MATILDA JOSLYN GAGE
March 24, 1826- March 18, 1898
Submitted by Kathy Crowell
Obituary in The Weekly Recorder (Fayetteville, NY) March 24, 1898:
Mrs. Matilda J. Gage died in Chicago, on Friday, aged 72 years.
Mrs. Gage was one of the earliest champions of woman's rights in America,
having identified herself with that movement in 1852. For many years she
was president of the New York State Woman's Suffrage Association. In 1878
she formed the Woman's National Liberal League, being elected president,
which positions she had since held. Mrs. Gage was associated with Mrs.
Stanton and Miss Anthony in the authorship of "The History of Woman's Suffrage,"
and was the editor of the National Citizen, published at Syracuse from
1878 to 1882. The most important work of her life, however, as she herself
considered, was consummated in the publication three years ago of her book,
"Woman, Church and State."
Mrs. Gage was the daughter of Dr. Hezekiah Joslyn of Cicero, in
this county, where she was born March 24th 1826.
Her father was a man of profound thought and a thorough student
of all new questions. His home was a station on the underground railroad,
and the home of anti-slavery speakers and advanced thinkers on every subject,
as well as the clergymen who often came to hold meetings in the place.
Matilda was always allowed to listen to the conversation of her
father's guests, and it was a law with him that all her childish questions
should be reasonably answered.
Listening to the discussions of her father and the clergymen upon
religious subjects she was early converted and united with the church at
eleven years of age.
In after years she had less regard for any formal religion, thought
she retained a nominal membership in the church the greater portion of
her life, her name having been retained on the roll of membership of the
Fayetteville Baptist church the past thirty-five years. She never lost
faith in the old fundamental truths of religion, and while not adopting
in full the theories of any of the new schools of thought, she claimed
to be an investigator on those fields, especially of psychology and theosophy.
Her father was her instructor in mathematics, Greek and physiology,
and at the same time taught her what she most prized, to think for herself.
She received her later instruction in DeRuyter and Hamilton.
From her mother a Scotch lady of the old and influential family
of Leslie, she inherited a taste for delving into old histories and writings.
She was married in 1845 to Henry H. Gage, a merchant, with whom
she soon removed to Manlius, where she was the sole representation of the
woman's suffrage movement.
After a short residence in Manlius, Mr. and Mrs. Gage located in
Fayetteville. She had a family of children, yet her pen was ever at work
upon the suffrage movement. She had served as president and vice-president
of both the state and national organizations of woman's suffrage.
During the rebellion she was one of the most enthusiastic workers
in Fayetteville in preparing hospital supplies for the soldiers and in
1862 predicted the failure of any course of defense and maintenance of
the Union that did not free the slaves.
When Company C, 122d Regt., N.Y., S. Vols., was leaving for the
war, Mrs. Gage presented to them, in an appropriate and patriotic address,
a national flag; during which address she wrapped the flag about her, referring
impressively to its symbolism of protection and freedom, and passed it
to them amid the enthusiasm of the company and of the people who had gathered
to bid them a good bye.
In 1876 at the approach of the presidential campaign Mrs. Gage,
Lillie Devereux Blake and Dr. Clemence S. Lozier prepared an appeal to
the legislature asking for suffrage for women in the presidential election,
an action within its power without a constitutional amendment. After presentation
to the legislature the appeal was referred to the judiciary committee and
though reported unfavorably and never reaching a vote, the little consideration
given it was again over former years, when a plea of such a nature was
In 1880, when school suffrage was given in this state to women,
Mrs. Gage led a company of women in her own village and was the first woman
to cast a ballot, helping to elect the first woman school trustee in this
Mrs. Gage was a lecturer and writer well known throughout the country.
Her books aside from those mentioned above are, "Woman as Inventor," "Who
Planned the Tennessee Campaign?" Woman's Rights Catechism." She had a distinctive
personality, decided convictions, independence of thought and action, a
courage of opinion, was gifted in the use of language, a forceful speaker
and with all had a warm and sympathizing nature which made her a friend
and help to the poor and a kind neighbor. The strength of her convictions
and her fearlessness in enunciating them, radical as many of them were,
of course provoked antagonisms, and yet none but would recognize her honesty
and sincerity, and she commanded the respect of those who did not adopt
her views. Her...commanded attention and respect in any sphere in which
she moved. Since the death of her husband, Sept. 16, 1884, and the marriage
of her children one after another, Mrs. Gage has spent only a portion of
time here, but has kept up the old home, and was happy in the anticipation
of returning to it soon, when the summons came and she passed on to the
home beyond. She is survived by four children, Mrs. Helen Leslie Gage,
widow of the late Charles H. Gage, of Aberdeen, N.D., Mrs. James Carpenter
of Fargo, S.D., Clarkson T. Gage, of Bloomington, Ill. and Mrs. Frank Baum,
of Chicago, where Mrs. Gage died..
to Obituaries page.
18 February 1998
22 March 1998