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Matilda Joslyn Gage: Radical Suffragist
July 24, 2022

This is a guest post from Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists author Jo Ann Matthews. Thanks Jo Ann!

Books and articles have publicized the activism of Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I have featured them on my blog, but dozens of other suffragists fought for women’s right to vote as well.

When I wrote my ebook Women and Adversity: Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists, I included some of these “unknowns.” One of them is Matilda Joslyn Gage. I didn’t know anything about her, but I chose her because my mother’s name was Matilda. It’s amazing what you learn when you delve into the “unknowns.” Gage was from New York, but she has connections to Illinois, my home state. Not only that, her daughter, Maud, married L. Frank Baum. You got it! The author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Matilda was refused the right to vote in an 1871 election for New York state officials because she was married. (What discrimination!) When she brought single ladies and war widows forward, they were denied the right to vote, too.

This didn’t sit well with Matilda. She was instrumental in having women vote in the 1880 state of New York school board elections.

Although she wanted to be a doctor as her father was, she was denied entry into medical school. Yes, because she was a woman. She was an accomplished writer and wrote “Declaration of the Rights of Women” with Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She helped write the first three volumes of the six-volume History of Woman Suffrage with Susan B. Anthony and Stanton, but she was considered a radical by the prominent suffragists, who distanced themselves from her.

How radical was Matilda?

  • She said religion suppressed women.
  • She supported Native American causes.
  • She believed all people, no matter their color, race or culture, were equal.

She founded the anti-church group Women’s National Liberal Union, but it folded for lack of support.
She died in Chicago in 1898.


Jo Ann Mathews taught English and Spanish in high school before turning to freelance writing. She has more than 2,500 articles published, primarily feature stories on topics from autism to zoology, and three e-books based on her blog, Women and Adversity. She grew up in Joliet, Illinois and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from College of St. Francis, now University of St. Francis, with a major in English and minors in Spanish and education then earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from University of Notre Dame. She and her husband, Steve, relocated to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina in 2000 where she continues to freelance. Their two sons are grown.
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Jillianne Hamilton writes delightful historical fiction and historical romance featuring rebellious heroines and happy endings.

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