Reclaiming Our Voice: New Jersey's Central Role in the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

The Chatham Historical Society and the Chatham Township Historical Society are providing a presentation on the women’s suffrage movement in New Jersey on Sunday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m. at the Library of the Chathams. The event is free and open to the public.

Carol Simon Levin portrays Lillian Feickert, president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association from 1912-1920, to tell the story of the role of New Jersey women in the long struggle for women’s suffrage. 

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Not many know that for 225 years women had the right to vote in only one state, New Jersey, a right they would lose in 1807 and not win back for more than five generations. New Jersey's role in the struggle to regain that right is largely overlooked.

Levin portrays a role played by New Jersey women in the suffrage movement.  Among those is Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who proclaimed "all men and women are created equal" at the Women's Rights Convention of 1848 in Seneca Falls NY. She lived in Tenafly, NJ in 1869 when she and Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and were writing the first three volumes of their History of Woman Suffrage.  

Not many are aware that Lucy Stone was a resident of South Orange in 1858 when she refused to pay taxes, stating "No Taxation without Representation," and was still there in 1869 when she and her husband founded the American Woman Suffrage Organization. The previous year, Portia Gage and 171 other Vineland women brought their own ballot box to the polls in order to cast their votes for president. Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, launched her candidacy in Vineland three years later. 

Levin’s presentation includes stories of the Grimke sisters (who spoke out against slavery and for women's rights from their home in Shrewsbury), Dr. Florence Spearing Randolph (chairwoman of the NJ Association of Colored Women's Clubs and executive board member on the NJ Woman Suffrage Association), Alice Low Turnbull Hopkins (who supported Alice Paul's Washington pickets), and lastly, Alice Paul, who re-energized the movement for a federal amendment. Together their tireless efforts propelled women’s suffrage past reluctant male voters and through state and national legislatures to the final success of the 19th Amendment.