Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1826-1898

  • Matilde-Joslyn-Gage-WWP

Woman Category: Activism & Feminism and MediaWoman Tags: 19th Amendment Centennial Anniversary, Abolitionist, Author, Editor, Journalist, and Suffragist

  • HerStory

    An author, editor, suffragist, abolitionist, and a Native-American rights activist.

    Born as Matilda Electa Joslyn in Cicero, NY, to a family of intellectuals and liberal thinkers. The family was an early abolitionist, and their home was a station of the Underground Railroad. As a child, Gage was homeschooled by her parents, and when she got older, she attended Clinton Liberal Institute. At 18, she married Henry H. Gage, they settled in Fayetteville, NY, and had 5 children. Like her parents, Gage’s home was also a station on the Underground Railroad, and she faced prison time for helping escaping slaves.
    At the age of 26, Gage became actively involved with the Women’s Rights Movement, making her first public speech at the 1852’s National Women’s Rights Convention in Syracuse, NY. She served in various leading positions in the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), in the same leadership level as Anthony and Stanton.
    In 1880, after the state of New York allowed women to vote for school boards, as a result of the NWSA campaign, Gage led more than 100 women to the polls in Fayetteville, making sure that every one of the female residences is aware of their new right and is able to use it.
    Over the years, she wrote articles related to women’s rights, suffrage movement developments, Indian-Americans’ rights, female inventors, and prominent women in history. She also edited the NWSA magazine, the “National Citizen and Ballot Box”, and co-edited with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton three out of six volumes of the book “History of Woman Suffrage”. In 1893, she published “Women Church and State”, in which she is detailing the ways Christianity is a patriarchal system that oppresses women.
    Gage had strong opinions about the Christian Church, she spoke against sexual abuse of women and children by priests, and she expressed her criticism of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union’s believes that women deserve the right to vote for their feminine morality, and not for their natural right as human beings.
    For those reasons, she tried to prevent the merger between the NWSA and the conservative American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890, but failed and left to found the Woman’s National Liberal Union (WNLU) which became the platform for radical and liberal ideas of the time. She served as the president of WNLU and its official journal till her death in 1898.

    “There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven; that word is Liberty.”

    “There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven; that word is Liberty.”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • The Wolf Clan of the Mohawk nation gave her the native name “Ka-ron-ien-ha-wi”, which means sky carrier.
    • Gage was the mother-in-law of Lyman Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is well believed that many of her ideas are captured in the Oz series, such as female political leadership, respect, and justice for all, and more.
    • Her house in Fayetteville is now a museum dedicated to preserving her life and legacy.
    • The term “Matilda effect” is named after her. The term refers to the social situation where female scientists receive less credit for their scientific work.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Creations By and About Her:

    * Books by and about her


    * Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Matilda Joslyn Gage

    The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation speaks about the pioneering women's rights activist Matilda Joslyn Gage and how her insights can still illuminate us today.

  • Photo credit - Wikipedia.