Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Rosalie Gardiner Jones, 1883-1978

By: Jerron John, student; Professor Lara Vapnek
St. John's University, Queens, New York,
with additional editing by Thomas Dublin

Woman's suffragist, Long Island, New York, Nassau County President, National American Woman Suffrage Association

Rosalie Gardiner Jones was born February 24, 1883 to Mary Elizabeth Jones and Dr. Oliver Livingston Jones, Sr. Rosalie was born and educated in Long Island, New York, and eventually attended Adelphi College. She subsequently received a law degree from Brooklyn Law School, and became the first woman to receive a Doctorate of Civil Law from American University in 1922. She was married for nine years from 1927-1936 to Clarence Dill, a Senator from Washington. Their divorce stemmed from her public critiques of his decision not to run for a third term, leading to Dill criticizing her lifestyle that was less "becoming" of a woman and her highly opinionated views. (Kirchmann 2015)

She also clashed with her mother for her suffrage views. Mary Elizabeth Jones was active in the New York State Anti-Suffrage Association, while Rosalie served as Nassau County President of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. (Spinzia 2007)

"Rosalie Gardiner Jones liked the idea of boots on the ground. She liked the idea of kind of winning the battle for hearts and minds, and she believed that to do that you would need to do something dramatic, something that was sort of epic and something that was active, dynamic and not just someone making a speech," wrote Zachary Michael Jack, Associate Professor of English at North Central College.

Styling herself "General Jones," she exemplified both her ideology of doing the work and leading her "soldiers of the suffragette movement" by organizing numerous women marches and individual efforts to raise awareness of women's voting rights. She led well-publicized events in support of woman suffrage, including driving a suffrage wagon through Long Island and Ohio. Her Ohio stint supported an unsuccessful suffrage referendum campaign in that state in the summer of 1912. She led a march of suffrage "pilgrims" from New York City to Albany in December 1912 that helped convince the state legislature to place a woman suffrage referendum on the ballot in 1915.

General Jones's most dramatic suffrage march took a band of "Pilgrims" hiking 250 miles from New York City to Washington, D.C., arriving in the nation's capital in time to join a giant suffrage parade on March 3, 1913, the day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Less than a dozen women marched the entire route over 18 days, but thousands of spectators lined the route and still larger rallies in towns and cities along the route reflected the growing pro-suffrage sentiment. A band of self-styled "war correspondents" accompanied the hikers, submitting stories to major metropolitan dailies in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC and other cities. Hundreds of suffrage supporters joined the marchers for shorter distances and a Carnegie Hall fundraiser in New York City raised almost $6,000 to support Jones's efforts.

General Jones commanded the group and planned rest days in Wilmington, DE and Baltimore. At these occasions, hikers split up and gave speeches at numerous factories and at luncheons and dinners in their honor. The hike and the hikers were a big deal in towns and cities along the route and they greatly expanded suffrage's audience.

Once in D.C. the small band of suffrage "Pilgrims" and their followers were greeted by massive crowds. The DC Chief of Police estimated 100,000 lined Pennsylvania Ave. at their arrival in the city. The Baltimore Sun tracked the story:

Tonight, everyone is talking about suffrage . . . and there is not the slightest doubt the cause won hundreds when the valiant Army of the Hudson, foot-sore, dead-tired, but game . . . plodded slowly past the capitol and up Pennsylvania Avenue."

The New York Post reinforced this judgment:

Washington did not need the spectacular entrance of "General" Rosalie Jones and her dauntless band of hikers to arouse its interest in the suffrage demonstrations, but there can be no doubt that their descent upon Washington and the tremendous crowd of both the curious and the sympathizing which packed Pennsylvania Avenue . . . made a great impression upon the city as a whole. The bright yellow balloons and "Votes for Women" flags have speckled the city ever since.

A few days later the Pilgrims, their male supporters, and accompanying journalists joined the capital's suffrage parade on March 3, which included nine bands and 26 floats, and some 5,000 marchers parading down Pennsylvania Avenue, led by women from countries that had enacted woman suffrage.

After the conclusion of the hike, Rosalie Jones published a piece in the New York Tribune, making her case for the significance of their effort: You can see that Jones understood and embraced the importance of publicizing the suffrage cause. She wrote:

In the old days pilgrims walked from town to town preaching their faith. Today we suffrage pilgrims are following their example.

People have criticized because we did not go to . . . Washington by train. We answer: "Suffragists have been going to . . . Washington by train for fifty years, and the people in the small towns by the way have never heard of them." Would the whole population of the crossroads turn out to see a parlor car go by? Would the people be thinking any more about woman suffrage after that? The people in the small towns don't see suffrage literature. They can't go to great, inspiring suffrage meetings. We had to bring them the message in person.

That was one reason for our pilgrimage. The other reason was newspapers. People all over the country read of our adventures with cows and snowstorms who never read of our serious meetings. Nothing in the history of suffrage in America has gained so much publicity for the cause as our pilgrimages. We suffragists have learned that to keep a cause alive we must keep people talking about it: that is, we must keep it in the newspapers.

In reply to our anti-suffrage friends who ask why we didn't take advantage of the excellent railroad service, as they did, we ask: "Did their journey attract the interest of the whole country? Did so many New York reporters record their adventures? Did mayors, ministers, colleges, and district schools turn out to welcome them?" The antis had one line in the paper when we had columns.

This protest is not only known as the most effective demonstration for women's voting but also was instrumental in shifting the debate into a national issue, one that would need to be resolved by a constitutional amendment rather than state actions (Jack, 2014 and 2020). This constitutional change became the Nineteenth Amendment and was ratified in August 1920.

The hike and the DC suffrage parade launched a whole season of suffrage events across the country. Ida Craft organized 10-mile day hikes out from New York City into the suburbs, culminating in a New York City parade up Fifth Avenue on May 3. Jones, Martha Klatschken, and Ida Craft organized an autotour of upstate New York and in January 1914 the Pilgrims marched again to Albany. Later in the year Jones and Craft went west and spoke in Chicago, Missouri and Montana. In the latter, male voters supported a suffrage referendum.

After the passage of the 19th Amendment Rosalie Jones continued to be active in women's social reform. In May 1924 she attended a convention of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). That same year she supported Robert La Follette's third-party presidential campaign and in 1936 she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the Democratic party's primary.

After her divorce in 1936 she moved back to her roots in Long Island, where she lived with her sister Louise until her sister's death in the 1950s. She died in 1978 and was buried in an Episcopal cemetery in Cold Spring Harbor, NY.

Other NY-DC marchers with bio sketches in this database:

Ida A. Craft

Elisabeth Freeman

Martha Klatschken

Emilie Doetsch


Jack, Zachary. March of the Suffragettes. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Jack, Zachary Michael, Rosalie Gardiner Jones and the Long March for Women's Rights (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2020).

Spinzia, Judith Ader. "Women of Long Island: Mary Elizabeth Jones, Rosalie Gardiner Jones" The Freeholder 11 (Spring 2007):3-7.

Kirchmann, George. "Rosalie Gardiner Jones." Massapequa Observer, January 12, 2015. Accessible online at

Jones, Rosalie Gardner [sic], "Value of a Pilgrimage," New York Tribune, March 9, 1913, p. 21. Accessible on

Thomas Dublin and Margaret Johnston, "How Did Elisabeth Freeman's Publicity Skills Promote Woman Suffrage, Antilynching, and the Peace Movement, 1909-1919?, Part 1" in Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 . For more on Jones's activism, see particularly Documents 9A, 9B, 9C, 11, 13, 14, and 16.

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