What Others Say

Matilda Joslyn Gage: Work of the Dead Suffrage Leader
Recalled by Susan B. Anthony
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 20 March 1898

Mrs. Swift, of San Francisco, president of the California Suffrage Association, is the guest of Susan B. Anthony, at her home on Madison street, and yesterday Miss Anthony took her guest to visit the lower falls of the Genesee. Mrs. Swift said to a reporter of the Democrat and Chronicle yesterday that though the California women were defeated in their struggle for suffrage a year ago, they were by no means dead, only sleeping for the present. They will do nothing before next fall, when they intend to have two good workers from the East and undertake a campaign of education. Mrs. Swift is a fine looking woman, with a charming manner and dignified presence.

Miss Anthony in speaking of the death of Mrs. Matilda Joslyn Gage said that to her, Mrs. Gage’s death was no surprise, as she has been in poor health for a long time. She was stopping with her daughter, Mrs. Baum, in Chicago, at the time of her death, and had been there during the winter.

“I was in Chicago in November,” said Miss Anthony, “I went to see Mrs. Gage, and I am very glad that I did. Though she was unable to be out, she still took an active interest in the work, and was a constant writer. It was a treat for her to visit with me, and learn from one in the active field of work what was going on, and we had a very pleasant visit. At that time Mrs. Gage fully intended to be present at our convention in Washington, but she was unable to attend. However, she wrote a very able paper which was read by her daughter.” [It was actually read by Rev. Anna Howard Shaw. SRW]

“It was about 1852 that I first met her, at a woman’s rights convention in Syracuse. She was a young woman then, and very bright and fine looking. She had two small children, however, and she was not able to get out much for several years, as her family engrossed all of her time, and she was devoted to it. At that time she lived in Fayetteville, just out of Syracuse, and I visited her there several times.

“I remember one time in particular, that I met her two years after that Syracuse convention. It was in Saratoga, in 1854, and had called a woman’s rights convention there. At that time Saratoga Springs was a great place for the Southern gentry to congregate, and the place was filled with wealthy Southern families. I had hired my hall, and expected to have Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Mrs. Davis and others, to speak, and not one of them came. I didn’t know what I was going to do, for at that time I was no speaker, and thought I didn’t know how to address an audience.”

“At the last moment, I happened to run across Mrs. Gage on the street, and I told her my predicament, and begged her to speak. She said she had not a thing there, no material whatever for a speech. So I asked her if she could not telegraph home for a speech, and she did. That speech helped me out greatly, our hall was crowded, and after paying all expenses I had $10 for her. We charged 25 cents admission, and all those Southern women came to hear a woman speak in public, which was something unheard of at that time.”

“I met her later that fall in Philadelphia at the national convention of the suffrage Association. In 1876 we took rooms in Philadelphia, where we had our centennial headquarters. At that time she got the letter to the Democratic convention which was held in St. Louis and to the Republican convention which met in Cincinnati, begging each of them to insert a suffrage plank in their platform. She also prepared the “declaration of sentiments” of suffrage. It was more, correctly speaking, the combine of Mrs. Stanton and Mrs. Gage. We held parlor meetings every day, and at the great Fourth of July celebration we asked Senator Hawley to have our “declaration” read before the vast assemblage during the exercises. But he quite ignored us, and no women were permitted on the platform. Dom Pedro, the then emperor of Brazil, was visiting there at the time, and they had no time for us women, for the emperor was receiving high honors.”

“However, we were not discouraged, and we held a meeting of our own in front of Independence hall, and I stood on a small bandstand in the hot sun, and read our “declaration of sentiments” to a large crowd, while Mrs. Gage held an umbrella over my head. Later we went to the Unitarian Church and held a big meeting. Our “declaration of sentiments” we had beautifully engraved on parchment with the signatures of all the women present at that time, and Mrs. Gage had the book at the time of her death”  [The Centennial Autograph Book was given to the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse, New York and is currently on loan to the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. SRW]

“In early times it was said that women had no creative or inventive genius. Mrs. Gage took the trouble to go to the patent office, and go over all the records, after which she published a valuable pamphlet in 1860 or thereabouts, showing that women took a very active part in invention, and that they had patented many valuable inventions.” [Woman as Inventor. reprint of the pamphlet is available through our Gift Shop.]

“Mrs. Gage also took the lead in trying to have the rights of Anna Ella Carroll recognized by the government. You remember Miss Carroll at the time of the Rebellion went to Lincoln and told him that the Union soldiers could never capture the Confederates if they marched in solid line down the Mississippi, but that they should break the forces of the latter by moving up the Tennessee and the Cumberland rivers. She laid her plans before Lincoln, who told her that they seemed reasonable, but that such generals as Grant and Sheridan would never take a suggestion from a common man, and much less would they from a woman. ‘If I forward your plans,’ he said to her, ‘I shall have to forward them as my own, and if they succeed, you shall have recognition later.’ But Lincoln was assassinated, and Miss Carroll was never recompensed, though petitions were presented by many prominent men. Mrs. Gage worked hard in her cause which she believed to be a just one.”  [Who Planned the Tennessee Campaign of 1862 or Anna Ella Carroll vs. Ulysses S. Grant: a few generally unknown facts in regard to our Civil War. Syracuse, NY: National Citizen Tract No.1, N.D.]

“Mrs. Gage has contributed much valuable literature to the suffrage cause, as writing was her forte.”

Susan B. Anthony

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