Archive for October 2016

Episode 79: Lizzie Borden Revisted

Posted 29 October 2016 by
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Is there a better time to revisit our favorite Victorian More-Than-Likely Murderess, Lizzie Borden, than right now? We think not.

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Lizzie Borden took an axe gave her mother 40 whacks, when the evil deed was done, she gave her father 41.

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Episode 78 : Shirley Chisholm

Posted 26 October 2016 by
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We wrap up our short series of “women who ran for the US Presidency before Hillary Clinton” with Shirley Chisholm!

Photo Credit: John O'Halloran, US News & World Report

Photo Credit: John O’Halloran, US News & World Report

Shirley St. Hill was born in 1924 in Brooklyn, NY to Charles and Ruby St. Hill. Her parents were both immigrants from the West Indies and they made a painful decision to send Shirley and two of her sisters to live their early youth on her grandmother’s farm in Barbados.

Shirley’s education was solid: prestigious Girl’s High in Brooklyn, Bachelors degree in Sociology with a minor in Spanish from Brooklyn College, Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbia… she was smart, she was quick, she was well spoken, well read and well, she had a dynamic personality wrapped in a very petite frame.

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Episode 77: Belva Lockwood

Posted 23 October 2016 by
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Belva Lockwood, pioneer in the field of law, and second woman candidate for President.

Belva Lockwood, pioneer in the field of law, and second woman candidate for President.

We continue our series of Presidential candidates with Belva Lockwood, the woman who many regard as the first “legitimate” female nominee for the office. You be the judge; certainly, her age and employment history are a contrast to Victoria Woodhull, (covered here), whose earlier campaign, in 1872, was tainted by scandal (and marred by not meeting the age requirement of 35).

This woman had it all together, but it hadn't come easily!

This woman had it all together, but it hadn’t come easily!

Belva Bennett Lockwood was born in 1830 on a farm in upstate NY. She paid for and arranged her own education, but family pressure drove her to marriage rather than college.

 
Being widowed at 22 changed the course of her life; teaching, college, law school, and finally the groundbreaking milestone of being the first woman to argue cases before the Supreme Court.

Belva was not only a pioneer herself, but sponsored other trailblazers to the Court..

Belva was not only a pioneer herself, but sponsored other trailblazers to the Court..

Then, in 1884, Belva Lockwood ran as the Equal Rights party’s candidate for President. She was no fool; the Presidency was a long shot, but the impact on society would be undeniable. She took the inevitable backlash in stride, saying that being featured in a political cartoon was an accomplishment in itself.

You have to be famous in the first place to be mocked in the national media!

You have to be famous in the first place to be mocked in the national media!

A halfhearted attempt at the office in 1888 ended her quest for elected office, but her reputation was such that several Presidents, many educational institutions, and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee all relied on her advice.

Her portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.

Her portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.

Belva’s example had been an inspiration for women to move into a sphere that had been denied them. (A convention of female lawyers she chaired in 1893 had over 200 attendees.)

 
Belva Lockwood died in 1917, having forged a path of education, advocacy, and determination for generations to follow.

 
When asked if there would ever be a woman President, Belva said:

If a woman demonstrates that she is fitted to be president, she will someday occupy the White House. It will be entirely on her own merits, however. No movement will place her there simply because she is a woman. It will come if she proves herself fit for the position.

Listen to the audio for her life in detail!

Here are the books Beckett recommended:

"Ballots For Belva" by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

“Ballots For Belva” by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

"Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would be President" by Jill Norgren

“Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would be President” by Jill Norgren

The closing song is “Keep on the Path” by The Mystery Body.

Episode 76: Victoria Woodhull

Posted 9 October 2016 by
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Victoria Woodhull crafted a life for herself from pretty raw materials. She traveled from an abusive childhood to a very aristocratic end but the life in the middle? Ah, that is the part were she was a woman ahead of her time.victoria_woodhull_by_mathew_brady_c1870

 

Victoria California Claflin was born on September 23, 1838 to Reuben Buckman (Buck) and Roxanne (Annie) in the very sweet town of Homer, Ohio. Buck was an abusive scoundrel, Annie a mentally unstable religious zealot and Victoria’s childhood of abuse, poverty and lack of much of an education became even more of a struggle when the fine townsfolk of Homer shoo’d the Claflins away.

To support the family, Buck taught Victoria and her sister, Tennessee, a valuable life skill by putting them in front of audiences all over the Midwest as spiritual healers, clairvoyants, fortune tellers, sellers of magical elixirs…and we can only speculate what else. Even Victoria’s marriage at 15 to the dashing and charming Canning Woodhull wasn’t an escape–he was a womanizer, addict and all around crappy husband. After their son was born a year later the family moved several times, Victoria took a series of jobs to help them survive while her husband did as little as possible even while he was delivering their second child (it’s a gross story) (oh, yeah, we tell it.)

Escape from this life came in the form of one Colonel James Blood. He believed like she did, saw the world the way she did and, most importantly, made her happy.

