19th at 100: Commemorating the Suffrage Struggle and Its Legacies in Northeast Ohio Main MenuIntroductionThe Road to SuffrageThe Struggle at CWRUNotable FiguresAfter SuffrageEinav Rabinovitch-Fox2e56e3d6b4b5f137a53bf7f9d80912f3b70a7958Lauren Dostal628641db4e19e9efe2242726f29ce1860e9c6baeIsabel Fedewa20dc403a88a0fde6c4856bc25beccbae49174777Jewel Yoder Kuhns34ffc591dd6b165c1079a95ab2c0ba1ad4aecf01Kellyn Toombsef2469033dbca72962b50fe7dea33c71c0a45069Abbey Wellsef2cda5c08d1ad75ae8532e3f202032ddc31cee0
Cartoon mocking Frances Wright
12020-04-02T19:20:20+00:00Jewel Yoder Kuhns34ffc591dd6b165c1079a95ab2c0ba1ad4aecf0182Thomas Nash ridiculed Wright's insistence on speaking on abolition and women's rights.plain2020-04-02T23:32:49+00:00Library of CongressJewel Yoder Kuhns34ffc591dd6b165c1079a95ab2c0ba1ad4aecf01
When Frances Wright began speaking out against slavery in the 1820s, she was mocked. This political cartoonist called her “a downright gabbler, or a goose that deserves to be hissed.” But Wright didn’t just speak out against slavery; she bought land in Nashoba, Tennessee to create a refuge for freed slaves. Though the community was not successful, her speaking engagements drew huge crowds, and her message of equal rights provoked controversy. “Equality is the soul of liberty; there is in fact no liberty without it,” she declared. When Wright spoke about women’s rights, however, she didn’t focus on suffrage. Instead, she argued the women ought to be freed from marriage, since the laws of the time subsumed wives’ legal identity under their husbands’ name, denying them rights such as owning property and keeping their wages. Wright’s ideas were radical for the time, and while she inspired famous suffragists like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, she spooked most of the conservative audiences who heard her.
It is not clear how much women in northeast Ohio knew of Wright, since she retired in Cincinnati, Ohio. But reform movements in the area began to grow. The president of Western Reserve College, Charles Storrs, spoke out against slavery in 1833. In 1835, Oberlin College became the first college in the United States to allow people of color and women to attend classes, although women could not earn degrees until the 1840s. Noted suffragists Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown (later Blackwell) met there and became lifelong friends. Many of the suffragists from northeast Ohio were first abolitionists, and their activism drew more women to join both the cause for equality for black people and for women.