American Heroines: The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country

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As long as there has been an America, the indomitable spirit of American women has shaped both the country's history and society. Regardless of the time and place these women were born each excelled in her respective field, making it easier for the next generation. This is what makes them heroines.

In American Heroines, Kay Bailey Hutchison presents female pioneers in fields as varied as government, business, education and healthcare, who overcame the resistance and prejudice of...

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American Heroines: Female Role Models in America

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As long as there has been an America, the indomitable spirit of American women has shaped both the country's history and society. Regardless of the time and place these women were born each excelled in her respective field, making it easier for the next generation. This is what makes them heroines.

In American Heroines, Kay Bailey Hutchison presents female pioneers in fields as varied as government, business, education and healthcare, who overcame the resistance and prejudice of their times and accomplished things that no woman–and sometimes no man –– had done before. Hutchison, a pioneer in her own right, became the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the State of Texas.

Interspersed with the stories of America's historic female leaders are stories of today's women whose successes are clearly linked to those predecessors. Would Sally Ride have been given the chance to orbit the earth had Amelia Earhart not flown solo across the Atlantic Ocean fifty years before? Had Clara Barton not nursed wounded soldiers on Civil War battlefields, aid may not have reached the millions it did while the Red Cross was in the hands of women like Elizabeth Dole and Bernadine Healy. Had Oveta Culp Hobby not been appointed the first Secretary of the Department of Health and Education by President Eisenhower, the country may have been deprived of such leaders as Secretary of State Madeline Albright and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

As a young girl, Senator Hutchison dreamed of an America where the qualifier "the first woman" had become obsolete. The profiles contained in American Heroines, illustrate how her dream is coming true, one courageous step at a time.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Author Kay Bailey Hutchison is well qualified to write an informal celebration of American female pioneers: In 1993, she herself became the first woman to represent Texas in the United State Senate. Her American Heroines combines portraits of 19th-century activists and artists and interviews with present-day trailblazers Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Barbara Walters, Cokie Roberts, and Lynne Cheney.
Augusta Chronicle
“An ideologically diverse and highly readable compilation.”
“An interesting blend of biography, history, and personal memoir... Hutchison’s lively personal writing makes this an accessible and important volume.”
Publishers Weekly
Texas senator Hutchison looks at pioneering women from the 19th century to the present in this compellingly themed but ungainly mix of social history, thumbnail biography and personal recollection. Beginning with a short but dense recounting of the life of Mary Austin Holley, whose 1833 book about Texas is credited with drawing new settlers to the area, Hutchison moves forward to consider other "Pioneers and Preservationists," most of whom will be of interest primarily to Texans. The collection becomes more appealing as Hutchison widens her focus. Her "Education for Everyone" chapter sees a discussion of the women's higher education advocate Emma Willard (1797-1870) followed by a brief interview with Lynne Cheney (on the most important trait for success: "Stick-to-it-iveness"). "A Woman's Art" highlights historical heroines Mary Cassatt, singer Marian Anderson and Latina perfomers like Dolores Del Rio, while "Public Lives, Public Service" praises Geraldine Ferraro and Sandra Day O'Connor as leaders of today. Other public figures Hutchison interviews include Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Cokie Roberts and Barbara Walters, each offering morsels of personal experience and familiar but uplifting advice. It's Hutchison's personal vignettes that suffer in this arrangement, as she seems to insert them whenever there's an associative connection. Her story is certainly interesting enough to warrant more time. Photos. Agent, Bob Barnett. (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060566364
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,419,192
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison grew up in La Marque, Texas, and graduated from the University of Texas and UT Law School. She was twice elected to the Texas House of Representatives. In 1990 she was elected Texas state treasurer, and in 1993 she was the first woman elected to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. In 2006 she was elected chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, becoming one of the top four leaders of Senate Republicans and the only woman. She lives in Dallas with her husband, Ray, and their daughter and son, Bailey and Houston.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Pioneers and preservationists 1
Ch. 2 Women of faith 39
Ch. 3 Education for everyone 66
Ch. 4 Saving lives 91
Ch. 5 The voice of her people 127
Ch. 6 A woman's art 160
Ch. 7 Conquering the skies 191
Ch. 8 Public lives, public service 210
Ch. 9 Renaissance women 250
Ch. 10 Women look at the world 275
Ch. 11 Setting records : making history 302
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First Chapter

American Heroines
The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country

Chapter One

Pioneers and Preservationists

Mary Austin Holley

Mary Austin didn't grow up dreaming of a life in Texas. As a child in New Haven, Connecticut, during the closing years of the eighteenth century, this daughter of a prominent mercantile family may have imagined faraway places but probably expected to spend a comfortable life close to home. Mary was born in 1784, the fourth of Elijah and Esther Phelps Austin's eight children. Her father helped develop the lucrative shipping trade between the young Republic and China, but when Mary was ten years old, Elijah Austin died of yellow fever. Although the Austins weren't plunged into poverty, Esther Austin couldn't afford to keep her family together, so Mary was sent to live with her uncle, Timothy Phelps, another prosperous New Haven merchant, and his family.

