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Wed, 10.12.1808

Frances Dana Barker Gage, Abolitionist born

Frances Dana Baker Gage

*Frances Dana Barker Gage was born on this date in 1808.  She was a white-American reformer, feminist and abolitionist.  

Frances Dana Barker was born near Marietta, Ohio, the daughter of farmers Elizabeth Dana and Col. Joseph Barker, she was the tenth of eleven children.  Baker wrote that her woman suffrage work began when she was ten years old, in 1818. She helped her father make barrels and her work was so well executed that her father praised her work, but then lamented her "accident of gender." Gage wrote that this was a turning point for her, the incident bringing up hatred to the limitations of sex and laying the foundation for her activism. 

On January 1, 1829 she married James L. Gage, an abolitionist lawyer from McConnelsville, Ohio. He was a Universalist and a friend of the evangelist Stephen R. Smith. Traveling Universalist preachers, like George Rogers and Nathaniel Stacy, often stayed in the Gage household.  From 1863 to 1864 she was the superintendent, under General Rufus Saxton, in charge of Parris Island, South Carolina, a refuge for over 500 freed slaves.  

She worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, along with other leaders of the early women's rights movement in the United States.   She was among the first to champion voting rights for all citizens without regard to race or gender and was a particularly outspoken supporter of giving newly freed Black women the franchise during Reconstruction, along with Black men who had formerly been slaves.    Frances Dana Baker Gage died on November 10, 1884.  

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There is music in me, the music of a peasant people. I wander through the levee, picking my banjo and singing my songs of the cabin and the field. At last... THE BANJO PLAYER by Fenton Johnson.
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