|Biographies||Resources & Links||Essay-Women:1945-65||Essay-Mary Antin & Mother Jones|
THE SUBJECTION OF WOMEN
JOHN STUART MILL
"...the principle which regulates the existing
social relations between the two sexes--the legal subordination of
one sex to the other--is wrong itself, and now one of the chief
hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced
by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege
on the one side, nor disability on the other. "
|Margaret Sanger||Sarah Hale||Rosa Parks||Katharine Bates||Berenice Abbott|
|Abigail Adams||Annette Abott Adams||Frances Wright||Anne Hutchinson||Evangeline Adams|
1972 - Congress passes Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any education program or activities receiving Federal financial assistance.” When President Nixon signs the act on July 23 about 31,000 women are involved in college sports; spending on athletic scholarships for women is less than $100,000; and the average number of women's teams at a college is 2.1.
Copyright © 1999. Esther Katz. All rights reserved.
Introduction to the Edition
The documents gathered for this edition chronicle Margaret Sanger's publication of the radical, feminist journal, The Woman Rebel, and her emergence as the foremost leader of the birth control movement. The events surrounding the publication of The Woman Rebel in 1914, including Sanger's indictment for violation of federal obscenity laws, her unlawful flight from prosecution, her 13 months in exile in Europe, and her emotional return to New York in the fall of 1915 to face trial, trace the inception of the birth control movement in the U.S. and mark a pivotal time in Sanger's life. The Woman Rebel established Sanger as a dynamic and controversial feminist voice, the leading birth control agitator in America, and an influential international leader, a position she held for the next fifty years.
Margaret Sanger was the mother of three, a wife, nurse and seasoned radical by the time she first declared her resolve in the pages of The Woman Rebel to defy the law and provide women with contraceptive information. Immersed in the liberating bohemian and radical political culture of Greenwich Village in New York, Sanger developed a vibrant sexual and philosophical independence in the years leading up to World War I -- a belief in the potential of women to change the social structure of society by obtaining sexual equality through birth control.
Her work as a nurse accompanying doctors to immigrant neighborhoods in New York's Lower East Side, where she saw first-hand the suffering of women from home abortions and incessant childbearing, shocked and angered her enough to become an activist determined to find a means of educating women about their bodies. Her experiences in New York Socialist politics and as a labor organizer during the I.W.W.-led 1912-1913 strikes in Lawrence, Massachusetts and Paterson, New Jersey grounded her in the methods of protest and propaganda. In her personal life -- she was estranged from her husband and often uprooted from children and home -- she drew sustenance from a newfound sexual freedom and pursuit of sexual gratification. When, in the spring of 1914, Sanger decided to articulate her doctrine of women's sexual emancipation in the pages of The Woman Rebel, her personal compulsions and political convictions merged to engender a crusade for birth control that would develop into one of the major reform movements of the twentieth century and fundamentally alter women's sexual, reproductive and professional lives.
The Woman Rebel
After conducting research on European contraceptive methods and meeting with socialist theorists and French syndicalists during a 1913 trip to Paris, Sanger had returned to the U.S. convinced that women could become the primary agents of social and economic change. In March of 1914, she published the first issue of The Woman Rebel, an eight-page monthly newspaper, designed and written from her New York apartment. On its masthead, etched in crude, block letters, was the defiant slogan drawn from the Industrial Workers of the World strikes, "No Gods, No Masters." Sanger wanted the paper to be a fulcrum for uniting women around issues of class and gender oppression. She called on women "to speak and to act in defiance of convention." Her immediate aim was to challenge the laws that prevented contraceptive education and the distribution of contraceptive devices. "Birth Control," a term first coined in the pages of The Woman Rebel, provided the foundation and rallying point for Sanger's burgeoning new feminism, one that focused on sexual and reproductive autonomy for women. Sanger argued that unless a woman could be the "absolute mistress of her own body," all other gains -- suffrage, economic equality, education -- were peripheral.
The tone of The Woman Rebel was revolutionary, angry, and some charged quite shrill, but it included an array of contributions by leftist writers on labor strife, marriage, prostitution, and revolution. Sanger's own frank articles on birth control and sexuality provided the editorial focus of the paper, which quickly gained in notoriety. Not surprisingly, the paper also attracted the attention of the postal authorities in New York and piqued the censorious Anthony Comstock, self-appointed moral crusader, who had banned Sanger's articles on sexual hygiene in the New York Call in 1913. Circulation of The Woman Rebel violated a series of 1873 federal laws named after Comstock that prohibited distribution through the U.S. mails of materials considered lewd, lascivious or obscene, including any form of contraceptive information. Before the second issue of The Woman Rebel reached the press, postal authorities notified Sanger that she must cease distribution immediately.
Sanger continued publication, but rather than including specific information on contraceptive techniques in The Woman Rebel, she began writing Family Limitation, a short pamphlet that outlined the importance of birth control and gave graphic details and instruction on various contraceptive methods. In August of 1914, after continuing to defy postal authority notices, Sanger was indicted for violating obscenity statutes in three issues of The Woman Rebel, specifically for several articles on sexuality and for one titled "A Defense of Assassination" by Herbert Thorpe.
Sanger managed to postpone her trial until October at which time she decided to flee to Europe to escape a potential maximum sentence of 45 years, and to let publicity mount in her favor. She took a train to Montreal, travelling under the alias "Bertha Watson," and then sailed for England. En route, Sanger notified friends to release 100,000 copies of Family Limitation. The pamphlet quickly circulated among women throughout the country, sparked a public debate on birth control, and further provoked Comstock and the U.S. Attorney's office.
In exile in Europe, Sanger advanced her views on the relationship of birth control to women's emancipation and to improving an array of social and economic ills. She read widely at the British Library under the tutelage of noted sex psychologist Havelock Ellis and established close relations with British neo-Malthusians. She also visited contraceptive clinics in Holland at the invitation of Dr. Johannes Rutgers. While abroad, Sanger wrote a series of pamphlets on English, French and Dutch methods of birth control. During these months, she also formally separated from her husband, William Sanger, while pursuing intimate relationships with Ellis and with Spanish educator, anarchist and writer, Lorenzo Portet. Meanwhile, William Sanger who had stayed in New York with Sanger's three children, was arrested in January of 1915 for giving a copy of Family Limitation to one of Comstock's agents. He fought the charges against him, keeping the issue of birth control and Sanger's exile alive in the press, and served a thirty-day jail sentence in the New York City's Tombs.
Sanger returned home in October of 1915 to finally face trial and articulate her now more sharply focused argument on the need for reproductive autonomy for women. In the midst of her trial preparation her five-year old daughter Peggy died of pneumonia. Peggy's death left Sanger weakened and riddled with guilt, but also produced a groundswell of sympathy and support for Sanger and the cause of birth control. The media frenzy that followed prompted the U.S. Attorney's office to dismiss charges in February of 1916, admitting that they did not want to create a martyr.
