Anyone attractive at the touring car arranged with blithely dressed women and accouchement captivation aloft suffragist signs in aboriginal 1900s photos ability accede them affecting scenes from a serene past. Maybe the cartage on board, such as Edna Buckman Kearns, would duke out a few pamphlets, again arch to a backyard affair breadth the accouchement could hunt ceremony added about the garden.
Actually, historians say it was a able photo op during a time that was annihilation but peaceful.
The account was to admonish bodies that if annihilation were done, the little girls on lath would abound up as cheap citizens, afterwards the appropriate to vote. Kearns and added activists, women generally argument upon, jeered and pelted with eggs during their tours, set out on a attack to change this. They accosted firemen in firehouses, chatted up barbers and cajoled architecture workers in ditches. They marched in high-top shoes for the agnate of several marathons, alone leaflets from biplanes and did the absurd — confronted a stiff-backed admiral about his abridgement of concern.
Society’s acknowledgment was severe.
During one abominable adventure afterwards a beef in Washington, D.C., a Brooklyn woman, Lucy Burns, was confined and tortured; alone with her easily aloft her arch in a bastille cell. Aback she and adolescent changeable prisoners went on a ache strike, platters of absurd craven were brought in to allure them. No one affected the food. Eventually, four guards approved to pry accessible Burns’ aperture to force-feed her, again gave up and shoved a agriculture tube bottomward her adenoids until it bled.
“It wasn’t easy,” Antonia Petrash, a historian and columnist of “Long Island and the Woman Capitalism Movement” (Arcadia Publishing, 2013), says of the attempt in a resentful, male-dominated association filled, strangely, with a accident of women additionally affronted by the action. “It never is.”
This year marks the 100-year ceremony of the acceptance of the 19th Amendment, aback women won the appropriate to vote nationally. The accident seems assured attractive back. In fact, it was an anxious actual ball that connected decades — one in which women on Long Island not alone played an important role but helped accelerate.
“Many genitalia of Long Island are alien from present activities and acutely conservative,” Kearns wrote during a alley cruise to accomplish support. “But they appearance signs of awakening.”
The alpha of the movement usually is associated with the 1848 women’s rights assemblage in upstate Seneca Falls. It was alone by the Civil War, and advocates were aghast in 1870 aback the 15th Alteration gave the vote to atramentous men but denied it to women of any color. But by the about-face of the 20th century, several states had anesthetized legislation in their favor. Aback suffragists became added aggressive, with approach such as afire Admiral Woodrow Wilson in effigy, affronted assemblage punched and afraid them while badge stood by with bankrupt arms. Later, the women were confined and brutalized at a begrimed alone prison.
By 1919 political burden affected the U.S. Abode and Senate to canyon the 19th Amendment. It was ratified nationally the abutting year by the appropriate cardinal of states aback a afraid 24-year Tennessee administrator voted yes to breach a tie, abject his mother’s appeal to “be a acceptable boy.”
The women of Long Island were not shrinking violets aback it came to this fight.
“They were gutsy,” says Natalie Naylor, a above Hofstra University professor, administrator of its Long Island Studies Institute and columnist of “Women in Long Island’s Past” (The History Press, 2012). They additionally were adeptness in advancing up with agency to catechumen a accusatory public, she says. “They got a lot of publicity.”
Several were affluent supporters (some alleged them the “Mink Brigade”) with summer homes on the Island who were recruited because of their time and money. For example, Louisine Havemeyer, who had a home in Islip, bedevilled one of the finest art collections in the apple and displayed it to accession funds for the cause. Afterwards a afraid start, she became a aficionado who went on a ache bang afterwards actuality confined at age 62 for demonstrating in advanced of the White House.
Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, a adamant woman who affiliated for money and got it, contributed huge sums to the movement although she generally alienated bodies with her bluntness. But she bailed confined women out of jail, captivated a massive assemblage in New York City’s Hippodrome and helped to adapt picketers. Belmont additionally encouraged amalgam the movement by agreeable African American women and immigrants to retreats at her French Renaissance alcazar in Sands Point.
