Agitators Prevailed

The story of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass packed a full house tonight, the opening of “The Agitators.” Rochester’s famous reformers really showed their mettle at this fine play at GEVA Theater. Actors Madeleine Lambert and Cedric Mays delivered the pair’s famous arguments with conviction and humor against a massive timeline that resembled the double arches of the Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony Bridge in Rochester.

“Agitation is the spark of all change”

This is one of my favorite quotes from the play, and served as the theme to portray the lifelong friendship between these reformers. Especially moving were the scenes where the pair toured Frederick’s burned-out home; where they fought over the enfranchisement of black men before women; and where he begged Susan not to hold a women’s rights convention in a southern state where black women were not welcome.

Personally, I enjoyed the proslavery mob scene and the final vignette about Ida Wells, which both figured prominently in my book Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All.

Want to read more about these two revolutionaries? Get your own copy of this easy read that portrays Susan’s entire life. Great for students, too!

This week in History: John Brown at Harpers Ferry

John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry shook the Anthony family’s roots when on this day in 1859 he broke into a federal arsenal in Virginia and was captured.

Lucy and Daniel Anthony had raised Continue reading

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass association recounted in new biography

Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All is out in its new edition and explores her long-term association with Frederick Douglass. (Click here to order on Amazon.)This monument, titled “Let’s Have Tea,” depicts two of the main characters in the book.

A Multifaceted Friendship

Susan and Frederick were neighbors when both moved to Rochester in the 1840s; the Douglasses frequently dined at abolitionist gatherings at Susan’s farm home. The two worked tirelessly together for universal suffrage until a falling-out but were re-united in their old age. Read more about their friendship in my new easy-reading biography Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All: Suffrage Centennial Edition.

A Little Background on the Statues

When Susan’s brother Daniel died a rich man, he specifically left $1,000 for a memorial to Susan. Instead, however, she elected to spend the money on a woman suffrage campaign. (She outlived him by two years.) It wasn’t until 2002 that the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association in Rochester, NY commissioned Laotian immigrant Pepsy M. Kettavong to create the larger-than-life statues near Susan’s Madison Street home.

When Free Speech isn’t Free

It almost cost Frederick Douglass his home to publish his newspaper in the Talman Building in Rochester, pictured here; and Harriet Jacobs, who operated a reading room with her brother one floor up, couldn’t make her rent, either. Continue reading

A Time of Confluence

In 1847 (two years after the Anthonys moved to Rochester) Frederick Douglass settled nearby and began publishing his abolitionist paper The North Star (later called Frederick Douglass’ Paper).

Although he had established his writing and speaking career in New Bedford (near Boston), his rising fame threatened or inspired jealousy in some of the luminaries of the movement—most notably William Lloyd Garrison—so he set out in search of a new home. Continue reading

Black History Month: Another Rochester Hero

I’m still processing, both mentally and photographically, what I saw this week at the Talman Building. But here’s one tidbit I brought back for you: my heroine Harriet Jacobs, who self-published this book before the Civil War, had a reading room one floor above Frederick Douglass’s office in the Talman Building. What an amazing, brave woman she was!

If you want to experience for yourself how small a space Harriet hid in for seven years, visit the very worthwhile Underground Railroad exhibit at the Rochester Museum & Science Center. If you can spare the time, plan to spend at least an hour there.

We have much to consider this month! More on Harriet–and Douglass and the Talman Building– later, I promise.

 

The Anthonys in Rochester

I have blogged extensively about the Anthony family in Kansas and Martha’s Vineyard because those two areas were the focus of my first book in “The Dauntless Series.” In the process, I’ve slighted one of the most obvious places anyone should mention when discussing the Anthony family: Rochester, NY, where all of Susan’s nuclear family lived at various times between 1848 and 1907.

So here’s my commitment: I will include the Rochester connection on a regular basis from now on. Not only am I currently researching Rochester sites and people that the Anthonys knew, but I have also created a program entitled “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” where I will share my findings in person with a Powerpoint program. Several libraries have already booked this presentation, in addition to costumed appearances, to celebrate New York State’s centennial of woman suffrage.

If you want to share some Rochester historical tidbits or old photos, please scroll down to the bottom of this page and use the comment box.

I am excited that tomorrow I will be getting a private tour of the Talman Building on Rochester’s Main Street. It was the home of Frederick Douglass’s newspaper The North Star and also a site on the Underground Railroad. Watch for upcoming entries and photos from that visit!

About the photo on today’s post: I never stop puzzling over it. It was taken on the Anthony farm near Rochester, and none of the people in it are identified. Do you find their poses as curious as I do? I like to think that the man on the extreme right is Daniel Read, but have no way of knowing other than that he seems to be copping an attitude!

This is the home where both Daniels–Susan’s father and brother–lived, as well as Merritt. None of the men in the family ever lived on Madison Street, where the famous Susan B. Anthony House stands today. Two chapters of my book take place in this farm home.

Susan B. Anthony at Mt. Hope Cemetery

SBA graveThousands experienced the beauty and peace of Mt. Hope Cemetery yesterday when they gathered at the grave of Susan B. Anthony in a fitting tribute to one of America’s greatest women. Rochester officials estimate the crowd at 10,000 visitors. Continue reading

Voting This Year?

 

Seneca Falls 1If you are one of the millions of Americans who has decided not to vote this year, please think again. Being an admirer of suffrage advocates Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, I support voting as a right to be cherished, even if you think the selections on the ballot are not optimum.

This is not a sneaky plug for one candidate or the other but a plea to support the American voting system (whether you think it’s flawed or not) that so many of our forbears have sacrificed so much to achieve.

Need information about candidates? Type “2016 ballot sample” into your internet browser and enter your address. You will receive a complete listing of national, state, and local candidates and can read about them at leisure.  Don’t lose sight of those people seeking election for state and local posts because someday they may be running for the higher-profile offices.

You can also get candidate information from the League of Women Voters at http://www.vote411.org/. Click here for their interesting summary of how voter turnout counteracts the millions of dollars spent trying to swing elections.

My travels last month afforded me the opportunity to hear sobering perspectives on our 2016 presidential election from both Canadians and Mexicans. Then I visited the Women’s Rights National Historical Park to reflect on the beginnings of the universal suffrage movement  in the U.S.

These photos that I took there show some of the pioneers who staked their reputations, personal safety, and resources on getting the vote. The first group of inspiring statues depicts Elizabeth Cady Stanton holding the umbrella while standing next to (very tall) Frederick Douglass. The next photo shows James and Lucretia Mott who, with Douglass and Stanton, were some of the original signers of the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments that kicked off the women’s movement in Seneca Falls, NY.

Voting is like a muscle. You have to exercise it to stay healthy. So go out and do it!

Brain teaser: why was Susan B not represented among the bronze statues at Seneca Falls?