MATILDA JOSLYN GAGE: forgotten feminist

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MATILDA JOSLYN GAGE: forgotten feminist

Introduced by Susan B. Anthony at the International Council of Women in 1888, Matilda Josyln Gage began her speech with a brief sketch of her early entry into the suffrage movement: I have frequently been asked what first turned by thoughts towards woman's rights. I think I was born with a hatred of oppression, and, too, in my father's house, I was trained in the anti-slavery ranks, for it was one of the stations on the underground railway, and a home of anti-slavery speakers. Well I remember the wonder with which, when a young girl, I looked upon Abby Kelly, when she spoke of the wrongs of black women and black men. Then I remember, before the Round House in my city of Syracuse was finished, a large and enthusiastic anti-slavery convention was held there, attended by thousands of people who all joined in singing William Lloyd Garrison's song, "I'm an Abolitionist and glory in the Name," and as they rang out that glorious defiance against wrong, it thrilled my very heart, and I feel it echoing to this day. I am indebted to my father for something better than a collegiate education. He taught me to think for myself, and not to accept the word of any man, or society, or human being, but to fully examine for myself. My father was a physician, training me himself, giving me lessons in physiology and anatomy, and while I was a young girl he spoke of my entering Geneva Medical College, whose president was his old professor, and studying for a physician, but that was not to be. I had been married quite a number of years when Elizabeth Blackwell was graduated from that institution, which opened its doors to admit her, closing them, upon her graduation, to women, until since its union with the Syr...

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... major institutions of woman's oppression, (church, family, state and capitalist) is not cooptable.

One of the few women who stood beside Gage when she took on her unpopular battle against the Church was Lillie Devereux Blake, one of the major figures in the NWSA. Years later Blake's daughter Catherine remembered Matilda Joslyn Gage: "Mrs. Gage was a tireless student, a fine research worker, thorough in all she undertook; she had a deep sense of justice and at times an appalling frankness of speech - which I loved! One was never in doubt as to where Mrs. Gage stood...She was absolutely honest in all her dealings, and I would take her word at any time as against anybody else's. I always loved and admired her greatly. I think that in some ways she was the greatest of those (suffrage leaders.) Someone should write an adequate life of this great leader," she concluded.

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