The Legacy of The Woman Rebel
The publication of The Woman Rebel laid the foundation for the future work of the birth control movement and the personal crusade of Margaret Sanger. She continued to challenge the Comstock Laws by opening the nation's first birth control clinic in Brownsville, Brooklyn in 1916, founding a new monthly, the Birth Control Review in 1917, and by organizing the first American birth control conference in New York in 1921. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League that same year, and by 1923 opened the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau -- the prototype for a national network of doctor-staffed clinics that sprang up around the country in the 1920s and 1930s.
In the 1930s Sanger lobbied unsuccessfully for the repeal of the Comstock Laws through the National Committee for Federal Legislation on Birth Control and won a judicial decision, U.S. v. One Package, that exempted physicians from the Comstock Law restrictions on dissemination of contraceptive information. In the 1940s, though semi-retired, Sanger continued her work with her birth control clinic and aided in the formation of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. After World War II, she returned to active work and was instrumental in helping to found the International Planned Parenthood Federation, serving as its president from 1952-1959. Sanger died in 1966 in Tucson, Arizona.
Margaret Sanger published The Woman Rebel to both defy the law and "raise ... birth control out of the gutter of obscenity and into the light of human understanding." (MS to Friends and Comrades, January 5, 1916) Although only eight issues of The Woman Rebel were published, and many copies were confiscated by the post office, the controversy it generated sparked the emergence of a viable national birth control movement dedicated to women, and propelled Sanger into the forefront of American reformers.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of Margaret Sanger, ed. Esther Katz, et. al. (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 1999). Electronic version. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]
This web site maintained by The Model Editions Partnership.
This page updated 15 November 1999 by email@example.com
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Born on October 24, 1788, in Newport, New Hampshire, Sarah Josepha Buell married David Hale in 1813, and with him she had five children. Left in financial straits by her husband's death in 1822, she embarked on a literary career. Her poems were printed over the signature "Cornelia" in local journals and gathered in The Genius of Oblivion (1823). A novel, Northwood, a Tale of New England (1827), brought her an offer to go to Boston as editor of a new publication, the Ladies' Magazine (from 1834 the American Ladies' Magazine), which she accepted in 1828.
As editor, Hale wrote most of the material for each issue herself--literary criticism, sketches of American life, essays, and poetry. Editorially and personally she supported patriotic and humanitarian organizations, notably the Boston Ladies' Peace Society and the Seaman's Aid Society, which she founded in 1833. She advocated education for women and opportunities for women to teach, although she always remained apart from formal feminist movements and advised her readers to shun unfeminine involvement in public affairs. She also published during this period Poems for Our Children (1830), containing her single most famous piece, "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and in 1834-36 edited the Juvenile Miscellany magazine for children.
In 1837 Louis A. Godey took over the American Ladies' Magazine and established Hale as editor of his Lady's Book, soon known as Godey's Lady's Book, which he had established seven years earlier in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She moved to that city in 1841. With Godey she made the Lady's Book into the most influential and widely circulated women's magazine published in the country up to that time (by 1860 its circulation was reputedly 150,000). She continued to call for female education in the liberal arts and for more women teachers (her articles aided the founding of Vassar College).
In later years Hale liberalized her outlook so far as to approve women doctors, if only to treat those ailments of women that she felt were otherwise better endured than examined by male physicians. She was also active in promoting child welfare, and she published a number of books, including cookbooks, poetry, and prose. Her major achievement was the Woman's Record, or Sketches of Distinguished Women, issued in 1853, 1869, and 1876; in the course of this ambitious project she completed some 36 volumes of profiles of women, tracing their influence through history on social organization and literature. She retired from Godey's in December 1877 at the age of 89. Hale died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 30, 1879.
Copyright © 1999 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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Cause: Civil rights for African-Americans.
Background: Africans are transported to America as slaves from 1619. Slavery is abolished following the Civil War of 1861-65 but racism and segregation remain. In the middle of the 20th Century the fight for equality for African-Americans leads to massive civil rights campaigns.
Mini biography: Born on 4 February 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama, US.
1932 - She marries Raymond Parks. The couple join the campaign to save the 'Scottsboro boys' - nine young black men accused of raping two white teenagers near Scottsboro, Alabama, in 1931. Despite strong evidence of their innocence, an all-white jury convicts the boys of the crime and sentences eight of them to death. All of the Scottsboro boys eventually gain their freedom, but the process takes nearly 20 years.
1943 - She becomes a member of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), serving as its secretary until 1956.
1955 - On 1 December she refuses to surrender her seat on a Montgomery public bus to a white man, a violation of the city's racial segregation ordinances. Parks is arrested, igniting the civil rights movement
Parks refuses to pay the $10 fine imposed by the court, setting the groundwork for a challenge to the segregation laws. Black activists form the Montgomery Improvement Association to boycott the transport system and chose Martin Luther King Jr as their leader.
Parks, her husband and others loose their jobs and are harassed and threatened. The boycott continues for a year until the Montgomery buses desegregate after the US Supreme Court declares Alabama's segregation laws unconstitutional. Parks becomes known as the "mother" of the civil rights movement.
"I don't really know why I wouldn't move," she says later. "There was no plot or plan at all. I was just tired from shopping. My feet hurt."
1957 - She moves with her husband and mother to Detroit to escape harassment.
1965 - She joins the staff of a Michigan congressman, serving in the position until 1988. Cleveland Avenue in Montgomery is renamed Rosa Parks Boulevard.
1970 - She receives the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP's highest honour.
1980 - She receives the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr Award.
1987 - She founds the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, which provides scholarships and guidance to young blacks.
1996 - She receives Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honour the US Government can give to a civilian.
1999 - She is awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honour.
Comment: Rosa Parks' refusal to submit to an unjust law and give up her bus seat to a white man shows the power ordinary people have to effect social change. The overturning of Alabama's segregation laws and the successes of the civil rights movement could not have occurred without the commitment of many thousands but it was the courage of one determined woman that initiated the reforms.
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The following information was taken from a newspaper article (no paper or date
given in reference)
Contributed by Robert Fitzpatrick
found at: http://www.fuzzylu.com/falmouth/bates/klbnotes.html
America the Beautiful first appeared In print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, on July 4, 1895. Over the years, It has become the country's unofficial second national anthem.
Miss Bates, long-time professor at Wellesley College, couldn't have known that those four stanzas, hastily scribbled into a notebook on a trip West in 1893, would attain such fame. Atop Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colo., she was electrified by the beauty that was her country, and In writing what later became America the Beautiful, passed on that intense love for her country to all Americans.
