Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Votes for Women! Albany! Albany!"

A hundred years ago, a stalwart band of suffragettes marched from New York City to Albany to deliver a message to Governor William ("Plain Bill") Sulzer on his inauguration day. (Historic aside: William Sulzer was the first and only governor of New York to be impeached.) The women left Manhattan on December 16, and their itinerary, which called for walking ten miles a day, was designed to bring them to Albany on December 31. 

In the days before Christmas 1912, the suffragettes were approaching Hudson, where they planned a stopover to celebrate the holiday. In the days before Christmas 2012, Gossips, with the aid of old newspaper accounts, will be tracking their progress. 

This account of the beginning of the march is from an article that appeared in the Rochester Democrat Chronicle on December 16, 1912.
About twenty-five woman answered the call of the suffragette leaders to rally at the headquarters of the New York state Woman Suffrage Association [on December 15] and gave final answer as to whether they would undertake the 140-mile December pilgrimage.
Each woman received a knapsack and a birch rod staff and was advised to start with "light marching equipment"--sweaters instead of fur coats, short skirts and stout walking boots. The knapsacks will be used for carrying suffragette literature to be distributed on the way, for in every town en route a vigorous demonstration in favor of votes for women is planned.
Martial inspiration for the marchers will be furnished, it was announced, by one of their number who will carry a drum, while the pangs of hunger will be relieved by supplies of peanuts, sweet chocolate, and sandwiches, to be carried in an automobile, which will also carry baggage and medical supplies.
To signify, however, that the spirit of the expedition is not militant, Mrs. Olive Schultze, riding ahead in a second automobile, will act as "peace scout" and by releasing doves will herald the approach of the pilgrims as they near each town.
Mrs. Rosalie Gardiner Jones, a wealthy Long Island young woman, will act as commander-in-chief of the expedition, and with at least six other women will march the entire distance. The message [to Governor Sulzer], which is scrolled on parchment, will be signed by suffrage leaders in the various towns visited.
Gossips Note: Rosalie Gardiner Jones organized a second suffrage hike from New York to Washington, D.C., in February 1913. It is not clear if the photograph used with this post shows the suffragettes on their way to Albany in December 1912 or on their way, two months later, to Washington.

1 comment:

  1. Carole. Thank you for discovering this story. I'm looking forward to reading the whole series.