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Clarina Nichols & The Vt. Legislature of 1852: In Spite of Her Efforts Mrs. Nichols Could Not Unsex Herself

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10/15/2002

October 29, 2002 is the 150th anniversary of Clarina Howard Nichols's address to the Vermont Legislature on the legal rights of married women. In this seminar, Lyn Blackwell commemorates the appearance of the first woman to speak before the assembly of male lawmakers by exploring the context for her historic address and Nichols's relationship to partisan politics in the 1850s. Nichols's appearance before the Vermont Legislature came at a time when it was still rare for women to speak publicly to mixed audiences and extraordinary for a woman to address an assembly of politicians. She not only faced ridicule from legislators but also risked her reputation as a genteel woman among the ladies in the gallery. What drove her to challenge a woman's traditional place in society and Vermont's legal system? How did the key partisan issues of the early 1850s, slavery and temperance, help her gain a hearing? Finally, what, if anything, did Nichols accomplish for Vermont women? Presented by Marilyn "Lyn" Blackwell, Ph.D. and Independent Scholar.

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