Ascending the Rostrum: Hannah Mather Crocker and Women's Political Oratory

The Journal of Politics (October 2012)

Posted: 18 Mar 2012 Last revised: 28 Nov 2012

Date Written: February 25, 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

Suggested Citation

Botting, Eileen Hunt, Ascending the Rostrum: Hannah Mather Crocker and Women's Political Oratory (February 25, 2012). The Journal of Politics (October 2012). Available at SSRN:

Eileen Hunt Botting (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame ( email )

361 Mendoza College of Business
Notre Dame, IN 46556-5646
United States

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