Alexandria, VA – There’s a new self-guided walking tour in Old Town Alexandria which visits up to 22 different historic sites spotlighting pioneering women who accomplished extraordinary things during times when odds were against them, and society frowned upon their entrepreneurial and political efforts.
On Thursday, August 26, Alexandria notables gathered around to dedicate a new historic marker installed in the 200 block of South St. Asaph Street, which recognizes the fight for the American woman’s vote and Alexandria’s role in an important event related to women’s suffrage. Here, the Old Customs House stood – containing a Customs Office, a United States Post Office — and on the third floor, a federal courtroom – the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (1871-1930).
In November 1917, 32 suffragist prisoners (many past the age of 60) were arrested in Washington, D.C. and sent to the District of Columbia workhouse at Occoquan, Virginia, 18 miles south of Alexandria.
While held at the Occoquan Workhouse, the women were subjected to undue hardships and torture, resulting in the infamous November 14, 1917 “Night of Terror.” Numerous women prisoners were threatened, beaten, and hurled against walls and floors. Some of the women were force fed during their stay at the infamous Workhouse.
Following weeks of mistreatment, the suffragists were brought to this spot in Old Town for a hearing. The judge declared that the Suffragists should not have been jailed at the Workhouse. The women’s convictions for “blocking traffic” on the wide Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalk in the District of Columbia were eventually tossed out by the Federal Courts.
The entire Alexandria Women’s History walking tour map with descriptions is available at thezebra.org.