Congressman snubs suffrage leader

Posted by | April 5, 2013

Montgomery [AL] Daily, c. 1915

“Congressman Tom Heflin has returned to his home from Wetumpka, AL where he delivered the principal address before the crowd of several thousand gathered to participate in the big barbecue held there yesterday. The congressman is glad to be alive today, for he escaped ‘whole’ after having a tilt with a woman on the platform, and in the presence of that same several thousand persons. Mr. Heflin brought about a very keen situation, when he followed Mrs. Bossie O’Brien Hundley on the platform, and politely told the audience that he had not liked the speech of that lady.

“Just imagine a mere man, telling a lady to her face and before her own audience that her speech was not liked. Well, Tom Heflin did it, and got away with it. Mrs. Hundley, who is one of the suffrage leaders of the state, a very charming and a very smart woman had an important part on the program. She addressed the big audience on “women suffrage” and made an appeal that the vote he given to her sex.

“Mrs. Hundley was followed on the platform by Congressman Heflin, who is known through the state as one of the strongest anti-suffrage leaders. Mr. Heflin thinks that the woman’s place is in the home, where she molds public opinion by her own sweetness of character and where she raises boys to be real men, and men who are capable of giving woman-hood every advantage and at the same time, keep her from mixing up in the mire of politics.

The Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, consisting of members of Selma and Birmingham suffrage organizations, joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association to lead the fight for white women's right to vote in Alabama.

The Alabama Equal Suffrage Association, consisting of members of Selma and Birmingham suffrage organizations, joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association to lead the fight for white women’s right to vote in Alabama.

“Mrs. Hundley knew Mr. Heflin’s views on this question, and she had at some previous time challenged him for a joint debate, but Mr. Heflin had evaded the meeting. While addresses were made by Mrs. G. H. Mathis, of Gadsden, who a month ago thrilled a Chicago audience with her rccountal of farm work in Alabama; Mrs. Thomas M. Owen; Mrs. P. L. Matthews, and Mrs. Hundley. The feature speech on the program was scheduled to be that of Congressman Tom Heflin. Mr. Heflin followed Mrs. Hundley and prefaced his remarks by saying that he had enjoyed the speeches of Mrs. Owen and Mrs. Mathis, but not enjoyed that of Mrs. Hundley, and he turned, and smiled at Mrs. Hundley.

“Mrs. Hundley bit her lips, she did not know what was coming and neither did any one else. Congressman Heflin continued and intimated that there were only a few suffrage seekers among the womanhood of Alabama and said that he had recently told a friend that he would be willing to leave the question to a vote of the women of Alabama and that if a majority of the women would show that they wanted the vote, he might waive his objections.

“He had reached this point when Mrs. Hundley interrupted and asked if the speaker would yield to a question. She did it too, in real parliamentarian manner, and Congressman Heflin, who had been interrupted time and again on the floor of congress in a like manner, but never before by a small wee voice coming from a woman, knew that he was in the middle of a bad fix, so he acquiesced and Mrs. Hundley said that surely he knew that his position was not practical and that it would be impossible to hold any such election of women and that the constitution did not provide in any way for a referendum, and that the suffrage people of Alahama wanted to have the vote given to them by the men of the state. Mr. Heflin in resuming his speech after the interruption, side-stepped Mrs. Hundley’s remarks, told a witty story and extricated himself from the situation and went on with his address, but never again during his remarks did he mention woman suffrage.”

source: Bossie O’Brien Hundley Scrapbook / Birmingham [AL] Public Library Digital Collections

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