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The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights

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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in the dangerous territory of Eastern Maryland, opened their basement kitchens as stations on the Underground Railroad. Tubman was enslaved, Wright was a middle-class Quaker mother of seven, and Seward was the aristocratic wife and moral conscience of her husband, William H. Seward, who served as Lincoln’s Secretary of State. All three refused to abide by laws that denied them the rights granted to white men, and they supported each other as they worked to overturn slavery and achieve full citizenship for blacks and women. The Agitators opens when Tubman is enslaved and Wright and Seward are young women bridling against their traditional roles. It ends decades later, after Wright’s and Seward’s sons—and Tubman herself—have taken part in three of the defining engagements of the Civil War. Through the sardonic and anguished accounts of the protagonists, reconstructed from their letters, diaries, and public appearances, we see the most explosive debates of the time, and portraits of the men and women whose paths they crossed: Lincoln, Seward, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others. Tubman, embraced by Seward and Wright and by the radical network of reformers in western New York State, settled in Auburn and spent the second half of her life there. With extraordinarily compelling storytelling reminiscent of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time and David McCullough’s John Adams, The Agitators brings a vivid new perspective to the epic American stories of abolition, the Underground Railroad, women’s rights activism, and the Civil War.


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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in the dangerous territory of Eastern Maryland, opened their basement kitchens as stations on the Underground Railroad. Tubman was enslaved, Wright was a middle-class Quaker mother of seven, and Seward was the aristocratic wife and moral conscience of her husband, William H. Seward, who served as Lincoln’s Secretary of State. All three refused to abide by laws that denied them the rights granted to white men, and they supported each other as they worked to overturn slavery and achieve full citizenship for blacks and women. The Agitators opens when Tubman is enslaved and Wright and Seward are young women bridling against their traditional roles. It ends decades later, after Wright’s and Seward’s sons—and Tubman herself—have taken part in three of the defining engagements of the Civil War. Through the sardonic and anguished accounts of the protagonists, reconstructed from their letters, diaries, and public appearances, we see the most explosive debates of the time, and portraits of the men and women whose paths they crossed: Lincoln, Seward, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others. Tubman, embraced by Seward and Wright and by the radical network of reformers in western New York State, settled in Auburn and spent the second half of her life there. With extraordinarily compelling storytelling reminiscent of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time and David McCullough’s John Adams, The Agitators brings a vivid new perspective to the epic American stories of abolition, the Underground Railroad, women’s rights activism, and the Civil War.

30 review for The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Wickendon offers compelling biographies of three women that lived in Auburn, New York during the tumultuous period leading up to the Civil War. The most famous member is Harriet Tubman who not only served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad leading escaped slaves to freedom, but worked as a scout, spy, and nurse for the Union Army. Martha Wright and Frances Seward opened their homes to Tubman’s fugitives. Martha Wright was the younger sister of Lucretia Mott and friend of the famous femin Wickendon offers compelling biographies of three women that lived in Auburn, New York during the tumultuous period leading up to the Civil War. The most famous member is Harriet Tubman who not only served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad leading escaped slaves to freedom, but worked as a scout, spy, and nurse for the Union Army. Martha Wright and Frances Seward opened their homes to Tubman’s fugitives. Martha Wright was the younger sister of Lucretia Mott and friend of the famous feminists, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was one of the founders of the Seneca Falls Convention, a supporter of property rights for married women and proponent of women’s suffrage. The third woman was Frances Seward, the wife of William Henry Seward whose political accomplishments included being governor of New York, senator of New York, and finally Lincoln’s Secretary of State. Frances was an insistent advocate for emancipation. Wickendon is the executive editor of the New Yorker and scoured the letters, diaries and those of family members for insights into the stories of Martha and Frances. Harriet Tubman was illiterate and left no written record; but there were published interviews, and the letters and diaries of people who knew her. While the movement toward abolition of slavery is the primary focus of the book, it also covers the embryonic feminist movement. Readers of the Civil War era will recognize many key historical figures—from John Brown, to Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas, and many more. Wickenden’s assessment of the era—“The nation never had been so politically engaged—or so divided.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    This is a fairly interesting group biography, providing a history of the American abolitionist and women’s rights movements in the 19th century through the stories of three women involved in them. Wickenden devotes just over half the book to Frances Seward, wife of Lincoln’s Secretary of State, Henry Seward. The rest is split between Martha Wright, Lucretia Mott’s younger sister, and underground railroad legend Harriet Tubman.