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Review of The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden

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Author Dorothy Wickenden tells the story of three women who helped fight for women’s rights and to bring about the end of slavery in the United States. She did research did into the lives of these women and those they worked alongside.

Harriet Tubman rescued about seventy slaves from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, bringing them along the underground railroad to the homes of abolitionists who gave them shelter until they reached their final destination – Canada. (Slavery ended in Canada on August 1, 1834) One of the places Tubman stopped at was Auburn, New York, where she entrusted slaves to Martha Coffin Wright, a Quaker and mother of seven, and Frances Seward, the wife of William H Seward, future Secretary of State in the Lincoln Administration. Later, during the Civil War, Tubman worked as a spy and nurse for the Union and took part in raids that liberated about 750 slaves from various plantations.

Martha Coffin Wright, not only took in freed slaves as they traveled on the underground railroad, she also worked with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She contributed to several women’s abolition and antislavery conventions as well as given speeches.  

However, unlike Tubman and Wright, Frances Seward did not openly show her racialism.  Instead, she chose to act as a political advisor to her husband and pressed him to do all he could to end slavery through every political post he held.   

Together these women fought hard to bring about change in the laws toward women and African Americans in America.  The battle was not easy, yet they pressed on their whole lives to make this goal happen and passed the mantle to younger generations to continue where they left off. 

​Wickenden’s book is both riveting and rich in history about the struggle for the women’s and African American right to vote, own property, obtain an education, to keep and care for their children and other rights that are still fought for (although in a different form) today. 

Review of The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden
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