Miss Bates, who was lecturing at the summer session at Colorado College, joined an expedition to the summit of Pikes Peak In a prairie wagon. She wrote, "It was then and there, as I was looking out over the sea-like expanse..."
She rewrote some sections, and the new version was published In The Boston Evening Transcript on Nov. 19, 1904 Perhaps the most intense criticisms centered on the word "beautiful," which some called hackneyed. But Miss Bates refused to change that word, for she claimed it best described America. Following the 1904 publication, part of the third stanza was altered, thereafter, the poem stayed the same, for Miss Bates retained the copyright, protecting it from misprints and deliberate changes.
The only payment Miss Bates ever received for her efforts was a small check from The Congregationalist when America the Beautiful was first published.
In 1926, the National Federation of Music Clubs held a contest to put the poem to music, but none of the entries was deemed suitable. The poem has been sung to a variety of music, and Miss Bates never admitted publicly which music she liked best. Today, America the Beautiful is almost exclusively sung to Samuel A. Ward's Materna.
Also in 1926, a strong push was made to adopt the hymn as the national anthem. But the older, more established Star-Spangled Banner instead won official status when on March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a bill proclaiming It so. Even today, advocates of the hymn push for official anthem status.
Familiar as the words from America the Beautiful are, many do not recognize the name of Miss Bates. Not so in Falmouth, where a street is named after her, a plaque is erected, her birthplace Is restored, and where the Shining Sea Bike Path honors a line from her most famous poem. Sculptor Lloyd Lillie has memorialized her by creating a life-size bronze statue for the Falmouth Main Library grounds.
In her own circles, Miss Bates was a noted scholar, poet and writer. She was a prolific author, publishing many volumes of poetry, books on her travels to Europe and the Middle East, and stories, verses and plays for children.
She enjoyed writing about animals and for children, but felt such writings were incongruous with her professorship, so she published books on Shakespeare and pre Shakespearean English religious drama. Nevertheless, critics of the day acclaimed her book, Sigurd: Our Golden Collie.
Miss Bates was often photographed with her collie Hamlet, successor to Sigurd, and her parrot Polonius. A feather from Polonlus is on display at the Katharine Lee Bates house on the Village Green.
She never forsook her birthplace, says Dudley Hallett*, president of the Falmouth Historical Society. ``Miss Bates returned to Falmouth every year of her life, and corresponded regularly with her childhood friend, Hattie Gifford." She is also buried here, in Oak Grove Cemetery.
For the first 12 years of her life, Miss Bates lived in Falmouth. The first record of her writing is a small, red notebook that became a diary of sorts. She was 9 when , she wrote her first entries.
Miss Bates was the fifth child born to William and Cornelia Frances Lee Bates. The family had come to Falmouth in 1858. The Rev. Bates served as pastor of the First Congregational Church on the Village Green.
Born on Aug. 12, 1859, Miss Bates was a month old when her father died from a tumor in his spine. "Katie" was said to have eased the pain of her mother's first years of widowhood.
Life in Falmouth ended when the family moved to GranitviIle, now known as Wellesley Hills. She attended Wellesley High School, graduating in 1874. In 1878, She graduated from the more advanced Newton High School. Miss Bates then entered Wellesley College, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1880
From 1880 to 1925, Miss Bates taught, first at Dana Hall preparatory school for Wellesley College, and then, beginning in 1886, as an instructor at Wellesley College, where she advanced to full professor In charge of the English literature department.
She also studied at Oxford, England, and earned a master's degree in arts from Wellesley College. Over the years, Miss Bates took four year-long sabbaticals to travel abroad.
In 1925, the bespectacled Miss Bates retired, spending the remaining four years of her life at home on Curve Street in Wellesley. She died March 28, 1929.
Eleanor Conant Yeager of Falmouth, who knew Miss Bates well, called her "childlike but intellectual", Hallett says. "She had great rapport with her students at Wellesley, because of her rare sense of humor. She was serious when she needed to be, but realized the Importance of humor."
Miss Bates wrote many poems about her home town, including, The Falmouth Bell, The Falmouth Church, and Home (For the Old Home Festival at Falmouth), When Captain Tom Comes Home, and Ode to Falmouth.
But it's America the Beautiful that became an anthem for a nation.
* Dudley W. Hallett was president of the Falmouth Historical Society 1969 - 1985.
These verses contributed by Robert Fitzpatrick of The Falmouth Historical Society, who maintain a museum at her former home on Main Street. Visit them! Email them!
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American photographer Berenice Abbott was born in Springfield Ohio in 1898 and died in retirement in Monson, Maine in 1991. Except for a formative and influential decade in Paris in the 1920s, she spent most of her productive life in photography in New York City. Her five decades of accomplishments behind the camera range from portraiture and modernist experimentation to documentation and scientific interpretation. Her contributions as photographic educator, inventor, author and historian are equally diverse: she originated the photography program at the New School for Social Research and taught there from 1934-58; wrote several books and numerous articles including the once influential Guide to Better Photography (1941); received four U.S. patents for photographic and other devices; and rescued the work of French master photographer Eugene Atget.
Abbott's photographs consistently reflect her innate appreciation for the profound documentary capacity of rigorously conceived images to impart information in an aesthetically engaging way. Within four major thematic categories -- Portraits (1920s-1930s), New York City (1930s-1940s), Science (1940-1950s), and American Scenes (1930s-1960s) -- Abbott's photographs effectively unite the personal and the impersonal in one penetrating body of work. Her systematic documentary photography of New York City for the Federal Arts Project during 1935-1939, Changing New York is the subject pictured here.
copyright Julia Van Haaften
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Inheriting New England's strongest traditions, Abigail Smith was born in 1744 at Weymouth, Massachusetts. On her mother's side she was descended from the Quincys, a family of great prestige in the colony; her father and other forebearers were Congregational ministers, leaders in a society that held its clergy in high esteem.
Like other women of the time, Abigail lacked formal education; but her curiosity
spurred her keen intelligence, and she read avidly the books at hand. Reading
created a bond between her and young John Adams, Harvard graduate launched on
a career in law, and they were married in 1764. It was a marriage of the mind
and of the heart, enduring for more than half a century, enriched by time.
The young couple lived on John's small farm at Braintree or in Boston as his practice expanded. In ten years she bore three sons and two daughters; she looked after family and home when he went traveling as circuit judge. "Alas!" she wrote in December 1773, "How many snow banks divide thee and me...."
Long separations kept Abigail from her husband while he served the country they loved, as delegate to the Continental Congress, envoy abroad, elected officer under the Constitution. Her letters--pungent, witty, and vivid, spelled just as she spoke--detail her life in times of revolution. They tell the story of the woman who stayed at home to struggle with wartime shortages and inflation; to run the farm with a minimum of help; to teach four children when formal education was interrupted. Most of all, they tell of her loneliness without her "dearest Friend." The "one single expression," she said, "dwelt upon my mind and played about my Heart...."
