Category Archives: USA History

Topic relating to an event in American History

Amelia Earhart: Pilot

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Famous aviator Amelia Earhart is thought to ha...

Famous aviator Amelia Earhart is thought to have crash landed on Nikumaroro Island when she disappeared in 1937. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century is the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart. During her flight across the Pacific Ocean, Earhart and copilot Fred Noonan made their last radio transmission on July 3rd, 1937 and were never heard from again. Decades later, people are still searching remote islands in the Pacific Ocean in hopes of solving the mystery. Though Earhart’s disappearance made her a legend, it was her quest for equality that made her an international hero.

Amelia Earhart was born on July 24, 1897 in Atchison, Kansas. Her mother, Amelia “Amy” Otis,  was married to Edwin Earhart, a man who drank too much and was always moving the family in hopes of finding a job. In 1915, Amy took Amelia and Amelia’s sister too Chicago to live with friends. Though it was tough changing schools, Amelia excelled in her science classes.After she graduated from high school, she volunteered as a nurse’s aid for the Red Cross. While taking care of the World War I injured soldiers, she developed a strong admiration for aviators and spent her free time watching the  Royal Flying Corps.  In 1920, she took a plane ride at a Long Beach air show and realized she wanted to be a pilot. She took lessons from Anita “Neta” Snook and on October 22, 1922, she flew her plane to 14,000 feet, a world altitude record for female pilots.

On May 15, 1923, Earhart became the 16th woman to be issued a pilot’s license. In 1924, Earhart’s family ran out of money and her parents divorced. Earhart was forced to sell her plane and become a social worker to make money. In May 1927, Charles Lindbergh completed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The interest for having a woman fly across the Atlantic grew and on April, 1928, Earhart received a phone call from Captain Hilton H. Railey, asking her if she would like to. Earhart said yes and traveled to New York to meet the press. On June 17, 1928, Earhart took off from Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland. Joining her on the flight was Wilmer “Bill” Stulz and Louis E. “Slim” Gordon. Due to the poor weather, Stultz did all the flying. Earhart returned to the United States and was celebrated as a hero at a reception held by President Calvin Coolidge. She later admitted to feeling like “ a sack of potatoes” on the flight and was determined to prove that women could fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean.

Amelia Earhart was now a celebrity with her own clothing line and job at Cosmopolitan magazine. While she traveled the country competing in Air Derbies, breaking world altitude records, and marrying George Putnam, she was secretly planning her flight across the Ocean. On May 20, 1932 – Lindberg’s 5th anniversary of crossing the Atlantic – Earhart took off from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland. Due to the icy weather conditions, she had to land in a pasture in Northern Ireland. Her 15-hour flight made her an international hero – she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart’s flight proved that women had the courage and skills to be pilots. Earhart went on to fly from Hawaii to California, becoming the first person to fly across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Earhart made numerous flights and broke several records, but her major goal was to become the first person to fly across the world around the equator.


On March 17, 1937, Earhart began her flight in Oakland, California. She landed in Hawaii for plane repairs, but the plane was damaged again during take-off. By the time the plane was repaired, weather patterns had changed so she had to fly Eastward. She and co-pilot Frank Noonan flew from Hawaii to Oakland, to Miami, Florida, to Africa, and landed in Lae, New Guinea on June 29, 1927. They were headed to Howland Island on July 2, but they never made it. On July 3rd at 8:43, a ship heard a Earhart’s last radio transmission: they couldn’t find the small island and were running out of fuel. Despite the efforts of 66 aircrafts and nine ships, the $4 million rescue attempt authorized by President Franklin Roosevelt (Earhart was supposed to return to teach Eleanor Roosevelt to fly) failed to find the pilots.On Jan, 5, 1939, Earhart was declared legally dead.

Amelia Earhart learned from a young age to be independent since her father could not support his family. When she married, Earhart kept her last name and she made sure that her husband knew they were a team since she believed that women were equal to men. Though she was part of a publicity stunt in 1928, she flew the route by herself, shattering the idea that women were too weak to fly planes. After she disappeared, theories quickly appeared trying to explain her disappearance, but there was no proof. Then in May, 2012, a jar of freckle cream was found on the uninhabited island Nikumaroro: Earhart was known to be using the cream…


Sources:

Amelia Earhart. biography

Amelia Earhart

Matilda Joslyn Gage: Radical Feminist

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Public relations portrait of Matilda Joslyn Ga...

