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Lillian Ford Feickert, around 1912. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Trailblazer: Lillian Ford Feickert

Served as president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association

By David Wildstein, February 09 2020 2:40 pm

Lillian Ford Feickert (1877-1945) was the president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association from 1912 to 1920.  She later became the first woman to run for a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey.

From 1910 to 1912, Feickert headed enrollment for the suffrage movement and became one of the most visible faces of the state’s grassroots effort to secure women the right to vote.  She held rallies and sometimes led door-to-door campaigns.

Feickert played a key role in an unsuccessful 1915 statewide referendum to gain voter approval of women voting.  She was one of the primary lobbyists in New Jersey’s ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment on February 8, 1920.

Several months later, Feickert became the vice chair of the New Jersey Republican State Committee.  She also played a role in the transition of the suffrage group she ran for eight years into the New Jersey League of Women Voters.

The state chairman at the time was Edward C. Stokes, a former governor of New Jersey. At the time, the state party had two other vice chairs and her title was “Vice Chairman for Women Voters.”  She set up a ten-member executive board and recruited chairs in every county.

In 25, Feickert lost her bid for re-election as state party vice chair because of her support for Prohibition in an era where New Jersey politics was sharply divided between the wets and the drys.

She sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 1928, when incumbent Edward I. Edwards was seeking re-election.  Edwards had been New Jersey’s pro-suffrage governor in 1920.

The primary was won by Republican National Committeeman Hamilton F. Kean, the great-grandfather of the current minority leader of the New Jersey State Senate, Tom Kean.  Kean won by a 45%-39% margin over Stokes.

Former U.S. Senator Joseph Frelinghuysen, a cousin of former Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, finished third with 37%.

Feickert won 7% of the vote, edging out former Rep. Edward Gray (R-Jersey City) for fourth place by about 1,070 votes.

Lillian Ford Feickert for U.S. Senate, 1928. Special Collections/University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries
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