In 1784, she joined him at his diplomatic post in Paris, and observed with interest the manners of the French. After 1785, she filled the difficult role of wife of the first United States Minister to Great Britain, and did so with dignity and tact. They returned happily in 1788 to Massachusetts and the handsome house they had just acquired in Braintree, later called Quincy, home for the rest of their lives.
As wife of the first Vice President, Abigail became a good friend to Mrs. Washington and a valued help in official entertaining, drawing on her experience of courts and society abroad. After 1791, however, poor health forced her to spend as much time as possible in Quincy. Illness or trouble found her resolute; as she once declared, she would "not forget the blessings which sweeten life."
When John Adams was elected President, she continued a formal pattern of entertaining--even in the primitive conditions she found at the new capital in November 1800. The city was wilderness, the President's House far from completion. Her private complaints to her family provide blunt accounts of both, but for her three months in Washington she duly held her dinners and receptions.
The Adamses retired to Quincy in 1801, and for 17 years enjoyed the companionship
that public life had long denied them. Abigail died in 1818, and is buried beside
her husband in United First Parish Church. She leaves her country a most remarkable
record as patriot and First Lady, wife of one President and mother of another.
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by Joey Dean Horton
Due to time constraints, it was not possible for me to write a birth to death, comprehensive biography of Annette Grace Abbott Adams. Although it was something that I would have liked to do once I began studying Annette, it just was not possible. So, instead of writing a skin and bones chronology of her life, I decided to concentrate on certain areas of Annette's life and to try and give the reader a glimpse of Annette and what she was like, not just empty facts and dates.
To help improve my reader's knowledge of Annette, however, I did include a chronology of her life so that the scope of her achievements may be better appreciated. Moreover, I included potential sources and leads which might be followed by a person wanting to do more research on Annette. I also expressed some of the problems which I faced in trying to construct a biography of a deceased subject.
Fortunately for me and people interested in Annette, what I have written here is far from exhaustive. In fact, unlike most women barrier breakers, there is a full biography written about Annette by Louise Eleanor Steiner entitled "Annette Abbott Adams: California's First Lady of Law." This master's thesis is on file at the California State Law Library in Sacramento. This work was instrumental to my understanding of Annette and I would strongly recommend it to any person interested in gaining a more complete understanding of Annette's remarkable life.
II. Lifetime Chronology
Firsts: first woman Assistant United States Attorney, first woman United States Attorney, first woman Assistant United States Attorney General, first woman to sit on a California Appellate Court, first woman to serve as the presiding justice on a California Appellate Court, and first woman to sit Pro Tempore on California's Supreme Court.
March 12, 1877: born in Prattsville, Plumas County, California.
1897: graduated from Chico Normal School (a school designed to produce teachers).
1897-1900: teaches school while saving money to attend Univ. of California, Berkeley and study law.
1900: entered Berkeley with sister, May.
1903-4: studied law at Boalt Hall, culminating in her Bachelor of Law Degree in 1904. One of the first women to graduate from Boalt.
1905-10: taught school in Modoc County and was a school principal for the last three years. Was one of the first two women in California to hold this position.
1906: married M.H. Adams. Divorced shortly afterwards.
1910: returned to Boalt to finish law degree.
1912: recieved Juris Doctorate.
June 1913: formed law partnership in San Francisco with Marguerite Ogden, daughter of Alameda Superior Court Judge Ogden.
Nov. 7, 1913: admitted along with Ms. Ogden to the federal courts by Judge Maurice T. Dooley.
1914: appeared against U.S. Attorney for Northern District of California, John W. Preston in white slavery case. Wins judicial leniency. Invited by Mr. Preston to be his 4th assistant U.S. Attorney.
Feb. 15, 1914: S.F. Examiner announces Preston's plans for her appointment. Due to opposition to her appointment from Attorney General, not sworn in until Oct. 1914, after Attorney General McReynolds is appointed to Supreme Court and Thomas Witt Gregory becomes the new Attorney General.
1914-1917: works on and tries Bopp Conspiracy case- allegations against German Consulate and others that they tried to violate the U.S.'s neutrality laws. Wins.
July 25, 1918: becomes temporary U.S. Attorney after Mr. Preston is made Assistant United States Attorney General. Mr. Preston nominates her for full position.
Feb. 28, 1918: President Wilson forwards nomination to Congress. Approved.
May 1920: submits resignation.
May 22, 1920: appointed Assistant United States Attorney General.
July 1920: received one vote for Vice President at the Democratic National Convention.
Aug. 21, 1921: resigns from position as Assistant U.S. Attorney General.
1923: ran for a position on the Board of Supervisors for San Francisco County. Defeated.
1921-1935: practiced law in San Francisco in a solo firm.
1935: name surfaces as a possible federal judge appointee. Never nominated.
1935-1941: works as a law partner with now retired California Supreme Court Justice Preston. Also work together as special U.S. counsel in the Elk Hills Naval Oil Reserve case. After years of litigation, win case in 1941.
March 30, 1942: named Presiding Justice of the 3rd District Court of Appeal of California.
April 1950: sat as judge Pro Tempore on the California Supreme Court for one case. First woman to ever do so. Was in celebration of the Court's 100 year anniversary.
November 30, 1952: retires from the California Court of Appeal.
October 26, 1956: dies at her home in Sacramento after a long illness.
III. The Road Less Travelled . . .
In a San Francisco courtroom in early 1914, a young woman attorney from Prattsville, California squared off against United States Attorney John W. Preston in a "white slavery" case. Most contemporaries would have seen the matchup as a slaughter, a farce. How could a girl attorney match wits against a successful male attorney like Mr. Preston?
At the time, women attorneys in California and other states were little more than a myth, a whisper on the winds, rumored to reside here or there, but seen by very few. In the 1910's a woman's place was still considered by the majority of Americans as in the home, cooking dinner and raising the children. The Nineteenth Amendment and universal women's suffrage was still a long six years away, a goal becoming ever more plausible, but still far from inevitable.
But the woman facing United States Attorney John Preston that day was no ordinary attorney. She was Annette Grace Adams Abbott, and she was about to show California and the world that women's role in society was rapidly changing. Annette's performance in court that day would not only serve her client well, but it would earn her a lifelong ally in her adversary, U.S. Attorney Preston, and start her on the road to becoming one of greatest barrier breakers in American legal history.
