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NWSA Journal 15.1 (2003) 137-146



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The Lives of Nineteenth-Century American Women

Barbara A. White


The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: Volume II: Against an Aristocracy of Sex, 1866 to 1873 edited by Ann D. Gordon. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000, 724 pp., $60.00 hardcover.
To Keep the Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells by Linda O. McMurry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 416 pp., $18.95 paper.
"Yours for Liberty": Selections from Abigail Scott Duniway's Suffrage Newspaper edited by Jean M. Ward and Elaine A. Maveety. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2000, 319 pp., $21.95 paper.
A Sherwood Bonner Sampler, 1869-1884: What a Bright, Educated, Witty, Lively, Snappy Young Woman Can Say on a Variety of Topics edited by Anne Razey Gowdy. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2000, 518 pp., $42.00 hardcover.
Albion Fellows Bacon: Indiana's Municipal Housekeeper by Robert G. Barrows. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000, 249 pp., $24.95 hardcover.
Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives: Women in American History edited by Kriste Lindenmeyer. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Books, 2000, 301 pp., $50.00 hardcover.

The first of the works under review, volume two of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, is a marvel. Feminists who can afford it will want to own the book. At least it should be in a nearby library while we await the less expensive paperback. I hope the paper edition will be as attractive as the hardcover, which is a beautifully printed book; wonder of wonders, I can read it without my glasses.

Volume two is the second of six projected volumes of Stanton's and Anthony's papers. Like volume one, it is selected by editor Ann D. Gordon from the microfilm of the papers of these two feminist leaders (completed in 1991). The papers consist of correspondence, speeches, articles, and diary entries arranged chronologically. Although volume one, subtitled In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866, covered a quarter of a century, [End Page 137] volume two: Against an Aristocracy of Sex spans a short amount of time, the seven years between 1866 and 1873. But like the twentieth century's 1966 to 1973, what a seven years!

At the beginning of this period, Stanton and Anthony struggled within the American Equal Rights Association to get women included in the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave African American men the vote. Soon, they broke away to form the first independent women's movement in the United States. The two friends started the National Woman's Suffrage Association (NWSA), edited the radical journal, the Revolution, began lobbying Congress, and traveled extensively in the Midwest and West in attempts to attract new adherents to the cause. They also defended women in a series of sex scandals that rocked the period. At the end of the seven years, Susan B. Anthony was pronounced guilty of voting illegally in the 1872 presidential election.

The worst sex scandal was the Beecher-Tilton case. It involved Victoria Woodhull, a woman of uncertain reputation who was accepted as an NWSA member by the leaders. Anthony wrote that she had heard gossip about several legislators "and before I shall consent to an arraignment of Woodhull or any other earnest woman worker who shall come to our Platform. . . I shall insist upon the closest investigation into all the scandals afloat about those men" (425). Woodhull eventually admitted her belief in "free love" and accused Henry Ward Beecher, the leading minister of the time, of hiding an affair with one of his parishioners, Elizabeth Tilton. Both Beecher and the Tiltons were proponents of woman suffrage, so it was easy for anti-feminists to make the age-old association of women's rights and sexual profligacy. Isabella Beecher Hooker, Beecher's sister and a friend and colleague of Stanton and Anthony, believed her brother was guilty and refused to repudiate Woodhull, leading her to be ostracized by her family and friends. In one of her letters, Stanton made an eloquent statement of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2151-7371
Print ISSN
2151-7363
Pages
pp. 137-146
Launched on MUSE
2003-04-22
Open Access
No
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