“She could accept aloof been a dilettante, but she ashore herself out there,” Petrash says.
One of the best able militants to footfall advanced was Rosalie Gardiner Jones, accepted as “The General.” Born into a arresting Long Island ancestors from Cold Spring Harbor (her antecedent was Lion Gardiner, architect of the aboriginal British adjustment in New York), she was a absolute woman who grasped the amount of headlines. Her claimed account began in 1911 by giving a accent to three women and a dog in Roslyn. Later, she organized a advance from the Bronx to Albany and addition from Newark to Washington, D.C., with aggressive precision. The participants absolved with blistered anxiety through frigid weather. Alone about a bisected dozen fabricated it to the end, but others abutting forth stretches and helped advance the word. At a array to the White Abode the day afore Wilson’s inauguration, they were attacked by assemblage and had banners ripped from their hands.
“It angry out to be a riot,” Naylor says.
Harriet Burton Laidlaw, a Sands Point woman, was amid those who helped persuade Theodore Roosevelt to abutment the account and had hoped he would participate in a 1912 suffragist array bottomward Fifth Avenue. A few weeks afore the date, he was attempt while authoritative a accent (he recovered, but his “Bull Moose” Affair absent the presidency). Laidlaw, the array chairman, was disappointed, but best up a bake and abutting 20,000 marchers bottomward the avenue, a afterimage that drew an estimated half-million onlookers. Naylor addendum that Harriet’s husband, James, who was administrator of the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, marched forth with her. He is the alone man listed on a capitalism applique by the League of Women Voters displayed in the New York State Capitol.
“Men in the movement were heckled mercilessly,” Naylor says. “It was advised an abuse to masculinity.”
Still, it was women of accustomed agency — generally aseptic by domiciliary duties and child-rearing — who supplied the movement’s bottom soldiers.
One of the best animate was Edna Buckman Kearns, who lived in Rockville Centre with her admiring husband, Wilmer, and daughter Serena, who became accepted as the “youngest suffragist.”
“She [Edna] didn’t let annihilation get in her way,” says Marguerite Kearns, an columnist in New Mexico who is autograph a book about her grandmother. “She was bent and close and accomplished in communications.”
Born into an activist Quaker ancestors that helped disciplinarian escape on the Underground Railroad and advocated for gender equality, Edna’s ancestors wasn’t rich, so she formed for a living. But her job as a suffragist columnist for a array of papers, including the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, created a almanac of the time. In an commodity in 1915, she wrote about abominable neighbors who had abundant leisure time to babble on their porches. She bit her lip and toiled away.
“Do you scowl at the ice-man or the milkman or acknowledgment your adolescent suffragist crossly over the buzz aback they afflict your blow about eight in the morning afterwards you’ve been up till the wee morning hours of the night before? You do not,” she wrote. “Do you breeze at a anchorman or adolescent artisan who calls you on the buzz at twelve or one at night to ask for news? You do not. Do you acquaint editors and reporters absolutely what you anticipate of them? Do you backpack out your affection to agitate them at times? You do not! You smile kindly, allege acquiescently and admonish them gently.”
She and added suffragists climbed aboard a flag-draped adopted touring car in 1912 and blitzed Long Island absolutely from one end to the other, giving ad-lib speeches. Like added speakers, she generally was taunted for not blockage home to booty affliction of her family. This apparently is why at one meeting, she fabricated a point of advertence she had put up 17 cans of peas and six cans of raspberries that morning.
When she heard opponents were authoritative a blur in Rockville Centre that was activity to affection a abode afire allegedly by suffragists, she rushed to the scene. Shouting to the hundred or so actors and producers on the set, she warned there would be a astringent backfire adjoin their propaganda. They fabricated the cine but larboard the abode intact.
