Long Island Suffrage Leader Rosalie G. Jones at Age 12, February 1895. (Image from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Rosalie Gardiner Jones was a flamboyant and headline-grabbing leader of women’s rights, entering the suffrage movement at age twenty-eight. A wealthy Oyster Bay-Cold Spring Harbor socialite, she found marching to Washington for women’s rights much more enjoyable than drinking afternoon tea with the ladies.
Rosalie joined the Nassau County branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and soon was serving as its president. She found herself more attracted to the militant “suffragettes” of London, rather than the more passive American suffragists. Known as “General Jones" among both her followers and by the press, her “pilgrimages” (as she called them) to Albany, to Washington, DC, and across Suffolk County in a horse-drawn wagon helped spread the “Votes for Women” message far and wide. Under the headline “Gen. Rosalie Jones Flies for Suffrage,” the New York Times reported on one of her stunts in 1913, when she was taken up in a two-seat Wright biplane over Staten Island to toss out yellow Votes for Women leaflets.
Jones planned successful suffrage hikes to Albany in 1912 to present a suffrage petition to the governor, and to Washington, DC, in 1913, where a large suffrage parade was being planned for March 3, the day before the inauguration of the new president, Woodrow Wilson. Jones and her followers set out on the 245-mile March to Washington carrying a banner that proclaimed: “Criminals and the insane can’t vote, neither can I, what about it?” The women’s suffrage issue was front and center on March 3, 1913, when over 5,000 women marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the cheers of thousands of onlookers.