* The book begins with each of their childhoods and traces the lead-up This is a fairly interesting group biography, providing a history of the American abolitionist and women’s rights movements in the 19th century through the stories of three women involved in them. Wickenden devotes just over half the book to Frances Seward, wife of Lincoln’s Secretary of State, Henry Seward. The rest is split between Martha Wright, Lucretia Mott’s younger sister, and underground railroad legend Harriet Tubman.* The book begins with each of their childhoods and traces the lead-up to the Civil War and the war itself, finishing shortly afterwards. The subject matter is interesting, if slightly dry; the author leans more toward recitation of facts than much analysis of events or personalities. But it’s an interesting look at the abolitionist and women’s rights movements, and also provides engaging personal stories of the Civil War, including the stories of the principals’ relatives and close friends. This is not the first book I’d recommend if you’re most interested in Harriet Tubman, who obviously has much more name recognition than the other two, but gets the least page time here. Unfortunately there isn’t a really great adult biography of her available, but Bound for the Promised Land isn’t bad, and was also relied upon heavily by this author. Wickenden does seem to have done some of her own research on Tubman, but since Tubman was illiterate throughout her life there just aren’t a lot of sources. (I was surprised to see Wickenden nevertheless contradicting other Tubman biographies in some of the details. For instance, she ascribes Tubman’s continued illiteracy after reaching freedom to her head injury, a conclusion other authors did not seem ready to make.) Seward and Wright are lesser-known figures whose stories I had not read before, and they were certainly interesting, though it’s clear they were also fairly minor figures in their movements; this book would perhaps be most rewarding to those who’ve already read about the best-known players, though all these folks knew each other so many of them appear briefly here. Following her sister’s lead, Wright was primarily involved in women’s rights organizing, and seems to have been an energetic and well-liked figure. Seward seemed most interested in abolitionism but was involved mostly behind the scenes, in deference to her husband’s political career. I didn’t know much about Henry Seward, a well-known national politician widely expected to be nominated for president in 1860; he lost the nomination to Abraham Lincoln in a surprise move at the convention. Nevertheless, he went on to join Lincoln’s cabinet and was severely assaulted himself (along with two of his and Frances’s sons) on the same day Lincoln was assassinated. Henry Seward seems to have enjoyed the bustle and acclaim of politics and wanted to accommodate the South despite personally opposing slavery, a compromise the more ideologically committed Frances found repugnant. She also ran an underground railroad stop out of their house (with his quiet approval) and pushed him in her letters to be harder on slaveholders, while trying to avoid public life herself. I can’t help suspecting Wickenden really wanted to write a book about Frances Seward, or a joint biography with her husband, because these are the book’s most in-depth sections. The connections between the three women she ultimately settled on feel relatively tenuous; they were friends, yes, but they all had plenty to choose from. But while not quite what I was expecting, it’s all interesting material. I do think the publisher could have made it a bit easier to read, by not printing on deckle edge pages (UGH) and by including family trees of the Wrights and Sewards (5-7 kids each are a lot to keep track of). Nevertheless, this is a perfectly fine history including some information I hadn’t seen before, and worth a read if you’re interested in the material. * After finishing the book with the sense Wickenden was much more interested in Seward than the other two, I counted the pages to check my instincts. Out of 282 pages of text (excluding blank pages between chapters and a few pages of general history not through the eyes of any of the protagonists), Seward gets 144 (or 51%), Wright 75 (or 27%) and Tubman 63 (or 22%).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden is an excellent nonfiction that weaves together the stories of three friends or “Auburn agitators”: Frances Seward, Harriet Tubman, and Martha Wright. This was an excellent book! I loved learning more about Frances, Martha, and Harriet and their quests for not only personal accomplishments, survival, and concern, but also for their selfless devotion to abolition and to advance women’s rights. I learned so much more about their involvement and additions to the ad The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden is an excellent nonfiction that weaves together the stories of three friends or “Auburn agitators”: Frances Seward, Harriet Tubman, and Martha Wright. This was an excellent book! I loved learning more about Frances, Martha, and Harriet and their quests for not only personal accomplishments, survival, and concern, but also for their selfless devotion to abolition and to advance women’s rights. I learned so much more about their involvement and additions to the advancement of these causes, their involvement with the Underground Railroad, and also more about the societal problems and political atmosphere during the 1840s-1910s. I loved the addition of a few other famous advocates: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (National Woman Suffrage Association) , Lucy Stone, Fredrick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, and many others. I had no idea how intertwined all of these figures were. I have to say my favorite aspect was learning even more about Harriet Tubman. She is truly one of the most amazing women in modern history. I am stunned with each new thing I learn about her. I loved it! This book is well-written, well-paced, and thoroughly researched. It is clear the author did her due diligence in all of her listed sources. What she was able to create was a book that is breathtaking and unforgettable. I have already purchased this as a preorder and will recommend this to everyone I know. Well done! 5/5 stars Thank you to the Author and Scribner for this stunning ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR, Instagram, Bookbub, Amazon, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Viola

