menu

Free Thinker : Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener
by Kimberly A. Hamlin




Overview -

When Ohio newspapers published the story of Alice Chenoweth's affair with a married man, she changed her name to Helen Hamilton Gardener, moved to New York, and devoted her life to championing women's rights and decrying the sexual double standard. She published seven books and countless essays, hobnobbed with the most interesting thinkers of her era, and was celebrated for her audacious ideas and keen wit. Opposed to piety, temperance, and conventional thinking, Gardener eventually settled in Washington, D.C., where her tireless work proved, according to her colleague Maud Wood Park, the most potent factor in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Free Thinker is the first biography of Helen Hamilton Gardener, who died as the highest-ranking woman in federal government and a national symbol of female citizenship. Hamlin exposes the racism that underpinned the women's suffrage movement and the contradictions of Gardener's politics. Her life sheds new light on why it was not until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Nineteenth Amendment became a reality for all women.

Celebrated in her own time but lost to history in ours, Gardener was hailed as the Harriet Beecher Stowe of Fallen Women. Free Thinker is the story of a woman whose struggles, both personal and political, resound in today's fight for gender and sexual equity.

  Read Full Product Description
 
local_shippingFor Delivery
In Stock.
FREE Shipping for Club Members help
 
storeBuy Online Pickup At Store
search store by zipcode

 
 
New & Used Marketplace 50 copies from $4.97
 
 
 
 

More About Free Thinker by Kimberly A. Hamlin

 
 
 

Overview

When Ohio newspapers published the story of Alice Chenoweth's affair with a married man, she changed her name to Helen Hamilton Gardener, moved to New York, and devoted her life to championing women's rights and decrying the sexual double standard. She published seven books and countless essays, hobnobbed with the most interesting thinkers of her era, and was celebrated for her audacious ideas and keen wit. Opposed to piety, temperance, and conventional thinking, Gardener eventually settled in Washington, D.C., where her tireless work proved, according to her colleague Maud Wood Park, the most potent factor in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Free Thinker is the first biography of Helen Hamilton Gardener, who died as the highest-ranking woman in federal government and a national symbol of female citizenship. Hamlin exposes the racism that underpinned the women's suffrage movement and the contradictions of Gardener's politics. Her life sheds new light on why it was not until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Nineteenth Amendment became a reality for all women.

Celebrated in her own time but lost to history in ours, Gardener was hailed as the Harriet Beecher Stowe of Fallen Women. Free Thinker is the story of a woman whose struggles, both personal and political, resound in today's fight for gender and sexual equity.


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781324004974
  • ISBN-10: 1324004975
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Publish Date: March 2020
  • Page Count: 400
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.45 pounds


Related Categories

 

BookPage Reviews

Free Thinker

Helen Hamilton Gardener, née Alice Chenoweth, may be the most famous suffrage activist you’ve never heard of. Her eventful experiences took her from the Civil War, to life as a so-called “fallen woman,” to a name change and political work in support of women’s issues, culminating in the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1919. In Free Thinker: Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener, historian Kimberly A. Hamlin knits together the many strands of Gardener’s story into a compelling narrative about a woman who advocated tirelessly for the freedom to control her body, money and intellect.

A “fallen woman,” in 19th-century parlance, meant an unmarried woman who’d had any sexual experience whatsoever. Young Alice Chenoweth worked as a teacher, one of the few “respectable” professions open to single women in Cincinnati in the 1870s. She fell afoul of the sexual double standard when she entered into an affair with a married man who claimed to have left his wife. She lost her job because of the relationship; her partner, Charles Smart, did not. The situation prompted her to move to New York with Smart, change her name to Gardener and become a lifelong advocate for women’s independence.

As Helen Hamilton Gardener, she wrote books, gave lectures and became a champion for many women’s issues, including raising the age of consent and obtaining the vote. Gardener became a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, but within this movement, Gardener advocated for the vote to be obtained first by white women. This strategy was intended to gain the support of Southern states, but it cruelly denied an alliance with black women for the universal right to vote. 

With this biography, Hamlin has written a nuanced history of the suffrage movement through the life of a remarkable woman. Gardener wasn’t perfect, but this biography does an excellent job balancing her extraordinary achievements against her cultural blind spots. 

 

BAM Customer Reviews