Founding Feminists is FMF’s daily herstory column.
After seven consecutive days of walking, and approximately 116 of the 225 miles from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C. behind them, the suffrage hikers are spending this eighth day in Wilmington, Delaware, “getting new feet” as they put it.
But while the morning may have been spent applying much of the city’s available supply of liniment to sore feet, their voices were not given any pampered treatment during the day’s stopover.
Most of the hikers, once sufficiently rubbed down, were eager to fulfill the numerous speaking requests made in this very friendly town. By noon there were speakers at the Pullman Car Works. The Hollingsworth ship and railroad car workers got a briefing as well, and in the evening the hikers went to the Garrick Theater, where five-minute suffrage speeches alternated between the vaudeville acts, and both types of performances were applauded.
“General” Rosalie Jones held a reception at her hotel this afternoon. Among those attending were the city’s mayor, and Captain Thomas Johnson, age 86, of Cape Charles, Virginia, who came to town specifically to see the hikers.
There has been much public concern and speculation about the condition of Lausanne, the $59.98 suffrage horse bought in Newark to pull Elizabeth Freeman’s literature (“ammunition”) wagon. But a veterinarian who had heard that Lausanne was “spavined, had a bowed tendon, sprung forward legs, interfered badly and was a cribber” found upon examination that “her legs were just slightly sprung, and that she has a heavy appetite,” but was otherwise all right, and fit to complete the rest of the trip so long as she continues to be well-fed.
Though General Jones’ “Army of the Hudson” is dedicated to winning the battle for the ballot by totally peaceful means, the news that the unoccupied country home of David Lloyd-George, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, had just been damaged stirred controversy in the ranks today. Freeman, who has served time in British prisons for her suffrage activities there said that she could understand the reason for such a militant action:
The situation in England is entirely different from the situation here. The women know that [Prime Minister] Asquith is their enemy. He has frankly said so. Now, Lloyd-George posed as friendly. He held out one hand to them and then had torpedoed a bill that would have helped them. Englishmen hold above all else the sacredness of property. Well, Englishwomen have attacked sacred property, and they will continue to do so. I believe in destruction of property where human life is not endangered. Lloyd-George knows now what Englishwomen really think of him.
But hiker Elizabeth Aldrich is representative of those who take the opposite view: “I would not break a pane of glass if by doing so all women were enfranchised. I am for peace and order.”
Three interesting letters arrived today. One was supposedly from “Mrs. Alfred I. Du Pont,” wife of the well-known industrialist, financier and philanthropist. When Freeman called her, she said the letter must be a hoax, because she hadn’t written it, but that she actually did support the hikers, so it was a trick that had a good result.
A second letter was more of an obvious spoof, allegedly from the “Association of Husbands,” who said they were getting tired of this cross-country hiking by suffragists.
A third letter was from someone claiming to be a librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, who said that the Dean of the Law School had alleged that $30 worth of furniture had been damaged during the suffrage rally there for the hikers. When Freeman tried to call the Dean, he was out, so the truth of this allegation remains in question tonight.
What is not in question is that both fame and support for the hikers are increasing rapidly, as more and more groups now volunteer as escorts. For instance, a brass band composed of 25 school teachers and other professional women from Marysville, Missouri, has just offered to meet the hikers at Laurel, Maryland, and escort them into Washington.
College students have been very supportive from the beginning, and Company “N” of the Pennsylvania National Guard, composed primarily of University of Pennsylvania undergraduates, has offered to march with the hikers in the big suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. on March 3rd. Not to be outdone, Princeton students have also volunteered to march along with them in D.C. next month as well.
With the last of the day’s many suffrage speeches done, the hikers have now turned in and are enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep. But tomorrow it’s back on the road again, and on to Elkton, Maryland!
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