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The Genious of Liberty, six-minute suffrage stories commemorating the 19th Amendment centennial.

Local researcher Katherine Durack came to us last fall with stories to tell. Did we know that The Mercantile Library had once claimed to have been the first organization west of the Alleghenies to support women’s rights? Did we know that Otis Aldrich, an early member of the Library and director in 1838, was married to Elizabeth A. Aldrich, the Cincinnati woman who, in 1851, launched one of the first US periodicals published by a woman? Called The Genius of Liberty, Aldrich’s publication covered national women’s rights conventions and advocated equal access to education, equal pay for equal work, and voting rights for women.

Not every story Durack shared with us about the women and men who fought for women’s right to vote were so closely connected to the Mercantile. But every story highlighted the work of Ohioans in securing the vote for women, and each one uncovered an interesting bit of history that felt relevant to today. That’s why we decided to help Durack share the stories. Recycling the name Elizabeth Aldrich picked for her publication more than a century ago, we launched The Genius of Liberty podcast.

Each episode of The Genius of Liberty is a six-minute suffrage story researched, written, and voiced by Durack, and produced by The Mercantile Library. In sharing these stories, Durack hopes to inspire listeners to exercise their right to vote (Ohio ranks 29th in voter turnout) and to support the vital right of citizens to a voice in government, a right that continues to be contested today.

Find all the episodes here, and scroll down for information on and links to individual episodes of The Genius of Liberty.

Listen Here


Episode 1. Woman with Book

Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library once claimed to be one of the first organizations west of the Alleghenies to support women’s rights.

Mentioned:

  • Elizabeth Aldrich, Otis Aldrich, Henry Blackwell, Edward Mansfield, Gloria Steinem, Lucy Stone, Timothy Walker, Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Introduction to American Law (1837), Legal Rights, Liabilities and Duties of Women (1845), “On Woman” (1853)
  • Antioch College (Yellow Springs, OH)
  • Chamber of Commerce (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Mercantile Library (Cincinnati, OH)

Episode 2. The Genius of Liberty

The Genius of Liberty was one of the very first feminist newspapers, published by Elizabeth A. Aldrich in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Mentioned:

  • Elizabeth A. Aldrich, Mrs. Elizabeth Oakes Smith, T. S. (Thomas Smith) Grimke
  • Banner of the Union newspaper (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Masonic Review (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Woman’s Rights Convention (Mt. Gilead, OH)
  • 1852 National Woman’s Rights Convention (Syracuse, NY)

Episode 3. Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Trixie!

Of course it was “the Cincinnati Girl,” suffragist and vaudeville star Trixie Friganza, who inspired the iconic song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Who knew a girl could keep score?

Mentioned:

  • Trixie Friganza (aka, Delia O’Callahan), Jack Norworth
  • The Prince of Pilsen (play), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (play),
  • City Hall (New York City, NY Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds (New York City), Pogue’s Department Store (Cincinnati, OH), Vaudeville show (Louisville, KY)

Episode 4. Fake News!

The letter of support sent by Ohio activist Lucius A. Hine to the first national woman’s rights convention made national headlines…and Hine objected.

Mentioned:

  • Lucius A. Hine
  • The Cincinnati Nonpareil newspaper
  • 1850 National Woman’s Rights Convention (Worcester, MA)

Episode 5. Shorthand for Suffrage

Suffragist Margaret V. Longley revolutionized office work and created new opportunities for women in the workplace.

Mentioned:

  • Elias Longley, M. V. (Margaret Vater) Longley
  • The Phonetic Advocate, Typewriter Lessons for Teachers and Learners
  • 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, 1869 Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Assn. (New York City)

Episode 6. “A Greater Menace than War”

In February 1917 the Ohio legislature passed — and the governor signed into law — a bill that allowed Ohio women to vote for President. Male voters repealed the measure that fall.

Mentioned:

  • Mrs. O.F. Davisson
  • The Akron Times, The Holden Resolution, The Reynolds Act
  • “Beer Capital of the World” (Cincinnati, OH), Cuyahoga County (OH), Mahoning County (OH), Montgomery County (OH) Suffrage Association, Ohio State Senate (Columbus, OH), Ohio Supreme Court (Columbus, OH), Scioto County (OH), Trumbull County (OH)

Episode 7. Equal Justice Under Law

How building the United States Supreme Court erased women’s history.