Public relations portrait of Matilda Joslyn Gage as used in the History of Woman Suffrage by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Volume I, published in 1881. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the United States Capitol, there is a memorial to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These two women are the most famous feminists in the United States and they are the reason why women can vote today. What many do not know is that there was a third woman: Matilda Joslyn Gage. Gage nearly disappeared from history due to her radical views and attacks on the Christian Church, but her legacy will continue forever. After all, she influenced one of the most famous movie characters of all time.

Matilda Joslyn Gage was born on March 24, 1826 in Cicero, New York. Her parents raised her to be an abolitionist; their home was a station on the Underground Railroad. Her parents also believed that their daughter should have an education, an uncommon belief in the United States at this time. In 1845, she married Henry Hill Gage and the couple settled in Fayetteville, New York. When she was not taking care of her four children, she was continuing her fight for freedom for the slaves. In 1850, Gage signed a petition stating that she would face a six month prison term and a $2,000 fine rather than obey the Fugitive Slave Law, which made criminals of anyone assisting slaves to freedom in the United States. During the Civil War, she organized supplies for the Union soldiers because she knew slavery would only end if the North won.

Gage missed the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848, but she attended and addressed the third national convection in Syracuse in 1852. Though she was inaudible to her audience and trembled, this was just the beginning of her fight for women’s rights. After the Civil War ended and her children grew up, Gage spent the rest of her life traveling across the country, giving lectures on equality. Along with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gage was a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Gage attempted to vote in 1871, but failed to make it to the polls. In 1872, Anthony was arrested after voting in the presidential election; Gage came to her aid and supported her during Anthony’s trial. In 1880, Gage led Fayetteville women to the polls when New York allowed women to vote in school district elections. In 1881, she co-wrote History of Woman Suffrage with Anthony and Stanton. She was frustrated about how history kept women out of it so she wrote about the famous accomplishments from females.

Besides speaking about the fair treatment of women and African Americans, she talked about the Native Americans. She spoke out against the unfair treatment of Native Americans and how the United States was forcing them to become citizenship and pay taxes. She was adopted into the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk nation and given the name Ka-ron-ien-ha-wi (Sky carrier). Gage also spoke about how women were considered equal in the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy’s form of government. In 1890, Gage formed the Women’s National Liberal Union to fight against the effort to create a Christian state. She was worried that if religion and government united, women would never be able to vote since the bible believed women should serve men. She co-wrote The Women’s Bible with Stanton. The two women were ahead of their time since it is only recently that people have begun to question women’s roles in the bible.

When Gage left the National American Woman Suffrage Association to form the Women’s National Liberal Union, her belief that women were guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution to vote was deemed too liberal by other feminists; plus her attacks on the church didn’t help her popularity. She died in Chicago, Illinois on March 18, 1898. Her lifelong motto appears on her gravestone: “There is a word sweeter than Mother, Home or Heaven; that word is Liberty.” Her son-in-law, L. Frank Baum, was inspired by Gage to create strong female characters in his books. One of the character’s name was Dorothy and she was exploring a land called Oz…

Sources:

Who was Matilda Joslyn Gage

Matilda Joslyn Gage

Matilda Joslyn Gage. biography

Women’s Rights Activist

Pocahontas: First American Celebrity

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English: Artist depiction of Pocahontas saving...

English: Artist depiction of Pocahontas saving the life of Capt. John Smith. MEDIUM: 1 print : chromolithograph, color. B size. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1995, Disney’s Pocahontas was released. Across the country, a new generation of girls fell in love with the Native American Princess. Not only was she able to communicate with animals, but she was brave and made her own decisions by following her heart. Ever since Pocahontas journeyed to England in 1616, the world has been fascinated by her. Though her life has been fantasized, beginning with John Smith, Pocahontas is an important part of America’s history. Pocahontas helped Jamestown survive at a time when several settlements were killed by natives or diseases.

Pocahontas was born around 1595 to Chief Powhatan and one of his wives. Her birth name was Matoaka, though it was common to the tribe to have several names. Though she had numerous siblings, she was her father’s favorite. In December 1607, Englishman John Smith was taken captive and taken to the Werowocomoco Village. By his account, he was first welcomed by the chief and offered a feast, but then he was forced to stretch out on two large stones while the natives stood over him with clubs, ready to kill him. Suddenly, a young girl rushed to him, protecting him from the clubs. She helped Smith stand up and then Powhatan adopted him as his son. Though the execution may have been a tradition of welcoming a stranger into the tribe, Pocahontas was known for saving Smith’s life forever.