A contemporary, albeit romanticized, account of the courtroom battle that day gave America due notice that women in the professional ranks were here to stay:
At counsel's table sat a woman. She was tall and fair. Mr. Preston started the fi- pardon, the trial. In legal terms and polite courtroom language he called the defendant very nearly everything in the vocabulary, except an angel, and after he had 'spoke his piece' up rose the woman. Instantly one remarks, 'Isn't it just like a woman to want the last word?' But I forgot to say that this particular woman who had been seated at counsel's table, and who had risen at the psychological moment, was (Mrs. ) Annette Abbott Adams, attorney for the defense. Mrs. Adams addressed the court in the frankest fashion on behalf of her client. She did not attempt to give him a lily-white reputation or to exhibit his angel wings just sprouting where such wings are expected to grow. She didn't quibble or quiver over the question; there was no evasion or evanescing- just facts. The prosecutor listened attentively. The judge manifestly was interested. Mrs. Adams' client was sentenced to a term of six months imprisonment, the judge declaring from the bench that the statement of his counsel had won for the client the court's clemency. It had been in the mind of the court to make the sentence a term of years.
Having been licked, United States Attorney Preston, the chivalrous, not only congratulated Mrs. Adams, but began a cross-examination of her something like this:
'Where'd you get your law?'
'University of California.'
'About two years.'
'Want to be Assistant United States Attorney?'
'Place is yours.'1
Although the encounter probably did not occur in such a fashion, the offer was made, and Annette Abbott Adams was on her way to becoming the first woman Assistant United States Attorney in the nation, the beginning of many "firsts" in her long career. Annette would go on to become the first woman to hold a position as United States Attorney, Assistant United States Attorney General, justice on a California State Appellate Court, presiding justice on a California Appellate Court, and justice Pro Tempore on the California Supreme Court.
But like many women attorneys that struggled to gain acceptance during this period, Annette's path was not as easy as it might at first seem. Few women had come before her. She would later remark about women's struggles in the professional world by saying that "[a] woman's success rests with herself. As a woman she has further to go, so big is the handicap under which she has been working. As a child her brothers are taught to race ahead. She was always held back."2
Annette's path to professional success illustrates the veracity of this statement. Although some attorneys welcomed her, others put up as much resistance to her as possible. Nowhere was this seen in such a vivid fashion as when John Preston tried to have her appointed as his fourth Assistant United States Attorney. As stated previously, no woman had ever been appointed to such a vaunted position, and the Attorney General, James C. McReynolds, whose approval of the nomination was necessary, hoped to keep it that way. For ten months McReynolds refused to approve Annette. It was not until his appointment to the United States Supreme Court that Annette was finally able to take her position. But even then, the sexism in the Attorney General's office that McReynold's so embodied had the last laugh: instead of receiving the regular $2000 per year which the male Assistants received, Annette was only paid $1800.3
Sexism was so engrained in the political system at this time that it seems likely that despite Annette's exceptional litigation skills, she might have never attained the positions which she did if it were not for some very influential friends. During Annette's fight for the Assistant United States Attorney position, for instance, she was the beneficiary of some exceptional political maneuvering. Not only was U.S. Attorney Preston engaging in a vigorous lobbying campain with his superiors, Congressman John Raker, a personal friend of Annette's, was also lobbying President Wilson himself on her behalf.4 Preston in fact lobbied so hard with Attorney General McReynolds that he "received a message from Assistant Attorney General Graham instructing him not to trouble the department further about the matter."5 (Preston would remain a die-hard supporter of Annette throughout his life, playing an influential role in her appoinment to the 3rd District Court of Appeals in 1942).
To go along with this support, Annette also "received the indorsement of nearly every Democratic State Central Committeeman in the district and also the indorsement of all Federal officials."6 Despite all of this support, Annette still was almost denied the position solely because she was a woman.
Sexism also reared its ugly head in the courtroom. After Annette took her position as United States Attorney, many times her opposing counsel would make an issue out of her gender during jury selection. The defense attorneys would make a point out of asking potential jurors if " . . . it [would] prejudice [their] client's case on account of the government prosecutor being a woman-- if [they] [were] obliged to ask the witnesses some nasty question?"
Annette faced this type of sexism straight on, turning the tables one day on her opposing counsel who happened to be particularly young. Annette asked a potential jurors if it instead would "prejudice the government's case considering the great youth of the counsel on the other side, during this prosecution if [she] was obliged to ask the witnesses some very 'nasty' questions?" This question brought chuckles from even the defense attorneys and ended this type of juror questioning. However, sexist animosity towards Annette had to have remained.7
Hostility towards women as attorneys was so great at the time when Annette received her first law degree in 1904 that she was unable to find employment at any firm in San Francisco. All of the firms at that time had a no female policy, thus making her ineligible for employment. The position of the San Francisco firms was simple: "[a] law office was not a proper place for a woman[.]"8
The media seemed to share the animosity of lawyers towards women in the courtroom. Even the favorable reports of women as attorneys reflected a belief that women in general were not qualified but Annette was an exception. The aforementioned account of Annette's initial meeting with U.S. Attorney Prestion is indicative of this belief. Further evidence of this disdain can be seen in the newspaper articles of the day. Continual references were made that these women were "Portias," unqualified women masquerading as attorneys. Others, like an article from the Los Angeles times in 1914, referred to her appointment to assistant U.S. Attorney as the "Experiment: Portia to be Tried Out by District Attorney." The use of the pejorative term "girl" was also common in describing the first women attorneys.
Not surprisingly, the sexist attitudes of her male counterparts and the American public did not go unnoticed by Annette. But instead of dissuading her from continuing, the external pressures only drove Annette to do even better. In referring to the perception others had of a woman lawyer, Annette stated that "[she] found that the belief seemed to be that a woman's knowledge of the law must necessarily be superficial. For that reason [she]  made it an unbreakable rule that even in the smallest cases, [she] ha[d] a thorough grasp of [the] subject before [she] appear[ed] before the trial court."9
But the fact that Annette was judged by a higher standard than her peers was not the only reason that she had to be flawless. Annette was also being used to judge the entire female gender. Annette knew that "[w]hen a woman fails men say women have failed; so it is the [duty] of each woman to succeed individually that women collectively may be called successful."10 Accordingly, Annette knew that with each new position she attained, the eyes of millions would be on her, judging not only whether or not she could adequately perform the job, but whether women as a group were capable of handling the job as well. Fair or not, this type of scrutiny was a reality for the pioneering women lawyers and dramatically increased the pressure they faced.
Despite these obstacles, Annette Abbott Adams was successful, enjoying a career that spanned over forty years and reaching some of the pinnacles of her profession. She not only made a name for herself as a great attorney, but she helped open a career path so that other women could do the same.