    The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights by Dorothy Wickenden . The fact cannot be stressed enough that in the 19th Century, the anti-slavery and women's rights campaigns were interrelated and interlocking movements. This book shines further light on this history. May 12, 2021 Ann Fabian THE NATIONAL BOOK REVIEW Scribner ISBN 13: 9781476760735 Dorothy Wickenden begins the acknowledgements that conclude The Agitators: Three Friends who Fought for Abolition and Women’s The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights by Dorothy Wickenden . The fact cannot be stressed enough that in the 19th Century, the anti-slavery and women's rights campaigns were interrelated and interlocking movements. This book shines further light on this history. May 12, 2021 Ann Fabian THE NATIONAL BOOK REVIEW Scribner ISBN 13: 9781476760735 Dorothy Wickenden begins the acknowledgements that conclude The Agitators: Three Friends who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights, writing “I am a journalist, not a historian, but for any writer, ideas can take a long time to germinate, and they start with the passions and discoveries of those who precede them.” I’ve been puzzling over Wickenden’s disclaimer and trying to imagine how the slow-working historian, the writer Wickenden says she is not, would have approached this compelling story of three women who lived through and helped to define the moral turmoil of an America moving toward a war to end slavery. I’ll put my cards on the table: Wickenden is an historian. The Agitators tells the story of three women: Frances Miller Seward, Martha Coffin Wright, and Harriet Tubman, whose paths crossed in Auburn, New York, during the tumultuous middle years of the nineteenth century. Seward, Wright, and Tubman were co-conspirators and intimate friends, Wickenden tells us, plotting “insubordination against slavery and the oppression of women.” They each played parts in the events that remade the nation. The book opens with Martha Coffin Wright, daughter of an old Nantucket family and younger sister of activist Lucretia Mott. Martha was born in Boston in 1806. Three years later, the family settled in Philadelphia. Bristling at the strictures of Quaker life, Martha married a dashing military man and moved with him to the Florida territory. He died not long after, leaving her a widowed mother at age 19. She had the good luck to find a second suitor, a lawyer David Wright. The Wrights moved to Auburn in 1839. In Auburn, Martha met Frances Miller Seward, the town’s “only other known outlier” and the two become friends. Martha and Frances had a lot in common: “Quaker roots, older sisters willing to resist social norms, a passion for reading, an antipathy to pretentiousness, and a burgeoning interest in social reform.” They also had ambitious husbands and houses full of small children. Seward was the wealthy daughter of one of the town’s leading citizens, a man who had grown rich on the fevered land speculation that followed the American Revolution. Her money and family position helped support her husband’s political career. William “Henry” Seward served two terms as governor of New York, two terms in the US senate, helped launch the Republican Party, and joined Lincoln’s cabinet as Secretary of State. In the early years of their marriage, Wickenden writes, it seemed to Frances that Henry was “contributing to a dynamic new America,” while she was stuck at home. A trip through Virginia in the 1830s gave her a gut-wrenching view of the horrors of slavery, and she became Henry’s “private counselor and his political conscience,” as the two began to work, in their different ways, to bring an end to American slavery. The third woman, Harriet Tubman, is the most memorable of Wickenden’s agitators. Tubman is the conscience of the story, a woman whose extraordinary efforts helped build the dynamic new America that Seward imagined. Tubman, born in Maryland in 1822, was a generation younger than Wright and Seward. And her life could not have differed more from theirs. Tubman engineered her own escape from slavery in 1849, and over the next decade, returned to the Delmarva Peninsula to lead others north along the route of the Underground Railroad. Allies in Philadelphia, including Wright’s sister Lucretia Mott, likely suggested to Tubman that friends in Auburn, a small city on the north end of Lake Owasco, would shelter fugitives. Wright and Seward opened their kitchens to people heading north to Canada. In the 1850s, they welcomed Tubman herself and helped finance her purchase of an 8-acre farm. In summarizing the book, I’ve come to appreciate the challenges Wickenden faced in assembling the pieces of this story. Each of the women offers a perspective on the country’s mounting tensions, particularly after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Frances Seward, with her politically connected husband, serves as an eye-witness to high politics. She had little liking for the social conventions that governed life in Washington, and she abhorred the slavery still visible on the city’s streets. Seward was a step removed from the rough and tumble world of party politics, but she worked her ideas into the speeches that helped sustain Henry’s reputation as a leading anti-slavery spokesman in the Senate. Their correspondence has left us a record of her thoughts. Wickenden uses Wright to capture the long struggle for women’s rights. Wright was a witty woman, a gifted organizer, a good writer, and the long-time collaborator with movement leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Pregnancy sometimes kept Wright in the background, but allies appreciated her sharp pen and “pungent wit.” Wickenden uses her life to give us an insider’s access to the fight for women’s rights and, after the Civil War, to the debates over the 15th amendment that set some of those committed to women’s suffrage against others ready to extend the vote to Black men. For contemporary readers, Tubman’s story is probably the most compelling. In the 1850s, Tubman, turned “guerilla operative” by the fugitive slave law, led some 70 enslaved people to freedom. She was an activist in the fight against slavery. During the war, she used her contacts among those still enslaved to spy for the Union Army. She used her knowledge of botany to nurse wounded soldiers. After the war, she worked to support the aged and elderly among the formerly enslaved. Tubman’s actions are the easiest to see, but in some ways, her voice is the hardest to hear. Seward and Wright left us their own records. But Tubman could not write, so she recruited allies to record her stories, and her history comes to us second hand, already molded to some extent into legends she knew would garner support for her work. These uneven sources can vex ambitious journalists and dogged historians. With uneven sources, the friendship Wickenden calls out in the book’s title remains somewhat elusive. Wright and Seward corresponded with family members but rarely with each other. They met when they were both in Auburn and, Wickenden suspects, they must have commiserated when their sons went off to war. Occasionally, Wright mentions Tubman. But Wickenden as a journalist and historian has another source. The Black community of Auburn “handed down the story of Frances’s friendship with Harriet, and of her obdurate advocacy for Black education, emancipation, and equal rights.” Tubman’s contemporary chroniclers did not celebrate her friendships with Seward and Wright. The relations among the three, the friendships that inspired the book, can be hard to trace, and one could imagine a historian making the claim that women’s friendships run beneath the surface, changing the world, like routes on the underground railroad. Uneven sources might help explain why The Agitators is sometimes hard to follow. We simply know more about some pieces of the story than we do about others. Big names compound the problem. When Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass appear on the stage, can we still pay attention to Frances Seward and Martha Wright? Can we hear new-born babies, ailing children, and aging parents when pro-slavery border ruffians wage war in Kansas, when Frederick Douglass takes the stage, when John Brown conjures a war against slavery, and white men shout themselves hoarse on the Senate floor? Of course we can. But it isn’t easy. So with challenges of voices and sources how does a journalist approach the past? And when does a journalist become a historian? Obviously, Wickenden can’t pick up the phone and find someone to tell her what her story means—the journalist’s sleight-of-hand that shifts the need to say why it all matters to an expert on the line. A historian, I suppose, would have drawn generalizations from the lives of Tubman, Wright, and Seward, offering a glimpse of other women who made different choices and confessing the things that we cannot know about the protagonists. A journalist, on the other hand, steers the past into a narrow channel and lets her actors come alive. That is what Wickenden has done with The Agitators—told a story that captures both the small world of women’s households and the big events unfolding in Philadelphia, Washington, Seneca Falls, Kansas, and Harper’s Ferry. The historian in me bristled a bit when I first read the book: I wanted Wickenden to step back and tell me what it all means. But no. That’s not her job. She’s a reporter working on the past, and she’s taken us back to her discovery of three women buried in Auburn’s cemetery. Read her book and come along on my post-pandemic pilgrimage to Auburn, New York. We can all set down our Lincoln-head pennies as small tributes on Harriet Tubman’s grave. Enough of our pennies, I figure, and we’ll get Tubman the place she deserves on the twenty-dollar bill. +++++++ Ann Fabian is Distinguished Professor of History, emerita, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She is the author of The Unvarnished Truth: Personal Narratives in Nineteenth-Century America forthcoming in Raritan. Source: https://www.thenationalbookreview.com...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Abramson

