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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Women's Rights

Abby Smith and Her Cows, Hartford, 1877.
Women’s rights and law are highlighted in the Pulling Rare Books Collection. Although a summary of restrictive English marriage laws, A Treatise of Feme Coverts is an early work devoted solely to laws concerning women. Wollstonecraft’s famous Vindication, published shortly after her defense of natural rights, argues on Enlightenment principles for better education and greater equality.

The quest for women's rights in America, and particularly suffrage, is also represented. A rare printed speech of Sarah Winthrop Smith makes a direct argument: because all naturally-born or naturalized individuals are US citizens, and voting is a natural right of citizenship, women should be allowed to vote. The Smith sisters, Abby and Julia, gained national attention partly through the latter’s account of their travails. The sisters refused to pay local property taxes after a punitively high tax assessment, and became a celebrated case of taxation without representation.

A Treatise of Feme Coverts; or, the Lady’s Law.  London, 1732.
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. London, 1796.
Clarina Nichols (1810-1885), The Responsibilities of Woman.  A Speech by Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols, at the Woman's Rights Convention, Worcester, October 15, 1851.
Sara Winthrop Smith, Suffrage a Right of Citizenship.  An Address by Sara Winthrop Smith.  Washington, D.C., 1893. 
Julia E. Smith (1792-1896), Abby Smith and Her Cows, with a Report of the Law Case Decided Contrary to Law.  Hartford, 1877.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

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