In the early 1600’s, England was trying to create settlements in America but it was having trouble due to disease, Indian attacks, and weather. Smith and Pocahontas’ relationship ensured Jamestown would survive because Pocahontas brought food and supplies to the Englishmen once a week. In October 1609, Smith was injured by a gunpowder explosion and was forced to return to England. When Pocahontas came to visit Jamestown, she was told he was dead. The next year she married Kocoum, but she was kidnapped by Captain Samuel Argall in exchange for English prisoners and items the Indians had stolen. Pocahontas was sent to a different settlement called Henrico where she was educated; she also met tobacco planter John Rolfe. After a year of captivity, Dale brought 150 armed men and Pocahontas into Powhatan territory to obtain the ransom. After a fight between the two groups, Pocahontas was sent ashore where she was reunited with her family. The fight between the two ended and would last until 1622. Pocahontas also told her father that she wished to marry Rolfe, who gave her his consent.

Pocahontas was baptized as a Christian, given the name Rebecca, and on April 5, 1614, she married Rolfe. The two had a baby and lived happily on Rolfe’s farm until 1616 when the family traveled to England. The Virginia Company was hoping to attract settlers to Virginia by convincing the Englishmen that the Indians could convert to Christianity. In England, Pocahontas became a celebrity, even meeting King James I. She also reunited with Smith, who was actually alive. After several months, Rolfe decided to return to Virginia in 1617. Sadly, Pocahontas became ill on the boat and was taken ashore in Gravesend, England. While dying, she told her husband that “all must die.” She died on March 21, 1617. Her husband and father returned to Virginia.

England knew about the New World, since the early 1500’s, but was having trouble creating a permanent profitable settlement due to the strange environment, disease, and frequent attacks from the Native Americans. Due to the friendship of Pocahontas and John Smith, the English were able establish its first permanent settlement in America. The marriage between Pocahontas and John Rolfe is the first interracial marriage in America. Pocahontas’ descendants, through her son Thomas, include politicians, generals, scientists, and first ladies. Though Pocahontas’ life is a mystery, John Smith paints her as a smart, brave woman who followed her heart.

Sources:

Pocahontas

Pocahontas. biography

Pocahontas

Shirley Chisholm: Black Congresswoman

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Shirley Chisholm, future member of the U.S. Ho...

Shirley Chisholm, future member of the U.S. House of Representatives (D-NY), announcing her candidacy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2013, 98 women – 20 in the Senate and 78 in the House – took part in the 113th Congress. Women still only make 18.1% of the 535 seats in the U.S. Congress, but it is a start. The first women elected to Congress was in 1917 and the number of women in congress has been increasing ever since. In 1969, the first black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm, was elected to congress. In 1969, only 2.1% of congress were women. Chisholm dedicated her life trying to make life better for African Americans, women, and children.

Shirley Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924 in New York City to immigrant parents Charles  and Ruby St. Hill. At the age of 3, her parents sent her to live with her grandmother in Barbados where she received early British-style education. She returned to the United States at the age of 10 during the Great Depression. Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946 and received her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Columbia University in 1952. She married Conrad Chisholm in 1949 (couple divorced in 1977). When she was not teaching at a nursery school, she served as the director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center from 1953 to 1959 and an educational consultant to New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare from 1959 to 1964. In 1964, she ran for New York State Assembly. She sponsored 50 bills, but only 8 of them passed. Her bills focused on education and jobs for the low-income.

In 1969, she ran for congress against Republican civil rights leader James Farmer. When she won, she became the first black congresswoman elected to congress. She was assigned to the House Forestry Committee, but she shocked many by demanding reassignment. She wanted to work on a committee that focused on her voters, and in New York, not many of them were affected by forestry. She was reassigned to the Veteran’s Affairs Committee and then Education and Labor Committee. She became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 1972, she became the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. She won 10% of the votes within the party.

In 1972, Alabama governor George Wallace was wounded after an assassination attempt. Though Wallace supported segregation, Chisholm visited him in the hospital. Chisholm would receive a lot of criticism for the visit, but she believed it was the right thing to do. She later recalled “He said to me, ‘What are your people going to say?’ I said: ‘I know what they’re going to say. But I wouldn’t want what happened to you happen to anyone.’ He cried and cried and cried.” Years later, Chisholm was working on a bill to give domestic workers minimum wage. Wallace helped gain votes of enough Southern congressmen to push the legislation through the House. In the late 1970’s, Wallace changed his position as a segregationist.

