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
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 in New York City and grew up in Long Island, New York, and eventually attended Adelphi College. She subsequently received a law degree from Brooklyn Law School, would go on to study at several schools in Washington, D.C., becoming the first woman to receive a Doctorate of Civil Law from American University in 1922, and unsuccessfully running for Congress office in November 1936 as a Democrat. She was married for nine years from 1927-1936 to Clarence Dill, a Senator from Washington, in 1927. Their divorce stemmed from her public critiques of him choosing to not 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)
Clashing over her individual mindset affected more than just her marriage. As a major contributor to the women suffrage movement, she clashed with her mother on several issues, Where Mary Elizabeth was a part of the New York State Anti-Suffrage Association, Rosalie was an active suffragist and 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 on women's voting issues. Her suffrage marches and wagon trips included a protest march from New York City to Albany, another through Ohio, numerous tours through Long Island in a yellow "Votes for Women" wagon, and a New York to Boston wagon trip and march.
General Jones's most publicized march—from New York City to Washington, D.C.-- ended March 3, 1913, the day before the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. Her small band of suffrage "Pilgrims" joined the "Women's Rights Procession," which included nine bands and 26 floats, and at least 5,000 marchers parading down Pennsylvania Avenue, led by women from countries that had enacted woman suffrage. 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 referenda (Jack, 2014). This constitutional change became the Nineteenth Amendment and was ratified August 18, 1920.
Jack, Zachary. March of the suffragettes. New York: Routledge, 2014.
Kirchmann, George. "Rosalie Gardiner Jones." Massapequa Observer, January 12, 2015. Accessed April 21, 2017. http://www.massapequaobserver.com/the-jones-family-rosalie-gardiner-jones/
Mathews, Jane, "'General' Rosalie Jones, Long Island Suffragist," Nassau County Historical Society Journal, 47 (1992), 22-34.
Naylor, Natalie A., "Rosalie Jones (1883-1978), Radical Suffragist," accessed online at https://huntingtonny.gov/filestorage/13747/99540/16499/Rosalie_Jones.pdf.
Spinzia, Judith Ader. "Women of Long Island: Mary Elizabeth Jones, Rosalie Gardiner Jones" The Freeholder 11 (Spring 2007):3-7. http://spinzialongislandestates.com/JONES.pdf
Thomas Dublin and Margaret Johnston, "How Did Elisabeth Freeman's Publicity Skills Promote Woman Suffrage, Antilynching, and the Peace Movement, 1909-1919?, Part 1" [LINK]. For more on Jones's activism, see particularly Documents 9A, 9B, 9C, 11, 13, 14, and 16.