Biographical Sketch of Caroline Gilkey Rogers

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Caroline Gilkey Rogers, 1837-1899

By Madhu, Associate Professor, Dept. of History, Miranda House, University of Delhi

Caroline Maria Gilkey Rogers, fondly called as “Carrie” by her friends, was born on 4 May 1837 at Camden, New York, to Caleb Bates Gilkey and Belinda Pendleton Gilkey. Caroline was a portrait painter married to Elias F. Rogers a widower who ran a large custom laundry with Thomas P. Dowling in partnership, in Troy. It was a second marriage for both Caroline and Elias Rogers, Caroline had earlier married Cyrus I. Clarke in 1860. She lived with Rogers in Lansingburgh, New York at the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and 106th Street and also briefly lived in the Phoenix Hotel after the mortgage of their house. She often hosted suffrage meetings at her home, includinjg prominent suffragists like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Seymour Howell, etc. Her home was nicknamed the “Equal Rights Hotel” because of the warm and generous hospitality of Caroline and her husband. Mrs. Rogers was a good orator and was an active member of the women's suffrage movement in the 19th century. She often participated in debates on women's suffrage and was very critical of the fact that ignorant and illiterate men were making laws for women. Caroline became the Corresponding Secretary of the Political Equality Club of Albany and worked tirelessly for the political freedom of women. She attended and addressed state and national suffrage conventions.

In 1885 Caroline visited the polling place in the fourth election district of Lansingburg and attempted to vote by making Constitutional arguments to the polling inspectors as to why they should accept her vote. Though her name had been previously registered, her vote was refused. Caroline organized campaigns to elect women to the local school board and also visited the Governor on account of a bill relating to permitting both mother and father to vote at school elections. Caroline while addressing the committee meetings often reiterated that ballot is a symbol of equality in the lack of other recognizable symbols of equality in the country and therefore it should be granted to women as well. She often appealed to the sense of justice and fair dealing while demanding suffrage rights from the members of the senate committee. Caroline argued that women demand the franchise precisely on the same principles that men claim for themselves. She often quoted the slogan of the Revolution “No Taxation Without Representation” as a tyranny, which applies to women as well, and was valid even after a hundred years. On another occasion she addressed and debated a Bill for Municipal Suffrage in 1886, which achieved the constitutional majority of 65 votes as yes but two men changed their votes from affirmative to negative, making the yes at 63 which fell short. All through the 1880's and 1890's she travelled to nearby places including Washington along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton generating public opinion and garnering support in favor of Women's Suffrage.

Caroline died on 12 November 1899 in Brooklyn, New York. The Lansingburgh Historical Society and William G Pomeroy Foundation has honored her with a Historical Marker at the site where she had once tried to vote.

Sources:

Philipo, Christopher Korey (2017) Lansingburg Suffragist: Caroline Gilkey Rogers, Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, New York.
The biographical work of Christopher Philipo is dedicated to the Lansingburg suffragist

www.findgrave.com is a website that allows the public to search and add to the online database of cemetery records. For Caroline Gilkey Rogers, see https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/183627540/caroline-maria-rogers

The trustees of Lansingburg Historical Society have been collecting information about women suffragists. In their Newsletter of March 2017 they published information about Caroline Gilkey Rogers. “A New Historical Marker for Lansingburgh!” The Courier. March 2017.
https://lansingburghhistoricalsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/LHS-courier-March-2017.pdf

Details, including the address of the Historic Marker can be accessed online https://www.wgpfoundation.org/historic-markers/suffragist/

Gordon, Ann D. (ed.) (2009) The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: Their Place Inside the Body-Politic 1887 to 1895, Vol. V, (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press), pp. 202-03.

Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. (1922) History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. 6, [LINK].

Aldrich, Thomas Bailey (1882) The Poems of Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Houghton, Mifflin and Company

This copy is inscribed to Carolyn Gilkey Rogers, Troy New York by Thomas Dowling https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/poetry-caroline-gilkey-rogers-womens-79137091

Debate on Women Suffrage in the United States 2d session, 49th Congress, December 8, 1886, and January 25, 1887, p;p. 61-62, accessible online at https://www.loc.gov/item/08004960/.

 

Picture Credit: William G. Pomeroy Foundation, 2017.

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