Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The First Women’s Rights Conventions

In 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, 240 women and men met for the very first women’s rights convention. This group issued a women’s Declaration of Independence.

From that gathering, women’s rights pioneers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Abby Kelley, Lucretia Mott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott and William Lloyd Garrison planned a national convention that was held in Worcester, MA in 1850. More than 1,000 delegates from eleven different states attended

  • ·         Lucy Stone called for giving women the right to own property and to vote.
  • ·         Abby Price argued for women’s equal access to trades and professions.
  • ·         Dr. Harriet Hunt insisted on women’s right to higher education.
  • ·         Sojourner Truth spoke of the plight of slave women.

Newspapers across the nation mocked the convention and the people seeking more rights for women but just being in the paper brought the issue to the forefront and helped bring converts to the cause.

Ask yourself if you would have stepped forward and attended these conventions.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Have you ever wondered how your neighbors view you?

I found a recent "Mass Moments" very interesting. "In 1882, Mabel Loomis Todd recorded her impressions of her mysterious Amherst neighbor. Emily Dickinson always wore white and had her hair arranged 'as was the fashion fifteen years ago.' 'She writes the strangest poems, and very remarkable ones,' Mrs. Todd noted in her journal, adding, 'She is in many respects a genius.'" 

None of us would disagree that Emily Dickinson was a genius. Her remarkable poems are still being taught in schools. Since Dickinson lived the majority of her adult life in seclusion, one wonders how she could write such worldly material. When she died in 1886, her sister asked Mabel Todd to copy and edit the poems. In 1890 the first volume was published and the world discovered Emily Dickinson.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Community Building Women Fill the Needs of Many

Women have always been (and will always be) community builders. It was the women who held the communities together during the colonization of this country. They have also been the ones that find ways to help in wars.

In war, the men know exactly what is expected of them. For women it is not as clear but they seek out where they can be most useful. Many wars, starting with the war for our independence, have found women right on the front lines. Civil War historian Frank Moore said, “The story of the war will never be fully or fairly written if the achievements of women in it are untold.”

Over the years, women’s desire and ability to pull people together for a common cause was the power behind the start of many war relief organizations.

Since the beginning of this country, many thousands of volunteer women’s aid societies have been started to help various populations. Where there is a need, you will find a group of women looking for ways to help.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Did You Ever Invent Anything - Sybilla Masters (1675 – 1720) Did

Did you ever have a good idea about making something but didn’t do anything about it? I did and now someone else is getting rich on my idea because they went forward on their idea. This is a slow way of getting into talking about inventing and inventors. Women have been inventing (or making a better mouse trap if you prefer) for thousands of years. Unfortunately, females could not get a patent. That changed with Sybilla Masters when her husband received a patent from the patent office in London, England on Nov. 25, 1715. Actually, the patent, granted to Thomas Masters, for Sybilla’s invention for a device for cleaning and curing Indian corn, mentions Sybilla. With her device, the corn pulverized by a stamping method rather than by grinding, became more like a rice than a corn meal.

The patent granted by King George I, is as follows: "Letters patent to Thomas Masters, of Pennsylvania, Planter, his Execrs., Amrs. and Assignees, of the sole Vse and Benefit of 'A new Invention found out by Sybilla, his wife, for cleaning and curing the Indian Corn, growing in the several Colonies of America, within England, Wales, and Town of Berwick upon Tweed, and the Colonies of America.'" So Sybilla did receive credit for her invention.

This was the first patent but she didn’t stop there. The next year another patent, under Thomas Masters’ name, was granted for a process of staining and working palmetto leaves to make them into a fabric for decorating bonnets.

Both patents were also registered in Pennsylvania. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Maud Powell – August 22, 1867 – January 8, 1920

Music enhances our lives. I cannot imagine life without music. I have absolutely no musical talent. Consequently, I greatly admire those that can provide us such pleasure.

As with every field of endeavor women have had to prove themselves more than men. Maud did that from the age of 7, when she began her first violin lessons.

Maud was born in Peru, Illinois, surrounded by a family of exceptional people and she was destined to make them proud.

It was quickly obvious that Maud was a prodigy and by the age of 13 was traveling to Europe to learn from world renown musicians.

