Founding Feminists is FMF’s daily herstory column.
“General” Rosalie Jones and her suffragist “Army of the Hudson” are advancing again! After a series of speeches and social events in Baltimore yesterday, they hiked 22 miles today, the 15th day of their trek from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C.
Today’s march was to Laurel, Maryland, with several women from the Just Government League providing an escort out of Baltimore.
The road led mostly past farms and through tiny villages, with “Votes for Women” cheers by the hikers greeted by “Howdy” and tips of the hat from local farmers. The biggest salutes of the day came from students and faculty of the Johns Hopkins School for Nurses and the St. Mary’s Industrial School as the pilgrims passed by.
Luncheon was taken at a church in Elk Ridge, where the cracker rations Alva Belmont mistakenly sent to General Jones’ home on Long Island finally caught up with the army, and supplemented the tea and milk bought at the church.
The pilgrims were escorted into Laurel by four uniformed members of the Post Office Department and a number of women bearing yellow suffrage streamers. Upon arrival, the hikers were greeted by the Mayor, and they presented him with a letter of introduction from the Mayor of Baltimore.
But not everyone in town was hospitable, and when it was time to rest from the day’s long trip, the pilgrims were told that there were no rooms available for them at the city’s two largest hotels. Two prominent local women and the mayor’s wife quickly formed a committee to persuade the unsympathetic hotel owners to change their minds. One proprietor reluctantly relented, though only after personally meeting with the hikers. There was a small suffrage rally held outside a drug store, but as they begin the final approach to Washington, the hikers are now focused on national politics.
A yellow “Votes for Women” flag was sent to President-elect Wilson today, with a letter which read: “Suffrage Headquarters, Laurel, Maryland, Feb. 26, 1913: President-elect Woodrow Wilson: We send and beg of you to accept this ‘Votes for Women’ flag as a memento of our pilgrimage through New York and New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. Yours very truly, Rosalie Gardiner Jones.”
Though atrocious roads and bad weather are things the hikers are accustomed to, organizational politics has become a new source of frustration. The National American Woman Suffrage Association (N.A.W.S.A.) has decreed that only the women hikers, and only those who have hiked the full distance from Newark, are authorized to march in Washington. But General Jones is fiercely loyal to all those who have played any part in this difficult journey, and is determined to assure that all will march together into Washington day after tomorrow as well as in the big parade and pageant five days from now. “That settles that,” she said.
“Scout Car” driver Olive Schultz motored into Washington today to attend to last-minute details. She was formally welcomed to suffrage headquarters by Alice Paul, who heads the N.A.W.S.A. committee planning the massive suffrage event on March 3rd, the day before Wilson’s inaugural.
Though she was only one person – and in an automobile, not hiking – Schultz’ arrival caused quite a stir in the city simply because she has a role in the hike. When she visited suffrage headquarters, 30 workers rushed to meet her, despite having a huge amount of work to do and less than 120 hours remaining to accomplish all of it. The intense interest that the people of Washington seem to have in the hike, and the enthusiasm shown by their fellow suffragists for the hikers bodes well for the reception that will greet the pilgrims day after tomorrow.