As you might have noticed, I love hosting authors in conjunction with blog tours I am reviewing their books as there are certain stories I am coming across which spark a renewed interest to know a bit more about either the writer behind the story and/or the story itself. In this particular case, my own topic was not able to reach the author in time to have a response, and I must admit, after having read the author’s suggested topic, I believe in a way she answered the question I had originally provided! For starters, I was seeking a way to better understand how the women of the American Reformation era were able to stand independent of men, seek out professions not yet readily available to them and how through her writings, she found inspiration by the women who are the focal point of her novel(s).
In some ways, I think she pitched a better topic to work the thesis I had only outlined in broader strokes, as you will be reading shortly below, how certain men (such as the men of today; if @HeforShe is a good barometer of cross-gender support!) who had recognised the progression of women’s rights and the freedoms women were rightly deserving to have at their command; gave their support and helped the cause move forward. It’s a good bit of insight into how the traditions of the past were colliding with a future where equality would become a mainstay and where women would find a voice to stand on their own merits and prove their independence from men.
In some regards, I have been finding stories championing strong women and/or strong views on how life can proceed forward with process since the New Year began if you consider my first review was on behalf of George Washington* (read my thoughts), followed by a legacy of writerly pursuits by the Brontës (read about this interesting origin story), and I recently composed my thoughts on women pioneers in Science of whom could provide inspiration for everyone who takes a moment to read their living histories.
*It’s the very end of the novel involving George Washington where you gather a better sense about how important it was for Washington to find Martha and what Martha gave back to Washington. Without her support and their mutual equality, he would have been a far different man.
I am concluding my reading of a Swedish author’s heart-stirring novel about a woman who lived outside of tradition and on her own terms (The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley) whilst moving back inside Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea in order to re-pick up the momentum to read two Jane Eyre sequel novels (All Hallows at Eyre Hall and Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall) set after the original canons conclude. I even have a non-fiction story in my hands this weekend (More than the Tattooed Mormon) which is meant to be inspiring in of itself to reach the audience of modern women seeking a way to stay in step with their walk of faith.
I have a penchant for strong female leads and strong willed characters of woman who either stepped outside their family’s constrictive upbringings and/or rallied against society’s sharp edge of tongue and propriety to seek a different life and live radically courageous for the eras in which they lived. I love pulling back the layers of History and finding these women in historical fiction, such as I will be revealling in my forthcoming review of The Renegade Queen however, it’s just as keenly enjoyable for me to read these sorts of characters across genre and set inside non-fiction as well. For every woman (and man) has a story to share and a story which may endear us to a hidden aspect of the past we had not uncovered until our readings of their stories.
Postscript [1pm]: The author graciously offered to respond to my original topic and I am working with her to feature it within the next week or two as I found it quite kind of her to offer to do this! I cannot wait to read her response and to bring the second essay to my readers!
Two Renegades So Controversial, They Were Erased From History
Discarded by society, she led a social revolution. Disgusted by war, he sought a new world.
She was the first women to run for President, campaigning before women could vote.
He was the Hero of Vicksburg, disillusioned with the government after witnessing the devastating carnage of the Civil War.
Their social revolution attracted the unwanted who were left out of the new wealth: the freed slaves, the new immigrants, and women.
Who were they?
This is the true story of Victoria Woodhull and the love of her life, James Blood.
Adored by the poor, hated by the powerful, forced into hiding during their lifetimes and erased from history after death, the legend of their love lives on.
It’s 1869 and Victoria has a choice to make. She can stay in an abusive marriage and continue to work as a psychic, or she can take the offer of support from handsome Civil War general James Blood and set about to turn society upside down. Victoria chooses revolution.
But revolutions are expensive, and Victoria needs money. James introduces Victoria to one of the wealthiest man in America—Commodore Vanderbilt. Along with her loose and scandalous sister, Tennessee, Victoria manipulates Vanderbilt and together they conspire to crash the stock market—and profit from it. Victoria then parlays her fortune into the first female-owned brokerage firm.
When her idol Susan B. Anthony publishes scandalous rumors about Victoria’s past, Victoria enters into a fierce rivalry with Susan to control the women’s movement. James supports Victoria’s efforts despite his deep fears that she may lose more than the battle. She might lose part of herself.