To learn more about Maud’s life accomplishments and her tragic death, see http://archives.susanfleet.com/.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sophonisba (Sophie) Preston Breckinridge – April 1, 1866 – July 30, 1948 Part 2

Some of the other activities that Sophie was passionate about were Hull House, the first major United States settlement house (where she lived), Chicago’s Immigrants Protective League, the League of Women Voters and the Women’s Peace Party.

Probably the most important role she played was as the first women ever to be a delegate to the major international conference, the Pan-American Congress in 1933. The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States was a treaty signed at Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 26, 1933, during the Seventh International Conference of American States. 

Sophie authored many books on children, family and public welfare, including “The Stepfather in the Family,” “Truancy and Non-attendance in the Chicago Schools,” “Public Welfare Administration,” “The Illinois Adoption Law and its Administration,” “Women in the Twentieth Century: a study of their political, social and economic activities” and “The Modern Household.” 

Did you ever hear about Sophie in history class?

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sophonisba (Sophie) Preston Breckinridge – April 1, 1866 – July 30, 1948 - Part 1

Author, lawyer, social activist/reformer and educational innovator are just some of the accomplishments we can attribute to Sophie. After graduating from Wellesley College in 1888, Sophie taught high school math in Washington, D.C., before returning home to Kentucky to study law. Sophie was the first Kentucky woman to pass the bar. She was also the first to receive a Ph.D. but the sad truth is she left Kentucky because no one would hire a female attorney.

She became a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Her thesis was on "The Administration of Justice in Kentucky," and her Ph.D. in Political Science came in 1903 with her dissertation, "Legal Tender; A Study in English and American Monetary History." As a professor and assistant dean of women, Sophie helped develop the University of Chicago’s graduate program of social services administration. 

In the next blog will look at some of the other accomplishments attributed to Sophie.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lydia Barrington Darragh  1728 – 12/28/1789

Some weeks ago I wrote about Mary Molly Brant who spied on the colonists for the British. Lydia is the other side of the coin. She spied for the Colonial Army
Lydia, a Quaker, risked both execution as a traitor and loss of her right to be a Quaker by taking information to the Colonial  Army about an impending attack she overhead in her British occupied home..
The story accepted by some historians is that she wrote down what she heard and then asked permission to go to the mill outside the British lines to get flour. While out, she passed on the information to Elias Boudinot, which he talks about in his diary. Other historians still don’t give her credit for her actions.
After the failed attack made it clear that Washington knew the British were coming, Lydia was questioned by the British but the officers that questioned her believe her when she said she was asleep.
Lydia, born in Dublin, Ireland, married her tutor, William Darragh. They immigrated to Philadelphia, where there was a large Quaker community. In Philadelphia, she acted as a midwife and nurse. As a Quaker, Lydia was committed to pacifism but her eldest son enlisted.
Both Lydia and her son lost their membership in the Quaker society. After her husband died in 1783, Lydia ran a store until her death.
This quote attributed to Lydia: “Though we consider thee as a public enemy, we regard thee as a private friend. While we detest the cause thee fights for, we wish well to thy personal interest and safety,” makes me wonder who she is addressing.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Henrietta de Beaulieu Dering 1670 – 3/9/1729

 Henrietta, the first female recognized as a pastel artist, supported her family by drawing portraits with colored chalk on paper.

Born in France of Huguenot parents who immigrated to London, Henrietta married Robert Dering, fifth son of Sir Edward Dering, Baronet and with him went to Ireland. During her stay in Ireland, Henrietta began to draw pastels depicting some of her powerful relatives.

When Dering died, leaving Henrietta with two daughters, she married clergyman Gideon Johnston. Shortly thereafter, The Church of England sent Johnson with his family, to serve as commissary of the Church of England in North and South Carolina. Their time in the colonies was extremely difficult because his salary rarely came and he was often ill. In 1709, Johnston wrote “Were it not for the assistance my wife gives by drawing pictures (which can last but a little time in a place so ill peopled), I should not be able to live.” Johnston died in 1716.

Not much is known of her later life in the colonies except she must have gone to New York City because four of her portraits of family members from that city are dated 1725. She is buried in Charleston, South Carolina with Johnston.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Barbara Ruckle Heck 1734 – 8/17/1804

Barbara is known as the Mother of American Methodism. The Manhattan Borough Presidentin honored Barbara for founding what is now the oldest Methodist congregation in the United States at the old John Street United Methodist church.

