Authored by: Andrea Gatins
Matilda Joslyn Gage can simply be described as a women’s rights activist, and a significant figure in the women’s rights movement. Born in 1826, this woman dedicated her life to fighting for women’s freedom whether it was the right to vote, or general women’s equality. To jump-start her fight for women’s freedom, while Gage wasn’t able to attend the notable Women’s Right’s Convention in Seneca Falls, NY, she attended and addressed the third national convention in Syracuse in 1852 (Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation 2009, par. 3). To further her fierce dedication, Gage is credited as one of the founding members and leaders of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and the Women’s National Liberal League (Hall 2002, 161).
During the Women’s Rights Movement, Gage teamed up with the significant feminist movement leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony to further progress for women. Gage co-authored with Anthony and Stanton the first three volumes of A History of Woman Suffrage and wrote a solo work Woman, Church and State, her most widely known solo publication (National Park Service 2016, par. 2).
Throughout her career, Gage also had deep commitments to creating equality for women within Christianity. In fact, one of her most notable writing pieces was The Woman’s Bible, which she worked on with Stanton. The Woman’s Bible focused on illustrating woman-centered commentaries on biblical passages (Mace 2009, 5). The main purpose Gage looked to focus on this bible was due to the feeling that the biblical view of women had played a key role in women’s oppression (Mace 2009,6).
Finally, one of Gage’s most notable, and significant achievements for women was voting in a type of election. In 1880, Gage became the first woman to vote in Fayetteville, New York under a state law that passed permitting women to vote in school board elections (National Park Service 2016, par. 3).
Matilda Joslyn Gage, her fellow women suffragists, and the entire Women’s Rights Movement are highly significant of motivation, dedication, and St. John’s University core values. The Women’s Rights Movement was a time, which fought for women, an underrepresented group, who strove for equal rights. As stated in The Vincentian Lens of Transparency, St. John’s core values are best understood as motivational and operational: truth, love, and respect are the motivation for the operational core values of opportunity, excellence, and service. Gage strove for the respect of women. Whether it was in Christianity, or the equal right to vote, she felt that women deserved equal respect to male counterparts. With the motivation of respect came the operational search for opportunity.
By making her voice heard through speech, and writing, Gage utilized those means as opportunity for women, and a chance for the suffragists’ voices to finally be heard for women throughout the country. To conclude, it is important to end with a quote, which defines the Women’s Rights Movement, and Gage’s motivation and dedication for the underrepresentation of women: “In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule. But we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object (McMillen 2008, 104).
Angel, Christine. Information Representation Through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency: Providing the Under and Misrepresented with a Voice Within our Cultural Heritage Records.
Hall, Mark David. “Excluded from Suffrage History: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Nineteenth-Century American Feminist.” Journal of Church & State 44.1 (2002): 161.
Mace, Emily. “Feminist Forerunners and a Usable Past: A Historiography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s The Woman’s Bible.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 25.2 (2009): 5-23.
“Matilda Joslyn Gage.” National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/wori/learn/historyculture/matilda-joslyn-gage.htm
McMillen, Sally. Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
“Who Was Matilda Joslyn Gage?” The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation. http://www.matildajoslyngage.org/gage-home/who-was-matilda-joslyn-gage/