Woman of the Century/Matilda Joslyn Gage
GAGE, Mrs. Matilda Joslyn, woman suffragist, born in Cicero, N. Y., 24th March, 1826. She was an only child, very positive in nature, yet very sympathetic and eager to discover the meaning of life. Her father, Dr. H. Joslyn, was a physician of large practice, varied and extensive information, strong feelings, decided principles, an investigator of all new questions, hospitable and generous to a fault. His house was ever the home of men and women eminent in religion, science and philosophy. Thus from her earliest years Matilda was accustomed to hear the most abstruse political and religious questions discussed. She was early trained to think for herself, to investigate all questions, and to accept nothing upon authority unaccompanied by proof. It was a law of the household that her childish questions should receive full answers. Her mother was an accomplished woman of an old Scotch family, the youngest daughter of Sir George Leslie, and through him related to the celebrated Gregory family, whose members as mathematicians, astronomers and physicians gave much impetus to those sciences in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. While inheriting her fearlessness, her decided principles and her love of examining everything new from her father, from her mother came her historical tastes, sterling honesty of purpose, intense love of justice, regard for truth and love of the refined and beautiful. Although Mrs. Joslyn was in sympathy with her husband upon reform questions, yet her early training, habits and hereditary tendencies gave a conservative bias to her social views, which was not without its effect upon her daughter. While the grandfather of Matilda upon her mother's side was of conservative political views, her grandfather upon her father's side, a New England patriot of the Revolutionary War, had not alone defended his fireside against the stealthy Indian foes, but had served his country both on sea and land. Under such opposite hereditary tendencies the struggle between conservatism and liberalism in the young girl's heart was long and severe, but, endowed with an intense love of liberty, she developed into a radical reformer. With no college open for girls at that day, she was largely educated at home. It was the pride and delight of Dr. Joslyn that his daughter should pursue branches of learning rarely studied by girls, he himself teaching her Greek and mathematics, giving her practical instruction in physiology, and even considering the idea of a full medical education for her in MATILDA JOSLYN CAGE. Geneva College, of which his own old preceptor, Dr. Spencer, was then president. Although that plan was not consummated, her father's medical library helped to mold her thoughts. At a later date she was sent to the Clinton, N Y., Liberal Institute. She early stood upon the platform, giving her first lecture at the age of seventeen, before a literary society of her native village. Her subject was astronomy. When eighteen, Matilda Joslyn became the wife of Henry H. Gage, a young merchant of her own town. The young couple lived first in Syracuse, N Y., afterward in Maulius. in the same county, and thence removing to Fayetteville, N. Y., where Mrs. Gage now resides, having lived in the same house thirty-eight years. There her family of one son and three daughters have been reared. One son died in infancy. Although her husband's business and a rapidly increasing family demanded much of her time, Mrs. Gage never lost her interest in scientific and reform questions. She early became interested in the subject of extended opportunities for woman, publicly taking part in the Syracuse convention of 1852, the youngest speaker present. Chosen during the Civil War by the women of Fayetteville to present a Hag to the 122nd Regiment New York Volunteers, whose color company was recruited in that village, Mrs. Gage was one of the earliest to declare in her speech of presentation that no permanent peace could be secured without the overthrow of slavery. When under Governor Cornell the right for women of the Empire State to vote upon school questions was accorded, she conducted an energetic campaign, which removed incompetent male officials, placing in office a woman trustee, woman clerk and woman librarian. The work of Mrs. Gage in the National Woman's Suffrage Association is well known. From her pen have appeared many of the most able state papers of that body and addresses to the various political parties. As delegate from the National Woman Suffrage Association in 18S0, she was in attendance upon the Republican and Greenback nominating conventions in Chicago, and the Democratic convention in Cincinnati, preparing the address presented to each of those bodies and taking part in hearings before their committees. The widely circulated protest of the National Woman's Suffrage Association to the Men of the United States, previous to the celebration of the national centennial birthday, 4th July, 1876, was from her pen. as were also important portions of the Woman's Declaration of Rights presented by the National Woman's Suffrage Association in that celebration, Independence Hall, 4th July, 1876. From 1878 to 1881 Mrs. Gage published the "National Citizen," a paper devoted to woman's enfranchisement, in Syracuse, N. Y. Urged for many years by her colleagues to prepare a history of woman suffrage, Mrs. Gage, comprehending the vastness of the undertaking and the length of time and investigation required, refused, unless aided by others. During the summer of 1876 the plan of the work was formulated between herself and Miss Anthony and Mrs. Stanton, comprising three large octavo volumes, of one-thousand pages each, containing engravings of the most noted workers for woman's enfranchisement. "The History of Woman Suffrage" (1881-87) is now to be found in the most prominent libraries of both Europe and America. In the closing chapter of volume one Mrs. Gage included a slight resume of "Woman, Church and State," a work she has still in hand. Several minor works have appeared from her pen. Among them are " Woman as Inventor" (1870), "Woman Rights Catechism" (1868), "Who Planned the Tennessee Campaign?" (1880), as well as occasional contributions to the magazines of the day. Among her most important speeches are " Centralization," " United States Voters," "Woman in the Early Christian Church" and "The Dangers of the Hour." Usually holding responsible positions on the resolution committees of both State and national conventions, Mrs. Gage has been enabled to present her views in a succinct manner. Her resolutions in 1878 on the relations of woman and the church were too radical for the great body of woman suffragists creating a vast amount of discussion and opposition within the National Woman's Suffrage Association, ultimately compelling her to what she deems her most important work, the formation of the Woman's National Liberal Union, of which she is president.