference came to a dramatic close during that first week in December , with an enormous mass meeting in the Belasco Theatre in Washington. On that quiet Sunday afternoon, as the President came through his gates for his afternoon drive, a passageway had to be opened for his motor car through the crowd of four thousand people who were blocking Madison Place in an effort to get inside the Belasco Theatre.
'Inside the building was packed to the rafters. The President saw squads of police reserves, who had been for the past six months arresting pickets for him, battling with a crowd that was literally storming the theatre in their eagerness to do honor to those who had been arrested. Inside there was a fever heat of enthusiasm, bursting cheers, and thundering applause which shook the building. America has never before nor since seen such a suffrage meeting.
'Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont, chairman, opened the meeting by saying: 'We are here this afternoon to do honor to a hundred gallant women, who have endured the hardship and humiliation of imprisonment because they love liberty.
'The suffrage pickets stood at the White House gates for ten months and dramatized the women’s agitation for political liberty. Self-respecting and patriotic American women will no longer tolerate a government which denies women the right to govern themselves. A flame of rebellion is abroad among women, and the stupidity and brutality of the government in this revolt have only served to increase its heat.
'As President Wilson wrote, "Governments have been very successful in parrying agitation, diverting it, in seeming to yield to it and then cheating it, tiring it out or evading it. But the end, whether it comes soon or late, is quite certain to be the same." While the government has endeavored to parry, tire, divert, and cheat us of our goal, the country has risen in protest against this evasive policy of suppression until to-day the indomitable pickets with their historic legends stand triumphant before the nation.' Mrs. William Kent, who had led the last picket line of forty-one women, was chosen to decorate the prisoners.
'In honoring these women, who were willing to go to jail for liberty,' said Mrs. Kent, 'we are showing our love of country and devotion to democracy.' The long line of prisoners filed past her and amidst constant cheers and applause, received a tiny silver replica of a cell door . . . .
"The amendment passed the House January 10, 1918, by a vote of 274 to 136—a two-thirds majority with one vote to spare-exactly forty years to a day from the time the suffrage amendment was first introduced into Congress, and exactly one year to a day from the time the first picket banner appeared at the gates of the White House."
From: Jailed for Freedom, Doris Stevens (1920)
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All designs are copyrighted by The History List
All designs are copyrighted by The History List
All designs are copyrighted by The History List and the History Nerd text and design on t-shirts is a registered trademark. If you see a knock off, please let me know.
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"Jailed For Freedom" Pin
I gave five of these as gifts this season, and they were the most admired of all.
It also was very timely bringing to the forefront the sacrifice of two generations ago for the right to equality with the vote (my grandmother was a suffragette) but very current since it resonated as the rebuttal to “Lock her up” chants. The irony as though 100 years didn’t separate the events. None of my friends had seen this pin or knew it’s history and all wanted to know how to find them so they could play it forward.
I really nice and historically correct remembrance to the women (and men) who saw this event through to its rightful conclusion.
Perfect for feminists
The quality is perfect, I'm really happy with this pin! The chain hanging on the door even moves!
Fabulous piece of historic jewelry. Exceeded my expectations. Absolutely perfect.
I bought myself this pin after I was arrested in Washington DC for protesting the separation of families. I was proud of myself for going out of my comfort zone and I wanted to commemorate it by remembering the women who came before me. This pin was perfect! It's a replica of the pin that was given to the suffragettes who were arrested and jailed. I love the pin and I love the history behind it.
Received as a gift after a friend saw former Mass attorney general Martha Coakley wearing it on Greater Boston. I liked it so much I purchased it as a gift.