Today in Feminist History: Suffragists Take on the Opposition

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 29, 1912: Though their grueling 160-mile hike from the Bronx to Albany was successfully completed yesterday, General Rosalie Jones and her suffrage army still have one task remaining.

They must deliver the message they carried from New York suffragists to Governor-elect Sulzer, asking for his support in their call for a Statewide suffrage referendum.

Today, after a well-deserved rest (General Jones slept until noon), and a tea given for the hikers by Helen Hoy Greeley, it was time to deal with the opposition. The most prominent local anti-suffragist is the Rt. Rev. William Croswell Doane, Episcopal Bishop of Albany. Though he admitted the hikers were better behaved than their British sisters, he still condemned their efforts today, and especially their desire to attract attention. But General Jones reminded everyone that the Bishop’s daughter was equally busy trying to bring attention to her anti-suffrage work. (Of course, she hasn’t been nearly as successful at it, because no anti-suffrage event has ever generated anything even remotely close to the amount of favorable publicity given to the suffrage hikers.)

Elsewhere this Sunday, Colonel Craft tried to get permission to speak at Calvary Baptist Church, but was denied on the grounds that it was “not wanted to open any such question in the church.” But on a more positive theological note, one of the hikers, Sibyl Wilbur, was warmly received when she told her fellow Christian Scientists at a church reception that it was her faith that prevented her from getting any blisters. 

General Jones and her troops are presently getting a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow may be a busy day. Governor-elect Sulzer may arrive in town to prepare for his inauguration on January 1st. If he does arrive then, the troops will want to track him down, get a meeting with him, and deliver their message.


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.