Mentioned:

  • Mrs. John Gordon Battelle, Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont, President Warren G. Harding, Mrs. William Howard Taft
  • Columbus (OH), Marine Band, National Woman’s Party (Washington, DC), “Old Brick Capitol” (Washington, DC), United States Supreme Court (Washington, DC)

Episode 8. “Woman Versus The Indian”

Anna Julia Cooper confronted racism in the women’s suffrage movement in her seminal work of black feminism, A Voice from the South, published in Xenia, Ohio, in 1892.

Mentioned:

  • Anna Julia Cooper
  • A Voice From the South
  • Xenia (OH)

Episode 9. Leading the Nation from Warren, Ohio

After President Carrie Chapman Catt suffered a serious illness, the headquarters for the National American Woman Suffrage Association moved to Warren, Ohio, under the leadership of Harriet Taylor Upton from 1903-1910.

Mentioned:

  • Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth J. Hauser, Harriet Taylor Upton
  • The History of Woman Suffrage
  • National American Woman Suffrage Association (New York City; Warren, OH)

Episode 10. The Death of Susan B. Anthony

In March 1906, Harriet Taylor Upton shared the news of Susan B. Anthony’s death with readers of The Woman’s Journal.

Mentioned:

  • Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth J. Hauser, Harriet Taylor Upton, Anna Howard Shaw
  • The Woman’s Journal
  • Equal suffrage states (CO, ID, UT, WY), Mt. Hope Cemetery (Rochester, NY) National American Woman Suffrage Association (Warren, OH), Susan B. Anthony’s home (Rochester, NY), Utah, Wyoming

Episode 11. One March More

Hallie Quinn Brown of Wilberforce, Ohio, and the members of the National Association of Colored Women fought for civil rights and woman suffrage both before and after adoption of the 19th amendment.

Mentioned:

  • Hallie Quinn Brown, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Queen Victoria, Lester A. Walton, Susan B. Anthony
  • The New York Age; The Portrait Monument
  • International Council of Women (London, England), National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (Washington, DC), US Capitol Rotunda (Washington, DC), Wilberforce (OH)

Episode 12. Legally Responsible Women

In December 1877, the Toledo Woman Suffrage Association took on a new cause: the right of responsible women to secure a library card.

Mentioned:

  • William H. Scott, Timothy Walker; “Ladies of the Toledo Woman Suffrage Association” included Anna C. Mott, secretary, and Rosa L. Segur, President
  • “The Legal Condition of Women” in The Western Law Journal (1849)
  • Board of Trustees of the Toledo Public Library (Toledo, OH)

Episode 13. Beer Kegs, Baby Buggies, and Ballots

As delegates from across Ohio gathered to review the state constitution, the powerful Anti-Saloon League threw its weight behind woman suffrage, kicking off a battle of behemoths as a “Liquor Trust” formed to fight back. [performed live at PoD Discoveries, October 23, 2019)

Mentioned:

  • Harriet Taylor Upton, Wayne B. Wheeler, D.F. Anderson, Allen M. Marshall, Raymond G. McClelland, Stanley E. Bowdle
  • The Constitution of the State of Ohio
  • Cincinnati; US House of Representatives; US Justice Department

Episode 14. How to Celebrate The Centennial

As the nation prepared to celebrate its centennial in 1876, the Toledo Woman Suffrage Association launched The Ballot Box newspaper, which advised readers not to celebrate, but to declare independence.

Mentioned:

  • Frederick Douglass, Virginia L. Minor, Rosa L. Segur
  • Minor v. Happersett; The Ballot Box
  • Toledo Woman Suffrage Association; 1876 Centennial Exhibition (Philadelphia, PA)

Episode 15. Mailing Indecent Matter

Ohioan Stanley Bowdle sexualized females to rally opposition in Congress and defeat a federal amendment for woman suffrage in 1915.

Mentioned:

  • Robert L. Black, Stanley E. Bowdle, Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson
  • The New Republic
  • The Elyria, Ohio, courthouse; Coshocton County, Hamilton County, Knox County, Mahoning County

Episode 16. Womanly Women Won’t Vote

Although the New York Daily Tribune was generous in its coverage of the first statewide woman’s rights convention in Salem, Ohio, editor Horace Greeley nevertheless advanced a compelling reason women should not be granted suffrage: nice ladies won’t vote.

Mentioned:

  • Horace Greeley; editor of the Anti-Slavery Bugle [Marius Robinson]
  • The Constitution of the State of Ohio; The Anti-Slavery Bugle; The New York Daily Tribune
  • Salem, Ohio

Episode 17. Who Speaks for Truth?

“Ain’t I A Woman?” Sojourner Truth reportedly asked at the 1851 woman’s rights convention in Akron, but the words Frances Dana Gage popularized scarcely resemble the most accurate account of her speech.

