Today in Feminist History: The Suffrage Army is Growing!

Today in Feminist History is our daily recap of the major milestones and minor advancements that shaped women’s history in the U.S.—from suffrage to Shirley Chisholm and beyond. These posts were written by, and are presented in homage to, our late staff historian and archivist, David Dismore.

December 12, 1912: General Rosalie Jones’ Suffrage Army, which will begin its march from New York City to the State Capital at Albany four days from now to lobby for putting a statewide suffrage referendum on the ballot, is growing rapidly!

In just the three days since this first-of-its-kind suffrage event was announced, seven suffrage organizations have enlisted in the corps. Among the major groups preparing to march are the New York Woman Suffrage Association, the Women’s Political Union and the Equal Franchise Society. The Men’s League for Equal Suffrage will be there for the sendoff and again upon the marchers’ arrival in Albany, though unable to take part in the entire march due to the business obligations of its members.

In order to be sure that the public will remain aware of the marchers’ progress, “War Correspondents” will be sending daily dispatches to the headquarters of the Woman Suffrage Party where they will be read daily, and hopefully reprinted in the press. 

Colonel Ida Craft, second in command, is in charge of the sendoff, as well as commissary arrangements along the way. She will have six assistants to make sure that those of all ranks will be well-fed. “I am not going to have any of my army fall by the wayside through eating canned food,” she says, promising plenty of sandwiches, chocolate and shelled peanuts, which she will shell personally. 

General Jones is presently upstate finalizing the route and scouting out bivouac areas in boarding houses and hotels where her troops can encamp along the line of march.

A new 9-star suffrage button, with each star symbolizing a State in which sex discrimination at the polls has been banned. Five of the nine have been won in the past 25 months, the latest three in last month’s elections.

The army will have temporary reinforcements along the way, with a group of women led by Florence Maule Cooley escorting them through Putnam County. Elizabeth Freeman of Syracuse and Anna Congdon Etz of Hornell will each bring a detachment that will join up at some point between New York and Albany. 

Each Borough of New York City will have its own company, which will march the entire distance. Supply stations will be available to replenish suffrage leaflets and buttons, which will be distributed in large quantities, and will also stock extra coats, sweaters, hoods and overshoes, plus skis and snowshoes as well, to assure that not even the worst of weather will stop the General and her troops from reaching their objective.

Sounds like quite an adventure, and a great way to promote the cause—so let’s cheer them on starting at the kickoff rally at 242nd and Broadway on the 16th!


David Dismore is the archivist for the Feminist Majority Foundation. His journey from would-be weather forecaster to full-time feminist began with the powerful impression made by a photo and a few paragraphs about the suffragists in his high school history textbook; years later, he had his first encounter with NOW—in which he carefully peeked in a window before opening the door to be sure men were allowed. He was eventually active in the ERA extension campaign of 1978, embarked on a cross-country bikeathon for it in 1982 and even worked for pioneers Toni Carabillo and Judith Meuli.