I can’t stop thinking about this girl. Her gorgeous smile, her presence in front of the camera. The photo was taken sometime in the 1860s. @amhistorymuseum shared it on Instagram a few days ago, and I keep coming back to it.

Long thread.
We don’t know her name, because she was invisible to the people who paid for the sitting on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, and distributed copies of the portrait to friends and family. We know the baby’s name, and her age - to the day.

Looking at her, wondering how her life Same photo, full-size so caption visible: Ada Peters Brown,
turned out, made me think of a different young woman who found herself in Philadelphia about 50 years before. Maybe she too walked down Chestnut Street with a child in her care.

It was 1814, and Charity Castle was doing everything she could to stay in Pennsylvania.
She was enslaved in Maryland in the home of Charles Caroll Jr. and his wife, Harriet. Charles was a violent alcoholic, and Harriet finally had enough. She took the kids and left him, back to her family estates in Philadelphia. She brought along Charity & 7 other enslaved people.
Pennsylvania had abolished slavery gradually, beginning during the Revolutionary War. Freedom was not automatic upon arrival in the state. After six months, though, an enslaved person was free under state law. Charity knew this - maybe every enslaved person in Maryland did.
Every enslaver certainly knew it. Five months after arriving in Philadelphia, Harriet Chew Carroll makes plans to send Charity back to Maryland before the deadline. But Charity refuses - vehemently. She says she would rather be sold than go back to the Carroll estate in Maryland.
Pressed to explain, Charity tells Harriet - seemingly in pretty blunt terms - that Charles Carroll Jr. raped her. Harriet’s brother Benjamin Chew sees how distraught Harriet is...on her own behalf. So he jumps in to try and get Charity out of Philadelphia and back to Maryland.
The night before she is to be sent back, Charity is seriously injured. She falls (or jumps) from a wood pile. She’s found bleeding profusely, and probably has a punctured lung. Much correspondence ensues about whether she can be returned to Maryland before six months have passed.
Marvelously, she recovers. By that time, she’s spent more than six months in Pennsylvania - and connected with attorney William Lewis. He’s a leader of the Pa. Abolitionist Society - and a drafter of the state’s abolition law. He provides a written opinion that she is now free.
Harriet’s brother & father-in-law argue that because Charity remained in the state only because of the accident, it shouldn’t count. Attorney Lewis responds curtly: “accident made her a slave, accident has made her free, and it seems right that she should avail herself of it.”
BTW, Harriet’s father-in-law Charles Carroll was a former Senator, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
For months, the men in the family keep insisting that Charity is their property. Charles Jr, the rapist, sends his father a ranty letter in which he says that while he could sue, “A Law Suit would probably be attended with many circumstances afflicting to my Wife and Children.”
There’s no satisfying conclusion. We don’t know for sure whether Charity is ever free. We know that she had a husband who was in contact with attorney William Lewis. For now, the trail ends there. Like the unnamed girl in the photograph, we can only wonder and hope for her.
We do know one ending, though: we know the choice Harriet Chew Carroll makes.

When Harriet is asked what SHE thinks, she literally refuses to answer. She begs her brother to respond for her. He does, in her voice, to say that the whole matter is entirely up to her husband.
Harriet, who was strong enough to leave her abuser, refuses to help another woman he has attacked. Refuses, to the very end, to utter one word on her behalf.

(There are portraits of everyone in this story except Charity, so I'm not including any of them.)
I first heard Charity’s story on the podcast Amended, where @marthasjones_ tells it to illustrate the deep roots of white women’s disloyalty and failed sisterhood. It’s a must-hear: humanitiesny.org/amended-episod…
Laura. Her name is Laura Tucker.

Thanks to @JasonPetrulis for finding her, and building this fascinating thread👉

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More from @DailySuffragist

9 Oct
The story of Black abolitionist Hester Lane features blatant racism and sexism. But it’s also about a subtler version of both: when you’re expected to choose a side because of your identity, and pigeonholed into what someone like you is “supposed to” believe.