Victoria starts her own newspaper, testifies to Congress, and even announces her candidacy for President. But when Victoria adopts James’s radical ideas and free love beliefs, she ignites new, bruising, battles with Susan B. Anthony and the powerful Reverend Henry Beecher. These skirmishes turn into an all-out war, with Victoria facing prejudice, prosecution, and imprisonment. Ultimately, Victoria and James face the hardest choice of all: the choice between their country and their love.
The Men Behind the First Feminists by Eva Flynn
In researching The Renegade Queen, I was inspired by the sacrifices of the women suffragists but I was also impressed by the powerful men who supported them:
Cornelius Vanderbilt was born in 1794 in Staten Island, New York, son of poor farmers, and began working at age 11. In 1810, when he was 16 years old, he borrowed $100 from his mother to purchase a sailboat and start a Staten Island-Manhattan ferry and freight service. Vanderbilt showed a ruthlessly competitive streak early, undercutting the competition by charging dramatically low fares, investing without his parents’ knowledge in other ferries, and even physically beating competitors who encroached on his customers.
In the 1860s, the already-elderly Vanderbilt made the daring move that would vastly multiply his wealth and transform him from a powerful steamship entrepreneur into a transportation titan: investing in railroad technology. By 1865, the Commodore had completely sold off his steamship business, buying up stock in rail companies and purchasing long stretches of the fragmented rail system. In 1869, Vanderbilt purchased 23 acres in Midtown Manhattan to build Grand Central Depot, a grand building that symbolically consolidated his rail empire and demonstrated his industrial might. The Depot, completed in 1871, anchored the development of Midtown and stood until the erection of Grand Central Terminal, which stands today.
Originally turning to Victoria and Tennessee for their healing and psychic abilities, he became their friend and supporter. Vanderbilt believed the government should take a hands-off approach for most matters and also believed women were not treated fairly in the eyes of the law. His laissez-faire beliefs coupled with his knowledge of the inequality that existed led him to supporting Victoria’s ascent in the business world and her political ambitions. Vanderbilt, as one might imagine, did not agree with Victoria’s flirtation with Marxism.
George Francis Train
George Francis Train (1829-1904) was a man of many titles. He was the “clipper ship” king, having organized the clipper slip line that sailed around Cape Horn to San Francisco. He was Jules Verne’s inspiration as the “man who went around the world in 80 days,” having made his first of three trips around the globe in 1870. He was the “Transcontinental Railroad” man having organized the Union Pacific Railroad. And he was a Copperhead, a Democrat who supported the Union but wanted a peaceful solution and sought to avoid war.
Most importantly, for Victoria Woodhull and Susan B. Anthony, he was a suffragist. He campaigned vigorously for women’s right to vote in Kansas in the 1860s. He funded Anthony’s paper, The Revolution. And despite running against Victoria Woodhull for President in 1872, he came to her defense when she was charged with obscenity, offering to put up the money for her bail.
When Victoria turned down Train’s offer for bail, he then started his own newspaper and reprinted Biblical verses that had the same terms Victoria used in her articles. He was thrown in jail and the government declared him a lunatic.
Who do you think is the “Ugliest Member of Congress”? In 1870s, the consensus was that Benjamin Butler (1818-1893) was the ugliest member who ever served. The newspapers even called him the “backside of hell’s hideous imp.” He was constantly drawn as a buffoon by the cartoonists.
Although he was scorned during his lifetime, he did more for the slaves than any man at that time did. As a major general for the Union and a very astute lawyer, he declared escaped slaves “contraband” and refused to return them to the plantations. He then enrolled them in the army, starting the first desegregated efforts in American military history. When the other union soldiers saw the slaves fight beside them bravely, getting wounded, and being awarded medals, then their attitude towards the African-Americans changed. Butler also authored the 1875 Civil Rights Act.
A champion of equality, he was the one who introduced Victoria Woodhull to Congress so she could testify that the Constitution already gave women the right to vote. He publicly supported her by attending many of her speeches. And he supported her when she was jailed on Election Day.
As Governor of Massachusetts (1883-1884) he also appointed the first woman to executive office, Clara Barton, to head the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women.
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Similar to blog tours where I feature book reviews, as I choose to highlight an author via a Guest Post, Q&A, Interview, etc., I do not receive compensation for featuring supplemental content on my blog. I provide the questions for interviews and topics for the guest posts; wherein I receive the responses back from publicists and authors directly. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them; I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers.
Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.
Comments on Twitter:
— Jorie Loves A Story (@joriestory) February 12, 2016
@joriestory Thanks! And happy to write another one on your topic if you'd like.
— Eva Flynn (@evaflyn) February 12, 2016