Sojourner Truth

American Women Abolitionists: Freedom Fighters I

Abolitionist Movement in Philadelphia In the 1830s, female antislavery societies circulated and gathered signatures on antislavery petitions, held public meetings, organized fundraising events, and financially supported improvements in free black communities. Many of these organizations focused on submitting signed petitions to the U.S. Congress as a top priority in their campaigns to end slavery. Women were not yet allowed to vote; therefore, petition drives were one of the few forms of political expression available to female abolitionists. Petition campaigns drew women out of their homes and into their neighborhoods where they conducted massive door-to-door campaigns and then sent the signed documents to the U.S. Congress. Between 1834 and 1850, these women sent thousands of these petitions to Washington DC, causing…

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women's education reformer

First Women’s Rights Activists II

Pioneers in the Fight for Women’s Rights Activism consists of efforts to promote changes in society, politics, the economy, or the environment. Activism can be expressed through political campaigns, boycotts, confrontational strikes or street marches, or by simply writing letters to newspaper editors. Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820) Judith Sargent Murray was light years ahead of her time. Her ideas about women’s education were extremely radical for the late 18th century. She believed that the idea that women were intellectually inferior to men stemmed from the way they were raised: boys were encouraged to learn while girls were neglected. Although her family was wealthy, Judith found few opportunities to receive a formal education. Therefore, most of her knowledge was self-taught. Fortunately,…

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woman pioneer of the Oregon Trail

Amelia Stewart Knight

Women Settled the West Starting from Monroe County, Iowa, April 9, 1853 and ending Near Milwaukie, Oregon Territory, September 17, 1853, Amelia Stewart Knight, her husband, and seven children traveled the Oregon Trail searching for a new home in the Pacific Northwest. Early Years Amelia Stewart was born in Boston, Massachusetts in January 1817. Her future husband, Joel Knight, had been born in Sussex, England, April 5, 1808. In 1825, he immigrated with his father to the United States, landing in New York, November 7, 1825. Mr. Knight settled in Wayne County, and Joel went to Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York State, where he resided until April 1831. There he learned to make gentlemen’s hats and supported himself by that…

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Anna Murray Douglass

Anna Murray Douglass

Wife of Former Slave Frederick Douglass Anna Murray Douglass was an American abolitionist, member of the Underground Railroad, and the first wife of orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Her life illustrates the challenges faced by women who marry famous men. Early Years Anna Murray was born free to Bambarra and Mary Murray in Denton, Maryland in 1813. Anna was ambitious; by the age of 17 she had moved to Baltimore and established herself as a laundress and housekeeper and was earning a decent income, especially for someone so young. Murray facilitated Frederick’s second escape attempt by providing money for a train ticket and a sailor’s disguise. She followed him to New York City, where they were married by the prominent…

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Jean Margaret Davenport

Civil War Nurse and Stage Actress Jean Margaret Davenport (May 3, 1829, Wolverhampton, England – August 3, 1903, Washington, D.C.), later Mrs. Frederick William Lander, was an English actress with a career in both England and the United States. American Civil War nurse and English-American stage actress Early Years Jean Margaret Davenport was born May 3, 1829, in Wolverhampton, England. Her father was a lawyer, but he left the bar for the stage and became the manager of the Richmond Theatre in the London borough of Richmond Upon Thames. At the age of seven, Jean made her first professional appearance at that theater as Little Pickle in The Manager’s Daughter, and in Dion Boucicault’s version as The Young Actress. Jean…

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First Women’s Rights Activists I

Women’s Rights Advocates The first women who fought for their civil and legal rights were not a unique breed. Many were wives and mothers like most other females in the mid-nineteenth century. However, they must have developed a strong sense of self and some support from their husbands, for they found time in their busy lives to protest against the confining space that society had assigned them: women’s sphere. May Wright Sewall May Wright Sewall (1844 – 1920) Born May Eliza Wright May 27, 1844 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May graduated in 1866 from North-Western Female College in Evanston, Illinois. There she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Arts in 1871 and began a career in teaching…

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Agnes Maxwell Kearny

Agnes Maxwell Kearny: Wife of the One-Armed Devil Agnes Maxwell Kearny Agnes Maxwell was born sometime in 1833, daughter of the customs collector for the port of New York City. Her affair with Philip Kearny, who was nearly twice her age, caused quite a scandal in both Paris and New York City. Agnes broke all societal customs by living with Kearny several years before they were married. Philip Kearny (pronounced CAR-nee) was born June 1, 1815 in New York City, the only child of a wealthy couple, Philip and Susan Watts Kearny. Young Philip lived a privileged childhood, but it was touched by tragedy with the untimely death of his beloved mother when he was eight years old. When his…

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For God’s Sake Forward

Civil War Art at the Battle of Gettysburg For God’s Sake Forward General John Reynolds (left center, between two trees) and the 2nd Wisconsin at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. Soldiers of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, a unit of the Iron Brigade, charge to relieve General John Buford’s cavalrymen at McPherson’s Ridge. Civil War Art by Don Troiani Highest Ranking Soldier Killed at Gettysburg Pennsylvania native John Reynolds was a West Point graduate, and soon after the American Civil War began, he was promoted to brigadier general. During the 1862 Peninsula Campaign in Virginia; Reynolds was taken prisoner by the Confederates but was released some weeks later. After his return to the army, Reynolds was named commander…

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Phoebe Couzins

Phoebe Couzins: Pioneer Lawyer and Suffragist In the 1870s, Phoebe Couzins (1842-1913) became the third or fourth female lawyer in the United States and a popular public speaker in support of women’s rights. After her father died in 1887, the U.S. government appointed her as the first female in the U.S. Marshal Service, and she finished her father’s term of service. Early Years Phoebe Wilson Couzins was born September 8, 1842 in St. Louis, Missouri to John E.D. Couzins and and Adaline Weston Couzins, both of whom were tireless public servants. John Couzins was the chief of police in St. Louis and acting provost marshal of Missouri during the Civil War. After the onset of the American Civil War, Adaline…

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Winnie Davis

Daughter of Confederate President Jefferson Davis Varina Anne ‘Winnie’ Davis As the daughter of President of the Confederate States of America Jefferson Davis, Varina Anne ‘Winnie’ Davis appeared with her father at numerous Confederate veterans’ events after the American Civil War and became known as ‘Daughter of the Confederacy.’ She also authored two novels and wrote for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World newspaper. Early Years Varina Anne Davis was born June 27, 1864 in the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia – ten months before the end of the American Civil War. ‘Winnie,’ as she was called, was the second daughter and the youngest of six children born to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his wife Varina Howell…

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