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Suzanne Harris

Books On Air – Quoting Matilda by Susan Savion

QUOTING MATILDA: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist by Susan Savion

Though the names Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are well-known historical figures associated with women’s rights. However, when the name Matilda Joslyn Gage is mentioned, the usual response is, “Who?” Yet, this amazing woman contributed equally to the movement for women’s rights as part of a triumvirate with Anthony and Stanton. Matilda was involved in the women’s movement from 1852 until her death in 1898. Gage and Stanton published The Woman’s Bible. Gage’s own book, Women, Church and State was deemed as too radical and described by many as “going too far”.

Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in upstate New York to an abolitionist family. Her childhood home and her long-time residence in Fayetteville, New York, were both stops on the Underground Railroad. Gage’s home in Fayetteville is now a museum dedicated to her.

She was a noted speaker and writer on the topic of woman’s suffrage. Though she is best known for her feminist and suffragist activities, Matilda Joslyn Gage was “written out of history” for many years, because her views were considered by her peers to be too radical.

Inspired by the Haudenosaunee women who were her neighbors and who adopted her into their Mohawk wolf clan, she was determined to gain the rights of property ownership, governance and equality of power for her 19th century sisterhood. She fought for the rights of Native Americans and enslaved persons and anyone else impacted by government control.

Gage had a life-long desire for justice and equality for all and was connected to the ideas of Theosophy and Unitarianism. This moved her to take on the inequality of women in religious institutions, which deemed her in the eyes of her contemporaries as too radical. She also championed women inventors and is credited with being the inspiration behind her son-in-law L. Frank Baum’s 14 Oz books.

You will find her immensely quotable!