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!

Three Susan B. Anthony Events

Jeanne Gehret as Susan B. Anthony

Three Susan B. Anthony events feature Jeanne Gehret, author of two books about the Anthony family. These programs honor the centennial of woman suffrage in NY state. Signups are essential at the libraries:

  • Tuesday, 7 pm., Perinton Historical Society, “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” discusses how Susan’s entire family supported her reform work
  • Thursday, 7 pm, Brighton Memorial Library, “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” 585-783-5300
  • http://www.brightonlibrary.org/
  • Saturday, 1 pm, Irondequoit Public Library, “Failure is Impossible” (re-enactment of Susan B. Anthony) 585-336-6060

Click here for a fuller description of those programs. Hope to see you there! ‎

Books by Jeanne Gehret:

                       

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

America’s Iconic Suffragist

Biography of Susan B. Anthony–New in September 2017!

Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All: Suffrage Centennial Edition–complete revision of 1994 edition. Order now on Amazon or Amazon Kindle.

Description:

Biography of Susan B. Anthony that carefully follows primary sources (Ida Harper, Alma Lutz, Ann Gordon), and is updated to include the ratification of the woman suffrage amendments in New York State (1917) and the U.S. (1920).

Celebrate the reformer whose drive and passion for equality made such a difference in the lives of women and African-Americans. From her early work against slavery in the 1860s through her fight for the nineteenth amendment granting woman suffrage, Anthony traveled the world, voted illegally, and changed history.

For grade levels 6-8: includes archival photos, illustrations, bibliography, index, and glossary. Selective adjustments of dialogue accommodate modern ears.

  • 128 pages
  • Archival images & illustrations
  • Grade level 6-8
  • ISBN 978-1-884281-00-6
  • Author: Jeanne Gehret
  • Publisher: Verbal Images Press
  • Order now on Amazon, paperback or Kindle

Praise for the first edition:

 “A readable, lively biography of the women’s suffrage advocate, abolitionist, and temperance crusader.”  School Library Journal

“In Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All, students have a chance to see what the world was like for both women and black people more than 100 years ago. . . . Anthony’s story is well told by Gehret.”  Beaumont Enterprise

“A strong and concise overview of Susan B.’s life and the issues she faced.” Rose O’Keefe, author of Frederick & Anna Douglass in Rochester, New York

About the Author:

Jeanne Gehret has portrayed Susan B. in costume ever since the 1994 first edition of this book. She served as a docent at Miss Anthony’s home in Rochester, NY and has set her own feet on many of the places where the famous reformer lived, worked, and visited. She has also written The Truth About Daniel based on the true story of Susan’s brother.

How losses form bonds between lovers

 

This week marks the sinking of the whaling ship Ocmulgee, owned by Annie Osborn’s father. Thirty years earlier, Daniel Read (D.R.) Anthony’s father went bankrupt, causing him to lose his business and have to start over in another city. I believe that the sadness of those troubles may have formed a bond between Annie and D.R..

Read more about the Ocmulgee here.

What Annie Missed

The Osborns’ loss could have had a two-pronged effect. First, Annie’s family may have had less money to pay for her “coming out” to society and attracting a mate who lived closer to their Vineyard home. Second, seeing the repercussion of such a loss may have made her want to get away from herseafaring community. Why else would a captain’s daughter be willing to leave everything familiar to start life anew with Daniel in Leavenworth?

How Loss Shaped Daniel

The Panic of 1837 caused Daniel Anthony Sr. to lose his entire business and bankrupt the family. This prompted 18 year-old Susan to quit her private education and take up teaching, where she learned self-reliance. Like his sisters, D.R. also had to end his private education, but he had fewer years of expert instruction than his older siblings. He finished his education at a normal school and helped his father in the mill instead.

Throughout his several terms as mayor of Leavenworth, he made bids for the post of governor. But he never realized that high position. Would he have achieved his dream if he had had the benefit of a law degree?

 

 

 

Town Where Susan B. Anthony Was Convicted

 Ontario County is celebrating woman suffrage  at a fine exhibit in Canandaigua, NY,  the town where Susan B. Anthony was convicted for voting. It runs until April 1, 2018. In addition to great details about the women who campaigned hard for New York State suffrage, it also contains several beautiful period gowns and a reproduction of a bloomer costume. (To my surprise, the bloomer outfit was calico!)

The exhibit shows how the various cities and towns in New York State voted on its own woman suffrage amendment in 1917, three years before the federal amendment passed. I’m sorry to say that Rochester, the city where Susan lived her last 40 years, voted no. Thank goodness that neither she nor Mary Anthony were living in that year. Fortunately, the majority of the state endorsed the amendment, and it passed.

Susan’s Trial in Ontario County

Susan B. Anthony’s 1873 trial for “voting illegally as a woman” occurred in Ontario County. The museum that houses this exhibit sits just a few blocks away from the courthouse where the judge denied her a trial by jury and found her guilty.

Starting at the museum, I walked downhill past the courthouse toward the shopping district. Browsing the stores, I wondered whether these same buildings lined Canandaigua’s main street when Susan attended her trial. Since it’s about 30 miles away from her Rochester home, she probably stayed overnight . That evening, did she lodge with a friend or keep her nerves to herself in a hotel? Where did she take her meals during the days when her trial was in session?