In Congress, Chisholm was a vocal opponent of the draft. The Vietnam War was going on and she was against the large number of money being used for the defense budget while Americans were hungry and poorly educated. Chisholm also supported women’s rights to choose and argued that women are capable of entering other professions, especially black women. She believed black women could better themselves not just by governmental aid, but also with self-effort. Chisholm left congress in 1983 and became a professor at Mount Holyoke College. She married Arthur Hardwick, Jr. in 1986 and retired from teaching in 1987, but remained involved in politics. She was a cofounder of the National Political Congress of Black Women in 1984 and was nominated for the position of Ambassador to Jamaica by President Bill Clinton, which she declined due to poor health. She died on January 1, 2005 in Ormond Beach, Florida.

Shirley Chisholm will always be remembered as being the first black congresswoman and the first black presidential candidate, but she wanted to be remembered for fighting for African Americans, women, and children. Chisholm realized how important education was and spent her life trying to convince others that education is the most important thing.Chisholm knew in the 1960’s that the United States should not cut social programs to finance a war while Americans still didn’t have a quality education or housing. Just as Chisholm did during the Vietnam War, it up to the American people to vote for politicians that care about the welfare of Americans. It is also important for American women to vote for politicians that care about women’s rights. Looking back on her career, Chisholm noticed that she received more trouble not for being black, but for being a woman.

Sources:

Shirley Chisholm. biography

Shirley Chisholm Biography

Shirley Chisholm, “Unbossed’ Pioneer in Congress

Record number of women in Congress

Anne Hutchinson: Preached Religious Freedom

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Anne Hutchinson on Trial

Anne Hutchinson on Trial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The United States is a melting pot – a place where all races, cultures, and religions live together. Though the U.S. is not perfect, it is still a land of opportunity and freedom, a promise to its civilians stated in the Bill of Rights. Before the Bill of Rights separated Church from the State, some settlements used religion to control the settlers. Immigration to the United States began in the early 1600’s for three main reasons: punishment, job opportunities, and religious freedom. When Anne Hutchinson left England for America, she was expecting a place to practice religion freely. Instead, she would be punished for being a woman discussing religion.

Anne Hutchinson was born in 1591 to Bridget Dryden and clergyman Francis Marbury. Her parents homeschooled her because they realized that women could also be educated, a belief made possible by Queen Elizabeth. England was a place of religious war between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church, two churches that were equally corrupt. A group of Christians, called the Puritans, formed in order to “purify”religion. In 1612, Anne married a merchant named William Hutchinson and the couple became followers of minister John Cotton. Being a Puritan, Cotton was forced to leave the country so he followed other Puritans to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1634, the couple and their 15 children sailed to America.

Hutchinson hoped that she would be able to practice religion freely, but when she arrived in Massachusetts, she realized that she would not be able to. The Puritan leaders wanted an utopia where everyone had to follow the strict teachings of the bible. She quickly organized weekly meetings for Boston women to discuss sermons privately in her own house, but her meetings became popular with women and men. Hutchinson believed women could take on roles of religious leadership, a role that went against the Puritan belief that women served their husbands and like Eve, women would lead men to damnation if allowed to form an opinion. She also questioned the orthodox ministers in the colony and believed one had to have faith to get into heaven; this belief went against the Puritan’s who believed every action performed should be for religious reasons. When she was not discussing religion, she was working as a midwife and helping needy women and children. Though Cotton and Hutchinson’s brother-in-law John Wheelwright were both preachers, it was Hutchinson who was viewed as the main threat because she was a woman.

In 1635, future governor John Winthrop wrote in his diary that Hutchinson was “ an American Jezebel, who had gone a-whoring from God.” Once he became governor in 1637, all liberal preachers were tried in court or brandished from the colony. Hutchinson was charged with “slandering the ministers” and “troubling the peace of the churches.” Though she had never spoken publicly against the mainstream Puritan ideology, she was sentenced to house arrest at the house of Joseph Weld, a brother of Reverend Thomas Weld. The house was two miles away from Boston, meaning Hutchinson was separated from her children. Her visitors included ministers collecting evidence against her. After four months of house arrest, she was brought back to court in March, 1638 and sentence to leave the town. Hutchinson, her family, and her followers moved to Aquidneck Island (later called Rhode Island) until the Puritans threatened the island. The family moved into Dutch territory, not realizing the tension with the Natives caused by Dutch governor William Kieft’s treason. On September 1642, Mohican Indians attacked Hutchinson’s house, killing her and five of her children. When her enemies found out, they were happy since they believed it was God punishing her.