Barbara was born in Limerick, Ireland, of German parents who had earlier fled the religious persecution of Protestants. She married Paul Heck and settled in New York City. With no pastor attending to them, some of the group of Germans became “careless of religious observances,” and when Barbara found the playing cards, she threw the cards into the first, berated them and talked a member of the group and her cousin, Philip Embury, who had been a preacher, to start holding meetings.

In 1770 the Hecks moved to Camden, New York, where she had a daughter. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War they moved to Salem, New York to be with Loyalists, and founded the first Methodist Society there.

Her husband, Paul, joined the army of Burgoyne and while at home on a furlouugh at the time of the surrender at Saratoga was arrested by patriot soldiers, but got away while the soldiers slept. He escaped to Canada, where Barbara joined him. They formed the first Methodist Society in Canada.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mary Katherine Goddard - Part 2

When we left Mary in the last blog, she had just taken over as publisher of the Journal and Advertiser, putting her name as publisher on the masthead as M. H. Goddard on May 10, 1775.

This was also the year Mary became the first female postmaster in America. These positions put her at the center of the information flow right at the start of the war for independence, at a time when the public was thirsty for news.

These were tough economic times and it took all of Mary’s intelligence and courage to keep publishing the paper and the mail circulating.

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, but the copies circulating through the colonies did not contain the names of the signers because they could be arrested for treason. As a courageous newswomen Mary changed that when in January 1777, she published the Declaration including the names of the signers. This forced the signers to stand behind their signatures and support the cause more openly.

Her brother, William, who had been unsuccessful thus far with his endeavors at publishing, the postal system and politics, fought his sister for control of the paper and won, in 1784 removing her name from the masthead. She had not missed publishing an edition of the paper from when she took it over in 1775 until her brother and the courts took it away from her.

The new Constitution adopted was not favorable to women (until we fought for amendments) and Mary’s post office job went to a male appointee. Mary appealed these injustices but to no avail. Thereafter, she ran a bookstore in Baltimore until her death in 1816.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mary Katherine Goddard Wore Many Hats In the Revolutionary War

Born in 1738 in Connecticut to Sarah Updike Goddard and Giles Goddard, Mary Katherine Goddard grew up fiercely independent with a good business sense.

The family was living in New London, CT when her father died. When brother William came of age, Mary’s mother Sarah financed his start of a printing business in Providence, RI. The first one for that colony.
Since William traveled often, it was Sarah Updike Goddard who ran the business with Mary Katherine taking a great interest in making the company successful by working as typesetter, printer, and journalist. Around this time, they also started to publish the Providence Gazette and Country Journal. During this Revolutionary War period, newspapers wielded great influence and with William away, the mother/daughter team made their print shop a hub of activity. They diversified the business with a bookbindery, printed almanacs, pamphlets and occasionally books.

In 1765, William left Providence for Philadelphia, where he began another print shop and newspaper, the Philadelphia Chronicle and Universal Advertiser. Sarah and Mary joined him there in 1768 and helped run the business. Sarah died in 1770. With William frequently in jail because of public outbursts and rabble-rousing, that left Mary Katherine to keep the company going.

Never staying in one place for long, William left Philadelphia for Baltimore and started the Maryland Journal and the Baltimore Advertiser but soon decided to set up an intercolonial postal system in competition with the official British one.

With her mother gone and William busy with new ventures, Mary Katherine became the publisher of the Journal and Advertiser.

Next, in Part 2, we will see that Mary Katherine Goddard didn’t stop there.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

First Best-selling Novelist in the U.S. in 1794

Where research has proven that 17th century women could not write, by the 18th century, many women were more educated and could write.

Susanna Haswell Rowson, one of these women, published her second novel, Charlotte, A Tale of Truth, first in London and then in Philadelphia. Her first novel, published in 1786, was Victoria.

Rowson had come here with her widowed father but because of his Loyalist stand, he and the family
were interned during the early days of the Revolutionary War.

In 1778 they were granted the right to go back to England. In England,  Susanna married and she and her husband came and settled in Boston in 1793.

In 1797, Susanna added educator to her set of skills by starting one of the first schools in the United States that provided girls with an education beyond the elementary school level.

