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Suffrage Christmas

Christmas postcards with suffragists’ “Votes for Women” message—”Little Drummer Girl” (1910), Santa Clause (1911.)

Christmas Eve Day, 12/24/1912—No room in the inn for the “ARMY OF SUFFRAGE” Eight days into their march from New York City to Albany to deliver a suffrage message to the newly elected governor of New York, “General” Rosalie Jones and her suffrage army reached their destination, Livingston, NY, only to discover that the inn was full. According to a reporter, dubbed a “war correspondent” riding in a car, the “brave women soldiers” set off for Hudson, 8 miles away, with “heads bent to a cold, biting wind and a stinging snow . . . Courageously they plowed through snow drifts, slipping, sliding and sometimes falling, but always up and off again.” They reached Hudson after nightfull. I’ll post tomorrow about how General Rosalie Jones and her suffrage army celebrated Christmas.

Christmas Day, 1912: General Rosalie Jones and her “Suffrage Army”—Colonel Ida Craft, Surgeon Lavinia Dock, Major Katherine T. Stiles, Lieutenant-Colonel & war correspondent Jessie Hardy Stubbs, and Privates Alice Clark and Gladys Coursen had hiked on the day before Christmas through a blizzard. At nightfall, they had arrived at the Worth Hotel, Hudson, NY, with ice in their hair and wet up to their knees. Settling into rooms at the Worth Hotel, they undressed and were wrapped in hot blankets. General Jones, sitting with her feet in hot water and cold cream covering her face, issued her last order of the day on which they had hiked a total of 22 miles: “Those who wish may go to supper, but I am going straight to bed.” On Christmas Day, General Jones told reporters: “We wish the gladdest of the season’s greetings to all suffragists all over the country.” They spent Christmas morning at a roller skating rink. Despite her blisters, Rosalie Jones skated around several times. When the owner stopped the music, she gave a suffrage speech. After lunch at the hotel, they exchanged gifts—cold cream, foot soap, and foot warmers—around a Christmas tree in the lobby. A copy of “Pilgrim’s Progress,” signed with a sentiment from each “soldier,” was presented to Gen. Jones. In the evening, they attended an annual Charity Ball, dressed as “Spirits” in costumes carried on their supply wagon. I particularly love this part of their day because although my school education was devoid of historic women, generations of suffragists knew about and honored their foremothers: Gen. Jones dressed as Abigail Adams, wearing a pink and blue costume, a blue stain petticoat under a polonaise and looped panniers of flowered pink silk, and black velvet shoes with buckles. Major Stiles dressed as Mercy Otis Warren, garbed in a black velvet and lace gown, with high-heeled shoes of black velvet, and widely draped panniers. War Correspondent Jessie Hardy Stubbs represented Mistress Margaret Brent, who leads off my book “The Vote.” Colonel Ida Craft wore a garnet gown, kerchief, and Quaker cap, representing Lucretia Mott at the Charity Ball. Gladys Coursen dressed as herself, representing the “Spirit of 1912.” She carried a placard with the names of the equal suffrage states. They mingled as “Spirits” in silence for an hour. Then they left, changed, returned, and danced!

Image L-R: Jessie Hardy Stubbs, Ida Craft, Rosalie Jones. (Click on images to enlarge them.)

My new book—The Vote: Women’s Fierce Fight— is available in paperback and eBook

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