IV. Annette As A Suffragist
Like most of the pioneering women of her day, Annette was a suffragist, a fact that she readily admitted. However, Annette remained rather coy as to what role she played in the suffrage movement, insuating that she led by example rather than by petitioning and politicking for change. Annette's official position was that she was a "suffragist, but not of the picketing variety, the cultivation of which is not encouraged in this part of the country, where women try to observe the rules of the game and win or lose according to their talents."11
This statement, though, was not exactly true. Annette did actively participate in the suffrage movement, and she was in fact "of the picketing variety." But why would she deny this? Her lack of candor is more than likely the result of political rea lity. Activism at this time was frowned upon in women seeking political office and appointment. Moreover, Annette was an active Democrat and closely aligned with the party. It seems clear that during the critical suffrage push she was also working hard to advance herself in the party and in politics.12 Accordingly, Annette would have been very aware that the Democratic Party at this time was still wavering about women's suffrage. Therefore, a "radical" position as a "picketing suffragist" may have been damaging to her career and future aspirations.
Regardless of what Annette announced in the newspapers, she could still be found rallying the troops to support women's suffrage. During the 1916 presidential campaign, for instance, Annette actively encouraged women to vote for President Wilson because of his position on suffrage. Annette told women in a speech on Nov. 7, 1916, that they should vote for Wilson because he " . . . had a good record on the suffrage question . . ." while his opponent, "was indifferent to the suffrage question and had not even registered when it was put up for a vote in New York."13
It was also reported in the San Francisco Examiner on November 1, 1919 that in recognition for his support of the women's suffrage amendment and its unanimous ratification by the state senate, the "suffrage crusaders" of the state were coming to Sacramento to honor Governor Stephens. Surprisingly enough, the "non-picketing" Annette Abbott Adams attended this luncheon and took a seat of honor at the speakers' table.14 Later accounts would confirm that this Annette Abbott Adams was in fact "Mrs. Annette Abbott Adams, United States District Attorney" and she not only attended "but assisted in directing the suffrage pilgrimage to Sacramento[.]"15
Although Annette may have tried to deny her active role in the suffrage movement, she never tried to deny that she favored suffrage or women's rights. Many of her interviews, even the earliest, express a strong belief that "women equally efficient as men should not be eliminated from business."16 Annette also rejected the commonly held assumption that men were mentally better capable of handling business dealings. She stated flatly that the contrary was true, that women, in fact, "are more logical and orderly in their processes of mind than the male sex, all opinions to the contrary notwithstanding. If any one does not think this so, just visit the august United States Senate in session. Their ideas of the business-like precision which men conduct the affairs of the Nation will be badly shattered."17
Annette never advocated for special treatment for women; she just wanted full opportunities. She believed that "[e]qual pay for equal service should be woman's slogan in demanding recognition" and that "women in the professions . . . [should only] accept the same tests as men. Let our success be reckoned on the same professional test. Let the men ask of us no more severe tests than they ask of one another."18
Clearly, Annette was doing more than just leading by example as she tried to lead the media to believe. It is also clear that Annette was more than just a suffragist. Her statements clearly demonstrate an understanding that the vote would not be the end of the sexism which women faced. She had worked in the professional world and had seen the trials and tribulations which women faced in order to succeed. She knew the vote alone would not cure this. It had not cured the problem in California, a state which had passed women's suffrage in 1911. What would make universal suffrage any different?
Annette's comments hint that not only was she a suffragist, but she favored equal rights for women as well. Annette believed that it was not until women were treated equally with men and enjoyed the same rights could they reach their full potential in society. While suffrage was a step that she fully supported, Annette's statements reflect the realization that it probably was not enough.
V. Why A Lawyer
When reviewing the life of a pioneering individual, the question inevitably arises as to why they chose that particular path. Annette's life is no different. Reading about her life leads one to ask, "Why? If it were so difficult to succeed as a female attorney in those days, why would she embark on such a difficult endeavor?" The answer to this question will never be fully answered, but the circumstances of Annette's early life and her deep felt beliefs in the equality of women shed light on how she may have made this decision.
Annette, like every women of her day, was exposed to disparate treatment because of her sex, a fact of which she was very aware. She would later recall how when she was growing up, she was always shunned from political discussions because of her sex, but her brother, two years her junior, was encouraged to participate.19 This unequal treatment extended to politcal and occupational positions as well. Annette was particularly disturbed that her mother, a well-educated schoolteacher "was not allowed to serve on the school board ' . . . because she was a woman, while the saloonkeeper who lived nearby was a respectful member of the board.'"20
This unequal treatment did not go unnoticed by Annette, and it did not sit well. The more she saw, the angrier she got. Later, after reading the California Codes in the library and apparently seeing the power of the law in insuring the rights of the people, Annette "determined to show the world [that] women are every bit as good as men."21 And, what better way to go about righting the wrongs of society than through the law?
It must be noted also that it was at about this period of time that women in California were just beginning to become lawyers. Moreover, successful women lawyers like Laura de Force Gordon and Clara Shortridge Foltz were very active in Northern California and must have come to the attention of young Annette. All told, the circumstances of Annette's young life coupled with her strongly held beliefs in equality and the developing legal presence of women in her area must have influenced her decision to practice law. While it is impossible to know for sure why she made this decision, these factors seem likely to have at least played some part in her decision.
VI. Questions Concerning Annette The Person
In trying to reconstruct the life of a person that it is dead, it becomes difficult to really get a feeling concerning who they really were. It may be possible to know what they did and accomplished, but what were they really like? I found this to be a problem in reconstructing Annette's life. Although many sources exist as to the events and achievements of her life, few really get into what she was like as a person.
Moreover, most of the sources which are written about her are pro-Annette: obviously biased in her favor. While I am not concerned with dredging up muck on Annette, I am concerned with being objective and having critical contemporary sources is important for this. What were the critics' opinions of her? Why were these their opinions? How did Annette react to criticisms of her? Key facets of a person's character and personatlity may not be revealed unless such sources can be examined.
That is not to say that I did not discover many things about Annette's personality during my research. I found her to be a woman of great integrity and strong opinions, who fairly accurately saw her place and importance in history. It was her recognition of herself as a role model and ground breaker that I believe made her strive to be as good as possible at whatever task was before her. Annette seemed to feel a responsibility to every other woman in America to do her job well so that the next woman to hold that position would not have to struggle like she did to attain it. However, despite these pieces of her personality which I have gleaned from the sources, I still do not feel that I have a truly accurate picture of who she was. Professionally , maybe, but not as Annette Abbott Adams, wife, sister, daughter, friend. This is a very important aspect of her life and an area which I feel needs more research.
