Tag Archives: Harriet May Mills

VIDEO: The “Spirit of 1776″ launched its 1913 journey with letters

Marguerite's MusingsThe new music video, the “Spirit of 1776,” has a companion video about the history of the wagon and its role in suffrage grassroots organizing. It covers the weeks leading up to the first journey of the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon on July 1, 1913.

The video featuring archival evidence of the wagon’s history showcases letters from A.F. Wilson, president of the I.S. Remson wagon company in Brooklyn to the New York State Woman Suffrage Association that had offices in Manhattan. Remson claimed to be New York’s largest wagon company specializing in fine carriages, business grocer and express wagons, blankets, robes, whips, boots, and horse furnishing goods.

Though the company had been in business since 1881, automobiles had already taken a chuck out of the wagon business. And I.S. Remson company was badly in need of some fresh advertising. So a letter to Harriet May Mills, president of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in Manhattan, from A.F. Wilson, the Remson president, tested the possibility. Would the suffragists like a horse-drawn wagon for campaign purposes?  Mills said “yes,” and suggested that Edna Kearns of Rockville Center, New York use it in an upcoming organizing tour of Long Island by suffrage movement activists.

Video about The “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon in 1913.

The series of letters that followed between A.F. Wilson and Kearns dealt with details such as a horse, maintenance, storage and so on. In the early days the Remson company claimed that the wagon had been built in 1776 by a Revolutionary patriot; word to this effect were painted on the side of the wagon. Over the years those claims (still faintly seen) were removed, leaving only the wagon’s name, the “Spirit of 1776.” Although the American Revolution theme worked well for the suffragists, historians and scholars have determined that the wagon actually had been built around 1820. The suffrage movement activists inherited the wagon’s history and name from I.S. Remson who heard this legend from sources on Long Island.

Though the name came with the wagon, the suffrage movement also used the theme of the “Spirit of 1776″ that dates back to the 1848 women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY: the unfinished American Revolution.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon with email, Facebook and Twitter, your source for the 19th amendment and other stories. Pass on these videos to any and all interested in suffrage centennial celebrations. The column, “Marguerite’s Musings,” by Marguerite Kearns is a regular feature of Suffrage Wagon News Channel, publishing online since 2009.

New York State suffrage leader Harriet May Mills was at 108 Madison Avenue in NYC on July 1, 1913 to see off the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon

HarrietMayMillsOne hundred years ago, the hardy band of suffrage activists were still busy traveling throughout Long Island. It’s difficult to know exactly how many people saw them off from the NYS Woman Suffrage Association at 108 Madison Avenue on July 1st, even though newspaper reports said the event stressed the capacity of the meeting room at the state headquarters while the horse and the “Spirit of 1776″ horse-drawn wagon waited outside to take Edna Kearns, Serena Kearns, and Irene Davison on a month-long campaign.

State suffrage association president Harriet May Mills orchestrated the presentation ceremony. She may not be the best-known suffrage leader in the state, but she was a hard worker and dedicated. Here’s a little that I’ve gathered to fill out Harriet’s life and career: Harriet May Mills House. LINK. Rivalry over state suffrage politics.  #1. #2. Harriet May Mills, editor of suffrage news. #1. #2. The Freethought Trail. #1. #2. Harriet May Mills biography. #1.  The parents of Harriet May Mills. #1. #2. Harriet May Mills grave.  #1. #2. 1913 Brooklyn suffrage parade. #1. #2. Letter to NY Times. #1. #2. Harriet May Mills news photo.  #1.  #2. 1910 lobbying in Albany for suffrage.  #1.  Suffrage debate.  #1. #2. 1911 lobby day at the state capitol. #1.  State suffrage association incorporation. #1.  A woman ahead of her time.  #1. #2.

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