The courthouse (pictured above during the 19th century) was considerably smaller in 1873 than it is now. I can imagine the number of carriages parked around it as people jammed the courtroom to hear Susan’s lawyer* and the district attorney square off. Even former president Millard Fillmore attended.

After receiving the guilty verdict, Susan stayed in town for a couple more days to witness the trial of the voting inspectors who allowed her to register and cast her ballot. I hope she got at least a glimpse of the beautiful lake at the bottom of the hill. When the inspectors were found guilty and jailed for a week, she made sure they had plenty of visitors and good food to pass the time.

*Henry Selden defended Susan. Interestingly, when Frederick Douglass had to flee Rochester because he was suspected of supporting John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, he borrowed Selden’s horse. Shows just what a good guy Selden was.

Dauntless Book Two, New Character

I am being teased by an elusive character who wants a role in Book Two of The Dauntless Series, and I don’t know what to do with her yet. Perhaps you will have a clue.

I imagine her in Leavenworth–a wild-haired woman dressed in lumpy, mismatched layers. One day she is sitting on a bench watching trains go by. Later she leans against the wall of the general store. One afternoon she enters an empty cafe and gets fed. No money changes hands. A couple weeks later, when she asks for a handout in a different restaurant, the owner tells her to come back after the rush hour. Everyone recognizes her but no one really knows her.

I smell tobacco on her clothes (a disgrace for 19th century women). I hear her humming under her breath and repeating snippets of the conversations around her. She makes pithy observations to herself. When she discovers that Annie has married Daniel, she takes an immediate dislike to both of them. I call her Iris.

Iris is a nuisance. I try to write about Annie, but Iris fills my field of vision. I need to deal with her, but I don’t have enough information. Yet.

How Elusive Character is Connected to the Story

At the end of The Truth About Daniel (Book One of the Dauntless Series), the new Mrs. Anthony leaves her familiar world with a husband she barely knows. When he confesses that there have been other women, she is disappointed but not surprised–after all, he is 40 and she is 20.

I have a feeling Iris wants to tell Annie Anthony something about Daniel’s past, but the message must be teased out of the cryptic one-liners of a wandering mind.

How did Iris get this way? Does Daniel have something to do with her disturbed condition?  Is her hatred of him justified? Or is someone trying to use Iris to destroy Daniel?

If you have any clues about Iris, chime in on the comment section of this blog. Or email me at Jeanne@Verbalimagespress.com. Your insights might give my overworked imagination a rest. Or your inspiration may find its way into Book Two!

 

 

Why She Should Vote: Susan B. Anthony

Last week, Perinton and Pittsford filled the halls to hear my “Failure is Impossible” reenactment of Susan B. Anthony. One of the highlights of that talk is a discussion of her arguments about why she should vote. It was great to have a full house and especially fun to entertain people’s thoughts and questions afterwards. Thanks to everyone who attended!

She probably would not have attempted voting had not the U.S. recently passed two equal rights amendments within the previous decade. Let’s talk about them now.

Today is the anniversary of the 1868 adoption of the 14th amendment,  the one that Susan B. Anthony claimed gave her the right to vote as a woman. Following on the boots of the Civil War, this law amendment gave African-Americans the rights of citizenship and decreed that all citizens should have their rights protected. Two years later, the 15th amendment passed, giving African-Americans the right to vote.

What the Amendments Say

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

However, the fine print said that adult male citizens should be protected; it did not specifically say that adult females should.

The Fifteenth Amendment  to the Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.

Why Susan B. Anthony Argued That She Should Vote

Studying these two amendments carefully with a noted Constitutional scholar, Susan deduced that they meant this:

  • Under the 14th amendment, she was a citizen and should have her rights protected.
  • The 15th amendment specifically protected her citizen’s right to vote. It did not say that she, as a woman, could not vote.

Unfortunately, as we know, the judge who ruled on her case did not agree with her interpretation, and found her “guilty of the crime of voting as a woman.”

Soon you can read all about it in my newly-revised book, Susan B. Anthony And Justice For All. I’ll be posting order information on this Suffrage Centennial edition of my 1994 biography of Susan.

 

 

 

 

 

New York State VoteTilla Celebration

Celebrating Susan B. Anthony and Woman Suffrage

What an exciting week it was in upstate New York as VoteTilla made its way from Seneca Falls to Rochester. I met up with the canal boats on a gorgeous day in Fairport (my hometown) and had a chance to greet several old friends who were traveling with the fleet in costume.

In addition to all the excellent programming done by VoteTilla itself, the libraries and town historical societies put on wonderful programs, including debates, author signings, children’s activities, and more. I had the privilege of presenting my reenactment of Susan B. Anthony to full houses at both the Fairport and Pittsford libraries. Thanks to all those who attended and asked great questions! And special thanks to Vicki Masters Profitt and Mary Ann

August Programs:

  • Saturday, August 12, Arnett Branch Library, “Failure is Impossible,” noon
  • Tuesday, August 29, 2017 Pittsford Seniors Lunch, “Failure is Impossible,” noon