Friday, January 4, 2013

Following Up: The Hike to Washington

After the hike to Albany, General Rosalie Jones planned a hike from New York to Washington for Woodrow Wilson's inauguration on March 4, 1913. Even though Nora Blatch De Forest and Mary Garrett Hay, who represented the suffragist "establishment" in New York, didn't think much of the plan or its ability to effect change, the pilgrimage to Washington happened as planned, but the 240-mile trek to Washington seems to have differed from the 140-mile hike through eastern New York in more than just length.

The pilgrimage to Washington started out from New York City on February 12, 1913. The first leg of the journey involved taking the train from Hudson Terminal to Newark, from whence the suffragettes set out on foot.  The beginning of the march from Newark was filmed, and this 90-second film is believed to be the earliest surviving newsreel. 

From the beginning, the hike to Washington seemed besieged by problems. On their first day's journey, from Newark to Metuchen, the suffragettes, who now called themselves "The Army of the Hudson," had to cope with roads thinly covered with ice and snow, which soon turned to mud and slush. In the afternoon, walking into the wind with the temperature falling, several of the hikers wanted to stop for the night in Rahway, but General Jones ordered the army to advance. The New York Times reported: "One woman's condition was so serious when the party halted for the night that a doctor was called to attend her."

When the Army of the Hudson crossed the Delaware on February 16 and disembarked in Philadelphia, they were mobbed by a crowd of two thousand men and boys. The six policemen who had been dispatched to escort the women "were unable to check the rush." The New York Times reported: "In the main the men and boys were good-natured and curiosity seemed to be the reason for the demonstration. It was not in any sense, however, a sympathetic crowd, and very few were the good wishes extended to the party. Some of the remarks shouted were supposed to be humorous, but some were positively insulting." 

In Wilmington, Delaware, on February 19, the Army of the Hudson encountered a different kind of challenge. Two businessman from the South, who claimed to represent "many thousands of Southern men," called upon General Jones and wanted to know "how the army stood upon the question of suffrage for negro women." The New York Times recounts the rest of the interview:
The callers told Gen. Jones that the question was one of vital importance in the South. They admitted they said the right of white women to vote, but they said they did not favor granting the right to negro women. Gen. Jones was not to be drawn into a discussion.
"This question," she said, "is one that has to do largely with certain States. The men and women of those States must solve their own problems."
"General," said the man earnestly, "if you advocate for negro women you will indeed find that your way to Washington lies through enemy territory."
Through most of the march through Maryland, the Army of the Hudson had to contend with muddy roads and rain. On February 27, the second to last day of the hike, the suffragettes reached Bladensburg, Maryland, in a rainstorm, and "encountered more insults and rowdyism . . . than at any time during the 240-mile hike from New York." The New York Times described the incident:
Some of the students of the Maryland Agricultural College at College Park were responsible for the rowdyism. In front of the college were 200 boys as the hikers marched by. Insult after insult was hurled by them at the pilgrims. . . . One of the younger women was hustled across the campus. She cried, and the students ran away to insult another pilgrim. Two women were jostled, and one was knocked down. 
There were other problems as well. Colonel Ida Craft, General Jones's second in command, was having trouble with her feet. On the march to Belair on February 22, Craft fell far behind the rest of the army. The others arrived at their destination in the late afternoon, but Craft didn't get there until nightfall, in a driving rain. The New York Times reported:
Col. Craft's physical condition is such that Gen. Jones and her staff have begged her to give up the hike. Col. Craft will not give up. Her feet are bleeding and so swollen that she cannot fasten her shoes. When Col. Craft reached the inn, she had to be assisted into the house.
"I am going through," was her answer to the pleadings of her companions to give  up.
Two days later, in spite of or perhaps because of her swollen and aching feet, Colonel Craft, was reported to be so angry that she would not speak to General Jones. She staged an insurrection and temporarily divided the Army of the Hudson into two camps. 

On February 26, while the Army of the Hudson was struggling through the mud and rain toward Washington, the New York Times reported that "a large gathering of handsomely dressed women, with a number of men, crowded the assembly room of the Colony Club, Madison Avenue and Thirtieth Street" to denounce the suffragettes as a "noisy minority." These "handsomely dressed ladies" were anti-suffragists. The greater insult came the next day when General Jones was asked to hand over the message for Woodrow Wilson that she was carrying to Alice Paul, Secretary of the Congressional Committee of the National Woman Suffrage Association of America. It would be Paul not Jones who would deliver the message to Wilson. The New York Times reported that General Jones was "much disappointed": "It was, she said, as if a message had been given to some one to carry to Washington and a lot of suspicious women had on a fast train overhauled the messenger at a way station, got the message, and delivered it themselves."

In spite of hardship, insults, and disappointment, General Jones's Army of the Hudson succeeded in getting to Washington, in time to be part of the great Woman Suffrage Procession that took place on March 3, 1913.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Gossips, for this wonderful Suffragettes Series
    and great gratitude to the sisters of the
    "The Army of the Hudson"
    Women Senators Make History In 113th Congress
    Elise Foley [excerpt]
    "You stand here now in the footsteps of so many women "..
    Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)[1/3/2013]
    ..Of the nearly 2,000 senators in the history of Congress,only 44 have been female.
    Now, there are 20 women senators in the 113th Congress -- still far from proportional to the U.S. population....
    .. Ten of those women were sworn in on Thursday,
    four of them for the first time.
    Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), known as "the dean" of the female senators.
    ... she is the longest-serving woman in Congress..
    Mikulski nearly cried on Thursday when welcoming Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
    with an official U.S. Senate pin.
    "Congratulations," Mikulski said, with her eyes watering ,as she beat her hand against her heart.

    "You stand here now in the footsteps of so many women
    who for so long would have liked to have been here,
    should have been here, but didn't get the shot.
    You've got the chance.
    You have a band of sisters.
    And we're going to not only make history,
    we're going to change history."