Today in Feminist History: The Suffrage Hike Hits the Road Again

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 26, 1913: General Rosalie Jones and her suffragist Army of the Hudson are advancing again!

After a series of speeches and social events in Baltimore yesterday, they hiked 22 miles today—the 15th day of their trek from Newark, New Jersey, to Washington, D.C. Today’s march was to Laurel, Maryland, with several women from the Just Government League providing an escort out of Baltimore.

The road today led mostly past farms and through tiny villages, with “Votes for Women!” cheers by the hikers greeted by “Howdy !” and tips of the hat from local farmers. The biggest salutes of the day came from students and faculty of the Johns Hopkins School for Nurses and the St. Mary’s Industrial School as the pilgrims passed by.

Luncheon was taken at a church in Elk Ridge, where the cracker rations Alva Belmont mistakenly sent to General Jones’ home on Long Island finally caught up with the army, and supplemented the tea and milk bought at the church. 

The pilgrims were escorted into Laurel by four uniformed members of the Post Office Department and a number of women bearing yellow suffrage streamers. Upon arrival, the hikers were greeted by the Mayor. The visitors presented him with a letter of introduction from the Mayor of Baltimore.

But not everyone in town was hospitable, and when it was time to rest from the day’s long trip, the pilgrims were told that there were no rooms available for them at the city’s two largest hotels. Two prominent local women and the mayor’s wife quickly formed a committee to persuade the unsympathetic hotel owners to change their minds. One proprietor reluctantly gave in, though only after personally meeting with the hikers. 

PHOTO: General Rosalie Jones holding up the hike’s official banner (made before road conditions forced a start in Newark, New Jersey, rather than New York City, where the kickoff rally was held). Colonel Craft is to the left, holding up a shield with the name of the equal-suffrage State of Colorado. Elizabeth Freeman is on the far right, behind the shield of Oregon, another State where women have the same voting rights as men.

There was a small suffrage rally held outside a drug store, but as they begin the final approach to Washington, the hikers are now focusing more on national politics. A yellow “Votes for Women” flag was sent to President-elect Wilson today, with a letter which read:

Suffrage Headquarters, Laurel, Maryland, February 26, 1913.

President-elect Woodrow Wilson:

We send and beg of you to accept this ‘Votes for Women’ flag as a memento of our pilgrimage through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

Yours Very Truly, Rosalie Gardiner Jones.

Though atrocious roads and bad weather are things the hikers are accustomed to, organizational politics has become a new source of frustration. The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) has decreed that only the women hikers, and only those who have hiked the full distance from Newark, are authorized to march in its parade in Washington on March 3rd.

But General Jones is fiercely loyal to all those who have played any part in this difficult journey, and determined to assure that all will march together into Washington day after tomorrow as well as in the big parade and pageant five days from now. “That settles that,” Jones said.

Scout Car Driver Olive Schultz motored into Washington today to attend to last-minute details. Though she was alone—and in an automobile, not hiking – her arrival caused quite a stir in the city simply because she has a role in the hike. Her muddy machine, with a bright yellow suffrage banner on the side, caused her to be immediately recognized and applauded by people who had been reading of the hike’s progress in the newspapers. 

Schultz was formally welcomed to NAWSA’s local headquarters by Alice Paul, who heads its Congressional Committee as well as the Joint Inaugural Procession Committee planning the massive suffrage event on March 3rd, the day before Wilson’s inaugural. Thirty workers rushed to meet Schultz, despite having a huge amount of work to do and less than a hundred and twenty hours remaining to accomplish all of it. The intense interest that the people of Washington seem to have in the hike, and the enthusiasm shown by their fellow suffragists for the hikers bodes well for the reception that will greet the pilgrims day after tomorrow.


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.