    This book was a slog. Unfortunately, I don’t think there was enough material to put together a coherent interesting story. It did make me want to read a biography of Harriet Tubman.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Danaw

    Wickenden helps complete the story of the fight for women’s rights and abolition through the eyes of three incredible women. This refreshing view is knitted together through meticulous research and correspondence that provides new details and insights about a difficult time in our history. Wickenden’s storytelling is compelling and would intrigue readers interested in a good story, even if they aren’t interested in the history of the time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    I selected this book based on the review in WSJ. That review was misleading. This book was well written, but it predominantly informed the reader about the abolition movement. There was precious little about the Women's Rights movement, which was trying to get national traction simultaneously with the abolitionists. As a result, the many women who were champions of women's rights and sympathetic to abolition were (once again) talked into setting aside their goal and co-opted for the abolition mo I selected this book based on the review in WSJ. That review was misleading. This book was well written, but it predominantly informed the reader about the abolition movement. There was precious little about the Women's Rights movement, which was trying to get national traction simultaneously with the abolitionists. As a result, the many women who were champions of women's rights and sympathetic to abolition were (once again) talked into setting aside their goal and co-opted for the abolition movement. If you are interested in learning more about Harriet Tubman's heroic efforts in the underground railroad, you will be rewarded. There is ample information about Lincoln's secretary of state, Henry Seward, and his activist wife Frances, who sublimated her activities to help her husband's political career, but acted as his strongest conscience and advisor. But the women's rights movement gets very little attention, and it deserved at least equal treatment in terms of pages and depth of research devoted to it. To do so would have balanced out the book nicely. As it stands, a disappointment.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    Well-written, informative, and lively slice of women's political history. Well-written, informative, and lively slice of women's political history.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Findlay

    This was a fascinating narration of the role of three women from Auburn, NY in the fights for both abolition and equal rights for women. Harriet Tubman is fairly well known, but after reading this book, I recognize that even what we know about her does not begin to reflect the tremendous courage she showed not only in helping slaves escape via The Underground Railroad but also in leading raiding parties in coastal South Carolina during the Civil War that enabled hundreds of slaves to escape to t This was a fascinating narration of the role of three women from Auburn, NY in the fights for both abolition and equal rights for women. Harriet Tubman is fairly well known, but after reading this book, I recognize that even what we know about her does not begin to reflect the tremendous courage she showed not only in helping slaves escape via The Underground Railroad but also in leading raiding parties in coastal South Carolina during the Civil War that enabled hundreds of slaves to escape to the Union army. As if that wasn't enough, she also served as a nurse in helping soldiers recover from their wounds. The second woman is Francis Seward, the wife of William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State. Although much is known about her husband, this is the first I have heard about her role in fighting for abolition and women's rights. As the wife of a politician, she had to be a little more circumspect in her public positions, but she was a diligent and active participant in fighting to free the slaves and to win rights for women. The third woman is Martha Wright, perhaps not as recognizable a name, but she was the sister of Lucretia Mott and was also a leader in the fights for these two just causes. I have visited Auburn, NY many times, as we have a summer cottage in the area, but I never fully understood the relationship between the Sewards and Harriet Tubman, even though both have houses in the area (right down the street from each other) that have been converted into museums. It turns out that they were close friends for many years, and the Sewards served as one of the stops on The Underground Railroad. Tubman bought her house from the Sewards for a nominal fee, and kept her parents and many others there. They would have given it to her, but she insisted on buying it. The Wrights lived very close by, and all three women were frequently interacting (when Harriet wasn't off freeing slaves or Francis wasn't in Washington with her husband). The stories of their lives bring home the horrors of sending sons off to fight the Civil War, the struggles with illness and assassination attempts, the related but different struggles for achieving the vote for Blacks and for women, and the disputes within various organizations about the best methods to achieve the desired ends. Frederick Douglass, Susan B Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton also come to light. I feel I gained a new perspective on these struggles, and on these three very important women by reading this book. I highly recommend it for everyone. And I don't see how anyone could read and learn about Harriet Tubman and not find her deserving of having her image on our currency. She was one of the most extraordinary Americans I have ever heard about.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    In mid-1800s America, freedom was a foundational concept, but it had many, often thorny, branches. Who could doubt that African slaves were deprived of it, or that women, no matter how privileged, were not enjoying its fullest benefits? These multifaceted issues would lead to a destructive war and a lingering divide. In the midst of the fray were three remarkable women --- Harriet Tubman, Martha Wright and Frances Seward --- whose portraits are painted in THE AGITATORS by Dorothy Wickenden, a no In mid-1800s America, freedom was a foundational concept, but it had many, often thorny, branches. Who could doubt that African slaves were deprived of it, or that women, no matter how privileged, were not enjoying its fullest benefits? These multifaceted issues would lead to a destructive war and a lingering divide. In the midst of the fray were three remarkable women --- Harriet Tubman, Martha Wright and Frances Seward --- whose portraits are painted in THE AGITATORS by Dorothy Wickenden, a noted writer and the executive editor of The New Yorker. Harriet Tubman’s story is perhaps the best known: a former slave who singlehandedly started what became known as the Underground Railroad to move Black people from captivity in the Southern states to new lives in the Northern regions. Along the way, she was able to enlist the assistance of people like Martha Wright, a Quaker mother of seven, and Frances Seward, the wife of Governor, then Senator, then Secretary of State William H. Seward. Wright and Seward were already allies in Auburn, New York, both free-thinkers whose views were not always understood by their neighbors or, at times, their spouses. Wright was the sister of Lucretia Mott, who was well known to Tubman as a radical defender of all human rights; Mott avowed that Quakers should be not quietists but “agitators” in the face of injustice. As the possibility of war geared up, Wright, Seward and Tubman would approach it in different ways, but all were determined to abolish slavery, and to press for women’s rights and suffrage. Wickenden has mined the annals of social, political and cultural history in composing this complex, wide-ranging tome. She shows each woman in particular situations that highlight her aspirations, even describing an incident where Tubman, posing as an old lady in prayer, initiated a street brawl with constables holding a fugitive slave in chains. There are behind-the-scenes glimpses of Lincoln seen by some as a radical, by others as ineffectual. Opinions differed about his Emancipation Proclamation, with Tubman believing it wouldn’t help the people enslaved in border states like Maryland, Wright seeing it as “far less than we had hoped,” and Seward referencing doubts about its “ultimate consequences.” All three women were esteemed in their time, heading organizations and championing causes to proclaim and promote human rights well ahead of majority thinking, and all have been duly recognized and honored in Auburn and beyond. Wickenden is participating in that ongoing process, bringing their accomplishments and shared goals to light for a new generation. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

