Mabel Vernon: suffragist, pacifist

One of the most notable and important members of the National Woman’s Party, Delaware native Mabel Vernon gave up a stable, respectable teaching position to work on the campaign to secure a constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.

Originally involved with the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Vernon joined Alice Paul’s Congressional Union in 1913 as an organizer and fundraiser. She was one of five suffragists who held up a banner asking, “Mr. President, What Will You Do for Woman Suffrage?” at Woodrow Wilson’s December 1914 address to Congress.

When Alice Paul created the National Woman’s Party out of the Congressional Union in 1916, Mabel Vernon became its secretary. She was instrumental in organizing the Silent Sentinels–the suffragists who picketed the White House beginning in 1917. Like many of those women, Vernon was arrested on charges of obstructing traffic, refused to pay the fine, and spent time in jail. Until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, she worked tirelessly for the cause, traveling state to state giving speeches and launching a major letter-writing campaign.

During the 1920s Mabel Vernon continued to work for the National Woman’s Party and its goal of securing the Equal Rights Amendment. She supported women who ran for public office, especially congressional seats. By 1930, though, Vernon had become more interested in pacifist issues. She joined the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, working for decades to prevent war through disarmament and diplomacy.