Today in Feminist History: Colonel Craft Can’t Wait

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.

February 23, 1913: In an unexpected move—and an extraordinary burst of energy and enthusiasm—most of the suffragist Army of the Hudson walked all 26 miles from Belair to Baltimore, Maryland, today on their “Votes for Women” hike from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C.

But several members of the corps remain in Overlea tonight, the day’s original destination.

The highest-ranking member of the Overlea contingent is Colonel Ida Craft, whose feet are in such poor condition that her ability to make even the first 21 miles today serves as an inspiration to all. But when Craft finally got to the day’s objective, well behind the rest of the column, she learned that General Jones and most of the other hikers had decided to bypass Overlea and go straight into Baltimore. Colonel Craft was quite angry, and declared that if General Jones does not come back out tomorrow morning to lead the remaining troops into Baltimore for the “official” entry into the city, she would do it herself.

Overlea officials were also upset that their city had been bypassed. They had planned a feast for the travelers, despite the objections of the elderly Reverend Cyrus Cort, who has been opposed to woman suffrage ever since he had a dispute with Susan B. Anthony 40 years ago. But though the celebration was less elaborate than originally envisioned, Overlea still honored those who stuck to the original route and destination.

Despite Jones’ arrival a day early, Baltimore suffragists hurried to meet the General’s forces a mile out of town, suffrage-yellow streamers in hand. As promised, a large squad of police was on duty to provide security, and after meeting the hikers at Hamilton they marched alongside, then cleared a path through the crowd of 5,000 waiting to greet the hikers in Baltimore. A thousand more spectators applauded the troops at Mount Vernon Place, just opposite the Stafford Hotel, where the Baltimore contingent is spending the night.

Though almost all the hikers – especially Colonel Craft – have given speeches at one time or another as individuals, General Jones showed her diplomatic skills today by successfully mediating a dispute between would-be speakers Elizabeth Aldrich and Elizabeth Freeman over who would speak officially for the Army of the Hudson at the Masonic Temple this morning. This prevented a last-minute desertion close to the hikers’ goal. Jones’ ability to negotiate will be critical to reuniting what are tonight two armies, and keeping all the troops happy during the final few days of this grueling march.


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.