Founding Feminists is FMF’s daily herstory column.
She’s done it again!
For the third time in 13 months, “General” Rosalie Jones has successfully led a band of suffrage pilgrims to their destination.
Her first – and totally unprecedented – “suffrage hike” left New York City on December 16, 1912, and arrived in Albany on December 28th. Its purpose was to deliver a message from prominent New York suffragists to Governor-elect William “Plain Bill” Sulzer, and then get him to officially support suffrage. They succeeded on both counts.
The massive and favorable publicity generated by their first adventure led to a far more ambitious trek from Newark, New Jersey to Washington, D.C. from February 12th to 28th of last year. That time they hiked to promote the cause, as well as to be a part of the landmark suffrage parade and pageant held in the nation’s capital on March 3rd, the day before President Wilson’s inauguration.
This third hike ended at 2:35 this afternoon, after having begun on New Year’s Day. It obviously went at a much faster pace than their first march to Albany. The goal of about 25 miles a day from the 1st through the 6th was achieved despite roads that according to General Jones were in even worse condition this year than in 1912.
Three of the eleven who arrived today hiked the entire 166 miles: “General” Rosalie Jones, “Colonel” Ida Craft and “Corporal” Martha Klatchken, all veterans of previous hikes. Though their goal was the same as 13 months ago – to deliver a message and gain the Governor’s endorsement of a Statewide suffrage referendum – there was a new chief executive to lobby. Sulzer was impeached and removed from office on October 17th, nine and a half months after being sworn in on January 1, 1913.
This year’s hike was beset with all the familiar problems, from muddy roads to high winds, bitter cold and snowstorms. General Jones often had to take breaks, as well as use a cane. But as always, the hikers just kept marching on, and today reached their destination. They were met at the edge of town by 200 cheering supporters, and were escorted on the final few miles of their journey by the Albany Political Equality Association, plus a fife and drum corps.
After some speeches to the crowd on the street, the hikers went into the Assembly Chamber, where they individually urged their representatives to vote for a current bill that would allow women to act as poll-watchers. This is a wise precaution to insure an honest election when woman suffrage goes on the New York State ballot on November 2, 1915. The reception was friendly, and General Jones even got a chance for some much-needed rest in one of the chamber’s many comfortable leather chairs.
Following their meeting with the legislators, the pilgrims went to see Governor Martin G. Glynn. When she met with him, Jones was carrying a lighted lantern, and when questioned about it said that in the tradition of Diogenes, she was “looking for an honest statesman.” Governor Glynn assured her: “You will find plenty of them here.” After some initial resistance, Glynn and his secretary, Frank Tierney, accepted “Votes for Women” buttons, then praised the hikers for their zeal, but did not make any official endorsement of the referendum, or a commitment to the cause.
Though she said she didn’t want to make another hike, Jones also said: “We shall march next year, however, and every year thereafter until women are granted suffrage.” So, the struggle – and presumably the hikes, as well as the massive marches and pageants – will go on!