Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932

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Anna Elizabeth Dickinson (October 28, 1842 – October 22, 1932) was an American orator and lecturer. An advocate for the abolition of slavery and for women's rights, Dickinson was the first woman to give a political address before the United States Congress. A gifted speaker at a very young age, she aided the Republican Party in the hard-fought 1863 elections and significantly influenced the distribution of political power in the Union just prior to the Civil War. Dickinson was the first white woman on record to summit Colorado's Gray's Peak, Lincoln Peak, and Elbert Peak (on a mule), and she was the second to summit Pike's Peak.

Dickinson grew up in poverty. Her formal education took place mainly at the Friends’ Select School of Philadelphia, but she was an avid reader and early developed the habit of expressing herself on public questions. At age 14 she published an article in William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator. In 1860 she addressed the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, and in early 1861 she spoke in Philadelphia on “Women’s Rights and Wrongs” to such effect that she received invitations to speak from several platforms throughout New England. For a short time in 1861 she held a position at the U.S. mint in Philadelphia, but she was fired for publicly accusing General George B. McClellan of treason in the loss of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. Thereafter she devoted herself to the speaker’s platform.

Much of Dickinson’s work in 1863 was in behalf of the Republican Party. In January 1864 she addressed a gathering, including President Abraham Lincoln, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Her oratory was marked by fiery passion and remarkable vituperation, and these, together with the novelty of her sex and youth, made her enormously popular. After the Civil War she went on the lyceum circuit, delivering addresses across the country on “Reconstruction,” in which she advocated harsh treatment of the South; “Woman’s Work and Wages”; “Whited Sepulchres,” her attack on Mormonism; “Demagogues and Workingmen”; “Between Us Be Truth,” on the “social evil” (venereal disease); and her favourite, “Joan of Arc.” She published What Answer? (1868), on the topic of interracial marriage; A Paying Investment (1876), on various social reforms; and A Ragged Register (of People, Places, and Opinions) (1879), a memoir.

Dickinson’s considerable income went as fast as it came, and when her popularity as a lecturer dwindled she turned to other fields. In May 1876 she appeared in Boston in a play of her own, A Crown of Thorns; both she and the play were dismissed by critics. She wrote several more plays, most of which remained unproduced and unpublished, although An American Girl was a success for Fanny Davenport in 1880. After a ridiculed appearance as Hamlet in 1882, Dickinson retired from the public view.

