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From Marguerite Kearns, anchor: Video, women’s suffrage history, news notes, and suffrage movement links

VIDEO: Marguerite Kearns features women’s suffrage news and features on voting rights blog on Vimeo.

For all those who avoid reading, this video is a quick overview of the Votes for Women news notes of the past few weeks on Suffrage Wagon News Channel. You’ll get the picture in only a few minutes and still have some attention left.

LINKS TO CHECK OUT: Suffrage Wagon Cafe. The “Spirit of 1776″ campaign. Suffrage Wagon Cooking School. What suffrage activists like Edna Kearns were doing in 1915, one hundred years ago. VIDEO: How New York State will exhibit the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon in 2017.

IN OTHER NEWS: From suffrage reporter Olivia Twine. Sojourner Truth’s favorite holiday, Pinkster, is celebrated in the Hudson Valley in May. Update on the campaign to put women on U.S. currency. You can participate in the Seneca Falls national park Selfie contest.

Suffrage Wagon CafeFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow for news and views about upcoming women’s suffrage centennial events and celebrations. 

“Choose it and Use it” is a video reminding us of how the past is linked to what we do today and its impact on the future. Celebrate women’s freedom to vote.

Washington’s Spies and the link to the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon: Suffrage Wagon Cafe special program

TURN: Washington’s Spies shows Long Island in 1777 and Suffrage Wagon Cafe program shows what happened 100+ years later on Vimeo.

Special Program: Suffrage Wagon Cafe

“TURN: Washington’s Spies” Foreshadows Suffrage Wagon Confrontation in 1913 by Marguerite Kearns

Activist Rosalie Jones was a loose cannon on Long Island back in 1913. She was controversial in public and in her own family. Rosalie Jones appeared often in the newspapers for her stunts and unusual Votes for Women demonstrations, such as marching to the state capitol and demanding to see the governor in 1912 and 1914. Without Rosalie Jones, we wouldn’t know that after more than 100 years after the American Revolution, some people on Long Island still supported English King George III.


Back in school, no teacher ever mentioned that during the war for independence significant numbers of Americans identified themselves with the British. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly today than Long Island as portrayed in the A&E television series, “TURN: Washington Spies” that goes into its second season on April 13, 2015. The tensions within Rosalie Jones’ own family on Long Island made the issue of Tory loyalties simmer and spill into the public arena in 1913.

If it hadn’t been for the “Spirit of 1776″ suffrage wagon and its 1913 journey for Votes for Women organizing on Long Island, the continued polarization of the population might not have come to light. This confrontation in Huntington, NY is featured in this special article I wrote for New York Archives.


The players in July 1913: Suffrage activist Edna Kearns who drove the horse-drawn wagon called the “Spirit of 1776″ into Huntington, NY and Mary Livingston Jones, the mother of suffragist Rosalie Jones. Mrs. Jones identified herself as the descendant of Long Island Tories and demanded the activists stop immediately in their use of the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon. Edna Kearns told a Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporter (who covered the incident) that Mrs. Jones’ tirade made her fear for her life.

Mrs. Jones insisted the old horse-drawn wagon had been in the possession of Tory descendants the previous century, and she threatened legal action against the New York State Woman Suffrage Association for misrepresenting its history. The confrontation at the Huntington, NY parade had been provoked, no doubt, by the disagreements suffragist Rosalie Jones had with her mother and sister. Jones family members considered themselves the elite of Long Island for their long-time residency and old money. Rosalie didn’t view the Tory position and the anti-suffrage position as linked together. Her mother and sister did, however. In a 1913 article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mrs. Jones spoke of Tories and their prominence on Long Island as if the war for independence just happened yesterday.


Long Island was divided in loyalties in 1776. A significant number of colonial sympathizers moved away after the Battle of Long Island. And the island became even more entrenched in loyalist support in the aftermath of the British capture of New York City. This was well portrayed in “TURN: Washington’s Spies” during its 2014 first season, enough for the intrigue and spy thriller to hook two million Americans and have them glued to their TV sets. So the TV series going into its second season performs a much-needed service of expanding the understanding of American history, even if some of the details have been crafted to meet the storytelling requirements of Hollywood.

