ALERT: APRIL 8, 2015. A SPECIAL PROGRAM OF SUFFRAGE WAGON CAFE:
SECOND SEASON OF “TURN: WASHINGTON’S SPIES” LURES STORIES OF TORIES OUT OF THE CLOSET
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.
ON LONG ISLAND, THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION WASN’T OVER YET IN 1913
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.
APRIL 8, 2015 PROGRAM AT SUFFRAGE WAGON CAFE WILL GIVE THE DETAILS OF THIS STORY OF LINGERING RESENTMENTS
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.