  11. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-... Harriet Tubman—no-nonsense, funny, uncannily prescient, and strategically brilliant—was one of the most important conductors on the underground railroad and hid the enslaved men, women and children she rescued in the basement kitchens of Martha Wright, Quaker mother of seven, and Frances Seward, wife of Governor, then Senator, then Secretary of State William H. Seward. Harriet worked for the Union Army in South Caroli https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re... https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-... Harriet Tubman—no-nonsense, funny, uncannily prescient, and strategically brilliant—was one of the most important conductors on the underground railroad and hid the enslaved men, women and children she rescued in the basement kitchens of Martha Wright, Quaker mother of seven, and Frances Seward, wife of Governor, then Senator, then Secretary of State William H. Seward. Harriet worked for the Union Army in South Carolina as a nurse and spy, and took part in a river raid in which 750 enslaved people were freed from rice plantations. Martha, a “dangerous woman” in the eyes of her neighbors and a harsh critic of Lincoln’s policy on slavery, organized women’s rights and abolitionist conventions with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Frances gave freedom seekers money and referrals and aided in their education. The most conventional of the three friends, she hid her radicalism in public; behind the scenes, she argued strenuously with her husband about the urgency of immediate abolition. Many of the most prominent figures in the history books—Lincoln, Seward, Daniel Webster, Frederick Douglass, Charles Sumner, John Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Lloyd Garrison—are seen through the discerning eyes of the protagonists. So are the most explosive political debates: about women’s roles and rights during the abolition crusade, emancipation, and the arming of Black troops; and about the true meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Beginning two decades before the Civil War, when Harriet Tubman was still enslaved and Martha and Frances were young women bound by law and tradition, The Agitators ends two decades after the war, in a radically changed United States. Wickenden brings this extraordinary period of our history to life through the richly detailed letters her characters wrote several times a week. Like Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and David McCullough’s John Adams, Wickenden’s The Agitators is revelatory, riveting, and profoundly relevant to our own time.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    “The Agitators” is a very interesting and informative look at three women who were actively involved in both the abolitionist movement as well as women’s rights. The book centers around Harriet Tubman, Martha Coffin Wright, and Frances Seward. Harriet Tubman is well known as being involved in the underground railroad which liberated slaves from southern plantations and guided them to the north. I did not know that she also worked for the Union Army during the Civil War as both a nurse and a spy. “The Agitators” is a very interesting and informative look at three women who were actively involved in both the abolitionist movement as well as women’s rights. The book centers around Harriet Tubman, Martha Coffin Wright, and Frances Seward. Harriet Tubman is well known as being involved in the underground railroad which liberated slaves from southern plantations and guided them to the north. I did not know that she also worked for the Union Army during the Civil War as both a nurse and a spy. Martha Coffin Wright, a Quaker and mother of seven, was considered a very dangerous woman by many. She worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony to organize women’s rights conventions before and after the Civil War as well as anti-slavery conventions across New York State. Francis Seward was by far the most interesting of the three women, and her character was the most well-developed by the author. She was the wife of NY Governor, Senator and Secretary of State under Lincoln, William H. Seward. While she was a devout abolitionist, she was the quietest about her politics because of her husband’s various positions in government. She was her husband’s political advisor but more radical than her husband who was also staunchly abolitionist. William H. Seward was more pragmatic about how to achieve their goals than his wife. Francis was pressured by her husband to work behind the scenes more than other women, but was very effective despite her low profile. Most people may know something about Seward, even if it’s only for “Seward’s folly,” the purchase of Alaska, but they probably don’t know anything much about his wife Francis. She was an amazing woman. After the Civil War, the dilemma about whether to push for equal rights and voting rights for black men only, or black men and all women at the same time, was very interesting. While these three women began their push for women’s rights, including voting rights, well before the Civil War, it was more than 70 years later, August 18, 1920 that the 19th amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote was ratified. Worth reading.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Dunlap

    This is the surprising story of three women whose lives intersected in Auburn, New York, and who had major impacts -- each in a way consistent with her own character -- on the fight against slavery and for women's rights in the years leading up to (and during) the American Civil War. The three women are Frances Adeline Miller, who was to marry William Henry Seward (later Governor of New York and Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State), Martha Coffin (younger sister to the more famous Lucretia Coff This is the surprising story of three women whose lives intersected in Auburn, New York, and who had major impacts -- each in a way consistent with her own character -- on the fight against slavery and for women's rights in the years leading up to (and during) the American Civil War. The three women are Frances Adeline Miller, who was to marry William Henry Seward (later Governor of New York and Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State), Martha Coffin (younger sister to the more famous Lucretia Coffin Mott), who would take as her second husband David Wright, an attorney (raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania), and Harriet Tubman, whose involvement in the fight for abolition and the rights of blacks took her beyond her seminal role in the Underground Railroad to embrace espionage, nursing, and activism. Uncomfortable as the wife of one of the nation's most prominent politicians, the retiring Frances Seward was a more fierce opponent to slavery than even her husband, but, when it came to women's rights, although she was fiercely in favor, she agreed -- out of respect for the delicacy of her husband's position -- not to take an openly public role in the fight for female suffrage. Martha Wright, on the other hand, while not comfortable at first with a public speaking role (more than willing to defer to her elder sister, as well as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony), became front and center in the women's gatherings that preceded and followed the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention; she was deemed a 'dangerous woman.' While Harriet Tubman is probably the best-known of the trio, many of her activities were behind-the-scenes and, of necessity, under the radar, so to speak: shepherding slaves out of the antebellum South, leading many of them to the safety of Canada, spying for the Union Army during the war, and nursing its casualties. Three fascinating individuals -- and their lives are well-captured in this well-written, well-researched book. The subject matter may not appeal to all...but, IMHO, it *should*! Recommended!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    These women are the very definition of "squad goals" and I loved learning more about them. Choose Your Fighter: Martha Wright - Quaker, Underground Railroad stop runner, Abolitionist, and Women's Rights Activist. I loved her earthy sense of humor and her fierce arguments with her husband via letter. She was bold and unapologetic. Her pragmatism helped reign in some of the crazy impulses of her friends Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Her daughter Eliza continued on her legacy of activ These women are the very definition of "squad goals" and I loved learning more about them. Choose Your Fighter: Martha Wright - Quaker, Underground Railroad stop runner, Abolitionist, and Women's Rights Activist. I loved her earthy sense of humor and her fierce arguments with her husband via letter. She was bold and unapologetic. Her pragmatism helped reign in some of the crazy impulses of her friends Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Her daughter Eliza continued on her legacy of activism (and her friendship with Harriet Tubman). Frances Seward - First Lady of NY State and the quiet supporter of the underground railroad and abolitionist. She reminded me a lot of Eleanor Roosevelt - like ER, Frances was more liberal than her husband and urged him to fight harder for progressive principles. Harriet Tubman - "She Moses" underground railroad conductor, raider and scout during the Civil War, and suffrage campaigner. She never learned to write or read, but had an amazing and powerful impact on the world. While I didn't always feel like the connection between these three women was obvious, there were enough points of connection that the book came together for me and painted a picture of life for these women and their intertwining friendships. So fascinating to learn about some of the unsung heroes of the pre- and post-civil war human rights campaigns. One of my favorite quotes was from Martha Wright: "...Here come the women who are going to do something" (page 148). While she wasn't talking about herself (but about future activists), the quote could accurately apply to all three women.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth Barber

