Reclaiming Our Voice: New Jersey’s Role in the Fight For Woman Suffrage

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 “Lillian Feickert” and suffrage supporters at Drake House, Plainfield NJ
Carol Simon Levin portrays Lillian Feickert, president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association from 1912-1920, to tell the story of the role of New Jersey women in the long struggle for woman suffrage. 

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In the years following the American Revolution, women had the right to vote in only one state — New Jersey  — a right they would lose in 1807 and not win back for more than five generations.  New Jersey’s role in the struggle to regain that right is largely overlooked. It is well-known that Elizabeth Cady Stanton proclaimed “all men and women are created equal” at the Women’s Rights Convention of 1848 in Seneca Falls NY, but few know that she lived in Tenefly NJ when she and Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and wrote the first three volumes of their History of Woman Suffrage.  Similarly, few realize that Lucy Stone was a resident of Orange in 1857 when she refused to pay taxes, stating “No Taxation Without Representation,” or that she spoke before the NJ legislature for women’s voting and property rights in 1867. The following year,  Portia Gage and 171 other Vineland women (including four “colored” women) literally took suffrage into their own hands when they brought their own ballot box to the polls in order to cast their votes for president.

Through the persona of Lillian Feickert, Carol Simon Levin tells the stories of these and many other women with Jersey ties — including  Dr. Florence Spearing Randolph, founder of the NJ Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and member of the NJ Woman Suffrage Association Board, Alice Paul, the dynamo who re-energized the movement for a federal amendment, and Antoinette Brown Blackwell, the only pioneer suffragist who lived long enough to cast her vote! (Program slides, timeline, and links are here, video link available on request.)  Visit TellingHerStories.com for additional information about Carol’s other programs. 

“Yesterday at the library I learned about women in history. I learned that there is hope, and that the troubles we face right now are difficult, but women like Abigail Adams and Sojourner Truth and so many others worked very hard, faced major adversity, and that was difficult too. Learn from them. I encourage you to read and learn about the past and that will help you find hope and courage to fight in the future.”  — C.M. (Girl Scout mom)