America's Joan of Arc: The Life of Anna Elizabeth Dickinson: The Story of a Remarkable Woman, the Civil War, and the Struggle for Women's Rights

Overview

One of the most celebrated women of her time, a spellbinding speaker dubbed the Queen of the Lyceum and America's Joan of Arc, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson was a charismatic orator, writer, and actress, who rose to fame during the Civil War and remained in the public eye for the next three decades.
J. Matthew Gallman offers the first full-length biography of Dickinson to appear in over half a century. Gallman describes how Dickinson's passionate patriotism and fiery style, coupled ...

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Overview

One of the most celebrated women of her time, a spellbinding speaker dubbed the Queen of the Lyceum and America's Joan of Arc, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson was a charismatic orator, writer, and actress, who rose to fame during the Civil War and remained in the public eye for the next three decades.
J. Matthew Gallman offers the first full-length biography of Dickinson to appear in over half a century. Gallman describes how Dickinson's passionate patriotism and fiery style, coupled with her unabashed abolitionism and biting critiques of antiwar Democrats—known as Copperheads—struck a nerve with her audiences. In barely two years, she rose from an unknown young Philadelphia radical, to a successful New England stump speaker, to a true national celebrity. At the height of her fame, Dickinson counted many of the nation's leading reformers, authors, politicians, and actors among her friends. Among the dozens of famous figures who populate the narrative are Susan B. Anthony, Whitelaw Reid, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Gallman shows how Dickinson's life illuminates the possibilities and barriers faced by nineteenth-century women, revealing how their behavior could at once be seen as worthy, highly valued, shocking, and deviant.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A welcome addition to the literature on nineteenth-century women who successfully challenged gender conventions to carve out unconventional but highly regarded places for themselves in American public life."—Sylvia D. Hoffert The Journal of American History

"Gallman has made an outstanding contribution to our picture of nineteenth-century gender politics and culture and the pivotal place of Anna Dickinson in that world."—Nina Silber, Civil War History

"America's Joan of Arc: The Life of Anna Elizabeth Dickinson does full justice to one of the most remarkable figures in American history, Anna Dickinson, an orator who, as a very young woman, spoke in behalf of the Republican Part during the Civil War and dazzled her contemporaries."—Glenna Matthews, The Journal of Southern History

"Gallman's elegantly written and deeply researched biography reveals the complicated life of an important historical figure...Dickinson's story, varied, tragic, and compellingly narrated, contains much that will be fascinating to historians of the mid-nineteenth century." —American Historical Review

Publishers Weekly
Born into a fiercely abolitionist Philadelphia Quaker family in 1842, feisty Anna Dickinson discovered her love of the limelight at 17 when her spontaneous invective drove a male speaker from a women's rights meeting. Soon, the gifted orator was delivering dozens of public lectures critiquing the progress of the Civil War and Lincoln's refusal to renounce slavery. Taken under the wing of leading abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison, Dickinson was both a celebrity and an oddity, with a lecture attended by Lincoln and Congress and a rash of newspaper coverage, including one story that dubbed her "a Joan of Arc that God sent into the field" to help a nation in crisis. After the war, the iconoclastic orator had a complicated relationship with the suffrage movement and with Susan B. Anthony, and added novelist, playwright and actress to her already bulging r sum . Middle age brought poverty, illness, alcoholism and a lawsuit against the Republican Party for withheld lecture fees. Her lowest point came in 1891 with a brief but humiliating commitment to an insane asylum by the sister Dickinson had supported financially for years. Illuminating the life and times of an extraordinary 19th-century woman, historian Gallman's (Mastering Wartime) well-researched volume will mainly interest scholars of American and women's history. Photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Gallman (history, Univ. of Florida; Receiving Erin's Children: Philadelphia, Liverpool, and the Irish Famine Migration, 1845-1855) chronicles the rise and fall of Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, one of the most celebrated women of the mid-19th century. In writing the first full-length biography of Dickinson in more than 50 years, Gallman, through meticulous research and a fluid writing style, resurrects the story of this revolutionary woman once lost to history. Dickinson first appeared on the public stage as an abolitionist stump speaker at 17 and was a national celebrity by 21. She quickly became a highly regarded orator, all the while hobnobbing with the leading writers, activists, and politicians of her day. As a successful woman in a male-dominated field, Dickinson was decades ahead of her time, which makes her downward slide into alcoholism and poverty that much more tragic. Gallman has written the definitive biography of Dickinson. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Teri Shiel, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195161458
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2006
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

J. Matthew Gallman is Professor of History at the University of Florida. An authority on the American Civil War, he is the author of Receiving Erin's Children: Philadelphia, Liverpool, and the Irish Famine Migration, 1845-1855; The North Fights the Civil War: The Home Front; and Mastering Wartime: A Social History of Philadelphia During the Civil War.

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