    This book details the story of three women activists and their relationship to each other and reform movements primarily abolition and women’s suffrage. All three women resided in Auburn, New York. Frances Seward was the wife of William Henry Seward, US Senator and Secretary of State for Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Martha Coffin Wright, whose sister was also a prominent activist,Lucretia Mott. The third woman was Harriet Tubman, a leader of the Underground Railroad. She advocated for Bla This book details the story of three women activists and their relationship to each other and reform movements primarily abolition and women’s suffrage. All three women resided in Auburn, New York. Frances Seward was the wife of William Henry Seward, US Senator and Secretary of State for Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Martha Coffin Wright, whose sister was also a prominent activist,Lucretia Mott. The third woman was Harriet Tubman, a leader of the Underground Railroad. She advocated for Black and women’s rights. The book traces their early lives and their road to activism. Frances and Martha were strongly influenced by Quakerism background of their families. Their routes were fairly similar on the way to activism. Harriet entered into the group by way of the Underground Railroad. Auburn was a stop on the Railroad as escaped slave settled there or moved on to Canada. All three women were also heavily involved in women’s suffrage movements and also securing rights for the freed slaves. The book shows the connections of these three with other activists of the era: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Fredrick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. The book shows how the reformers worked together or disagreed. The main issue of dissension was women’s suffrage. Many of the reformers advocated for Black suffrage, but balked at suffrage for women. This book sheds light on two women who weren’t household names in reform, as well as furthering the knowledge about Harriet Tubman.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zena Ryder

    Harriet Tubman is amazing. I love reading about the incredible things she did. This book is worth reading just to learn more about her. But in this great book, we get to read about two other interesting women, as well. I was particularly taken with Frances Seward. For a woman who was probably fairly quiet and retiring by nature she led a life very close to the big public issues of her time — abolition of slavery and suffrage for Black people and women. Being married to such a prominent public fig Harriet Tubman is amazing. I love reading about the incredible things she did. This book is worth reading just to learn more about her. But in this great book, we get to read about two other interesting women, as well. I was particularly taken with Frances Seward. For a woman who was probably fairly quiet and retiring by nature she led a life very close to the big public issues of her time — abolition of slavery and suffrage for Black people and women. Being married to such a prominent public figure can't have been easy for her. Her husband was William Henry Seward. He was, among other political positions, Lincoln's Secretary of State. She never hesitated to let him know what she thought and she was no doubt an influence on his views. She was an abolitionist and thought that freedom for the enslaved people of the South was more important than preservation of the Union. She thought that the South should have been allowed to secede from the Union, and that it wouldn't have survived as an independent country, and slavery would have ended sooner. Was she ultimately disappointed in her husband's political compromises? It's certainly tempting to read her that way. Looking more into the Sewards led me to the Seward Family Digital Archive, where you can read their letters to one another, as well as to and from many other people: https://sewardproject.org/

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    Imagine going to town meeting in Auburn, NY in the latter half of the 19th century - you might have encountered Martha Wright, Frances (and Henry) Seward, and Harriet Tubman, and they undoubtedly would have made their opinions known. Each woman agitated in her own way against slavery and in favor of expansion of women’s rights. I was especially taken with the words attributed to Tubman, whose lack of literacy didn’t prevent her from being a natural and inspiring leader. Management programs should Imagine going to town meeting in Auburn, NY in the latter half of the 19th century - you might have encountered Martha Wright, Frances (and Henry) Seward, and Harriet Tubman, and they undoubtedly would have made their opinions known. Each woman agitated in her own way against slavery and in favor of expansion of women’s rights. I was especially taken with the words attributed to Tubman, whose lack of literacy didn’t prevent her from being a natural and inspiring leader. Management programs should study her. Frances Seward saw New York emerge as the powerhouse of the U.S., then had a front row seat in the Lincoln administration. Most of the book centers around the lead up to and action of the Civil War. Some of the events were familiar, like the fate of the Black battalion headed by Robert Gould Shaw, but Wickenden contributes a new, fresh perspective. Her depiction of the rabid cruelty and hatred of slave holders, the Border Ruffians attacking settlers in ‘bleeding Kansas,’ the demented rage of John Brown and his family all bring to mind, unfortunately, the present day. Also - who knew that Worcester, Mass. was a hotbed of progressive reform?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    People and events we knew about, but from a different point of view. A time in which people expressed their points of view by beating their political opponents with gold tipped canes. White women were considered too fragile to do hard labor, but were expected to go through labor and childbirth and see their babies die of disease or die young in wars. Enslaved women were expected to do hard labor and to let their babies be torn away and sold to faraway owners. I had known that Secretary Seward wa People and events we knew about, but from a different point of view. A time in which people expressed their points of view by beating their political opponents with gold tipped canes. White women were considered too fragile to do hard labor, but were expected to go through labor and childbirth and see their babies die of disease or die young in wars. Enslaved women were expected to do hard labor and to let their babies be torn away and sold to faraway owners. I had known that Secretary Seward was badly beaten and stabbed by a fanatic ally of John Wilkes Booth, but one of his sons who his mother had hoped to save by keeping him out of the Army was also a victim of this attack . Martha Wright, a close friend of Frances Seward, was a fervent suffragist and abolitionist, but also a gentle mother and grandmother who soothed babies by the magic of her touch. Frances herself devotedly nursed her children from disease when they were young and war wounds when they were adults. Tubman Wright and Seward excelled in the "women's sphere" but longed for a wider sphere for women.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tony Wohlfarth

