Quoting Matilda

The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist

Non-Fiction - Womens
186 Pages
Reviewed on 01/04/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

“Woman is a glorious possibility, the youngest-born of God’s creatures, the Benjamin of life, the future of the world is hers.” Those profound words, written by Matilda Joslyn Gage in 1882, hold true even to this day and beyond as women continue to carve their epitaph of possibilities and achievements. Not many people know about this woman, a suffragist forgotten in time. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (and others) made their name in the annals of history as prophetic activists for women’s rights. Matilda contributed equally and her words speak volumes about what can and should be done in the ongoing battle for equality. Brought up in an abolitionist household, she held firmly to the belief in equality for everyone. How could this woman be so forgotten? Perhaps it was more a case of being “written out of history” because of her more radical views, clearly revealed in her writings which were condemned by many as “going too far.”

Susan Savion’s book, Quoting Matilda: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist, is a revealing look at someone whose thoughts and beliefs were well ahead of her time in so many ways. The author unveils a historical, biographical perspective of this amazing woman and shares some of the most empowered and enlightening quotes from her writings. With fascinating historic photographs, the author leads the reader through one woman’s life, her career, a dedication to a noble cause, all in relation to the history of the time and the others who fought the same battle. Each chapter begins with the label “On Freedom,” followed by an applicable and telling quote from Matilda’s writings, one that leads readers into the topics discussed in the chapter. A fascinating, engaging, and educational read.

Astrid Iustulin

The 19th-century women's movement had many prominent figures, but not all of them now have the recognition they deserve. Matilda Joslyn Gage is one of these heroines, born in 1826 and died in 1898, well before women had the right to vote. She was a formidable woman who knew Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (they became known as the "triumvirate"). She also coauthored the History of Woman Suffrage. However, Gage's views were too radical, to the point that even Anthony dissociated from her. In Quoting Matilda, Susan Savion invites the reader to rediscover Gage's thinking through her quotes on women's rights, slavery, economics, religion, and her most cherished value - freedom.

Quoting Matilda is a book that allows you to get to know the thoughts of a great woman of the 19th century. I believe Susan Savion's way of portraying Gage is the reason why it is possible to appreciate her so much. Reading Matilda's words allows the reader to understand her way of thinking immediately, while Savion's biographical information is essential to contextualize each quote. I was particularly fascinated by Gage's interest in the Iroquois (which I did not expect to find here) and her connection with the tribe. Overall, you feel the originality of Gage's thinking on each page of Quoting Matilda. Although her positions are sometimes extremist (some still are today), Gage is a character of exceptional value, and Savion did an excellent job of revealing her complex character. Anyone interested in the history of the women's movement will consider Quoting Matilda a must-read.

K.C. Finn

Quoting Matilda: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist is a work of non-fiction in the historical and biography subgenres. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Susan Savion. As the title suggests, the author has chosen to focus this insightful biographical work on the life of Matilda Joslyn Gage, who did a great deal for feminist and suffrage movements during her lifetime, but was nowhere near as widely recognized for it as the likes of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Detailing her involvement with the Underground Railroad from an early age, the book goes on to explain Matilda’s fighting stance for equality and the powerful messages that influenced others around her.

Author Susan Savion brings to light a truly incredible woman who was a real force of nature for positive change. I enjoyed the balance between the context of what seemed “too radical” for Matilda during her time and our own progress and setbacks today, and the quotations are very well organized to give a clear understanding of Matilda’s opinions on a number of different concepts. A concise book that can be picked up at any time to gain a quick five minutes of wisdom and perspective, the ideas presented are well-chosen to give readers plenty of food for thought. I think it would be a great addition to any household, especially for young people as a springboard to want to learn more. Overall, I would recommend Quoting Matilda for enthusiasts seeking more voices for positive and progressive change.

Edith Wairimu

Quoting Matilda: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist by Susan Savion celebrates a courageous woman’s relentless efforts that contributed to women’s rights, especially their right to vote. Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in 1826, in Cicero, New York. Her father was a founding member of the radical abolitionist Liberty Party and his house was one of the stations on the Underground Railroad Network. Inspired by him, she spoke strongly against the inequalities and injustices she witnessed in society. For more than four decades, she helped galvanize the women’s movement towards attaining voting rights for women and worked alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. She served as an officer and organizer of the National Woman Suffrage Association and an editor of its newspaper.

Through direct quotations of Matilda’s words, the book captures her zeal for justice. Quoting Matilda is an important work that covers the hard and determined work of a lesser-known suffragist. Savion brilliantly highlights Matilda’s strong convictions regarding the equality of all. Each chapter is preceded by her own words and enlightening descriptions of her role in the women’s movement are included. Clear portraits of Matilda and other key figures in the movement are included as well as photographs of the places mentioned. They help bring Matilda and her words to life. Quoting Matilda: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist by Susan Savion is an eye-opening work about Matilda Gage’s contribution to the women’s movement. It will inspire readers to fight for social justice and speak against inequality.

Bryone Peters

In Quoting Matilda: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist, Susan A. Savion makes people aware of one of the main contributors to women’s right to vote. It describes the life, actions, and sayings of Matilda Joslyn Gage. Matilda was notorious for her ideas that were significantly radical at the time. She was passionate about fighting the inequality that religious teachings brought about and later embedded in governmental rules. The book describes how Matilda eloquently spoke out against gender oppression. As a result, she helped the lives of women and many others. Political leaders purposely tried to hide her beliefs and actions to stop others from following her lead. However, women need to know. They need to remember. According to Matilda’s view, this will benefit all and not only women.

As a woman who has experienced sexism, it was inspiring to read the quotes in this book which ranged from intense, beautiful, pertinent, immensely articulate, and witty. Susan A. Savion took the time and dedication to bring the words and history of Matilda out of the shadows. She structured the book well with background information surrounding each quote, including photos. By authoring this book, Susan A. Savion has effectively picked up the torch and is doing her bit to free women even more by imparting this knowledge. Moreover, many of these ideas are still relevant today. I recommend Quoting Matilda: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist as it is a worthy biography of a remarkable suffragist, Matilda Joslyn Gage.

Pikasho Deka

Matilda Joslyn Gage was one the key figureheads in the struggle for women's rights during the mid-to-late 19th century. For a host of reasons, she is almost forgotten in the annals of history compared to her peers such as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Quoting Matilda: The Words and History of a Forgotten Suffragist by Susan Savion is a biographical account of Matilda's many accomplishments and influence on the women's suffrage movement. Born into an abolitionist family, Matilda always had a sense of equality for all and was made a voting member of the Mohawk Nation. During the Civil War, she sheltered slaves and continuously fought on behalf of Native American rights. She also advocated for the separation of Church and State, which made her the target of religious institutions. Although her views were considered too radical, sometimes even by her contemporaries, Matilda's impact on women's rights has become increasingly relevant with the times.

Some people change the course of human history. Matilda Joslyn Gage was one such person. Susan Savion provides a thorough account of Matilda's life from her childhood raised by an abolitionist father to her constant battles with the various institutions on behalf of women's right to vote, minorities, and the separation of Church and State. Each chapter starts with a quote by Matilda, which directly reflects her point of view on the relevant issues of her time. Some of these issues are being fought to this very day. Quoting Matilda sheds light on one of history's most influential and remarkable figures. Highly recommended.