Ascending the Rostrum: Hannah Mather Crocker and Women's Political Oratory
Eileen Hunt Botting
University of Notre Dame
February 25, 2012
The Journal of Politics (October 2012)
Although Hannah Mather Crocker (1752-1829) apparently presented a prescription against women's political oratory in her Observations on the Real Rights of Women (1818), she provided philosophical and historical challenges to this conventional rule of early nineteenth-century feminine propriety elsewhere in the first American treatise on women's rights. By analyzing new archival findings of two of her oratorical works from the early 1810s — her 1813 "Fast Sermon" against the War of 1812 and her 1814 "Address" to the advisory board of the School of Industry for poor girls in Boston's North End — I argue that Crocker also provided a personal challenge to this conventional rule. In philosophically, historically, and personally redefining women's political oratory as compatible with feminine propriety — during the post-revolutionary backlash against women's rights — Crocker helped pave the way for the strategic use of the constitutional rights of speech and association in the nineteenth-century American women's rights movement and beyond.
Keywords: Hannah Mather Crocker, political oratory, women's rights, United States, peace
Date posted: March 18, 2012 ; Last revised: November 28, 2012