Image courtesy, Flikr: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums'

Not the rocking caravan, but some from the 1800s                                                 Image courtesy, Flikr: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

When Victoria and crew including her sister, Tennie, moved to New York they began by earning money the way they always had, but since they were able to tell fortunes (or read people), they  must have known that Cornelius Vanderbilt would come into their lives, right? Known that with his mentoring (is that what the kids are calling it these days?) Tennie and Victoria would make quite a bit in the stock market. But if they had known what would happen after Victoria got involved with the suffrage movement do you think they would have stayed? Maybe, but Victoria wasn’t a very conventional suffragist (Victoria wasn’t a conventional anything), and while the suffragists were talking about the best way to bring equal rights to women, Victoria was living that life.

Victoria, deep in thought about…we have no idea
Bradley Rulofson,

Victoria and Tennie were the first two female stockbrokers in New York, Victoria was the first woman to speak before a congressional committee, they began a newspaper, Victoria started a speaking career and, oh yeah, she announced her candidacy for president.

With the suffragists watching (after they had to postpone their meeting because STUFF WAS HAPPENING!

With the suffragists watching Victoria address Congress (after they had to postpone their meeting because STUFF WAS HAPPENING!)

Like we said, not very conventional. Her platform, to our ears, sounds the opposite of radical: women’s rights, equal rights for equal pay, aid to the poor, and legislation to help women who were trapped in marriages by a society that failed to see the way they were treated. Okay, so “Free Love” sounds to our ears what it did to the Victorians, but all Vicky wanted was to get government out of her bedroom.

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So many errors occurred between announcing her candidacy to election day 1872 that even a skilled politician today wouldn’t have been able to overcome them: Support, then a slow backing away from the suffragists, constant badmouthing by the Beecher sisters, lawsuits, a juicy scandal involving a high profile minister, a kooky and greedy extended family…and an arrest right before election day that sent both Victoria and Tennie into jail.

Ulysses S. Grant won without a fight from Victoria (or Susan B. Anthony's vote)

Ulysses S. Grant won without a fight from Victoria (or Susan B. Anthony’s vote)

She didn’t stand a chance. But she knew that going in her candidacy was symbolic and after it was all over, after Victoria moved on to a life of downright upstanding citizenry in England, Victoria knew that she had gotten her message out. The country was 48 years away from women voting, 144 years from the first woman nominee from a major party, and the US is still trying to legislate love but by thinking far ahead of her time, but in 1872, Victoria Woodhull wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and even that was ahead of its time.

Victoria's final years were spent in Bredons Norton...and she was happy and beloved by her village.

Victoria’s final years were spent in Bredons Norton…and she was happy and beloved by her village…and very, very wealthy.

 

Time Travel with The History Chicks

 

Websites!

The grand mama of  Victoria sites (well, the great, great, great step-granddaughter of them anyway) head over to Victoria-Woodhull. com, Victoria Woodhull Spirit to Run the White House has Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly archives, Victoria Woodhull Presidential Library and enough reading to keep you busy for a very long time from a distant relation of Victoria’s.

Whaaa? The 19th Amendment didn’t give all women the right to vote? Well, it did, sorta, but states moved quickly to take that right away from native Americans and women (and men in some cases) of color. Here is a really great (read:eye opening) timeline of Voting Rights History in the United States.

Speaking of eye opening: Literacy rates in Early America are probably higher than you thought.

15th Amendment says what? and a case from the 14th Amendment regarding voting rights. What’s the lesson here? Know your Amendments, people!

 

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Fox Sisters, Leah, Kate, and  Margaretta circa 1884

Victoria’s obituary from the New York Times.

Quick review of female US presidential candidates if you don’t want to read a whole book (below.)

Information about the Fox Sisters  (and a lot of other creepy stuff, it’s the website of the American Ghost Society.)

Eugenics, Anthony Comstock and Victoria Woodhull. Light reading. No, not really, but more in-depth intel about those obscenity charges that kept her in jail on voting day.

When you are in Wichita, Kansas check out Old Cowtown (place Beckett talked about), they do have a very impressive list of events. The Steampunk Expo that started at Old Cowtown has moved on to a different venue, it’s in November and you can learn more about it here, Emerald City Steampunk Expo. (Thanks for that heads-up, Robert!)

An in-depth look at the colorful history of the Ludlow Street Jail in New York from Atlas Obscura, and an article from The Bowery Boys about notorious Boss Tweed’s time (and end of time) in the jail and a bit about Great Jones street.

On Film!

The documentary narrated by Kate Capshaw with Gloria Steinam commentary:kate-capshaw-documentaryAn upcoming documentary about Victoria, The Coming Woman, is in editing, it’s a labor of love project so follow along with the Rau Sisters to it’s completion.

Books!

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Mary Gabriel

Mary Gabriel

Myra MacPherson

Myra MacPherson

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Ellen Fitzpatrick

And, finally, how Beckett saw the Claflin kids (please don’t let that be cussing subtitles in some language we don’t know):