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Today in Herstory: Suffrage Hikers Get Back on the Road

Founding Feminists is the FMF’s daily herstory column.

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February 26, 1913: 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 today 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.

General Rosalie Jones holding up the hike's official banner (made before road conditions forced a start in Newark, rather than New York City, where the kickoff rally was held), with Colonel Ida Craft to the left holding up a shield with the name of the equal-suffrage State of Colorado. Elizabeth Freeman is on the far right, holding up the name of Oregon, another State where women have the same voting rights as men.
General Rosalie Jones holding up the hike’s official banner (made before road conditions forced a start in Newark, rather than New York City, where the kickoff rally was held), with Colonel Ida Craft to the left holding up a shield with the name of the equal-suffrage State of Colorado. Elizabeth Freeman is on the far right, holding up the name of Oregon, another State where women have the same voting rights as men.

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 began 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 Jersey, Pennsylvania, 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 their parade in Washington on March 3rd. But General Jones is fiercely loyal to all those who have played any part in this difficult journey, and 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,” Jones said.

Scout Car driver Olive Schultz motored into Washington today to attend to last-minute details. Though she was alone – and in an automobile, not hiking – her arrival caused quite a stir in the city simply because she has a role in the hike. Her muddy machine, with a bright yellow suffrage banner on the side, caused her to be immediately recognized and applauded by people who had been reading of the hike’s progress in the newspapers.

Schultz was formally welcomed to N.A.W.S.A.’s local headquarters by Alice Paul, who heads its Congressional Committee as well as the Joint Inaugural Procession Committee planning the massive suffrage event on March 3rd, the day before Wilson’s inaugural. Thirty workers rushed to meet Schultz, 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.