The Untied States is now a place where one can practice religion freely, but at one time, the government had the power to punish those that disagreed with its views. Hutchinson was deemed a threat not only because she preached religious freedom, but because she was a woman. She worried Winthrop as soon as she moved into the colony so as soon as he became governor, he made it his mission to punish her. Hutchinson is a hero to all Americans, because it was people like her who made it possibly for Americans to live in a country not governed by religion. Meanwhile, the Puritans would go on to hang women in the Salem Witch Trials decades later and be a reminder of why religion should be separated from government.

Sources:

Anne Hutchinson Biography

Anne Hutchinson 

Helen Keller: Overcame Disabilities

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Photograph of Helen Keller at age 8 with her t...

Photograph of Helen Keller at age 8 with her tutor Anne Sullivan on vacation in Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama to Arthur H. Keller and Kate Adams. At 6 months, Helen began to talk but at 18 months, she became ill with “brain fever,” now believed to be meningitis or scarlet fever. Her mother quickly discovered that Keller became blind, dead, and mute. As a child, she developed a method of communicated with Marta Washington, the daughter of the family cook. Though she was able to communicate basic terms with her family, she could become wild and throw tantrums, causing family relatives to believe that she should be institutionalized.

In 1886, her mother came across Charles Dickens’ American Notes. It described the successful education of another deaf and blind girl named Laura Bridgman. Keller and her father went to Baltimore to see a specialist, who sent them to Alexander Graham Bell, who sent them to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston. The director’s institution recommended recent graduate, Anne Sullivan. In March 1887, Sullivan went to Keller’s home in Alabama. While Helen Keller was first cooperating with Sullivan, she began to object to Sullivan’s teaching so Sullivan demanded Keller be cut off from the rest of the family. A month later, Sullivan taught Keller her first word Water, helping her to make the connection between the object and the letters. Sullivan took Keller out to the water pump, placed Keller’s hand under the spout, and spelled out the word w-a-t-e-r on Helen’s hand. By nightfall, Keller had learned 30 words.

In 1890, Keller began speech classes at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston and learned how to talk. She met Mark Twain, who introduced her to Standard Oil Executive Henry H. Rogers, who paid for Keller to attend Radcliff College. Sullivan continued to stay with Keller, helping her interpret lectures and texts. On 1904, Keller became the first deaf blind person to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.Sullivan went on to marry Harvard University instructor John Macy. When Keller was not traveling, she stayed with them. Keller traveled the country giving speeches on women’s suffrage, birth control, and improving welfare for blind people. In 1920, she help found the American Civil Liberties Union.

In 1936, Sullivan died after suffering from health problems for years. She had bad eyesight her whole life and ended up losing her eyesight completely in 1932. Keller’s secretary, Polly Thompson became Keller’s constant companion. Sullivan died with Keller holding her hand. In 1946, Keller was appointed counselor of international relations for the American Foundation of Overseas Blind. She traveled to 35 countries, inspiring her audience with her story of overcoming disabilities. On September 16, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1868. Her ashes were buried next to companions Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson.

Helen Keller was able to overcome her disabilities, inspiring millions that they too could overcome  obstacles in their lives. Keller dedicated her life advocating change for people with disabilities, proving that they were also equal human beings. At that time, people with disabilities were not accepted in society. Besides becoming an advocate for people with disabilities, she also became an advocate for women and the working class. Keller was inspired to be a strong woman because of her mother and her teacher. Her mother refused to send her away, believing that one day she could be educated. Anne Sullivan, dealing with her own eyesight problem, was able to control Keller’s bad behavior, bringing meaning to the girl’s life. A bronze statue of Helen Keller was added to the United States Capitol Visitior Center. It shows Keller as a 7-year-old girl at the water pump, learning how w-a-t-e-r. The plaque is in braille. and reads “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” While I was there, I saw a blind girl reading the braille plaque, witnessing first-hand how Helen Keller continues to inspire.

