How Miss Perkins Learned To Lobby


Perkins received considerable publicity for her part in the bill’s passage. InJuIy the popular Metropolitan Magazine carried an article about her entitled “Behind the Rail: Being the Story of a Woman Lobbyist.” The author, Leroy Scott, was an acquaintance and must have acquired much of his information from her, but she was careful not to aggravate anyone’s wounds. Sullivan is the hero of the story, neither Foley nor Murphy is mentioned, the two senators who wavered are not named, and Wagner, because most of his role is omitted, appears as well-intentioned but as presiding officer powerless to help.

Several years after the fifty-fourhour bill became law, Perkins went to Tammany Hall on Fourteenth Street to ask Murphy to support some legislation on factory buildings. By that time Smith and Wagner were making statewide reputations out of a factoryinvestigating commission, and the Democratic party, largely by supporting the commission’s recommendations, was becoming the dominant party in the state.

Murphy, dignified and reserved, was extremely courteous. He listened to her argument for the factory bill and then, leaning forward in his chair, said quietly, “You are the young lady, aren’t you, who managed to get the fifty-four-hour bill passed?”

She admitted she was.

“Well, young lady, I opposed that bill.”

“Yes, I so gathered, Mr. Murphy.”

“It is my observation,” he said, “that the bill made us many votes. I will tell the boys to give all the help they can to this new bill. Good-bye.”

As she left, murmuring her thanks, he asked, “Are you one of these women suffragists?”

“Yes, I am,” she stammered.

“Well, I am not,” he replied, “but if anyone ever gives them the vote, I hope you will remember that you would make a good Democrat.”