Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898)

Mrs Matilda Electa (Joslyn) Gage

She was born at Cicero, New York. She became one of the three leaders of the women's suffrage movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. She was the youngest speaker at the National Women's Rights Convention in 1852 and was described as, "one of the most logical, fearless and scientific writers of her day". She was President of the New York State Suffrage Association; President of the National Woman's Suffrage Association (1875-76); and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the original National Woman Suffrage Association. She was considered a radical within the movement and in 1890 established the Woman's National Liberal Union to:

(1) Assert woman's natural right to self-government (2) Show the cause of delay in the recognition of her demand (3) Preserve the principles of civil and religious liberty (4) Arouse public opinion to the danger of a union of church and state through an amendment to the constitution, and (5) Denounce the doctrine of woman's inferiority. She was President of this union until her death in Chicago, in 1898. She wrote many articles and books, but perhaps her most important and long-lasting work was that with which she collaborated with Stanton and Anthony: History of Woman Suffrage (1881-1887). 

She declared, "I think I was born with a hatred of oppression," not only fighting for women, but also for all social reform. She was an abolitionist and her home (and childhood home) was part of the Underground Railroad. For her work to push the government to accept native sovereignty, she was adopted into the Wolf clan of the Mohawk nation. He daughter, Maud, married L. Frank Baum - author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz etc. Gage mentored her son-in-law and it was she who encouraged him to write down the stories he made up for his sons, including those concerning Oz. She died at the Baum's house in Chicago and her childhood at Fayetteville is now being restored by The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation of Fayetteville, New York. Her epitaph echoes her beliefs: "There is a word sweeter than mother, home or heaven. That word is Liberty!"
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 03/09/2021 and last updated on 03/09/2021.