    I picked up this book as recommended by Jane Kamensky in the New York Times book review (April 11, 2021). What a disappointment. I am not a historian (neither is Wickenden) but I wanted to learn more about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad ? Part 1 - Provocations) was a complete waste of time. Skip it and you won't miss a thing. I knew the Underground Railway ended in Canada, so I looked in the index for references? There were none. Zero. That is not to say Canada is not mentioned. It I picked up this book as recommended by Jane Kamensky in the New York Times book review (April 11, 2021). What a disappointment. I am not a historian (neither is Wickenden) but I wanted to learn more about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad ? Part 1 - Provocations) was a complete waste of time. Skip it and you won't miss a thing. I knew the Underground Railway ended in Canada, so I looked in the index for references? There were none. Zero. That is not to say Canada is not mentioned. It means the index is woefully incomplete. Ditto for North Carolona, West Virginia, Mexico, etc. I also wanted to know where the Mason Dixon line separated the north from the south? Guess what ? This book has no maps. None. It also has precious few photos - while praising (in the Epilogue) those she saw in the Seward House Museum. & the Harriet Tubman National Historic Site. For fans of Tubman, I recommend the movie "Harriet". Ths book is a dud and don't believe everything you read in the NY Times.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Micebyliz

    A fascinating book. I was especially interested in the parts about Harriet Tubman actually, more so than the "three friends" featured. It's still hard to read parts of speeches and quotes from diaries that are so man this and man that because i just don't feel part of it. I remember that we were told in school, "well, it's the same thing". Well, no. it's not. it never was. Remember that at the same time the Civil? War was raging many other struggles were taking place--Mexico, for one, and the sla A fascinating book. I was especially interested in the parts about Harriet Tubman actually, more so than the "three friends" featured. It's still hard to read parts of speeches and quotes from diaries that are so man this and man that because i just don't feel part of it. I remember that we were told in school, "well, it's the same thing". Well, no. it's not. it never was. Remember that at the same time the Civil? War was raging many other struggles were taking place--Mexico, for one, and the slaughter of Native Peoples (no thanks to Johnson et al) So for all the "equality" there really wasn't any. I think that's clear from Reconstruction. At least some people tried to do something. The great Frederick Douglass, who picture speaks a thousand words (as does Harriet Tubman's) cries out from the page to keep fighting because the fight is not over. Very well written and researched. Recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jan Carlson

    I found these intertwined biographies of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright quite fascinating. The three women were friends, neighbors, and agitators, fighting for abolition and women's rights. Although I was quite familiar with Tubman's role in the Underground Railroad, I was surprised at the important roles she played both during and after the Civil War. Seward was the upper class wife and moral conscience of William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State. Although forced to stay I found these intertwined biographies of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright quite fascinating. The three women were friends, neighbors, and agitators, fighting for abolition and women's rights. Although I was quite familiar with Tubman's role in the Underground Railroad, I was surprised at the important roles she played both during and after the Civil War. Seward was the upper class wife and moral conscience of William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State. Although forced to stay in the background due to her husband's political career, her contribution to overturn slavery and gain women's rights was considerable. Wright was a middle class Quaker who was able to be far more vocal than Seward and has been publicly recognized for her contributions. Well-researched and well-written!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Keen

    Amazing book about amazingly impressive women, accomplishing so much for Blacks' and women's rights, while dealing with their own turbulent, sometimes tragic family lives. I learned a lot, which i hope i can retain. Reminded and taught me about the choice between working for Blacks' freedom or working for women's rights --which to prioritize, while trying to keep a husband happy / calm. Contrasted their accomplishments, choices, and bravery to mine, which are very lacking! I was wishing that each Amazing book about amazingly impressive women, accomplishing so much for Blacks' and women's rights, while dealing with their own turbulent, sometimes tragic family lives. I learned a lot, which i hope i can retain. Reminded and taught me about the choice between working for Blacks' freedom or working for women's rights --which to prioritize, while trying to keep a husband happy / calm. Contrasted their accomplishments, choices, and bravery to mine, which are very lacking! I was wishing that each woman could have had her own book, as i got confused with all that was going on (except for wonderful, unique Harriet Tubman, who is already well-known to most people), altho in some cases their lives were so intertwined. Think if i had read the book format, i could have been more successful in keeping them straight. Audio overdrive @ 1 and 1.25 speed

