Tag Archives: women’s suffrage

“Sister in Struggle”: Get to know suffragist Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth FreemanA great article about suffragist Elizabeth Freeman is the cover story in a recent issue of Pasadena Weekly. Their angle: Elisabeth died there, and the editorial staff was particularly interested in Elisabeth’s contribution to the anti-lynching campaign of 1916. They made a link between Elisabeth’s work and the Michael Brown case in Missouri today, welcome coverage because it illustrates the extent to which many Votes for Women activists had more than one concern, reminiscent of the early women’s rights activists involved in abolition and temperance. Elisabeth receives more attention these days for her activism in the suffrage movement, so this is a welcome addition to what’s available about her life and work. PDF of the Pasadena Weekly article.

See the great web site on Elisabeth Freeman produced by Elisabeth’s great niece Margaret Johnston of Binghamton, NY. Also. “Long Island’s Three Wagon Women” in the New York History blog.

Marguerite's MusingsI’ve been aware of Elizabeth Freeman going back years when I first heard stories about “Great Aunt Elisabeth” from my friend Jane Van De Bogart, a member of the Woodstock town board back when I lived in Woodstock, NY and prowled around local issues with my pen, pad and camera for Woodstock Times. I don’t remember if Jane mentioned her great aunt first or if I trotted out my grandmother Edna Kearns. In any event, one thing led to another.

Two people with family members who’d been suffragists in NYS would sooner or later insist on details and that’s how I found out that not only did Edna and Elizabeth know each other, but they worked together with Rosalie Jones on Long Island on women’s suffrage organizing. As Grandmother Edna Kearns was a Long Island wagon woman, so was Elisabeth Freeman who organized women from diverse backgrounds. Elisabeth also marched with Rosalie Jones to the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, DC –hardy souls who hiked through bad weather to prove their point.

In 1986 the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon became part of an exhibit about Elisabeth and Edna in Kingston, NY with a seed grant from the NYS Council on the Arts. Jone Miller and the Floating Foundation of Photography in High Falls, NY organized the exhibit which got me started on the long road to bring this part of American history to the attention of a broader audience. Several programs at SUNY New Paltz for Women’s History Month even involved our mothers.

Pick up a rock these days and you’ll find a descendant of a suffrage activist. That’s why I love Elisabeth Freeman. Peg Johnston has picked up the torch from her great aunt and is carrying it high these days. The general public may know about the suffrage movement nationally, but we find out much more by touching into the lives of individuals like Elisabeth, as well as the records and news coverage of clubs and associations on the local level that kept the suffrage issue alive for years. The existence of these organizations, and their ongoing events and activities, gave backbone to the national movement. Leaders at the top can’t do anything without support on the grassroots.

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We have an ongoing podcast series: “Playing Politics with the President” that features the work of the National Woman’s Party right at the time of Elisabeth Freeman’s work. Podcast #1. You can listen to the next podcast in the series, #2, this coming weekend.

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 VIDEO: “Spirit of 1776″ for Women’s Equality Day!

Songwriter and performer Eighty Bug

This new music video has people talking. Now you can get in on the act by watching the “Spirit of 1776″ on YouTube. Songwriter and performer Eighty Bugg assembled quite a remarkable group of musicians, stage hands, filmmakers, and living history staff at the Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana, California.

It’s a fabulous production inspired by the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon. The music video was produced by performer and songwriter Eighty Bug; directors Edwin Carungay and Lesha Maria Rodriguez; art director Jon Lagda; and the Suffragist Sisters featuring Eighty (banjolele and vocals), her sister Savannah Creech (ukulele and vocals), Ashli Lee Christoval (ukelele and vocals), Laura Guaico (tub bass), and Lisa Lui (violin), in addition to Max McVetty (percussion), and the Integral JRAT (guitar, mixing and mastering). The Heritage Museum of Orange County in Santa Ana, California provided the sets and production support.

“We’re recognizing the efforts of our ancestors by creating an anthem for women everywhere to learn and sing together,” said Eighty Bug who composed and arranged the video’s lyrics and music. Her musical career has included performances in a variety of styles, including pop, hip hop, soul, R&B, rock, country, electronica, down tempo, and dance music. She continued: “Just as Americans fought for freedom from tyranny in 1776 and suffrage activists organized for equality starting in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY, we must continue to support our sisters today in the Middle East, India, Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, as well as throughout the world who struggle for freedom today.”

