Suozzi Seeks Commemorative Stamp Honoring Early Suffragettes and 19th Amendment

On the 100th anniversary of the election of the first women to the New York State Assembly, Congressman Tom Suozzi requested a commemorative stamp to honor the amendment that gave women the right to vote in federal elections.

Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) sent a letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee of the U.S. Postal Service, requesting a commemorative stamp to honor early suffragettes and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Suozzi made the request Monday, on the 100th anniversary of the election of Huntington resident Ida Bunce Sammis as one of the first woman to sit in the New York State Assembly. Also elected for the 1919 Assembly session was Mary Lilly, from New York City.

Women seeking the right to vote first organized in Seneca Falls in 1848, in upstate New York, which today is home to the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

“Seventy-two long years later, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was finally ratified, in 1920. New York State, however, was slightly ahead of the curve, and got it done in 1917, allowing strong women, like Ida Bunce Sammis, to not only exercise their right to vote, but to run for elected office, beginning in 1918. Throughout the history of our country, so many people fought long and hard for the right to vote,” Suozzi said.

The 19th Amendment was ratified Aug. 18, 1920. It grants women suffrage, or the right to vote. However, New York state granted women the right to vote in local and state elections on Nov. 6, 1917. The first time women could vote in a New York state election—on Nov. 5, 1918—Sammis and Lilly were elected to the New York State Assembly and became the first women to serve as Assemblywomen.

Sammis, a lawyer, was the daughter of Margaret Jones Rogers and Eliphalet Bunce, who lived in Cold Spring Harbor. She told readers of the New York Tribune in 1919 that she was happy to vote for prohibition based on her family history—her grandfather Eliphalet Bunce Rogers, organized the first temperance society in Huntington—and her first husband, Edgar A. Sammis, was killed in 1917 when he was hit by a chauffeur who had been drinking.

Sammis founded the Suffolk County Political Equality League in 1911, and ran on the Republican and Prohibition tickets, according to the New York Tribune. She served one term in the state Assembly. Her New York Times obituary in 1943 noted that she sponsored a bill that regulated duck season on Long Island.

Suozzi made the announcement at Sammis’ former home in Huntington, on Main Street near the entrance to the YMCA, where she held meetings and rallies promoting women’s right to vote. In April, a historical marker commemorating a 1913 parade and rally down Main Street to Wall Street that supported suffrage efforts was put in place near the corner of Wall and Main streets.

The USPS’ Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee recommends subjects  that appear on future stamps. The committee researches and fact-checks applications, and then members vote on the proposal. It recommends allowing a three-year lead time to allow for its stamp selection process.

Officials unveil the suffragette plaque on Wall Street in April 2018.

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