Mrs. Mary Livingston Jones halted the Votes for Women parade in July 1913 with her claim that the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon had been in the possession of her ancestors, the Hewletts, before the suffrage movement decided on the vehicle’s use for grassroots organizing on Long Island. It was, therefore a Tory icon, not a patriot one, Mrs. Jones insisted.

The suffragists disagreed and proceeded to carry their own message of patriotic protest to towns and villages all over Long Island during the summer of 1913. More than 20 newspapers, including the New York Times, covered the splash caused by the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon and its supporters at suffrage demonstrations, rallies, and special fundraising events. See representative media. No legal action resulted, despite Mr’s Jones’ threats. Without the confrontation in Huntington, NY, we wouldn’t be privy to the fact that Long Island remained polarized between loyalists and patriots, on some level at least, more than a century after the end of the war for independence.


If you’ve been following “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” the Hewlett name should be familiar to you. He’s the TV character wearing a red British uniform, not a bad guy actually –more like a decent guy in an extremely awkward situation. It’s not politically correct these days to make our former enemies, especially the English, look too bad. This happened back in 1917 with filmmaker Robert Goldstein, and a controversial trial that sent Goldstein off to federal prison for ten years. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson later commuted Goldstein’s prison sentence to three years. But the filmmaker’s crime had been specific: making the English look like brutes during the war for independence in his silent film, a crime not addressed under the First Amendment during World War I.

A 1913 Long Island history clearly identifies the Hewletts as the largest and most powerful of all Tory families on Long Island. So it shouldn’t have been necessary for the TV series to import a Hewlett from England to wear a red coat. In actuality, Hewlett represented a well-known household name for Tory support on Long Island. Hewlett family members remained on Long Island after the American war for independence after they officially declared their loyalty to the new nation.


Pressures to become patriots didn’t make the Hewletts revolutionaries overnight any more than the threat of death convinced many Jews to willingly convert to Christianity at the time of the Inquisition. This had been Mrs. Jones’ point (indirectly) when she confronted the suffrage activists on the streets on Huntington, NY in July 1913, a perspective preserved by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporter’s account. Mrs. Jones made it clear that her relatives, the Hewletts, resented being linked to the colonial cause.

Long term, the Hewletts’ conversion to patriots seems to have been enough for family members to continue living on Long Island after the American Revolution without limping around, tails between their legs. Later, Hewlett family members became the source for stories told to the suffrage activists that the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon had been a symbol of patriotism, not Tory loyalties. The suffragists took advantage of the opportunity to spread this patriotic protest message in 1913. Patriotic protest had been a key theme of the suffrage movement going back to 1848 when the Seneca Falls, NY signers of the Declaration of Sentiments linked their civil rights struggle to the spirit of 1776 and the American Revolution. In 1913, Edna Kearns and other activists dressed in colonial costumes and milked the patriotic protest theme for all it was worth in the cause of votes for women.

But the Hewletts couldn’t shed their loyalist associations easily. The state education department, back when the agency was in charge of historical street markers, produced one marker to stand in front of the home of Richard Hewlett in Rockaway, NY. There, Richard Hewlett was acknowledged as the local Tory who planned the capture of General George Washington. Long Island newspaper accounts during the 1920s suggested that Tory loyalties and the threats on the life of George Washington were, in the opinion of many local residents, best forgotten. But with the second season of “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” we’re treated to a new spin on an old story.

RESOURCES: Videos about Rosalie Jones demonstrate how her support for Votes for Women might have annoyed her mother and sister who were avid supporters of the state and national anti-suffrage cause. “Rosalie Jones and her band of activists marched to Albany, NY in January 1914″; “Rosalie Jones’ hikes to Albany get people’s attention”; “Rosalie Jones; High-Profile Long Island Suffragist.”

Suffrage Wagon Cafe is openFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow for news and views about upcoming women’s suffrage centennial events and celebrations. 

