Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898)
Raised by abolitionist family in a home on the Underground Railroad, Matilda Joslyn Gage grew up to be not only an abolitionist, but a suffragist, author, and activist for Native American rights. She was adopted into the wolf clan of the Mohawk nation and argued for their non-gendered biased form of government.
She married Henry Gage at 18 and had five children. One of the woman’s movement’s philosophers, she was a skilled writer and organizer, active after her children were grown. Gage joined the National Woman Suffrage Association, wrote for the Revolution, was an officer of the New York State Suffrage Association and later was president of both groups. She co-authored the first three volumes of the History of Woman Suffrage with Stanton and Anthony. Gage’s intellectual vigor made her one of woman’s rights most able philosophers but, fearing repercussions from her anti-church stand, the movement virtually wrote her out of its own history.Gage and Stanton co-authored the “Declaration of Rights” presented at a women’s demonstration that disrupted the Philadelphia Centennial Celebration (1876), in which women could not participate. She edited the National Citizen and Ballot Box, newspaper for the National Woman Suffrage Association. Believing that Church teachings on women’s inferiority were the greatest obstacle to women’s progress, she founded the radical Woman’s National Liberal Union, published a book, Woman, Church, and State (1893) and was a prominent force in the “revising committee” of Stanton’s shocking book, the Woman’s Bible.
Reprinted from NWHM Cyber Exhibit "Rights For Women"
Author Kristina Gupta
- PHOTO: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Carrie Chapman Catt Collection,
Bryn Mawr College Library