Long thread.
Hester’s story is one of the most exciting discoveries in @marthasjones_' wonderful Vanguard - which is saying something!

Hester was a free woman of color in 1820s New York City. She was an entrepreneur, a leader, and a liberator.
Hester Lane bought the freedom of enslaved people - dangerous work that meant negotiating with southern slaveholders herself. She brought out as many as 11 people - she required them to repay her, which enabled her to keep the cycle going.
Read 24 tweets
9 Oct
I am ridiculously excited about a suffrage conference next week...

IHO 150 years of 15th Amdt & 100 years of 19th Amdt, the Massachusetts Historical Society is hosting a 🏅 panel *each day.* @MHS1791 @MHS_Research

Free! Registration at bottom.

Select highlights to tempt you: Image
Monday @ 2 ET

@EllenDubois10’s new work on the long relationship between ElizCadyStanton & Frederick Douglass;

Thomas Dublin with new discoveries & interpretation on #BlackSuffragists

@LynnEckert4 on doctors

and @ProfMSinha tying it all together.
Tuesday @ 12 ET

Marriage! inc. a paper I’m so eager to hear by @HQuanquin about Stephen and Abby Kelley Foster, and more.

Wednesday @ 2 ET

Empire - @Laura_R_Prieto on the Philippines, @SilvanaSiddali on African American voters in 19th c. midwest & Sunu Kodumthara on Oklahoma.
Read 5 tweets
10 Sep
We gotta talk about lesbians. Specifically, about lesbian erasure.

Queer is cool, right? It’s 2020! 🏳️‍🌈🏳️‍⚧️etc., etc. So why is the lesbian reality of the suffrage movement barely part of the #19thAmendment centennial conversation?

A thread.
The movement for women’s liberation was run largely by unmarried women - some never married, some widowed.

Why? Because marriage was a prison for women, legally and socially. Unmarried women were exponentially freer to do the work of organizing and building a national movement.
Long-married leaders who raised multiple children - ElizCadyStanton, IdaBWells - are outliers in the suffrage pantheon. Most of the women who led the movement didn’t marry, didn’t have children, or were widowed early.

Does that mean they were lesbians? Well, yes - many of them.
Read 17 tweets
23 Aug
Suffragists picketed the White House from 10am-6pm every day but Sundays. They continued - attacked by mobs, arrested constantly - for more than two years. But in their first months, the pickets were greeted warmly.🧵 Sepia photograph of fourteen suffragists in overcoats on pic
Until January 1917, no one had ever done what they were doing. Frustrated at President Wilson’s refusal to support a federal suffrage amendment, they were the first Americans to stand outside the mansion in protest.

They walked 4-hour shifts, leaving only when relief arrived.
They continued in every kind of weather, though in heavy rain and snow shifts were 2 hours. To stay warm, the janitor from National Woman’s Party HQ brought wheelbarrows of hot bricks to stand on. In this picture from Jan. 26, they’re standing on boards to keep their feet drier. Sepia photograph of three National Woman's Party picketers f
Read 7 tweets
16 Jul
Ida B. Wells could vote for President years before Alice Paul or Carrie Chapman Catt.


Read on . . .
Changing state constitutions is hard. Who votes & who doesn’t is determined by each state; big changes almost always need constitutional amendment. Of course, this is why the state-by-state fight took so damn long. But in 1913, Illinois successfully used a different strategy.
Lucy Stone’s husband Henry Blackwell began pushing for “presidential suffrage” back in the 1880s. It was a clever idea: a way to get states to let women vote for President without the laborious process of amending their constitution. Here's how:
Read 17 tweets
16 Jun
Obama’s 2d inaugural invoked a throughline “from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall.” Brett Kavanaugh has surely been itching to object since. In dissent yesterday he wrote: “Seneca Falls was not Stonewall.”

I know more about both of those things than he does. So, a primer.🧵
Things the women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls in 1848 & the Stonewall uprising of 1969 have in common:

* Both were led by radicals Sepia portrait of 19th century woman Lucretia Mott in a bonn
* Both featured important Black leaders
Read 10 tweets

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