The year was 1901 at the Hyde Street Pier Maritime Park in San Francisco—home to nine historic vessels including the 1886 square-rigger Balclutha and 1890 steam-powered ferryboat Eureka. It was the site of passionate debate for women’s’ suffrage beginning at noon with a march along the pier and into the park sloping up to famous Ghirardelli Square. Reenactors took sides for or against suffrage, since in 1901 the battle against women’s’ right to vote was equally forceful. The symbol of the anti-sufferage movement was the red rose, sported by several ladies that day, and the symbol of the suffragettes was the yellow daffodil. The outspoken ladies for womens’ rights sang and shouted such cries as, “For the work in a day, for the taxes we pay, for the laws we obey, we deserve our say!” countered by angry retorts that women would be forced to be drafted and sit on juries neglecting their children if given the right to vote. Some of the gentlemen reenactors took fervent sides, while others refused to comment, quite put out by the ladies battle of wits.
Quite exhausted from their efforts, the reenactors moved to one of the lush ship parlors for a salon and tea to continue the discussion after a lovely luncheon on board the Balclutha with many a parasol to block out the warm California sun on their complexions. In the afternoon, another march was held, followed by two impassioned speeches—one from each side—voicing their concerns about the issue of the vote. It was the perfect event for those who enjoy debating in character about historical issues, and a wonderful way to celebrate Womens History Month.
The next reenactment at Hyde Street Pier is July 14, 2012 with a dock strike, although my favorite is the Old Time Maritime Christmas which is in the evening by lamplight with all the ships decorated for Christmas.
Writer – Alexa Chipman
For more information about the The Hyde Street Living History Players Check out their website.