An Awful Hush, 1895 to 1906
Volume 6 of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
Ann D. Gordon, editor; Michael David Cohen and Sara Rzeszutek Haviland, assistant editors; Andy Duane Bowers and Katharine D. Lee, editorial assistants.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2013.
$70.00 736 pp.
The “hush” of the title comes suddenly, when first Elizabeth Cady Stanton dies on 26 October 1902, and three years later Susan B. Anthony dies on 13 March 1906. Sudden because Stanton, despite near blindness and immobility, wrote so intently right to the end that editors had supplies of her articles on hand to publish over several months after her death. Sudden because Anthony, age eighty-five, set off for one more transcontinental trip, telling a friend on the Pacific Coast, “it will be just as well if I come to the end on the cars, or anywhere, as to be at home.” This volume of the papers is inescapably about endings, death, and silence, but death happens here to women still in the fight. An Awful Hush is about reformers trained “in the school of anti-slavery” trying to practice their craft in the age of Jim Crow and a new American Empire. It recounts new challenges to “an aristocracy of sex,” whether among bishops of the Episcopal church or voters of California or trustees of the University of Rochester. It sends last messages about woman suffrage. “Surely there is no greater monopoly,” Stanton wrote to Theodore Roosevelt on the day before she died, “than that of all men, in denying to all women a voice in the laws they are compelled to obey.”