Sources:

Helen Keller. biography

Helen Keller

Molly Pitcher: Revolutionary Hero

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The women of '76: "Molly Pitcher" th...

The women of ’76: “Molly Pitcher” the heroine of Monmouth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the Revolutionary War, it was not just the men who went to war against the British soldiers, thousands of women also took an active role in the war. It was common for wives of the officers and soldiers to follow their husbands to military camps to cook, sew, do laundry, and take care of the wounded and sick soldiers. Though the women also had to deal with the extreme weather conditions and died from diseases, they received less pay and less food than the men. Then there were the women who stayed at home, taking care of the farm and children, not knowing if their husbands were still alive. Then there is Molly Pitcher, a nickname for the women who provided water to the soldiers and to cool the cannons down. Two Molly Pitchers, Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley and Margaret Cochran Corbin, participated in battle by manning the cannons.

Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley was born in 1754 near Trenton, New Jersey. She married a barber named William Hays in 1769. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he enlisted in Proctor’s 4th Pennsylvania Artillery and Mary followed him to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Mary became a Molly Pitcher, bringing water to the troops. During the Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778, Mary was bringing her husband water to cool the cannon when her husband was wounded. Seeing her husband was wounded, Mary loaded the cannon herself. When she was almost hit by a cannon ball that sped between her legs and ripped her dress, she said “Well, that could have been worse.” The legend is that General George Washington heard of her actions and made her a non-commissioned officer in the army. From then on, she called herself Sergeant Molly. On February 21, 1822, Pennsylvania awarded her an annual pension of $40 for her service.

Margaret Cochran Corbin was born November 12, 1751. When her and her brother were visiting their uncle, Indians attacked their home, killing their father and kidnapping their mother. In 1772, she married John Corbin. When war broke out, she followed her husband to war. During the Battle of Fort Washington on November 16, 1776, Margaret followed her husband to battle. When she was bringing her husband water for the canon (she was also a Molly Pitcher), she saw her husband’s partner die. She helped her husband load the cannon, and when he was killed, she took over firing the cannon by herself. Though the British ended up winning, her cannon was the last one to stop firing. She was found in critical condition with 3 musket ball injuries: the jaw, chest, and left arm. She would be unable to use her left arm for the rest of her life. On June 26, 1776, the State of Pennsylvania gave her $30.00 to help with her expenses. On July 6, 1779, the Continental Congress awarded her with a lifelong pension (though it was half the amount a man would receive.) She became the first American women to receive a pension. To help with her disability, General Henry Knox and Quartermaster William Price helped get her someone to help her bathe and dress. She died on January 16, 1800. In 1926, her remains were discovered and she was buried at West Point with full military honors, becoming the only Revolutionary War veteran buried this way.

During the Revolutionary War, women either stayed at home to take care of the household or they followed their husbands to camp to take care of the soldiers. Then there were a few women who unexpectedly saw combat, but demonstrated bravery on the battlefield. When Molly Pitcher’s husband was unable to fire the cannon, she took over and continued firing, knowing full well that she was risking her life. The two women became heroes, but their pensions were still less than men even though they saw action. The male soldiers had enlisted themselves in the army and were trained for months for combat, and these women were only there to take care of their husbands and yet, they risked their lives to protect the soldiers. The Molly Pitchers show how women are able to rise up to the occasion when their country needs them. 

Sources:

Margaret Cochran Corbin

Molly Pitcher. biography

Molly Pitcher

 

Calamity Jane: Frontierswoman

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Calamity Jane, notable pioneer frontierswoman ...

Calamity Jane, notable pioneer frontierswoman and scout, at age 43. Photo by H.R. Locke. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Wild West was a time when cowboys fought the Indians, when the Sheriff fought the outlaws, and when there was nobody to fight, everyone was drinking and gambling… or at least that is what one pictures when he thinks of the Wild West. He also thinks about Wyatt Earp, Butch Cassidy, Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, and Buffalo Bill – some were heroes, others were villains, but they are now all legends. There are also legends about the frontierswomen, women who had to learn how to ride horses to herd cattle and how to shoot to help with the hunt. The most famous frontierswoman is Calamity Jane. Though Calamity Jane created most of the legends about herself, she still represents how tough frontierswomen had to be in the Wild West.