In 1805, Mary Austin married Horace Holley, a Yale graduate from Salisbury, Connecticut, who turned his back on a promising legal career in New York to return to Yale and study divinity. His first posting, at a Congregational church in the small Connecticut town of Greenfield Hill, left Mary feeling isolated from the cultural life she craved. In 1808, Rev. Holley was invited to serve as minister of Boston's Hollis Street Congregational Church, and Mary and Horace jumped at the chance to become part of Boston's vibrant social and intellectual world. Mary, whose first child, Harriette, was born that same year, found the cultural atmosphere bracing, while Horace, whose religious ideas were growing increasingly liberal, quickly found himself quite at home among Boston's philosophers and politicians.

A serious thinker and impassioned speaker, Horace rapidly gained a place for Mary and himself among New England's intellectual elite. He was invited to join the Harvard University Board of Overseers, quite an accomplishment for a "mere" Yale graduate, and when the Hollis Street church closed down during the construction of a larger building, William Emerson, father of the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson and minister of First Church, arranged for Horace to alternate as preacher there until Hollis Street reopened. At one dinner party that included, among other guests, John Quincy Adams, Horace engaged the former president in an argument about religion. In his memoirs, Adams recalled, "[T]he table-talk was almost engrossed by us, and the attention of the whole table turned to us, much to my disadvantage, the topic being one upon which he was much more exercised and better prepared than I was. Mr. Webster, Mr. A. H. Everett, and one or two others occasionally relieved me by asking a question; but Holley was quite a match for us all."

The intellectual life may have been rich, but the Holleys were always short of money. So when tiny Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, asked Rev. Holley to become president of the institution in 1818, he accepted. Mary was opposed to leaving New England, but she was pregnant with their second child, and the promise of a substantially higher salary proved an irresistible lure. Besides, Horace had ideas about education that he was eager to try out on a large scale, and the trustees' plans to establish Lexington as the "Athens of the West" meshed perfectly with Rev. Holley's own aspirations. In Lexington, he would be able to put his theories to work in ways that a minister could not easily do. Despite some resistance from conservative Presbyterian clergy, support from Henry Clay and other prominent Kentuckians assured Rev. Holley's appointment.

Under its new president, Transylvania attracted more students, added a law school and medical school to its undergraduate program, and gained prominence in the South and beyond. But even as Transylvania grew in size and importance, so did opposition to Rev. Holley's liberal views. After he delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Colonel James Morrison, who had been chairman of Transylvania's board of trustees, praising his friend for "taking truth wherever he found it and giving the hand of fellowship to all good men of every country and denomination," a group of conservative clergymen waged a campaign to drive Rev. Holley from the presidency. One ploy was to reduce his salary, money always being a difficult matter for the Holleys, and when Kentucky governor Joseph Desha also withdrew his personal support in 1827, Rev. Holley resigned and moved to New Orleans.

The family connection to Lexington endured, however. The Holleys' daughter, Harriette, married William Brand, a Transylvania graduate and son of a wealthy Lexington businessman. A link to New Orleans existed as well; many Louisianians sent their sons to Transylvania to study, some of them as young as ten, and a number of the Louisianians had boarded with the Holleys while attending classes in Lexington. Drawing on this experience, Holley formed a plan: to found a "traveling academy" for the children of wealthy planters from the region, who would pursue their educations while touring Europe under his tutelage—very likely the first "study abroad" program conceived in the United States. Rev. Holley finally scrapped the idea when he discovered that parents weren't prepared to send their young sons so far from home.

Discouraged, Horace considered starting a local college in the city, but before getting down to serious planning, the Holleys took a brief vacation in New York. On board the Louisiana, husband and wife came down with yellow fever, the same disease that had claimed Mary's father's life. This time, it was Horace Holley who succumbed to the ill-ness, and he was buried at sea. Yellow fever, which had made Mary Austin Holley fatherless when she was ten, now left her, at the age of forty-three, a widow with a young son to support.

Without close ties to a place or a community, Mary was adrift. Her first concerns were to make arrangements for young Horace's education and to find a fitting way to memorialize her husband. To that end she went to Boston, where members of the Hollis Street church had already begun collecting a fund for Horace's support ...

American Heroines
The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country
. Copyright © by Kay Hutchison. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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