Women Past and Present (October 1879)

This list appeared in National Citizen and Ballot Box in October 1879. The National Citizen and Ballot Box was a monthly journal deeply involved in the roots of the American feminist movement. It was owned and edited by Matilda Joslyn Gage, American women’s rights advocate, who helped to lead and publicize the suffrage movement in the United States.

Women Past and Present

KADIJAH, the first wife of Mahomet, and the only one during her life, was celebrated by him, as the “Woman of Faith,” she having embraced his doctrines and believed in him, when he was poor, unknown and without power. Kadijah was a rich widow of noble family, much older than Mahomet. She was engaged in commerce; her caravans traversed the desert, the camels laden with tissues and Indian pearls. She gave to Mahomet the direction of her business, which he conducted so much to her satisfaction that she sent, according to Arab custom, an old man to him to explain her feelings and suggest marriage. Mahomet treated her ever with the greatest deference, taking no other wife while she lived; neither did he absorb her property, not touching it without her permission. Two sons, who died in their infancy, and four daughters who lived and accepted his faith, were the results of this union.

AISHE (Ayesha) was of marvellous beauty and the favorite wife of Mahomet. He married her when she was but eight years of age. She was endowed with all the charms of mind and body most esteemed by the Arabs; elegant figure, majestic gait, lustrous humid eyes, “like a star in a well,” abundant dark hair. She was Mahomet’s counsellor and his confidant. Although the charms of Aiche were sung by poets and celebrated in Arab traditions, she is said to have retained the love of Mahomet by the power of her intellect, her wise counsels and her faithfulness. In his old age, she alone knew the secrets of his heart.

ZAYNAH, another of Mahomet’s wives, was distinguished among all his wives for her benevolence and charity. She was called “the Mother of the Poor.”

FATIMA was the youngest daughter of Kadijah and Mahomet. From her are descended the green-turbaned Musselmans who style themselves sherife, and claim to have in their veins some of the blood of the prophet.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).
Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

MARIE ANTOINETTE, the lovely queen of France who was sacrifieed during the Reign of Terror, is described as tall, admirably proportioned, with lovely arms, perfectly shaped hands and charming feet, holding her head very upright, with a majesty which did not detract from her sweetness, and walking better than any woman in France,—a very elegant and beautiful woman. Her complexion is described as extremely brilliant, and delicately tinted. But as sweet and as gracious and as beautiful as she was, she failed to gain the French people’s heart, who named her in derision, “The Austrian.” and who at last guillotined her.

MADAME Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun was a celebrated portrait painter who died in Paris in 1842, at the age of 87. She inherited her talent from her father, and before she was fourteen her work had introduced her to the public and brought her the notice of eminent artists. At twenty, she married a man who dissipated her large earnings in low company and gambling. Soon after her marriage, her rooms were the evening resort of noblemen, great ladies, courtiers, townsfolk, men of mark in letters and art, and so crowded that the marshals of France had to sit on the floor. The best musical composers often performed portions of their work in her salon before public representation, and poets recited their verses at her little suppers. To the close of her long life, her home still possessed attractions to all classes of persons. Hers is among the statues of celebrated women to be set up in the new Hotel de Ville.

Mary Starbuck

Mary Starbuck

MARY STARBUCK lived on the island of Nantucket nearly two hundred years ago. She was a Quaker, and converted that island to Quakerism in 1708. She was engaged in commerce, and was known as “The Great Merchant.”

MARIE CHRISTINE, Archduchess of Austria and future Queen of Spain, is the croziered and mitred abbess of the noble chapter of Prag, and has twelve canonesses under her jurisdiction. No one but an Archduchess can hold this dignity. The salary is 20,000 florins a year. At great ceremonials she bears the insignia of her high office, wearing a tall headdress, in appearance like an Episcopal mitre. The Archduchess is twenty-one years old, very fond of dancing and rather averse to her marriage, which will seperate her almost entirely from her early family friends.

The Duchess of Castiglione-Aldovrand recently died at the early age of forty-two. She was passionately attached to her husband, who died in their early married days. The Duchess at once retired from society, and devoted herself to painting and sculpture. Her artist name was “Marcello,” and her work was finely executed. She was generous and kindly to the poor.

MISS ANNA WILLIAMS, of Philadelphia, is the original of the Goddess of Liberty on the silver dollar. The designer, who was sent from the royal mint of England, had the good sense to see that the likeness of a living American girl would be more appropriate than a fanciful head. Miss Williams was selected because she possessed a pronounced Grecian nose. And yet this original “Liberty” is not permitted the liberty of governing herself.

Ida Lewis

Ida Lewis

MRS. A. H. H. STUART, chairman of the Board of Immigration of Washington Territory, is also one of the Directors of the Washington Industrial Association, whose object is the promotion of agricultural and kindred arts. This association was organized in 1871, to aid in developing the resources of Washington Territory. Mrs. Stuart, who is an officer of the N. W. S. A., is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Finance Committee, and one of the clerks of the Auditing Committee. Honors are heaped high upon her, telling of the estimation in which that far distant Territory holds her.

IDA LEWIS, the Newport heroine, set the fashion of silk handkerchiefs carelessly tied about the neck, in this wise. One dark stormy night she was not feeling very well, and so was lying down with her boots off, dressed only in a wrapper. Soon she heard loud cries from the water. She did not stop even to put on her shoes, but as she ran to the door she caught a towel, and tied it about her neck by the corners as she flew over the rocks to the boat house. In a short time, she was far out from the shore, with two miserable drowning men in her boat, whom she had found almost dead, clinging to the mast of an overturned vessel. From such slight things do fashions originate.

Top Image: These are three portraits by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (Madame Le Brun).  A collection of her work can be viewed online here.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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