Martha Jane Canary was born in Princeton, Missouri on May 1, 1852. In 1865, her family moved to Virginia City, Montana. Her mother died along the way and her father died in 1867, leaving Jane in charge of five younger siblings at the age of 15. To support her family, she worked as a cook, nurse, miner, ox-team driver, and a prostitute. In 1870,she joined General George Custer as a scout and went to Arizona for a Indian Campaign. At this time, she began dressing like a man; she already knew how to shoot and to drink whiskey like a man. In 1872, she claims to have earned the nickname Calamity Jane. The story is that a group of soldiers were heading back to camp when they were ambushed by a large group of Indians. The leader of the soldiers, Captain Egan, was shot first and fell from his horse. Jane was riding ahead, but turned back when she heard gunfire.Jane lifted him onto her horse and got him back to safety at the Back at the fort, Captain Egan told her, “I name you Calamity Jane, the heroine of the plains.” Other say she earned the nick name because dating her would be like dating calamity. Jane proved to be a hero several times; in 1877, she saw a stagecoach being chased by Indians. She followed the stagecoach and upon closer inspection she saw the driver was shot dead by an arrow so she jumped onto the driver’s seat and drove the coach into town, saving the six passengers inside. She also took care of the residents in Deadwood, South Dakota when a smallpox epidemic broke out. Besides being kind to humans, she also liked animals. When she saw a man beating his mule with a whip, she took out her gun and threaten to shoot the man if he whipped the animal again.

In 1876, she was in Deadwood when she met Wild Bill Hickok. Though he was newly married, Jane claims that he was the love her life. He was later killed, destroying any hope of her being with him. In 1887, she married Clinton Nurke and had a little girl, who she gave up to a couple after her marriage ended. In 1895, she became part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show because she could shoot better than most man. She would show of her shooting skills while telling the audience stories of her fighting Indians, mining for gold, and working as a scout. Jane’s boasts that she could drink more than any men proved true; she was an alcoholic. In 1901, she was fired from the show due to her excessive drinking. She died on August 1, 1903, at the age of 51. Her funeral was the largest to be held in Deadwood for a woman and her coffin was closed by a man, who has a boy she had nursed back to health during the smallpox epidemic. She also received her wish of being together with Wild Bill Hickok…she is buried right next to his grave.

Calamity Jane was out west when both her parents died, leaving her in charge of her family. As an un-educated teenage girl, she had to take odd jobs, even working as a prostitute to provide for her younger siblings. She is an example on how children were forced to grow up quickly at a time when life-threatening diseases were common. Though her drinking problem and adventurous soul created problems for her, she was remembered by fellow acquaintances as being generous, especially to the sick and needy. It may never be possible to determine her true life story, but Calamity Jane shows that even women can be legendary.

Sources:

Calamity Jane. biography

Calamity Jane

Juliette Gordon Low: First Girl Scout

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English: Juliette Gordon Low Category:Girl Sco...

English: Juliette Gordon Low Category:Girl Scouts of the USA images (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Americans know who the Girl Scouts are: they are the cute young girls wearing green vests that go door-to-door selling cookies. When these girls aren’t telling cookies, they are learning leadership skills and survival skills while making friends and volunteering in the community. When Juliette Gordon Low created the Girl Scouts, she wanted girls to go outside the house… to learn about the stars, to administer first aid, and to volunteer within the community. She wanted a group that would accept all girls, no matter their race, religion, disability, or family’s income. When she created the Girl Scouts, America was still segregated and girls were expected to grow up to be house wives. Now, more than 59 million American women have been a Girl Scout at one point in their lives – these women include actresses, reporters, senators, and even astronauts.

Juliette Gordon Low was born on October 31, 1860 in Savannah, Georgia. Her parents were Eleanor Kinzie Gordon and Confederate Captain William Washington Gordon II. Low spent her childhood writing poems, sketching, painting, sculpting, and taking care of stray animals. After finishing Virginia Female Institute in Virginia, she traveled throughout the United States and Europe. She also dealt with ear infections in her childhood, resulting in partial hearing loss in one ear. On December 21, 1886, she married wealthy Englishman William Mackay Low. After the wedding, during the rice tossing, a piece of rice became lodged in her ear. While trying to remove the rice, the doctor punctured the eardrum, resulting in the total loss of that ear.