VII. Future Leads And Potential Sources
I have to say that I owe a heavy debt in writing this paper to Louise Eleanor Steiner and her master's thesis on Annette which is on file at the California State Law Library in Sacramento. This is a very well researched paper that reveals a plethora of sources on Annette, sources that would be virtually impossible for people like myself laboring under severe time constraints to discover. Not only that, Ms. Steiner's footnotes reflect that she has personally interviewed personal friends of Annette's, judges who she served with and even her secretary. The tapes of these interviews or transcripts could reveal a great amount of information concerning Annette and her personality that I felt was lacking in many of the sources. These tapes also may be very important because there is a good chance that many of the first hand sources who knew Annette may now be dead. Therefore, these tapes may be the last record of their feelings and memories concerning Annette.
Rumors have also circulated that information concerning Annette may also be available through the Northern District of California's historian. I was not in contact with this individual, but if it is true, some untapped sources may be available for research there.
Unfortunately, Annette did not leave any papers behind revealing for us her deep personal feelings. However, she does have on file at the University of California, Berkeley some briefs which she wrote as a practicing attorney. Whereas these might not interest many people, they could be very interesting to a legal scholar. They are interesting to me because I have gathered from the sources which I have seen that Annette was an exceptional litigator. The quality of these papers may help support or refute this assertion. These papers also might demonstrate what kind of legal philosophy Annette followed, if any.
Finally, I think that some information concerning Annette may be found in the personal papers of either John Preston or John Raker. Both of these individuals were very influential in Annette's life and had long relationships with her. Moreover, both held some powerful positions in their day, Preston serving as Assistant Attorney General and then as an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, Raker as a superior court judge and then as a United States Congressman. Accordingly, a strong possibility exists that some research has been done on these individuals or that their personal papers have been perserved. If so this would be a terrific find.
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Born in Dundee, Scotland, on September 6, 1795, Frances Wright was the daughter of a well-to-do merchant and political radical who had circulated the works of Thomas Paine. Her parents died and left her and a sister a fortune when she was two, and they were reared in London and Devon by conservative relatives. At the age of 21 she returned to Scotland to live with a great-uncle, who was a professor of philosophy at Glasgow College. There she read widely and wrote some youthful romantic verse and A Few Days in Athens (1822), a novelistic sketch of a disciple of Epicurus that outlined the materialistic philosophy to which she adhered throughout her life. In August 1818 she sailed with her sister for America for a two-year visit, during which her play Altorf, on the subject of Swiss independence, was produced in New York City.
The enthusiasm of her highly laudatory and widely read Views of Society and Manners in America, published in England in 1821, won Wright the friendship of the Marquis de Lafayette, whom she visited in France in 1821. She timed her return to New York on a second trip in 1824 to coincide with his triumphal tour of the country and followed him on his entire journey. She joined him in visits with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Slavery was discussed, and both men approved in general of her plan to purchase, educate, and emancipate slaves and to help them start a colony outside the United States.
In 1825 Wright published A Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in the United States Without Danger of Loss to the Citizens of the South, which urged Congress to set aside tracts of land for the purpose. In December 1825, by way of demonstrating her plan, she invested a large part of her fortune in a 640-acre tract in western Tennessee (near present-day Memphis) that she called Nashoba. She purchased slaves in 1825, freed them, and settled them at Nashoba with the promise of eventual freedom. The colony got off to a poor start from which it never recovered.
During Wright's absence in 1827 owing to ill health, a scandal broke over charges of free love; on her return to Nashoba in company with Frances Trollope in January 1828 she found a ruin. After publishing a widely reprinted newspaper article defending her idea, she left Nashoba for Robert Dale Owen's socialist community at New Harmony, Indiana. In 1830 she returned to arrange for the emancipation of the Nashoba slaves and their colonization in Haiti.
She helped edit Owen's New Harmony Gazette and, defying convention, took to the lecture platform. Her Course of Popular Lectures (1829 and 1836) attacked religion, church influence in politics, and authoritarian education and defended equal rights for women and the replacement of legal marriage by a union based on moral obligation. In 1829 she and Owen settled in New York City, where they published a radical newspaper called the Free Enquirer and led the free-thinking movement, calling for liberalized divorce laws, birth control, free secular education run by the state, and the political organization of the working classes. She lectured regularly in her "Hall of Science," a converted church on Broome Street.
In 1830 she sailed to France with her failing sister, who died a short time later. In July 1831 she married Guillaume Sylvan Casimir Phiquepal D'Arusmont, a physician she had first met at New Harmony, and she remained with him in Paris until 1835. In that year they returned to the United States and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1836 and 1838 she was again on the platform, this time in support of the Democratic Party and in particular of President Andrew Jackson's attack on the Bank of the United States. Her own lecture courses attracted little attention, however. Over the next dozen years she traveled frequently between the United States and France. Wright and her husband were divorced in 1850. She died in Cincinnati, Ohio, on December 13, 1852.
Copyright © 1999 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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Anne Hutchinson on trial, wood engraving after Edwin Austin Abbey, 19th century
The Granger Collection, New York
Born in Alford, Lincolnshire, England, probably in the spring of 1591 (she was baptized on July 20, 1591), Anne Marbury was the daughter of a silenced clergyman and grew up in an atmosphere of learning. She married William Hutchinson, a merchant, in 1612, and in 1634 they migrated to Massachusetts. Anne Hutchinson soon organized weekly meetings of Boston women to discuss recent sermons and to give expression to her own theological views. Before long her sessions attracted ministers and magistrates as well. She stressed the individual's intuition as a means of reaching God and salvation, rather than the observance of institutionalized beliefs and the precepts of ministers. Her opponents accused her of antinomianism--the view that God's grace has freed the Christian from the need to observe established moral precepts.
Hutchinson's criticism of the Massachusetts Puritans for what she considered to be their narrowly legalistic concept of morality and her protests against the authority of the clergy were at first widely supported by Bostonians. John Winthrop, however, opposed her, and she lost much of her support after he won election as governor. She was tried by the General Court chiefly for "traducing the ministers," was convicted in 1637, and was sentenced to banishment. For a time in 1637-38 she was held in custody at the house of Joseph Weld, marshal of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Refusing to recant, she was then tried before the Boston Church and formally excommunicated.
With some of her followers Hutchinson established a settlement (now Portsmouth) on the island of Aquidneck (now part of Rhode Island) in 1638. After the death of her husband in 1642, she settled on Long Island Sound, near present Pelham Bay. In August or September of 1643 she and all her servants and children save one were killed by Indians, an event regarded by some in Massachusetts as a manifestation of divine judgment.
Bibliography. David D. Hall (ed.), The Antinomian Controversy, 1636-1638, 2nd ed. (1990), collects documents including the records of Hutchinson's court examination. Selma R. Williams, Divine Rebel (1981); and Francis J. Bremer (ed.), Anne Hutchinson, Troubler of the Puritan Zion (1981), discuss her life.
