The Just Government League

Cover of the Maryland Suffrage News, May 29, 1915

Cover of the Maryland Suffrage News, June 13, 1914 (Library of Congress).

The Just Government League formed in 1909. Its leaders were Edith Houghton Hooker, a former Hopkins medical student, and her husband Donald Hooker, a Hopkins physician. They were aided by two close friends: Mabel Glover Mall, Edith’s classmate, and Florence Sabin, who completed her MD at Hopkins and became its first female senior faculty member.

Starting in 1910, suffragists began using cross-country hikes to “reach all sorts and conditions of people” outside of urban centers. The women of Maryland’s Just Government League hiked from Baltimore through Garrett County, about seventy miles, holding public meetings along the way.

Edith Hooker admired the direct-action approach of Alice Paul, and helped Paul to split the more radical National Woman’s Party from the moderate NAWSA. Though the Just Government League joined the National Woman’s Party in 1917, it remained more focused on diplomatic than on militant efforts, conducting intensive lobbying in Annapolis and Washington.

Despite their interest in reaching "all sorts" of people, the League, like many suffrage organizations, was predominantly white, Protestant, highly-educated, and financially well-off. In the early 20th century, in addition to its large African American population, Baltimore saw an influx of immigrants from eastern and southern Europe who were Jewish and Catholic. Anti-immigrant sentiment was widespread and supported by the eugenic science of the period, to which many of Baltimore's elite subscribed.

The relation of woman suffrage to the home and to morality

A 1912 pamphlet written by Edith Hooker proposing that suffrage will improve the moral conditions of American families. Click for full document. (Enoch Pratt Free Library)

Official program woman suffrage procession. Washington, D. C. March 3, 1913.

Cover of the program for the 1913 suffrage procession in Washington, D.C. Click for full program. (Library of Congress).