“Choose it and Use it” is a video reminding us of how the past is linked to what we do today and its impact on the future.

Season 2 of “TURN: Washington’s Spies” has “Spirit of 1776″ wagon wrinkle!

Program on TURN at Suffrage Wagon Cafe



The A&E television series, “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” opens its second season on April 13, 2015. The series in its first season introduced an awareness of the nation’s first spy ring to a broad audience. The spy ring, the Culper Ring, dates to 1778 and the war for independence. Its informants provided essential information to General George Washington and his army.

The spy ring was based, in part, on Long Island that English troops occupied when they held New York City. Long Island residents were significantly divided between loyalty to the colonists and loyalty to the British.

The drama of this A&E television series foreshadows what happened more than 100 years later in 1913 when women’s suffrage activists drove the horse-drawn wagon the “Spirit of 1776” into Huntington, NY on Long Island. They had no reason not to expect that local residents would greet them warmly. So they didn’t anticipate that a local resident might provoke a confrontation.


Many Long Island’s old families hadn’t forgotten the American Revolution by 1913 as well as the sympathies of their family members and ancestors toward the British king. Some descendants still carried resentments over the American Revolution’s outcome. And they weren’t hesitant to express themselves about their then controversial points of view.

Edna Kearns and other women’s suffrage activists left the Manhattan office of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association in early July 1913 and headed to Long Island for a month of Votes for Women organizing. They drove the
Spirit of 1776 suffrage campaign wagon. The name of the wagon and its alleged controversial origins lured descendants of former Tory sympathizers out of the closet to a confrontation with some descendants of Patriot sympathizers in Huntington, NY.


The April 8, 2015 Suffrage Wagon Cafe program will give the details about Mary Livingston Jones, the well-known descendant of Long Island Tories, who was involved in this confrontation. Mrs. Jones also opposed the movement to extend voting rights to women, and she viewed the two issues as related. What makes this tale distinctive is that Mrs. Jones’ daughter, Rosalie Jones, was a well-known women’s rights activist associated with Long Island’s Votes for Women organizing campaign.

After the battle smoke cleared from the war for independence, most people conveniently forgot or dismissed their family members and ancestors’ sympathies with the English. Not so on Long Island. This fascinating story clearly demonstrates the repercussions.

The New York State Museum will exhibit the “Spirit of 1776” wagon in Albany, NY during New York’s suffrage centennial celebration in 2017. The “Spirit of 1776” wagon was used as a speakers’ platform for Votes for Women organizing, in suffrage parades in New York City and on Long Island, as well as for exhibits, rallies, and special events.

FacebookFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

Message from Dr. Helen Pankhurst on Day #4 of Suffrage Wagon Cafe’s opening festival!

Marguerite Kearns, your host

Hi, I’m Marguerite Kearns on our fourth and final day of the opening festivities for Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Today we’re delighted to showcase the message to American women voters from U.K. women’s rights activist Dr. Helen Pankhurst.

The casting of Meryl Streep to play English suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst in the “Suffragette” film has brought new attention to Pankhurst’s great-granddaughter. Dr. Pankhurst is also the granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst. The international release of the “Suffragette” film has been scheduled for October 2015.

Dr. Helen Pankhurst sends message to American women voters! Spirit of 1776 special from Suffrage Wagon Cafe  on Vimeo.


The video soundtrack features Elizabeth Johnson in a performance of “The March of the Women,” the anthem of the women’s suffrage movement in England. It was composed by Ethel Smyth in 1910 and became famous during the suffrage movement there. “The March of the Women” is still widely performed today.

The entire song by Elizabeth Johnson is available on the Suffrage Wagon audio channel (


Dr. helen Pankhurst and her message to American women votersDr. Helen Pankhurst was recently featured in a photograph released on International Women’s Day in March 2015 showing her with the cast of the film “Suffragette.” This major motion picture from the U.K. stars Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Romola Gerai, and others. It is the first film ever to be shot at the Houses of Parliament in London. “Suffragette,” the film, highlights the struggles of women’s rights activists during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


“Both in the United States and in the United Kingdom, women fought long and hard for the right to vote, and to be voted in as politicians,” Dr. Pankhurst told Suffrage Wagon News Channel. “They faced derision and both private and public violence before attitudes started to change.