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    An outstanding social biography of three 19th c women, who lived much of their lives in Auburn NY. Martha Coffin Wright came from a family of abolitionists and feminists. Frances Seward was the wife of NYS Governor William Henry Seward, who would become Lincoln’s trusted Secretary of State. She was a fervent abolitionist who for years ran a vital stop on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was a legend in her own time, who personally helped 70+ to freedom via that same railroad and went on An outstanding social biography of three 19th c women, who lived much of their lives in Auburn NY. Martha Coffin Wright came from a family of abolitionists and feminists. Frances Seward was the wife of NYS Governor William Henry Seward, who would become Lincoln’s trusted Secretary of State. She was a fervent abolitionist who for years ran a vital stop on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was a legend in her own time, who personally helped 70+ to freedom via that same railroad and went on to fight for suffrage and civil rights. Wickenden weaves their interlocking stories together and in so doing reveals the personal and public lives of prominent people of the 1800s. She writes w ease and a command of the material that is to be envied. It’s a fascinating read and a learning experience together. I highly recommend it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This journalist's coverage of three important women from the Civil War era added to my knowledge of the time after a year of reading historical works. I especially appreciated the work done on Frances Seward, wife of Henry Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state. Historians have often painted her as a hypochondriac and complainer, but this author read a lot of her correspondence and presents her in a much more positive and nuanced light. Harriet Tubman and Martha Wright are covered as well, although This journalist's coverage of three important women from the Civil War era added to my knowledge of the time after a year of reading historical works. I especially appreciated the work done on Frances Seward, wife of Henry Seward, Lincoln's secretary of state. Historians have often painted her as a hypochondriac and complainer, but this author read a lot of her correspondence and presents her in a much more positive and nuanced light. Harriet Tubman and Martha Wright are covered as well, although a little less thoroughly. The writing was adequate, the organization a little choppy, but well worth the read to glean new insights into such a turbulent time, as the war raged, and, later, blacks and women struggled for equality.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This book is as much about the Civil War as abolition and women’s rights—but of course the war heavily shaped what came next. I enjoyed the audiobook, with three narrators. Full of letters and details of these women’s backgrounds and intertwining lives, you get a real feel for the ways in which they transcended the expected roles for women of the time. But Harriet Tubman looms larger than life. I was stunned at how much I didn’t know about her, from her Union position during the Civil War to her This book is as much about the Civil War as abolition and women’s rights—but of course the war heavily shaped what came next. I enjoyed the audiobook, with three narrators. Full of letters and details of these women’s backgrounds and intertwining lives, you get a real feel for the ways in which they transcended the expected roles for women of the time. But Harriet Tubman looms larger than life. I was stunned at how much I didn’t know about her, from her Union position during the Civil War to her activism into her 90’s. So much to learn about even the African Americans we thought we’d studied...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joseph J.

    Having read Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals I was especially interested in the story of Frances Seward among the three focused on in this book. While she emerges in a more complete and appreciated way, I was surprised that my index search revealed Mary Lincoln missing, especially since Mary so notoriously snubbed Frances and the entire Seward family. Disappointing, although Frances' impatience with D.C. and that social scene was touched upon. The detail of Harriet Tubman's slave life, the Having read Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals I was especially interested in the story of Frances Seward among the three focused on in this book. While she emerges in a more complete and appreciated way, I was surprised that my index search revealed Mary Lincoln missing, especially since Mary so notoriously snubbed Frances and the entire Seward family. Disappointing, although Frances' impatience with D.C. and that social scene was touched upon. The detail of Harriet Tubman's slave life, the cruelty and the escape was especially impacting. This is an admirable addition to both mid-nineteenth century and women's history.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Judi

    I feel like I've read a lot about the Civil War and the nascent women's suffrage movement but I learned a lot reading The Agitators. The story of the friendship between Martha Wright, Francis Seward, and Harriet Tubman was new to me. I had heard of all three in different contexts (Tubman was my first real hero in grade school) but never as a trio of friends and supporters in the women's suffrage movement. It was absorbing to listen to how the lives of each of these women influenced events in the I feel like I've read a lot about the Civil War and the nascent women's suffrage movement but I learned a lot reading The Agitators. The story of the friendship between Martha Wright, Francis Seward, and Harriet Tubman was new to me. I had heard of all three in different contexts (Tubman was my first real hero in grade school) but never as a trio of friends and supporters in the women's suffrage movement. It was absorbing to listen to how the lives of each of these women influenced events in the Civil War and in advancing the rights of women. Even in the mid to late Nineteenth Century, each left their mark and changed the course of history.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Janta

    Ebook notes: narrative text comprised ~74% of the total; the remainder was notes, etc. When I picked this book up, I'd only ever heard of Harriet Tubman. It was an interesting read about three women we should probably all be more familiar with. I'm afraid I kind of lost track of who was related to who as the book progressed, and I found the chapters on the civil war a bit too focused on the details of some battles (which is a personal quibble on my part -- I've never been a fan of reading about t Ebook notes: narrative text comprised ~74% of the total; the remainder was notes, etc. When I picked this book up, I'd only ever heard of Harriet Tubman. It was an interesting read about three women we should probably all be more familiar with. I'm afraid I kind of lost track of who was related to who as the book progressed, and I found the chapters on the civil war a bit too focused on the details of some battles (which is a personal quibble on my part -- I've never been a fan of reading about the details of troop movements and etc.) Overall, a nice exploration of some history that should not be forgotten.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carol Kearns

    This book corroborated some of the books I’ve read about Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry Seward, but it is different in that it tells the story of three women (Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright), and the role they played in the abolitionist movement as well as the fight for women’s suffrage. It was informative and inspiring and hard to imagine what our lives would be like today if these women and others hadn’t been so dedicated to the cause of both abolition and wom This book corroborated some of the books I’ve read about Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry Seward, but it is different in that it tells the story of three women (Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright), and the role they played in the abolitionist movement as well as the fight for women’s suffrage. It was informative and inspiring and hard to imagine what our lives would be like today if these women and others hadn’t been so dedicated to the cause of both abolition and women’s equality.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ann Patterson

    The Agitators Great historical book showing the interplay among three great women of their time. Frances Seward, Martha Wright and Harriet Tubman. In addition to allowing the reader to view each of the women's activism through their correspondence, the reader also gains an appreciation of the difficulties these women faced during chaotic times. I found it especially interesting to view the happenings prior to the Civil War, and during the war, and after. This was especially meaningful in the ligh The Agitators Great historical book showing the interplay among three great women of their time. Frances Seward, Martha Wright and Harriet Tubman. In addition to allowing the reader to view each of the women's activism through their correspondence, the reader also gains an appreciation of the difficulties these women faced during chaotic times. I found it especially interesting to view the happenings prior to the Civil War, and during the war, and after. This was especially meaningful in the light of our current times

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