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In Their Own Words

April 17, 1856

Early Women’s Rights Position in Journal

While the women’s rights movement did not take place and gain fruition until the 20th century, the following entry from Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas’s April 17, 1856 journal shows that some were at least thinking along those lines by the mid-nineteenth century:

“This morning I sent Patsey over to Mrs. Harris with a very amusing book of hers I have been reading, called Widow Bedott Papers. It is indeed one of the most mirth provoking things imaginable. Some of the Poetry is sick [her emphasis]. Aunt Macquire’s account of A Donation Party and a projected Sewing Society are very amusing sketches. The work was written first in detached pieces by Miss Berry after Mrs. Whitchers the wife of a minister. Then too I have read Christine: or Woman’s Trials and Woman’s Triumphs. It is something rather different to the usual style - Being a very decided woman’s rights book advocating women having their perfect equality with the other sex. Some of her arguments were very good indeed. Yet the denoument of the plot was rather unsatisfactory since Christine the heroine marries and then confesses that she is glad that the tie of marriage is so strong that it cannot be broken, this too after she has been advocating to the contrary … .”

Source: Virginia Ingraham Burr (ed.),The Secret Eye: The Journal of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1848-1889 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), pp. 146-147.