Matilda Joslyn Gage was right about everything


Matilda Joslyn Gage was right about everything


On her birthday, celebrate Matilda Joslyn Gage. For video, @SWagner711 points us to this short piece:

+ sophisticated 10 min. documentary by 8th graders Clara Schneider and Emily Neoh

Meanwhile, a few notes about a radical...

Gage opposed the merger of the National & the American Woman Suffrage Associations. She predicted, correctly, that NAWSA would be a more conservative, religious organization than NWSA had been.

She was an only child who adored her father, a progressive who taught her to think for herself. She married and raised 4 children in Fayetteville, NY a bustling town on the Erie Canal. In the 1840s & 50s the Erie Canal was an interstate highway: people, $ & ideas ran along it. Gage’s other major influence was the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. She saw up close that the women of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca Nations had power and status. She was an honorary member of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation; given the name Ka-ron-ien-ha-wi.

She was a great writer and editor, not a public speaker. Her most enduring accomplishment is History of Woman Suffrage I, II, III - Susan B Anthony hated to write, so Gage took the laboring oar. She edited the National’s monthly newspaper The National Citizen & Ballot Box. Her 1893 book “Woman, Church and State” critiqued patriarchal forms of Christianity and demanded separation of church and state. It was incendiary and widely read, and as she predicted, the suffrage movement had become very conservative. Gage was blackballed thereafter.

By that time she had formed an independent organization, the Woman’s National Liberal Union. But her radical views meant she was written out of the history of the movement - a history she literally helped write.

Her headstone is a fitting tribute. Sue Boland told me how unusual it is for its time. It rebukes religious & domestic convention in both size & inscription. Instead of wife, mother, etc. it reads:

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


Daily Suffragist




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Daily Suffragist, “Matilda Joslyn Gage was right about everything,” Daily Suffragist, accessed September 27, 2022,

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