New Book Coming Soon!

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My new book on Susan B. Anthony’s brother Daniel will soon hit the shelves. I’m anticipating publication this summer or fall. If you love history and enjoy a good romance, watch for news of it on this blog. Continue reading

Saving Lincoln from Abduction

The 116

When the city of Washington was under siege at the onset of the Civil War, the White House feared that President Lincoln would be abducted. Read all about it in James Muehlberger’s excellent account entitled The 116: The True Story of Lincoln’s Lost Guard.

Continue reading

Susan B., Up Close

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Did young Susan B. dutifully eat her vegetables, wonders Sonja Livingston, in Queen of the Fall. And when she got older, was she too preoccupied with higher things to attend to such mundane realities as food?

Hardly! For an up-close and personal view of Rochester’s very own heroine, come see my costumed portrayal of her this month:

Writers & Books, 740 University Avenue, Rochester

Saturday, March 19, 11 AM      $3.50 adults, children free

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Susan B. Anthony

Jeanne Gehret as Susan B. Anthony

Jeanne Gehret as Susan B. Anthony

Why did Sonja Livingston include Susan B. Anthony among the “girls and goddesses” in her memoir Queen of the Fall?

To find out, come to my performance of “Failure is Impossible,” presenting Susan B. Anthony herself in costume!

11 AM Saturday, March 19

Writers & Books

740 University Avenue, Rochester

(585) 473-2590, x107.

$3.50 for adults, children free

Susan B.’s Sibling Trivia

Seventy people joined me for a presentation on the Anthony siblings at Webster Immanuel Lutheran Church today. What a program! Each week they meet for an exercise program followed by a speaker (this week, it was me) and then lunch–all for $2! I am impressed by this group’s creativity in serving the interests and needs of their community.

As I was preparing for the presentation, I came up with some interesting facts about the Anthony siblings. Susan had three sisters and two brothers. Here goes:

  • Both brothers moved to Kansas to serve the abolitionist movement and the Army, despite their pacifist Quaker upbringing.
  • All but two of the siblings married. Susan and her sister Mary, two linchpins of the woman suffrage movement, remained single.
  • Two sisters died of consumption. Susan feared it would claim her life also, but it never did.
  • Both brothers died of heart trouble; D.R. had a weak heart after his serious gunshot wound.
  • All the sisters voted with Susan and got arrested.
  • Susan was a teetotaler all her life; D.R. flaunted his enjoyment of alcohol and did not support prohibition.
  • Susan was a member in good standing in the Quaker fellowship, but D.R. was almost dismissed after he killed a civilian in self-defense. (He was always getting into scrapes because of his hair-trigger temper.)
  • D.R. supported Susan’s newspaper The Revolution with both advice and money. When injury and political campaigns prevented him from giving enough attention to his own newspaper (The Daily Times), Susan ran it for him.

Like all parents, the senior Daniel Anthony and his wife Lucy must have watched their children with bemusement and marveled sometimes at how such different fruits could have fallen from the same tree.

 

Back in the Saddle, Almost

After an absence of several months for family matters, I’ll soon be back to posting on this site. In the meantime, I’m preparing for a talk entitled “All in the Family: The Extended Family of Susan B. Anthony” at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Webster, NY on July 15.

Tracking Women’s Rights

world of inquiry 800Recently I had the pleasure of presenting Susan B. Anthony in costume at the World of Inquiry School in the Rochester City School District. Approximately 100 seventh-graders, in groups of 20, cycled through several costumed speakers who introduced students to a variety of 19th century issues, including temperance, antislavery, physical abuse, unequal access to education, child labor, and women’s rights.

We like to think ourselves well-advanced beyond Americans of the 1900s, but are we, really? We still have problems with alcoholism, racism, abuse, and women’s rights. And today, children as young as eight years being trafficked in the sex trade, a form of child labor that is even more appalling than the factory work of 19th century youngsters .

Some of the World of Inquiry classes were all girls, others all boys. Presenting Miss Anthony’s impassioned plea for women’s rights to seventh-grade boys presented a unique opportunity. Why should young males, at the beginning of their adult years, voluntarily rescind some of their natural rights to girls? “Miss Anthony” drew upon her Quaker upbringing to challenge those teenagers to respect themselves and accord the same respect to the females in their lives. She asked them to consider what happens to women who are dependent on men when the men must leave their women, in situations such as military service or death. Would a respectful man want to put a woman he loves at risk for a life of poor education and poor wages just so he can act superior to her when he is present?

We costumed presenters kicked off a curriculum unit entitled “Fighting for Change.” Following our appearances, the teachers have helped students work through some of the nuances of these social problems and take them from the common teenage refrain of “It’s not fair” to “What am I going to do about it?” Sounds to me like a worthy goal.

In the above photo from that event are pictured David Anderson as Frederick Douglass, Victoria Schmidt as an Erie Canal cook, Jeanne Gehret as Susan B. Anthony, Christine Ridarski (historian, City of Rochester), and Jeffrey Ludwig as an early temperance advocate.

Pioneer in Kansas

July 1854. Kansas’ reception of the The Emigrant Aid Company’s was initially friendly. D.R. noted in a letter to his family that although many fellow travelers on the steamboat Polar Star had warned them to expect proslavery animosity, the result was far different when they actually disembarked at Kansas City:

Many of the best citizens met us, extending to us a hearty welcome, expressing a wish that the thousands yet to come from the free states would come immediately. Even E.M. McGee, a slave-holder . . . hearing that the party wished to purchase oxen, horses, wagons, etc., called at the hotel with his span of bays and carriage, and took two of our party to his home, and sold them property to the amount of $300.

(Kansas Historical Quarterly)

 

Unfortunately, within a few years the relations between pro- and antislavery factions would deteriorate and eventually result in considerable bloodletting. But for the first wave of pioneers from the East, the heat presented far more of an obstacle than verbal threats.

The heartland was experiencing a heatwave that month. One member of D.R.’s party logged the mercury at 120 degrees. As a result, the men set off for their destination during cooler nighttime hours. Some walked with the wagon train pulled by oxen, but others, too impatient to plod, chartered their own wagons and ponies. According to his own account, D.R. walked.

Passing through Westport, Missouri, which one traveler described as “pugnacious and fire-eating,” the group traveled without incident. They encountered the friendly Shawnee tribe and were wakened by the howling of prairie wolves. When they finally reached the banks of the Wakarusa River near Lawrence, one man reported that “the sun was pouring down its beams with terrific fierceness, and all nature shrank under the infliction. A high wind swept over the prairies, but it resembled the blast of a furnace. . . .” They determined that their location would be the base of the Company’s future operations, and set off to stake their claims on some land. (More on land claims in the next post)