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Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist (2018)

by Angelica Shirley Carpenter

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2612757,927 (4.04)10
"All the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind. I failed to remember that I was born criminal - a woman." --Matilda Joslyn Gage. Before 1920, most women in the United States could not vote. They had no voice in who created the laws or who set their taxes, which is why they fought for suffrage--the right to vote. This book is about one of the many important people in the woman suffrage movement. You may not have heard of her - she was nearly erased from history. Her name is Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898), and she believed in liberty for all. Together with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. She spoke to thousands, including presidents, about asserting women's right to vote. Matilda began life in a house on the Underground Railroad, and her early introduction to the movement to abolish slavery made her value all peoples. When Matilda was fourteen, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. At the age of twenty-six, Matilda spoke at her first suffrage convention in Syracuse, New York, where over two thousand people packed the city hall. When three of her grown children moved to Dakota Territory, Matilda took the suffrage cause west, traveling from town to town promoting her ideals. At the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886, she even helped stage a protest. She argued that a woman could not represent liberty in a country where women were not guaranteed the right to vote. Matilda's ideas were not always popular. She was seen as too radical in her call for equality in religion and politics. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony both outlived Matilda and eliminated her from their own histories of the women's movement. By the time the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States' Constitution granted women nationwide the right to vote, Matilda Gage was all but forgotten--until now. In Born Criminal, Angelica Shirley Carpenter details Matilda's life and recounts her contributions to the woman suffrage movement. Using Gage's own words, Carpenter shows how Stanton and Anthony distanced themselves from the movement's more revolutionary thinkers, cutting them from the historical record in order to depict a more conservative movement with themselves at the center.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Well researched and well written book about the early days of the women's suffrage movement. Read about the good, the bad, and the ugly - even when fighting for something so important, egos play into rewriting history. ( )
  jtsolakos | May 22, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Really interesting and readable account of one of the lesser-known figures in the women's suffrage movement. I appreciated the author's ability to impart a whole bunch of historical facts in a way that kept my interest and never made the reading get bogged down or feel slow. This would be a great addition for school libraries or YA collections. Recommended. ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | Jun 15, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is SUCH an important book about a key figure who was written out of women's history. Gage was born in 1826 to parents who were active abolitionists, their home an underground railroad stop when she was growing up, as was her home after she married. She became involved in the women's suffrage movement in 1852.

Gage was considered more radical than Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who she knew extremely through their joint work for the National Woman Suffrage Association. Gage was very well educated, and particularly interested in shining a light on forgotten women in history and women's inventions. Anthony and Stanton, who out-lived Gage, are the key people responsible for writing her out of history. Both took credit for Gage's writings and research at various times before and after her death, Anthony most egregiously. Gage's writing was often praised, and her book Woman, Church, and State garnered a personal letter from Tolstoy with the back handed compliment "It proved a woman could think logically."

Gage was other L. Frank Baum's mother-in-law, and it's thought that she greatly inspired how he wrote women and girls, particularly in the Oz books and the books written under his Edith van Dyne pseudonym. Given that Baum had only sons, I think this is probably quite true.

Highly recommend this book, or at least doing a good Wikipedia dive. ( )
  mabith | Apr 2, 2019 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book through Librarything.com Early Member Giveaway for an honest review of the book. This is my own opinion and thoughts of the book. I never have heard of Matilda Joslyn Gage until I read this book. She was apart of the Women Suffragist along with Susan B. Anthony and others. She was the forgotten one in history. ( )
  harleyqgrayson02 | Dec 10, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was glad to win an uncorrected proof of Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist by Angelica Shirley Carpenter through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program because I hadn't heard of her. Susan B. Anthony has a chapter in my girlhood copy of Great American Heroines by Arnold Dolin, and of course I've heard of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but Ms. Gage, who was just as big a mover in the Women's Suffragist Movement as they were? No. She was pretty much written out of the movement's history. Just yesterday I learned that movie Star Hedy Lamarr had a brilliant technological mind that came up with frequency hopping (the eventual basis for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), during World War II. She'd even patented it in 1942, but the knowledge of her role isn't widely known today. I'm used to men hiding women's achievements in what's been considered 'men's work' since ancient times, but how could Ms. Anthony and Ms. Stanton do that to one of their own? I had to read through much of the book before I learned the reason for their falling out. Luckily, that was no hardship.

This biography is meant for young adults, who have less tolerance for scholarly dullness than adults, so it's very readable. Matilda Joslyn Gage was an excellent writer and speaker. She wanted to be a doctor, but could not gain admittance to medical school. What medicine lost, political activism won. Ms. Gage didn't just fight for women's right to vote. She was a historian and scholar of the movement. She was also pretty scathing about the role Christianity took (after its earliest period), in oppressing women, as well as no longer acknowledging the feminine elements, as well as the masculine, of divinity. (See chapter 21). Ms. Gage knew Greek and Hebrew, so she wasn't dependent on others' translations of Holy Writ. Her book, Woman, Church, and State, included information about anthropological and historical discoveries, societies in which women had greater rights and roles than allowed in her day, the witch-hunting period, and how Christian churches and our government failed to protect women even as they claimed they were our protectors. (I was horrified to learn that in the early 1890s Delaware's legal age for feminine consent to have sex was SEVEN years old!)

The Joslyn family home was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Matilda was trusted to keep that secret a little girl. ( )
  JalenV | Dec 4, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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Angelica Shirley Carpenterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hendel, RichText & cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In 1893 a deputy sheriff knocked on Matilda Joslyn Gage's door in Fayetteville, New York.
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"All the crimes which I was not guilty of rushed through my mind. I failed to remember that I was born criminal - a woman." --Matilda Joslyn Gage. Before 1920, most women in the United States could not vote. They had no voice in who created the laws or who set their taxes, which is why they fought for suffrage--the right to vote. This book is about one of the many important people in the woman suffrage movement. You may not have heard of her - she was nearly erased from history. Her name is Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898), and she believed in liberty for all. Together with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. She spoke to thousands, including presidents, about asserting women's right to vote. Matilda began life in a house on the Underground Railroad, and her early introduction to the movement to abolish slavery made her value all peoples. When Matilda was fourteen, she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton. At the age of twenty-six, Matilda spoke at her first suffrage convention in Syracuse, New York, where over two thousand people packed the city hall. When three of her grown children moved to Dakota Territory, Matilda took the suffrage cause west, traveling from town to town promoting her ideals. At the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in 1886, she even helped stage a protest. She argued that a woman could not represent liberty in a country where women were not guaranteed the right to vote. Matilda's ideas were not always popular. She was seen as too radical in her call for equality in religion and politics. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony both outlived Matilda and eliminated her from their own histories of the women's movement. By the time the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States' Constitution granted women nationwide the right to vote, Matilda Gage was all but forgotten--until now. In Born Criminal, Angelica Shirley Carpenter details Matilda's life and recounts her contributions to the woman suffrage movement. Using Gage's own words, Carpenter shows how Stanton and Anthony distanced themselves from the movement's more revolutionary thinkers, cutting them from the historical record in order to depict a more conservative movement with themselves at the center.

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