Mentioned:

  • Frances Dana Gage, Marius Robinson, Sojourner Truth
  • The Anti-Slavery Bugle
  • Akron, Ohio

Episode 18. The Slave Mother

Forecasting the legal wrangling that would rivet national attention on the trial of runaway Margaret Garner, Adeline Swift denounced laws governing slavery and women’s rights at the 6th national woman’s rights convention in Cincinnati

Mentioned:

  • Margaret Garner, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Judge Humphrey Leavitt, US Marshall H. H. Robinson, Lucy Stone
  • The Fugitive Slave Act, “The Slave Mother” (poem)

Episode 19. Strong-Minded She-Rowdies

In their coverage of the 1853 National Woman’s Rights Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, most newspapers focused on sensation rather than substance, but The Cleveland Plain Dealer shone as the exception, giving space to the words of Ernestine Rose, “the master spirit of the Convention.”

Mentioned:

  • William Lloyd Garrison, Abby Kelly, Reverend Nevin, Ernestine Rose
  • Cleveland Plain Dealer; Brooklyn Daily Eagle
  • 6th National Woman’s Rights Convention; Cincinnati, Ohio

Episode 20. Bombshell

While Victoria Woodhull of Homer, Ohio, made news when she became the first woman to run for President of the United States, that story was eclipsed in November 1872 when she dropped a “bombshell” that rocked the nation: the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, “Shakespeare of the pulpit,” had had sex with his best friend’s wife.

Mentioned:

  • Susan B. Anthony, Luther C. Challis, Anthony Comstock, Henry Ward Beecher, Tennie C. [Tennessee] Claflin, Mrs. Theodore Tilton, Victoria Woodhull
  • Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly; Comstock laws
  • The combined Judiciary Committee of Congress; Wall Street

Episode 21. A League of Our Own

In April 1921, the National American Woman Suffrage Association held its last national conference in Cleveland, Ohio, and handed the reins to its successor, the League of Women Voters.

Mentioned:

  • Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Netti Rogers Shuler
  • “The Nation Calls,” address by Carrie Chapman Catt at the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention (1919); Proceedings of the National American Woman Suffrage Association Convention held at Cleveland, Ohio, April 13, 1921
  • The National American Woman Suffrage Association; The League of Women Voters; Cleveland, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Munsey Building (Washington, DC); the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Jamaica, Newfoundland; Seneca Falls, NY: Wyoming

Episode 22. Saving Suffrage for the Nation

Cincinnatians George S. Hawke, , John Druffel, and Lawrence Maxwell waged an eleventh-hour legal battle regarding Ohio’s June 1919 ratification of the 19th amendment. The decision by the US Supreme Court a year later sided with Hawke, clearing legal hurdles that made it possible for Tennessee to ratify the 19th amendment, making it the law of the land.

Mentioned:

  • John Druffel, Assistant Attorney General William L. Frierson, George S. Hawke, Lawrence Maxwell, Tennessee Governor Albert H. Roberts, Ohio Secretary of State Harvey C. Smith, President Woodrow Wilson
  • The Chicago Daily Tribune, The Washington Post, The Woman Patriot
  • Cincinnati, Ohio; The National American Woman Suffrage Association; The Ohio General Assembly; Ohio Anti-Woman Suffrage League; Ohio Supreme Court; US Supreme Court; Tennessee

Episode 23. “God Gives Rights, Demands Duties"

Elizabeth Wilson of Cadiz, Ohio, published her bold vision of faithful feminism in A Scriptural View of Woman’s Rights and Duties in 1849, blazing the path followed decades later by Matilda Joslyn Gage’s Woman, Church, and State and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Woman’s Bible.

Mentioned:

  • William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke, Theodore Weld, Elizabeth Wilson
  • The Anti-Slavery Bugle, The King James Bible, The Liberator, The Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post
  • Cadiz, Ohio; 1st National Woman’s Rights Convention (Worcester, MA)


Episode 24. The Power of an Idea

Cincinnati’s Reverend Herbert S. Bigelow included a stop at the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s annual convention as part of his 1906 campaign for initiative and referendum, which he believed would empower citizens to enact progressive reforms.

Mentioned:

  • Reverend Herbert S. Bigelow, George Shipley
  • “The Power of An Idea” (speech), Ohio state constitution, US constitution
  • Oberlin College, 1906 NAWSA national convention, Vine Street Congregational Church (Cincinnati), 1912 Ohio Constitutional Convention

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