Matilda Joslyn Gage was born on March 24, 1826, in Cicero, New York. She and her husband were abolitionists, and their home was reportedly part of the Underground Railroad. In 1869, Gage co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. She also contributed—along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—to writing the multivolume History of Woman Suffrage. She died in 1898 in Chicago, Illinois.
Early Life and Career
Born Matilda Electa Joslyn on March 24, 1826, in Cicero, New York, Matilda Joslyn Gage became one of the leading figures in the women's rights and suffrage movement that began in the mid-1800s. She married Henry Hill Gage in 1845, and together they had five children, one of whom died as an infant. She and her husband were active in the antislavery movement, and their home in New York State was reportedly part of the Underground Railroad, which helped escaped slaves find freedom.
Deeply committed to the fight for women's rights, Matilda Joslyn Gage first spoke out about this issue at the National Woman's Rights Convention in the 1852. In 1869, she became one of the founders National Woman Suffrage Association. Gage also worked to establish state suffrage associations in New York and Virginia.
A talented writer, Matilda Joslyn Gage wrote several articles and pamphlets to advance women's right to vote. She also published the NWSA's newsletter for several years in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Participating in an enormous undertaking, Gage helped fellow social activists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton produce the multivolume work History of Woman Suffrage. The first volume was published in 1881.
Beginning in 1890, Matilda Joslyn Gage turned her attentions to maintaining the separation of church and state in government. She was increasingly upset by the efforts of some to create a Christian state. She left the NWSA to found the Woman's National Liberal Union to advance this new cause. Gage eloquently expressed her position on the issue in her 1893 work, Woman, Church, and State.
Death and Legacy
Matilda Joslyn Gage died on March 18, 1898, in Chicago, Illinois, at the home of one of her daughters. A strong supporter of freedom, she is remembered for her work on the behalf of many groups and causes, including women, African Americans, and Native Americans. As a tribute to her life's work, her gravestone reads: "There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home, or Heaven; that word is Liberty."
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