Categories: Civil War, Civil War and Reconstruction, Hartford, Politics and Government, Social Movements, Women

Anna Elizabeth Dickinson at Touro Hall – Today in History: March 24

Anna E. Dickinson

Anna E. Dickinson – Library of Congress,Prints and Photographs Division

On March 24, 1863, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, a 20-year-old Quaker and abolitionist from Pennsylvania, spoke at Hartford’s Touro Hall. Dickinson had been paid by Connecticut Republicans to deliver a speech in support of the reelection campaign of wartime governor William A. Buckingham. As a woman, Dickinson did not have the right to vote, yet she was allowed to use her voice to promote support for the Civil War and the end of slavery.

In her famous speech, she cited the cause of abolition as the main argument for the continuance of the Civil War:

“The people of the U.S., with their Constitution as the safeguard of liberty – they demand answer!  And answer shall be given unto them?  Slavery!  Slavery!  Proven, we think to be so, beyond cavil or doubt of question.  If then slavery is the cause – the originator, the upholder of the rebellion – sweep aside the cause. Strike down the originator! Crush the upholder! Kill slavery!”

Dickinson’s public appearances in Connecticut helped support her family and made her famous.  Her followers formed what would be known as the Loyal Women’s League, a pro-war movement made up entirely of women.  It was thought by many that Dickinson’s fiery speeches revitalized the Republican party in Connecticut.  For her final speaking engagement, she received $400 in cash, a pocket watch on a chain, and a Colt revolver.

LEARN MORE

Books

Gallman, J. Matthew. America’s Joan of Arc: The Life of Anna Elizabeth Dickinson. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006.
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