In 1888 Dickinson returned to the platform at the invitation of the Republican National Committee, but her undiminished gift for denunciation and epithet now proved an embarrassment, and she was let go. Growing signs of mental instability led to her incarceration in a state hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania, for a short time in 1891. On her release she sued those responsible and was awarded nominal damages. Dickinson lived out the rest of her life quietly in New York.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letter : Phila[delphia, Pa.,] to Charles A. Chase, 1864 Dec. 2. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Oakes, James, 1807-1878,. Autograph letter signed from James Oakes, Boston, to William Winter, London [manuscript], 1877 April 17. Folger Shakespeare Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letters, 1865-1882 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Papers, 1850-1946 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Morrison, Dorilus, 1814-1897. Dorilus Morrison and family papers, 1706-1913. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn O'Garro, Edward, 1849-1914. Edward O'Garro student notebooks, 1868-1871. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Douglass, Ebenezer. Ebenezer Douglass papers, 1790-1873. Minnesota Historical Society, Division of Archives and Manuscripts
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letter : Philadelphia, to unknown person, 1863 Sept. 24. University of Chicago Library
creatorOf Anna E. Dickinson Papers, 1859-1951, (bulk 1859-1911) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel Joseph May Diary, 1866. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Griffing, Josephine W. (Josephine White), 1814-1872. Josephine W. Griffing letters, 1862-1872. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Brainard, Charles Henry, 1817-1885. Papers, 1795-1884 and undated Houghton Library
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel Joseph May diary, 1868. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Oakes, James, 1807-1878,. Autograph letter signed from James Oakes, Boston, to William Winter, Tribune Office, New York [manuscript], 1876 May 12. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Autograph File, D, 1586-1975. Houghton Library
referencedIn Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884. Papers, 1555-1882 (bulk: 1833-1881) Houghton Library
referencedIn Beecher, James Chaplin, 1828-1886. Papers, 1850-1946 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letter, Philadelphia, to John L. Lehwiger [manuscript] 1876 Jan. 17. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906. Abby Kelley Foster correspondence, 1837-1887. Haverford College Library
creatorOf Bliss family. Letters of the Bliss family [manuscript], 1872, 1904. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letter to Miss H.R. Ransom and Miss Ella C. Lapham, New York, October 29, 1872 ; 3 portraits. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888. Additional correspondence, 1787-1886 Houghton Library
creatorOf Ward, Lydia Avery Coonley, 1845-1924. Autographs collected and letters received by Lydia Avery Coonley Ward, 1705, 1785, 1848, 1861-1922 (bulk 1861-1922). University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Gage, Matilda Joslyn, 1826-1898. Papers, 1840-1974 (inclusive) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letter fragment, 1872 August 7, to Elisha Bliss, Jr., American Publishing Company, Hartford, Ct. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Gage, Matilda Joslyn, 1826-1898. Papers, 1840-1974 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Papers, 1859-1951 microform. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Fragment with signature : [18--]. Brown University, John Hay Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932,. Autograph letters signed from Anna Elizabeth Dickinson to Augustin Daly [manuscript], 1875-1876. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Landauer, Bella Clara, 1874-1960. Collection, 1762-1941 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874. Correspondence, 1829-1874 Houghton Library
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel J. May diary, 1867. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Cheek, Jeannette Bailey, 1906-. Collection, 1857-1904 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Brainard, Charles Henry, 1817-1885. Charles Henry Brainard papers, 1795-1884 and undated. Houghton Library
referencedIn Gage, Matilda Electa Josyln, 1826-1898. Papers, 1870-1970 South Dakota State Archives
creatorOf Pryor, Roger A. (Roger Atkinson), 1828-1919,. Autograph letter signed from Roger Atkinson Pryor, New York City, to [Anna Elizabeth] Dickinson [manuscript], 1877 May 2. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Dickinson family photographs, ca. 1840-1940. Houghton Library
referencedIn Dorr, Julia C. R. (Julia Caroline Ripley), 1825-1913. Papers of 47 women authors, chiefly American [manuscript] 1847-1949, 1970. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. ALS : Boston, to "King Friend," [18--?]. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
referencedIn Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966. Papers, 1681-1966 (bulk 1900-1960) Houghton Library
referencedIn Duffy, Joseph. Anna Dickinson, 1984 July. Connecticut Historical Society
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letters, 1868-1869 [various addresses] to E.P. Evans, Ann Arbor. University of Michigan
referencedIn Brown, Olympia, 1835-1926. Papers, ca. 1849-1963 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Pickard-Whittier papers, 1815-1915. Houghton Library
referencedIn Levy, Edward G.,. Edward G. and Hortense R. Levy Collection, 1829-1972 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letter : Philadelphia, to unknown person, 1863 Sept. 24. Texas Christian University
creatorOf Evans family. Evans family papers, 1866-1918. University of Michigan
referencedIn Fayetteville Free Library (Fayetteville, N.Y.). Local history collection, 1830-1984. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn American Women Writers, 1850-1936 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Dickinson, S. E. Letter, 1869 June 22, Philadelphia, to E.P. Evans [Ann Arbor]. University of Michigan
referencedIn Honeyman, A. Van Doren (Abraham Van Doren), 1849-1936. Collection of papers, 1870-1931. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Young, James Harvey. James Harvey Young papers, 1946-1989. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932,. Autograph letter signed from Anna E. Dickinson, Philadelphia, to William Winter [manuscript], 1881 March 20. Folger Shakespeare Library