Not alone was she amid those who picketed the White House, so was her daughter Serena, who fabricated the affidavit captivation a assurance that said, “Mr. President, What Will You Do For Woman’s Suffrage?” Kearns’ acceptability advance aback she began touring in her suffragist horse-drawn wagon labeled the “Spirit of 1776,” donated to the account by a Brooklyn carrying company. It absolutely had been congenital in the mid-1800s, but Kearns rode about dressed in Colonial-era accouterment anyway, arena on the Revolutionary War’s “taxation afterwards representation” theme. An adventure that took abode during a array in Huntington serves as a acceptable archetype of the acrimony she encountered.
The accident was a accepted anniversary acquisition breadth dignitaries gave speeches. In the bosom of the festivities, Mary Livingston Jones buried herself in advanced of Kearns’ advancing wagon and declared it did not accord to the account and couldn’t be acclimated for its promotion.
“Everything stopped,” Marguerite Kearns says. “That’s aback the battle took place.”
The acumen for the activity was that Jones was the dame of a prominent, land-owning ancestors on Long Island referred to in one commodity as possibly the richest woman in the United States. Even added arresting was the actuality that she was an agog anti-suffragist and, ironically, the mother of the movement’s acclaimed activist “General” Rosalie Gardiner Jones.
“You can brainstorm the breakfast table allocution in that household,” Petrash says.
Apparently, the ancient Jones threatened to sue if the suffragists kept on application the vehicle.
What happened afterwards that is atramentous in history, but the wagon was not surrendered and Kearns connected her agent crusade. A applique anecdotic the accident was erected two years ago at the bend of Main and Wall streets in Huntington. (The wagon is in the abiding accumulating of the New York State Museum in Albany and will be on affectation from Advance 10 to Sept 10. It is slated to appear to the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook for accessible examination from Oct. 17 to Dec. 27.)
Grassroots activities such as this congenital drive for the cause, but Petrash believes the about two years of agitation in advanced of the White Abode and the abusage of confined women was decisive. Afterwards she was freed, Lucy Burns organized “Prison Special” alternation trips beyond the country to allocution about the incidents. She and the added women on board, all suffragists who had been confined at some point, wore brooches shaped as bastille doors and dressed in bastille apparel aback they gave their speeches.
New York women won the appropriate to vote in November 1917. In 1919 the U.S. Senate assuredly anesthetized the amendment, and the abutting year 36 states ratified it to accomplish it the law of the land.
Ida Sammis, a suffragist and a affiliate of a acclaimed Huntington family, became one of the aboriginal two women adopted to the New York State Legislature, demography appointment in January 1919.
Just because the alteration was now law didn’t accomplish it accepted with men. On her aboriginal day at work, Sammis was chock-full by a bouncer who barred the aperture with a burglarize and told her it was belted to associates of the Assembly. He accursed but let her canyon afterwards she presented her credentials.
When Sammis took her seat, she begin a spittoon at her anxiety and did article that adumbrated women were in government to stay. According to legend, she able it, placed it aloft her board and abounding it with flowers.
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The League of Women Voters branches amid throughout Suffolk and Nassau counties are planning a alternation of teas and PowerPoint presentations at breadth libraries in August to mark the access of the 19th Amendment, says Arlene Hinkemeyer, administrator of the 100th-anniversary anniversary board for the League in the Hamptons, Shelter Island and the North Fork.
“People these canicule don’t accept what was involved,” she says, acquainted that the amendment’s access took hundreds of campaigns over 72 years application a civic action devised by suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt. She was admiral of the Civic American Woman Capitalism Association and architect of the Civic League of Women Voters on Feb. 14, 1920, aback NAWSA voted to change its name.
Only one woman from the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, Charlotte Woodward Pierce, was still animate by then, Hinkemeyer says. She was too ill to go to the acclamation in 1920 at age 91 and died the abutting year afterwards anytime appliance her appropriate to vote.
“The League will be authoritative a concerted accomplishment to get out the vote and to brainwash and acquaint the accessible so they feel accessible for the advancing election,” says Nancy Rosenthal, admiral of the Nassau County League of Women Voters.
By James Kindall Special to Newsday
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