A Celebration of the Life and Times of Ernestine L. Rose (1810-1892)
Events in London - August 1 & 4, 2002
“Let us by honoring the memory of reformers in the past, and by aiding the efforts of those in the present, encourage the rise of others in future time.” - Ernestine L. Rose at the annual Thomas Paine Commemoration of 1840.
Ernestine Rose and the British and American Women’s Rights Movements:
A Symposium at The Women’s Library, London Guildhall University, Old Castle St., London E1 7NT, England. Thursday, August 1st , 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Carol A. Kolmerten, Professor of English, Hood College, MD, USA, author of The American Life of Ernestine L. Rose (Syracuse U. Press, 1999).
Lorie Barnum, Executive Director, Susan B. Anthony House, Rochester, NY.
June Purvis, Professor of Women’s and Gender History, University of Portsmouth, U.K., author of Emmeline Pankhurst : A Biography. (Publication forthcoming by Routledge, July 2002.)
Paula Doress-Worters, (Chair), Resident Scholar, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, author/editor of sourcebook-in-progress of documents by and about Ernestine L. Rose.
The Women’s Library is in Central London, near the Aldgate East tube stop. Seating is limited, so please reserve by e-mail or call the number below and leave your name and contact information for Paula Doress-Worters, Director. For a map to The Women’s Library, see their website at http://www.thewomenslibrary.ac.uk Join the panelists for a Dutch treat lunch before the event at the Library’s Wash Houses Café (1st floor) at noon.
Dedication of the restored grave marker of Ernestine L. and William E. Rose
at Highgate Cemetery,* London: Sunday, August 4, 2002 at 11 a.m.
At Highgate Cemetery (East), we will unveil a new monument to honor Ernestine Rose for her efforts on behalf of rights and equality for women in America and around the world. Attendees will be invited to read from eulogies by Rose’s contemporaries, such as Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, George Jacob Holyoake, Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, and to offer their own comments and reflections.
The cemetery is north of Central London, an easy one- half mile walk from the Archway stop on the Tube. There is a nominal charge to enter the cemetery. Following the ceremony, those who wish may gather for a Dutch treat lunch at a nearby pub with garden.
Who was Ernestine L. Rose and what did she accomplish?
In 1836, Ernestine Rose emigrated to the United States and settled in New York City. Almost immediately, she began to speak and petition on behalf of women’s rights, fearlessly challenging the norm of her new country that women addressing mixed audiences violated public decorum. Before there was an organized women’s rights movement, Rose spoke from the platforms of the abolitionist and the freethinker movements, breaking new ground by including rights for women in her lectures.
Initiating America’s first petition campaign for women’s economic rights, Rose collected signatures door-to-door in New York City to support a Married Women’s Property Law. A few years later, she was joined by Paulina Wright Davis and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in collecting signatures and bringing signed petitions to the New York State Assembly where they addressed the legislators. The law granting property rights to married women passed in April 1848, three months before the Seneca Falls Convention, often called ‘the opening salvo’ of the 19th century women’s rights movement.
Following that victory, Rose was a key participant and spokesperson in every national women’s rights convention from the first one in 1850 through 1869, giving major addresses, serving on the committee that framed the debates, and sometimes acting as chair. She was a mentor to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. By the 1850s, she was the foremost woman orator in America, celebrated as “The Queen of the Platform.” Rose was such a logical and eloquent debater that other women’s rights reformers spoke of ‘feeling safe’ when she was on the platform to defend their movement.
What is her connection to England?
U.S. scholars often maintain that American women, who began agitating for their rights in the mid-19th century, led the way in bringing feminist ideas to their sisters in Europe. Few people, American or British, are aware that the links between the women’s rights movements of our two countries go back even further than that. While credit is often given to the writing of Mary Wollstonecraft, there has been insufficient attention to two women who played key roles in bringing new ideas about women and gender relations from England to America: Frances Wright and Ernestine L. Rose, both of whom embraced the social philosophy of Robert Owen, a British industrialist turned socialist reformer. As a protégé of Robert Owen, the Polish-Jewish Ernestine Susmond Potowski (Rose) improved her English, honed her speaking skills, and became one of the activist women speakers of the Owenite socialists community, a movement that fostered many women leaders, such as Anna Wheeler, Emma Martin, Frances Wright, and Ernestine L. Rose.
After her active years crusading for women’s rights in the United States, she and her husband retired to England in 1869. They are buried in London’s Highgate Cemetery.
Why is Rose so unknown today that her legacy needs to be revived?
Good question! Come to the Symposium on August 1st. This is one of the interesting topics to be addressed!
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