Marguerite Kearns April 28, 2019
SUFFRAGE WAGON HAS SYMBOLISM BEYOND THE NAME

Indeed, the “Spirit of 1776” suffrage wagon was on exhibit at the New York State Museum in 2010, 2012, 2017-2018, and that’s not all. It will be out of the warehouse in 2020. And I’ll be just as excited then as before.

Understanding the significance of the wagon takes some explaining. Back in 1913, one big issue of the day had to do with the passage of a federal income tax. And suddenly the issue of “taxation without representation” reared its head again. Women couldn’t vote and they were aware of it like never before.

WE’RE ONLY STARTING TO UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF PATRIOTIC PROTEST

There were many issues that the activists of the first wave used to defend their advocacy of women’s rights. With the “Spirit of 1776” wagon on the road during July of 1913, it seemed natural to trot out the “taxation without representation” issue again. This approach to voting also fell under the category of a “natural right.”\

PATRIOTISM TOOK ON A DIFFERENT MEANING DURING WORLD WAR I

What many people don’t realize today is that patriotism hasn’t always meant a defense of nationalism as “my country right or wrong.” Patriotism has also meant fixing social problems and inequities as a duty. Not defending weaknesses, but rather transforming conditions as an expression of patriotism. I’m writing about this in the story of my family and the “Spirit of 1776” wagon. As time passes, and the exterior of the wagon story opening to other views, the “Spirit of 1776” theme takes on other meanings.

“PROTEST IS PATRIOTIC” HAS BEEN MESSAGE OF SIGNS TODAY

I’ve also seen posters and signs at the women’s marches that say “Protest is patriotic.” This has roots in history in England when patriotism leaned in the direction of progressive values and actions. During and after the First World War, this changed.

And I’ve been reading about these trends and shifts in journals and scholarly publications. Stay tuned!

Spirit of 1776 suffrage wagon was on exhibit in 2017 at NYS Museum. on Vimeo. Suffrage Wagon News ChannelĀ is in its tenth year of publication.

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