In And Around Hannibal, by Rita Hooper

A continuation on Matilda Joslyn Gage

Matilda Joslyn Gage was born March 24, 1826, just down the road from Fulton in Cicero.

She was an only child, raised in a household dedicated to antislavery. Her father, Dr. Hezekiah Joslyn, was a nationally known abolitionist, and the Joslyn home was a station on the Underground Railroad.

Her father was also a physician and had hopes that his daughter would follow in his footsteps. But it was not to be; women were not yet permitted to go to  medical school.

During the 1870s, Gage spoke out against the brutal and unfair treatment of Native Americans. She was adopted into the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk nation and given the name Ka-ron-ien-ha-wi (Sky Carrier).

Inspired by the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy’s form of government, where “the power between the sexes was nearly equal,” this indigenous practice of woman’s rights became her vision.

Gage, along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association and served in various offices of that organization (1869-1889).

She helped organize and was an officer in the New York suffrage association for 20 years. From 1878 to 1881, she published the National Citizen and Ballot Box, the official newspaper of the NWSA.

When Susan B. Anthony successfully voted in the 1872 presidential election and was arrested, Gage came to her aid and supported her during her trial.

Gage co edited with Stanton and Anthony the first three volumes of the six-volume The History of Woman Suffrage (1881-1887).

Discouraged with the slow pace of suffrage efforts in the 1880s, and alarmed by the conservative religious movement that had as its goal the establishment of a Christian state, Gage formed the Women’s National Liberal Union in 1890, to fight moves to unite church and state.

Her book Woman, Church and State (1893) articulates her views.

Stanton didn’t join Gage’s group, and Anthony denounced Gage’s “secession” from the suffrage ranks.”

Anthony and Stanton embraced the Women’s Christian Temperance Union to garner their votes for suffrage. The WCTU was a group known for being against the evils of alcohol, but not so well known today for their views on wanting to put God in the Constitution.

Gage spent her last eight years estranged from most of her suffrage allies and friends of the previous forty years. She died in Chicago March 18, 1898.

Her memorial stone reads: “There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven. That word is Liberty.”

Interesting that the word used is liberty and not freedom – two words that are often used interchangeably. I’m reminded of the phrase, ‘your freedom ends at the end of your arm.! Or have I taken liberty with that phrase?

Life is full of tough choices and Gage was faced with one when it came to a woman’s right to vote and freedom of religion. Many bad things have been done over the years in the name of religion and continue to this day, even in our own country.

We are faced with decisions affecting the separation of church and state almost on a daily basis. Do we hang the Ten Commandments on the courthouse, do we say prayer at graduation (incidentally New York state stopped that practice in 1982 when two Hannibal grads were preachers’ kids – their fathers were on the platform but silent, and they received a round of applause!)

Do we have Menorrahs and Nativity scenes in the village park? Do religious institutions and private companies have to pay for birth control for their employees?

And the list goes on.

Recently I understand, the Hannibal Town Board agreed to open their meetings with prayer. Not something I would have chosen to do – slippery slope?

I’d have no objection to a moment of silence and letting folks, if so inclined, call on their supreme being/power, or to just pull their thoughts together.

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance…John Philpot Curran –  (Irish lawyer of the 1700s)

To read Gage yourself, check out


Hannibal Senior Citizens will meet at noon for dinner. This week’s menu features

Monday, July 14 — Cook’s choice meal.

Wednesda — Goulash, Italian blend vegetables, juice, pineapple tidbits

Friday — Healthy choice cold plate,   dessert

Activities: Monday — Wii bowling;    Wednesday — Music w/Deanna Hubbard;    Friday — games

Give Rosemary a call and make your reservation at 564-5471.

The Jammers will NOT meet again until 7 p.m. July 28 at the American Legion, Rochester Street, Hannibal.

The Summer Reading at the Library for children has begun. The sessions are from 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for six weeks. This year’s theme is “Dig into Reading.”

The Friends of the Library’s new raffle basket is named Lobster Trap for Two. It has heavy duty crackers, picks, butter dishes, plates, tablecloth and citronella candle (lobsters not included). Drawing is Aug. 2.

The National Honor Society is sponsoring a Red Cross Community Blood Drive  from 1 to 6:30 p.m. July 22 in the school board room at Hannibal High School.

Students and adults, ages 16 and older, are asked to donate. Please sign up to donate blood by contacting Carol Burch ( or Lisa Mason ( at Hannibal High School or through the Red Cross website at

On July 22, the Elderberries will meet at Dick and Judy Tyler’s for a pool party and picnic – meat provided, bring a dish to pass.

On Aug. 5, the Friends and the Elderberries will present a Concert on the Lawn from 6 to 8 p.m. with Jeff Sawyer and Rick Bush. Food and drinks will be available. Bring a chair or blanket.

Rita Hooper 706-3564

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