Author: Carole Bolton
Publication: Atheneum, hardcover, 1971
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Setting: 1917 New York and Washington, DCDescription: At 17, Maddy Franklin has had a privileged upbringing in New York City, with a lawyer father and a mother who never questions the man of the house. But as the country prepares for war, Maddie reads in the newspaper that suffragists are picketing the White House for the right to vote. She is intrigued because her aunt Augusta is a suffragist, although her father forbids Maddy from getting involved and her childhood friend Jamie just laughs at her enthusiasm. Stung, Maddy is determined to learn more and contribute to the movement. Aunt Augusta helps educate her niece by putting her to work for the New York State Woman Suffrage Party but her goal is to join the national protests in Washington. Maddy is a passionate recruit, willing to challenge her parents’ authority for a cause she comes to believe in, even if it means the disapproval of her family and peers, and leads to arrest. While Matt McGregor, a young lawyer who works for Mr. Franklin, helps open her eyes, the book is more about Maddy’s growth and the progress of suffrage.My Impression: This is a book I remember from my childhood library because of its distinctive cover. Maddy may come across initially as shallow and wanting primarily to challenge her father’s dismissal of suffrage in general and his sister’s views in particular; however, she is soon committed to the cause and willing to suffer for it, even if it means abandoning the easy life of a lawyer’s daughter, the respect of Jamie (whom everyone expects she will eventually marry) and going to jail. It was particularly interesting to read about the suffrage activity in New York City and Washington because I assumed most of the movement leadership was in Upstate New York and Massachusetts (see my friend Barbara’s book, Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement). What can I say, I majored in the 16th century.
I kept hearing my father’s voice, which I miss so much, as I read this book. When he spoke on voting rights while doing events for his book, Count Them One By One, he always quoted from an 1873 case, United States v. Anthony, in which the judge described Susan B. Anthony’s having voted in violation of the 14th Amendment - you can almost hear the disgust in the judge’s tone:
If she believed she had a right to vote, and voted in reliance upon that belief, does that relieve her from penalty? . . . Two principles apply here: First, ignorance of the law excuses no one; second, every person is presumed to understand and to intend the necessary effects of his own acts. Miss Anthony knew that she was a woman, and that the constitution of this state prohibits her from voting. She intended to violate that provision – intended to test it, perhaps, but, certainly, intended to violate it” (emphasis added).When sentenced, Miss Anthony pointed out the jury were not her peers because they were all men, carrying out man-made laws, and refused to pay a penny of the $100 penalty and costs of the prosecution.
|Susan B. Anthony, looking grim|
and who can blame her?
This is book 2 of my 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy at 746 Books and my twelfth book in the 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader. Perhaps the best part of the book (spoiler) is that Maddy ultimately rejects both her suitors because neither understands her or the importance of her beliefs.Source: I recently purchased this for a friend.