“The campaign for equal suffrage continues both in our two countries and all over the world. It is needed everywhere. Either the right for equality hasn’t been won, or it has in theory. But obstacles remain that impede progress on representation in practice,” Dr. Pankhurst continued.

“If we want a better world, every one of us needs to vote for those that are closest to representing our view in local and national elections. For those who feel their views are not represented by the current options of political candidates, more –not less—political activism is the solution. By caring enough to be politically engaged, we honor both ourselves and previous generations who campaigned for our right to have a voice,” Dr. Pankhurst concluded.

Although our SWAN Day opening festival at Suffrage Wagon Cafe has come to an end, we remain persistent in our goal of inspiring, motivating, educating, and entertaining audiences about how we stand on strong shoulders. The suffragists were “there” for us. Let’s be “there” for them by voting and becoming leaders in the world today.

IN OTHER NEWS: New York City will celebrate Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 200th birthday on Thursday, November 12th with an artistic interpretation of the Declaration of Sentiments by feminists, activists, and artists at the Historic Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York City. More details to be announced. Stay tuned for updates and a surprise announcement about the music video, the “Spirit of 1776″ suffragette anthem starring Eighty Bug and the Suffragist Sisters. Suffrage Wagon Cafe will continue planning special programs and events.


Link to March 28, 2015 Program: Welcome from Marguerite Kearns, Suffrage Wagon Cafe host. The cafe menu. News about the “Spirit of 1776″ wagon exhibit. Video feature about visiting Seneca Falls, NY, a destination and a pilgrimage.

Link to March 29, 2015 Program: New 2015 film, “10 Days in a Madhouse” highlights the contributions of Nellie Bly, an early press woman and investigative reporter. There’s a film trailer, an intro from Suffrage Wagon Cafe, and a selected reading from Nellie Bly’s writing.

Link to March 30, 2015 Program: Elizabeth Johnson sings “In Her Sphere,” vintage music from the suffrage movement. Song appears in suffrage songbooks and it was sung at rallies. Video highlights the anti-suffrage movement. And book by Susan Goodier, “No Votes for Women,” gives an overview of the anti-suffragists’ opposition.

FacebookFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

The opening celebration of Suffrage Wagon Cafe continues: March 30, 2015

Marguerite Kearns, your host

Hi, I’m Marguerite Kearns, host of Suffrage Wagon Cafe, back again on the third day of our four-day festival. This special program highlights the anti-suffrage movement. The suffrage movement is considered to have taken from 1848 to 1920, quite a struggle. And we can appreciate the accomplishment when examining what the women’s suffrage activists were up against.

The featured video’s soundtrack is “In Her Sphere” by Elizabeth Johnson. The entire song can be found in Suffrage Wagon’s Soundcloud collection. The playful tune that takes on the opposition to women voting was sung at rallies and included in women’s suffrage songbooks.

“The Anti-Suffrage Movement” video with soundtrack, “In Her Sphere,” program of Suffrage Wagon Cafe on Vimeo.

“No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement,” a book by Susan Goodier from on Vimeo.

"No Votes for Women" by Susan Goodier


by Marguerite Kearns

It’s difficult to believe today the extent to which votes for women were bitterly resisted, even more so than women’s education and employment. From 1848 to 1920, women challenged their traditional roles and second-class citizenship on a scale that raised the hackles of enough special and commercial interests that the entire process of winning the vote took 72 years. As we know, the struggle for equality continues.

I never thought seriously or deeply about those who opposed votes for women, or the anti-suffragists as they were also known. To me, they represented an obstacle to be overcome, more abstract than real. My perspective was not only disturbed but expanded after reading “No Votes for Women: The New York State Anti-Suffrage Movement” by Susan Goodier (University of Illinois Press). I ended up being surprised about how I couldn’t put the book down until I reached the end.

