Today in Feminist History: The Suffrage Hike Hits Albany!

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 28, 1912: Albany at last!

“We have done the thing we set out to do,” declared a happy and triumphant General Rosalie Jones after she and her suffrage army finished the final 18 miles and the 13th day of their march from the Bronx. But the last day was not leisurely, as the troops kept up a brisk pace right from the start in order to be certain of taking their objective by nightfall.

Surgeon-General Dock had the hardest time today, because her feet were in the worst condition. But when General Jones told the troops to move out, Dock fell into line like any good soldier. The main discussion topic of the day was that the army’s entry into town would be well ahead of schedule. Local suffrage groups had made elaborate plans for a welcoming reception, but not for today. General Jones wasn’t concerned about a reception, just successfully completing the mission, and with Colonel Craft’s support, she overruled requests by “Doc” Dock, and Captain as well as Chief Orator Jessie Hardy Stubbs, to keep to the original schedule.

PHOTO: A sample of today’s press coverage of the hikers’ triumphal entry into Albany. (That’s Colonel “Ida” – not “Ada” – Craft on the left.)

They left Valatie at 8:45, and though the roads were still slippery, the snow had stopped, and the weather was cloudy, but warmer than on many days, so they easily reached East Greenbush by noon for a luncheon. There they were met by the Albany delegation, which included officers of the New York State Suffrage League and Albany Suffrage League, plus five other supporters. They marched along together until finally there was a first view of Albany, when all halted and a great cheer went up.

At a toll bridge, Dr. C.M. Calver of the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage was waiting to gallantly pay the 2-cent tolls for all. As the victorious army marched into the State Capital, it was greeted by large crowds. Though it was hard to tell how many were there out of curiosity and how many to give support, they all cheered the troops.

Many citizens fell in line behind the marchers, and soon the little band, which at one point had shrunk to only three full-time hikers, but then had slowly grown again as the hike progressed, suddenly became so numerous that the line of march extended for almost two blocks along State Street. Upon arrival at the Hampton House the General addressed the crowd and her loyal troops:

“Our task has been accomplished. We have done the thing we set out to do, and in that thought alone there is much satisfaction. But we have done more than that. We have had a chance to talk to the men and women of the rural districts. They have come to know us, and many of them believe in us and the cause we represent. In this we have accomplished much, but how much more good have we done when one thinks of the women who now understand us as missionaries to the cause. A spectacular march was necessary to attract attention. I want to thank the press for all that has been done for us.”

Now the only task remaining for these veteran hikers is to deliver their still-secret message to Governor-elect Sulzer in hopes of getting his support for a planned Statewide suffrage referendum in 1915. Then, once the message is delivered, they can begin planning the next suffrage hike to Washington, D.C., in February !


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.