She moved to England but returned to the United States to help her mother in the war effort during the Spanish-American War. She returned to England to find her husband’s mistress in their home; they divorced in 1901. In 1911, she met Sir Robert Baden, founder of the Boy Scouts. He was interested in a similar organization for girls. Low returned home and called her cousin, Nina Pape, saying “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all of the world, and we’re going to start it tonight.” On March 12, 1912, Low gathered 18 girls to register the first two patrols of the American Girl Guides (changed to Girl Scouts the next year.)

The girl scouts was created for girls to develop self-reliance and resourcefulness and to encourage girls to prepare for traditional domestic skills and future roles as professional women. Low’s goal was to bring girls out of the home and to go outside. The Girls Scouts also welcomed girls with disabilities at a time when they were excluded from many activities. Low also welcomed African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics girls at a time when minorities were excluded. This was because Low herself had a disability due to her partial hearing. Low died on January 17, 1927, from breast cancer. In her pocket she has a telegram from the national board of girls scouts of the United States, “You are not only the first Girl Scout, you are the best Girl Scout of them all.”

100 years ago, the Girl Scouts had 18 members. Now, it currently has 3.2 million members in the United States. It is the largest educational organization in the world and has influenced more than 50 million girls, women, and men who have belonged to it. Due to Low’s hearing loss, Low was determined to create a group that would teach girls to accept people of different backgrounds. The Girl Scouts was ahead of its time in 1912 when it accepted minorities, immigrants, and people with disabilities and it is still ahead of its time since it accepts homosexuals, unlike the Boy Scouts. Low wanted girls to learn skills that would help them to grow up and become strong leaders. The fact that two-thirds of Congress have been Girl Scouts is proof that her goal became a reality. Remember the next time a girl comes to the door selling cookies, she could be the first female president.

Sources:

Girl Scouts

Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

Jane Addams: Nobel Peace Prize Winner

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English: American social reformer, Jane Addams

Jane Addams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of the 100 individuals awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, only 15 are women. Of the 15, 3 are from the United States. In 1931, the first female American won the Nobel Peace Prize for being a pioneer social worker in America. Jane Addams never wanted to raise children or stay at home, though her family wanted her to. When they took her to Europe in hopes of changing her mind, the trip instead inspired her to take action.

Jane Addams was born in Cedarville, Illinois on September 6, 1860. Her father was State Senator John Addams, a friend of President Abraham Lincoln. Her mother died when she was two, but she was inspired by her mother’s kindness to the poor to study medicine. Addams’ poor health caused by curvature in her back prevented her from attending medical school. While she was traveling in Europe, she came across Toynbee Hall, a settlement house. When she returned to Chicago, she and her friend, Ellen Starr, decided to open their own settlement house. The two women leased a large house built by Charles Hull; the house became known as the Hull House. The goal of the Hull House was “to provide a center for a higher civic and social life; to institute and maintain educational and philanthropic enterprises and to investigate and improve the conditions in the industrial districts of Chicago.”

The two women raised money by giving speeches and convinced young woman to help take care of children and nurse the sick. By the second year, it was hosting 2,000 people a week; kindergarten classes took place in the morning, elementary children clubs in the afternoon, and classes for adults in the evening. In 1905, she was appointed to Chicago’s Board of Education and in 1908, participated in the founding of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy and became the first woman president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. She led investigations on midwifery, narcotics, child labor, and sanitary conditions.In 1910, she received the first honorary degree ever awarded to a woman by Yale University and in 1911, she became the vice-president of the National American Women Suffrage Association.

Before the United States entered the World War One, she became outspoken against the war and became expelled from the Daughters of the American Revolution. Though her publicity decreased, she continued to help the poor by working as an assistant to Herbert Hoover in providing relief supplies of food to the women and children of the enemy nations. In 1926 she had a heart attack that she never recovered from; in fact, she was at the hospital on the day the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to her in 1931. On May 21, 1935, she died after an operation reveled unsuspecting cancer. The funeral service was held in the courtyard of the Hull House and was attended by thousands of people

Jane Addams grew up knowing that her mother helped the poor and she wanted to follow her mother’s footsteps. Though her poor health prevented her from becoming a doctor, she instead found a new calling that allowed her to help thousands in the poor area of Chicago. When she realized the root of the problem were the lack of laws, she became involved in the government to create new laws to improve sanitary conditions. Addams had several setbacks, but continued to work toward her goal and because of her determination, thousands benefitted from her good will.

 

Sources:

The Nobel Peace Prize 1931

Jane Addams