The reason for my interest in the anti-suffrage movement stems from my curiosity, not only about my grandmother Edna Kearns’ suffrage organizing in New York City and on Long Island, but also the context of the times in which she lived and worked. After reading “No Votes for Women,” Edna Kearns’ published reports of attending anti-suffrage meetings as an observer and reporter took on a different meaning for me. The work gave depth and texture to my grandmother’s life and her commitment to women’s rights.

And it also opened my eyes to the differences between New York State’s anti-suffrage supporters and those in the rest of the nation. Goodier gives an overview to the anti-suffrage movement and focuses on New York State. She introduces us to its leaders and advocates. All of this suggested a surprising way for me to view the victory of New York State women in their winning of the vote in 1917.

When New York celebrates its suffrage centennial in 2017, we want as much material available as possible. And the anti-suffrage movement is an important part of the tale. The 1915 suffrage referendum in New York was hotly contested. And Goodier points out that the anti-suffragists gave the suffrage activists a run for their money. Though not many people have picked up on New York’s centennial celebration this year, some recognition puts the 1917 victory in sharper focus.

Because New York’s anti-suffragists diverted their efforts toward support of World War I, this left a vacuum for suffrage organizers to succeed, Goodier points out. This and other insights and commentary provide the reader with a more complete picture of a democratic process with dramatic implications for the turn of the 20th century as well as today. I highly recommend this book.

Suffrage Wagon Cafe is openFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

Video preview of Day #3 of Suffrage Wagon Cafe’s four day festival

The Anti-Suffrage Movement: Suffrage Wagon Cafe features a video and a book about those who didn’t want women to vote on Vimeo.

Suffrage Wagon Cafe is openFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials. 

Reporter Nellie Bly goes undercover on Day #2 of the Suffrage Wagon Cafe’s grand opening festival

Marguerite Kearns, your host

Suffrage Wagon Cafe: nellie Bly

With your host, Marguerite Kearns.

I’m back on this second day of the women’s history festival celebrating the opening of the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. This four-day festival started with my welcome greeting followed by the opening of the doors of the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. There was even a reminder that when you’re planning your next vacation, take a look at the video about visiting Seneca Falls, New York. It’s in the “Cradle” of the women’s rights movement in the United States. Some folks consider it a destination for travel, but for me and many others, it’s a pilgrimage that women’s suffrage movement fans take seriously.


In this Suffrage Wagon Cafe feature, we’re focusing on Nellie Bly, one of America’s early investigative reporters. And there’s an upcoming film: “10 Days in a Madhouse.” Pull up a seat for two videos and an audio selection. The more I know about reporter Nellie Bly, the more I appreciate the shoulders on which my grandmother Edna Kearns stood when she covered and edited Votes for Women news for New York City metropolitan newspapers from 1910 to 1920.

Many people are aware of America’s early press women especially Nellie Bly and Margaret Fuller. Relatively few are aware of how suffrage activists were in this wave of America’s early press women. They made noteworthy contributions as editors, columnists, publicists, and reporters.

SPECIAL ON SUFFRAGE WAGON CAFE: The production team for the upcoming film, “10 Days in a Madhouse” estimates its release date to be late in September of 2015. 

Nellie Bly, America’s muckraker, press woman, investigative reporter, and her “10 Days in a Madhouse” on Vimeo.

10 Days in a Madhouse Trailer from TriCoast Studios on Vimeo.

AUDIO READING OF “10 DAYS IN A MADHOUSE”: This is a selected reading from Librivox. Nellie Bly’s writing about her undercover work is in the public domain. This edited selection is part of Suffrage Wagon’s audio collection on Soundcloud.


AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: The “Suffragette” film from the UK has released its international distribution date as October 2015.

FacebookFollow Suffrage Wagon News Channel on Facebook and Twitter. Quarterly newsletters just by signing up. Suffrage Wagon News Channel has video platforms on Vimeo and YouTube.

Meet your friends at the Suffrage Wagon Cafe. Follow for news and views about upcoming suffrage centennials.