If read in its entirety, Famous American Women is as much a history of American thought as it is a biography of American women. The threads of American philosophy can be traced through the ideas of Stoddard’s various subjects. Alcott, Fuller, and Mott, for example, all discuss the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Anthony, Barton, Dix, Stowe, and Tubman all provide commentary on the Civil War, as do Millay and Stein on World War I and World War II, respectively. Lange, Monroe, and Roosevelt express views on the Great Depression.
Another element holding the biographies together is Stoddard’s light touch in showing how these women either were involved in or were precursors to the contemporary feminist movement. Anthony was a member of the Daughters of Temperance Society before attending the historic 1848 Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Earhart, the first person of either gender to fly 2,400 miles across the Pacific Ocean, held the transcontinental speed records of her time and remains a symbol of the female spirit. Although she was only to live two years beyond the first women’s rights convention, Fuller, through her book Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845), laid the foundation for feminist discourse in the United States.
Many of the women included in Famous American Women are known for their accomplishments in the arts. Stoddard points out, however, the political implications of the creative mind. It is believed that President...
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