The music video pays tribute to suffragist Edna Kearns and others who hitched a horse to the “Spirit of 1776” wagon and wore colonial dress to make the connection between the American Revolution and the unfinished social revolution that left out women. Kearns’ work symbolizes the combined efforts of tens of thousands of activists across the nation who over a 72-year period participated in the U.S. women’s suffrage movement. They worked in local and state campaigns as well as in the final push to win passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

For only the audio, the “Spirit of 1776″:

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Podcast #6, “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls”

Elizabeth Cady StantonOnly one more podcast to go after this one!

Podcast #6. Elizabeth Cady Stanton speaks about how the Seneca Falls convention didn’t end in July of 1848. The convention defenders had to defend their position on women’s rights and this meant educating themselves about hefty subjects including law and philosophy. These early suffragists initiated a study group in Seneca Falls (along the lines of Margaret Fuller) and many townspeople participated.

The short audio segments are between two and three minutes in the podcast series “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls.” One click away from the first five audio podcasts of “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls” Podcasts #1 through #6.

Follow the Suffrage Wagon for other features like this one. Audio by Librivox.

The plot thickens…Podcast #3: “Trouble in Seneca Falls”

The plot thickens as the town of Seneca Falls, New York prepares for its big celebration this weekend with Convention Days 2014 where the entire community will be decked out for the festivities. Meanwhile, here’s Podcast #3 where Elizabeth Cady Stanton collaborates with four other women to plan the convention and some of the participants have second thoughts. It appeared, at first, that the 1848 women’s rights convention might be a failure. Watch for the ongoing story of “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls.” Audio, Librivox. A production of Suffrage Wagon News Channel.

Hear Cady-Stanton’s own words:

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“Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls”: New podcast series plus Convention Days!

Street sign in Seneca Falls, NYA seven-podcast series called “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls” describes the atmosphere in the area leading up to the 1848 women’s rights convention.

If you’ve ever have thought about attending Convention Days in the town of Seneca Falls, NY… the July 18-20, 2014 weekend is the right time to do it.

Meet Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her descendants; kayak the First Annual Convention Paddle; have your head read by a phrenologist; hear speakers Nadia Shahram and Daisy Kahn; tour Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s home; march in the Women’s Rights procession; tour local museums; attend dinners, receptions, films, and the Side Walk Festival. Check out the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls as well. The town is located in the “cradle” of the women’s rights movement in New York State. It’s considered the historic gateway to the Finger Lakes. Official schedule for Convention Days 2014.

Visiting Seneca Falls  requires an engagement with story, even before you get there, so it’s great timing to find out about the context of the times as it was back in the 1840s.

PODCAST #1: “Trouble Brewing in Seneca Falls.” This short audio file features Elizabeth Cady Stanton speaking about what it was like to arrive in Seneca Falls prior to 1848. This is the first podcast of a series of seven from “Eighty Years and More” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Audio by Librivox. A Suffrage Wagon News Channel special.

Don’t set out for Seneca Falls without checking on times that the Women’s Rights National Historic Park will be open.  The park’s visitors center is open often, but not daily. Special ranger programs feature information about the 1848 women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls. Information about house tours are available at the park’s web site.

Video about visiting Seneca Falls, New York that features several local historical sites and images from the national park visitors’ center. On the weekend of July 18-20, 2014 a group of Muslim women will make history in Seneca Falls by announcing a “Declaration of the Equities for Muslim Women” that’s part of the Convention Days 2014 program. A national tour team launched a national women’s economic agenda in Seneca Falls on June 1st, an initiative organized by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and honoring the groundbreaking 1848 women’s rights convention.

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Happy Fourth of July! Enjoy little-known story of how suffrage activists crashed a national centennial celebration!

Fourth of July 1876HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY:

The Suffrage Wagon summer newsletter is on the stands. It spells out what happened on the Fourth of July in 1876 when five suffrage activists crashed the national centennial celebration in Philadelphia… a little-known story that’s also an important part of our national history.

See link and forward to the people on your social media list as a way to deepen the appreciation of our past and how it links to our present. Link to story. The story involves Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Phoebe W. Couzins, Sara Andrews Spencer, and Lillie Devereux Blake. There’s even an audio podcast where the event’s described by Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

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