LEWISTON, Idaho – To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Night of Terror when a group of female women’s right protestors were brutally tortured and beaten, two faculty members at Lewis-Clark State College have planned two events on Nov. 14 and 15.
The Night of Terror took place on the evening of Nov. 14 and morning of Nov. 15 in 1917 at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. A group female protesters called the Silent Sentinels, who picketed the White House daily to ask for women’s voting rights, were arrested for obstructing traffic and imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse. During the Night of Terror 33 imprisoned women were tortured and beaten by the workhouse guards and superintendent W.H. Whitaker.
After that night, there was continued mistreatment of the prisoners until a late November court-ordered hearing for charges against the women found that all of the 218 women who had been detained over a six-month period had been illegally arrested, convicted and imprisoned. All were freed. The event took place three years prior to the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Amy Canfield, LCSC associate professor of history, will give a talk on “The Centennial of a Night of Terror: A Violent Struggle for Women’s Suffrage” on Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the LCSC Center for Arts & History, located at 415 Main St. In Lewiston. The talk is free and open to the public.
On Nov. 15, Canfield and Nancy Lee-Painter, associate professor of theatre at LCSC, have put together a recreation of the Night of Terror through small re-enactments. The event will take place at 10:15-10:30 a.m. on the sidewalk near the front entrance to the LCSC Student Union Building. Students, faculty, and LCSC Vice President for Student Affairs Andy Hanson will be the actors.
The re-enactment will begin with the women protesting at the White House with women’s suffrage signs. The men actors will then come and arrest the women and then all the actors will go to the LCSC amphitheater next to the SUB and be frozen into a position from The Night of Terror. The actors will remain frozen in a position rather than act out any scenes of violence. There will also be three interpretative panels researched, illustrated, and written by Lars Roubidoux, a junior at LCSC, to add to the history and context of the event.