Copyright © 1999 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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by Karen Christino
Here are some of the legends: Evangeline Adams made astrology legal in New York. She predicted the Windsor Hotel fire, the stock market crash of '29, World War II, the deaths of King Edward VII, Enrico Caruso, and even herself. Her books, now all out of print, are eagerly sought after by students, and even stolen from library shelves. Her reputation rests on her astrological expertise, but she was also known to be a palmist. Some even say she was primarily psychic or clairvoyant. But the fact remains that she was the best-known American astrologer of her day. I was fascinated by this woman, and intrigued by the events in her life. Just what was true, and why is it still discussed over half a century after her death? As I began researching Adams' life for my book about her, I would ask these questions again and again.
Evangeline Adams had an eventful life and ran a hugely profitable and successful business at a time when women commonly remained dependent upon men for their livelihood. She has left us not only several astrology books, but an autobiography as well. And there is much documentation on her life available: Adams was an active promoter of herself, giving many interviews to newspaper and magazine reporters.
Fortunately, consistent birth data for Adams has been published: February 8, 1868 at 8:30 am in Jersey City, New Jersey, making her an Aquarian with Pisces rising. Adams' horoscope is quite revealing, as it indicates an emotionally sensitive individual. I feel that Adams truly believed in her work. Her compassionate nature drew her to help others through astrological consultation and guidance. The Pisces influence is also probably responsible for the mystery, glamour and romance which surround Adams.
Evangeline’s autobiography, The Bowl of Heaven is laced with humor and irony, and is her life as she would have us see it. I view the book as a promotional piece for both astrology and the author. As such, it is free of bold confessions, dicey personal anecdotes, or any hint of sex. Today we are accustomed to the juicy "tell all" biography. But Evangeline Adams was writing at a different time, and she was writing as a professional. Her readers therefore only get those facts which are either entertaining or which support Adams' role as an astrological authority. If we will have the real story of Evangeline's life, we must read between the lines.
Take, for example, the only references to her father: "My father died when I was 15 months old," and "My father, through no fault of his own, had lost most of his money just before his death." How tantalizing they are! And yet I have been unable to find out exactly what occurred. Was there an accident or illness? Was the man swindled or did he make a bad investment? We may never know.
Ascertaining anything about Evangeline's personal romantic life was also difficult. Once more, limited details are provided by the author herself in her autobiography, but it appears obvious that her employer, Mr. Lord, was the same man to whom Evangeline was engaged. Yet there are glaring contradictions in her account. On one hand, she professes to have been in love with and engaged to the man. Then she describes herself as being "totally unresponsive" and declares "I did not love him." What really went on?
We can say that logically she contradicts herself. Setting pure logic aside, however, it is apparent that she had mixed feelings about the relationship. She is able to see, feel, and understand alternate views of the situation, especially in retrospect. A complicated emotional nature is revealed.
What is also revealed is the extremely important role which astrology played in Adams' decision-making process. I estimate that her engagement took place between about 1893 and 1896, when she then left her secretarial job behind and began practicing astrology professionally. She had been studying astrology for at least seven or eight years and already had great faith in it. I believe that Evangeline herself broke off the engagement. In late 19th century Boston, this was a real no-no, even approaching the censure of divorce (a woman couldn't even kiss a man unless they were engaged, meaning that they would soon definitely marry). This must have been a frightfully dramatic episode, but Adams characteristically sidesteps the details. She goes on, instead, to discuss how vehemently her family opposed her. Obviously, part of their anger was due to the fact that Evangeline was breaking not only intellectual, religious and philosophic taboos, but social ones as well.
Any influence Mr. Lord exerted was along conventional lines -- the traditional promise of a home and family. Her astrology teacher, Dr. Smith, on the other hand, represented the unconventional: astrology and an independent life. We can only imagine how torn Adams was as she fought to reconcile these opposing ambitions within herself. What would be the element of power in her life, the love and financial support of a well-to-do husband, or having control of her own destiny through an independent career? The objective nature of astrology finally tipped the scales.
Evangeline Adams was born during the Victorian era. She came from the Boston area, in her own words, "the most conservative circle of that conservative city". Some of her forebears had been Congregationalist ministers, and this conservative religious group was the successor to the Massachusetts Colony's Puritans. Although Adams would from young adulthood espouse untraditional views and unorthodox beliefs, her upbringing was what would in those days have been termed "quite proper." Extremely independent and liberal-thinking, Adams nonetheless had as part of her nature a strict sense of social morality. Her telling and sometimes humorous account of an early consultation with a prostitute gives us insight into her background. "That first interview in Boston prostrated me. I wasn't myself for weeks. And I have the same reaction even now on a less violent scale." Here we have a woman with a certain moral code. And we can expect that she will always try to conduct herself in a manner consistent with good taste and proper decorum. Strong social forces forced Evangeline to keep her private life private.
Adams' impressionistic style is what makes her writing so enjoyable. But as we have seen, it also make it quite difficult to verify particulars; intuition must fill in the gaps. Her writing technique, which I feel was quite natural, contributed to what I view as the "myths" which surround Adams. Many stories are so richly symbolic and almost parable-like that they lend themselves quite easily to embellishment upon repetition.
Take, for instance, Adams' arrest for fortune-telling in New York in 1914. Many publications have repeated the fiction that Evangeline made astrology legal in New York. Anyone who took a look at Section 889 of the NY Criminal Code would see that it still remained illegal for anyone to "tell fortunes." So where does this misleading statement originate?
If we return to The Bowl, Evangeline tells us that, "I had but one ambition: to legalize astrology in the State of New York". She goes on to give us an overview of how she was acquitted of wrong-doing. Yet we must recognize that the laws had not changed. A precedent had been set, however, in how the law would be interpreted in the future. Just because an astrologer practiced professionally would no longer legally mean that she was guilty of wrong doing. Evangeline implies in her book that she was successful in making astrology legal -- the reader's mind tends to fill in the rest in a certain way. The is the nature of Piscean accounting!
Today, there do continue to be those who believe that Adams was primarily psychic or clairvoyant. Her four books on astrology convince me that this is not the case, and her predictions consistently seem to invoke the clear timing which only astrology can provide. Evangeline was highly attuned to the planet Neptune. We must assume that she had quite a strong intuition, and that she was in touch with the Infinite. If we want to understand Evangeline Adams as a true and complex person, we must be willing to admit that there was more to her life than astrology alone.
I cannot help but feel that Adams' life and memory have now been truly resurrected, as well as transformed as a result. So many of the old legends turn out to be true, confirmation is available, even though some claims have often been exaggerated through the years.
Karen Christino is a consulting astrologer and the author of Foreseeing the Future: Evangeline Adams and Astrology in America (One Reed Publications, 2002). She's also written Star Success (Pocket Books) and articles for Marie Claire, Modern Bride and Seventeen magazines. Her popular "Choose Your Career" column has appeared in American Astrology magazine since 1992.
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...................... more to come
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