She continued to write novels and magazine articles until two years before her death in 1824, thereby being a role model for girls and other women.

1st Female Tavern Keeper in Boston Bribed her Way out of Prison

We sometimes forget that corruption and bribery are not new. In the 17th century, even though women, especially widows, were actively involved in transacting business, it was thought those who opening ran an establishment were of low moral character.

In the early 1670s, a widow, Alice Thomas, ran a tavern in her house in Boston, the first female to do so.

But there were some in her community that weren't happy with her. Complaints were made.  She was fined, whipped and sent to prison for selling liquor without a license, profaning.

the Sabbath, receiving stolen  goods and allowing "frequent secret and unseasonable entertainment in her house to Lewd Lascivious and Notorious persons of both sexes, giving them opportunity to commit Carnale Wickedness."

I didn't find any information about it, but I wouldn't be surprised if her husband had had a license before he died.

Thomas paid her fine, took her whipping but she didn't stay in prison. She understood how things worked. Instead, she bought her freedom with a large financial contribution to the City of Boston.

Fasting to “Caft” out the Devil

Fasting – going without food for a long time – is not common today except for a few that use it to control their weight.

There are still some individuals that use fasting as a religious practice. This involves more than just not eating. It is also meditation and a thoughtful consideration of how to be a better person, including how to make amends for slights and grievances against others.

Have You Ever Fasted?
I actually practiced fasting on Ash Wednesdays for many years. Every time I noticed being hungry, I would pray to be a better person and take time to read a Bible passage. If nothing else, it made me mindful of my shortcomings and being thankful for the food I could eat the next day.

The Puritans Fasted Often
The Puritans held fast days often and for various reasons. The chief reason was repentance and reformation of life. The Puritans thought this was a method for exorcising the devil. They saw the devil is everything so they had many days of humiliation.  Calamities were a classic example. Their belief that God was always finding ways to correct their lives, something like an earthquake, bad storm or failure of their crop, meant they hadn’t been living pure enough.

The Government Ordered Fasting
The government, wanting their public to atone for what they saw as a lack of Godliness, would call for days of humiliation for the colony. “To fet apart a Day of Fafting and Prayer, to entreat the Lord to caft out Satan.” This would include a church service with a lengthy sermon and a stop to other activities.

The First Thanksgiving
Since everyone was gathered at the church, the end of the day of humiliation and fasting would turn into a celebration. This was the reason for the first Thanksgiving. At the end of a day of fasting and prayer in thanksgiving for a good harvest and the help of the natives, the people celebrated.

Christopher Durston and Jacqueline Eales in The Culture of English Puritanism, 1560-1700 state it this way: “For Puritans, fasting ‘was to inculcate an individual and collective sense of ‘humiliation’ by providing puritans with an ideal opportunity for length meditation upon the insignificance and depravity of humankind and the power and justice of God . . . . Puritans also saw fasting as a particularly effective means of assuaging or diverting God’s wrath.’  At the same time, a fast day was ‘an important social occasion.’”

Have you ever fasted? Please comment on why and how you reacted.

First Woman to Spy against the US

Mary (Molly) Brant was the consort, or common-law wife of Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs for the northern colonies.

Mary bore him nine children, who he referred to in his will as "natural" children by his housekeeper. It was rumored, however, that they were married in an Indian marriage ceremony.

Sir William Johnson died in 1774. His will was generous to Mary and her children, and she returned to her native village of Canajoharie on the Mohawk River.

During the American Revolution, Mary informed the British of patriot movements before the battle of Oriskany.

Mary's brother, Joseph, was one of the most notorious Iroquois warriors of the Revolution, and her 
son, Peter Johnson, captured Ethan Allen during the fighting at Montreal, Canada.

After her spying was discovered, Mary went to live with relatives among the Six Nations and used her political connections to keep the Cayugas and Senecas loyal to the British.

After the war, Mary moved to Canada, where she lived on an annual pension from the British government in recognition of her assistance during the war, until her death in 1783.

Since 1994, Brant has been honored as a "Person of National Historic Significance" in Canada. She was long ignored or disparaged by historians of the United States, but scholarly interest in her increased in the late 20th century.

No portraits of her are known to exist; an idealized likeness is featured on a statue in Kingston and on a Canadian stamp issued in 1986.