creatorOf Alden, Henry Mills, 1836-1919. American and English literary and historical papers collected by Atcheson L. Hench [manuscript] 1782-1944. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Hay, John, 1838-1905. Correspondence, 1854-1914, "Dewey" to "Elliott". Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Ensign, Harry H.,. Harry H. Ensign autograph collection, 1818-1880 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888. Additional correspondence, 1787-1886 Houghton Library
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel Joseph May diary, 1865. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anne Elizabeth. Papers, 1866-1871. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Anna E. Dickinson letter to George L. Goodale, 1880 Apr. 28. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Evans family. Papers, 1866-1918. University of Michigan
referencedIn Day, Agnes. Agnes Day papers, 1860-1929. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Letter to [Mary Davenport]. Philadelphia, PA. [1876?] Dec. 9. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Brown, Olympia, 1835-1926. Papers, ca. 1849-1963 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dickinson, Anna E. (Anna Elizabeth), 1842-1932. Anna E. Dickinson papers [manuscript], 1871-1897. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Levy, Edward G. and Hortense R. Collection, 1829-1972 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Driscoll, Emily,. American women writers, 1850-1936 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn George Cary Eggleston Collection, 1874-1904 University of Virginia. Library. Special Collections Dept.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Allison, William B. (William Boyd), 1829-1908 person
correspondedWith Anthony, Susan B. (Susan Brownell), 1820-1906 person
correspondedWith Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887 person
associatedWith Beecher, James Chaplin, 1828-1886. person
associatedWith Bliss, Elisha, d. 1880. person
associatedWith Bliss family. family
correspondedWith Bowles, Samuel, 1826-1878 person
associatedWith Brainard, Charles Henry, 1817-1885. person
correspondedWith Brooks, Noah, 1830-1903 person
associatedWith Brown, Olympia, 1835-1926. person
correspondedWith Butler, Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin), 1818-1893 person
associatedWith Chase, Charles A., person
associatedWith Cheek, Jeannette Bailey, 1906- person
associatedWith Chester, Giraud, 1922- person
associatedWith Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888 person
correspondedWith Daly, Augustin, 1838-1899 person
correspondedWith Davenport, Fanny, 1850-1898 person
associatedWith Davenport, Mary, person
associatedWith Day, Agnes. person
correspondedWith Dickinson family family
associatedWith Dickinson family. family
correspondedWith Dickinson, Mary person
associatedWith Dickinson, S. E. person
correspondedWith Dickinson, Susan person
associatedWith Douglass, Ebenezer. person
correspondedWith Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895 person
associatedWith Driscoll, Emily, person
associatedWith Duffy, Joseph person
associatedWith EDWARD G. AND HORTENSE R. LEVY person
associatedWith Emily Driscoll person
associatedWith Ensign, Harry H., person
associatedWith Evans, E. P. (Edward Payson), 1831-1917. person
associatedWith Evans family. family
associatedWith Evans family. family
correspondedWith Everett, Ellen person
associatedWith Fayetteville Free Library (Fayetteville, N.Y.) corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Friends Select School (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Gage, Matilda Electa Josyln, 1826-1898. person
associatedWith Gage, Matilda Joslyn, 1826-1898. person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
correspondedWith Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879 person
associatedWith Goodale, George L. (George Lincoln), 1839-1923, person
associatedWith Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 person
associatedWith Griffing, Josephine W. (Josephine White), 1814-1872. person
associatedWith Hay, John, 1838-1905. person
correspondedWith Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823-1911 person
correspondedWith Honeyman, A. Van Doren (Abraham Van Doren), 1849-1936. person
correspondedWith Hooker, Isabella Beecher, 1822-1907 person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith JAMES C. BEECHER, 1828-1886 person
associatedWith Landauer, Bella Clara, 1874-1960. person
associatedWith Lapham, Ella C. person
associatedWith Lehwiger, John L., person
associatedWith Levy, Edward G., person
associatedWith MATILDA (JOSLYN) GAGE, 1826-1898 person
associatedWith May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. person
associatedWith Morrison, Dorilus, 1814-1897. person
associatedWith Oakes, James, 1807-1878, person
associatedWith O'Garro, Edward, 1849-1914. person
associatedWith OLYMPIA BROWN, 1835-1926 person
correspondedWith Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884 person
correspondedWith Pomeroy, S. C. (Samuel Clarke), 1816-1891 person
correspondedWith Pryor, Roger A. (Roger Atkinson), 1828-1919, person
associatedWith Ransom, H. R., Miss. person
correspondedWith Reid, Whitelaw, 1837-1912 person
associatedWith Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) corporateBody
correspondedWith Schurz, Carl, 1829-1906 person
associatedWith State Hospital for the Insane (Danville, Pa.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
correspondedWith Tilton, Theodore, 1835-1907 person
correspondedWith Twain, Mark, 1835-1910 person
associatedWith University of Wisconsin--Madison. Libraries. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith Ward, Lydia Avery Coonley, 1845-1924. person
correspondedWith Warner, Charles Dudley, 1829-1900 person
almaMaterOf Westtown Boarding School corporateBody
correspondedWith Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892 person
correspondedWith Winter, William, 1836-1917 person
associatedWith Young, James Harvey. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Goshen NY US
Danville PA US
Berks County PA US
West Pittston PA US
Philadelphia PA US
Subject
Orators--19th century--Correspondence
Slavery--United States
Psychiatric hospitals--Pennsylvania--Danville
Antislavery movements--United States
Women--Suffrage--United States
Theater--United States
Elections--United States--1888
Women orators
Presidents--United States--Election--1872
Women's rights--United States
Presidents--United States--Election--1888
Mentally ill--Commitment and detention--United States
American literature--Women authors
Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)
Education--United States
Elections--United States--1872
Occupation
Orators
Lecturers
Actresses
Reformers
Authors
Function

Person

Birth 1842-10-28

Death 1932-10-22

Female

Americans

English

Information

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