amy post - 10 of 45

From 1841 to 1845, the term of America's tenth president could have been described as "radical," had it been run by Amy Post.

Born in 1802 to a devout Quaker family on Long Island, Amy was bred on the importance of humanitarian reform. When even the progressive ideals of the Quakers didn't seem to change the world for enough for Amy, she moved with her husband Isaac, to Rochester, NY. It was there that Amy became an active and visible member of radical Quakers who sought to give all Americans equal rights. Within the years of the early 1840's, her work as both an abolitionist and women’s-rights activist blossomed, and her positive change to the world began. 

Among the first believers in Spiritualism, she and Issac helped to associate the young religious movement with the political ideas of the mid-nineteenth-century reform movement. The Posts hosted abolitionist meetings in their home, where prominent reform lecturers such as William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth visited and spoke. 

 Amy, consistently pushed to right the wrongs of the country, formed groups such as the Yearly Meeting of Congregational Friends (YMCF), an ahead-of-it's time group because it was one of few where all people were considered equal. As was Amy's way, the members of YMCF would do whatever they considered necessary to end slavery, and also had no tolerance for racial or sexual discrimination. They believed that all people should be considered equal morally, religiously, and politically. The motto of the Congregational Friends was “common natures, common rights, and a common destiny.”

If Amy had been president during this time, common rights would have been instilled for 175 years already, and yet we are still fighting for it.

sojourner truth - 9 of 45

1841 saw an increase in attention paid to the fight for equality -- sojourner truth recognized the value of momentum.   

born into slavery in 1797, it took sojourner truth 29 years until she was able to live a life of freedom, but even then, freedom was a relative term.  she was no longer the property of a family, but still a prisoner of her race and gender. she knew that, no matter the circumstances, the prospect of equality was dependent on her willingness to fight.

when she discovered that her son was illegally sold to a family in alabama, sojourner truth launched her first attack -- she took the case to court.  she secured her son's safe return and her place in history as the first black woman to win a court case against a white man.  

sojourner truth viewed abolition and rights for women as a foregone conclusion, but one she needed to usher into being.  this is perhaps one of the reasons she was so successful as she toured the country on speaking tours; she approached the subject of equality with complete conviction.  she greeted unreceptive and unruly audiences by saying "you may hiss as much as you please, but women will get their rights anyway. you can't stop us" -- a message that boomed with the necessary confidence to silence her opponents. she unabashedly ruffled the feathers of many abolitionists by expanding the fight for black rights to not just black men, but also black women.  in her now-famous speech ain't i a woman, she highlights the overlap between the fight for black rights and women's rights:

 

Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman?

 

women were expected to work just as much, just as hard, and be greeted with less in return -- a sentiment which still rings true today.  sojourner truth would have shepherded in an era of american history that would have changed the course for equal treatment.  her opponent for election would have been (slaveholder) william henry harrison, whose platform for equality was nonexistent.  harrison attempted to pass legislation in congress which would have fully legalized slavery.  needless to say, we could have used sojourner truth's voice in the white house.

man is so selfish that he has got women's rights and his own too, and yet he won't give women their rights. he keeps them all to himself.

sarah grimke - 8 of 45

coming off of the particularly tempestuous presidency of andrew jackson, the country was set on a path set to stir up social unrest.  humane treatment in 1837 was a luxury only afforded to white men.

if, instead of martin van buren, we had elected sarah grimke, we could have addressed the issue of abolition head on instead of deliberately overlooking the blatant oppression in america.  

van buren, in an effort to appease the southern members of his party, advocated for states' rights and therefore stood in direct opposition to abolition.  his actions are incredibly transparent from a distance of over 175 years: he was trying to usher in his second term by not alienating his southern supporters.  he chose the path of least resistance, and one that would serve to benefit him -- but not the american people.

sarah grimke contrasts sharply with martin van buren's track record.  born on a plantation in south carolina, she abhorred slavery and set to act against the institution from a very young age.  incredibly bright, but not allowed to reap the benefits of the same education afforded to her brothers, sarah's education was shaped by the fact that she was a woman.  she was unable to practice law as she had intended, but her she found a way to impact the legal and political realm by a different route.

before she was 30 years old, she moved north to philadelphia, followed shortly thereafter by her equally powerful sister, angelina.  together, they proved to be two of the most renowned and outspoken leaders in both the abolitionist and suffragette movements.  they were fighting for equality.  sarah grimke spoke out against the quaker church of friends who viewed her sex as a means of preventing her admittance to the clergy.  she used her disdain of the degradation she witnessed as a child in south carolina and the inequality she experienced as a woman to fuel her speeches as part of the american anti-slavery society.  

sarah grimke penned letters on the equality of sexes in 1837, which would have served as an incredible platform for her same-year presidential run.  "all I ask of our brethren, is that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright on that ground which god designed us to occupy" is one hell of a campaign slogan.  

"i know nothing of man’s rights, or woman’s rights; human rights are all that I recognize."

lucretia mott - 7 of 45

in 1830's america, slavery was accepted as the norm, women were seen as little more than property-less, mindless objects, and settlers were stealing land from native americans with reckless abandon.    

lucretia mott could have rerouted our country; we could have avoided the resulting deserved marrs that will forever scar america.  

not only was lucretia mott a vocal abolitionist, but boycotted any products of slave labor.  before long, she garnered support in her movement for equality.  along with her husband, whom she had influenced to break ties with the cotton trade, she attended the world's anti-slavery convention, but women were not allowed to fully participate.  this turn of events stoked a fire that was already burning. lucretia mott and her friend and ally elizabeth cady stanton set in motion the seneca falls convention, a turning point in the suffrage movement.  

had she been elected president, racial equality and women's rights would not have been allowed to linger in the background of the country's daily life.  she could have springboarded a platform of reform, prompting a transformation of the blind eye used to view anyone without white skin and a penis.

lucretia mott wrote in her discourse on women "may these statements lead you to reflect upon this subject, that you may know what woman's condition is in society—what her restrictions are, and seek to remove them."  

2016.  let's remove them. 

margaret pryor - 6 of 45

by 1825, the necessary puzzle pieces for the seneca falls convention were beginning to fall into place. the gender and racial biases in the united states were reaching a tipping point and the key players in enacting change began to find their footing as activists in the cause.  

margaret pryor was a vocal abolitionist and proponent of women's rights.  before attending the seneca falls convention, she was travelling the country with frederick douglass and abby kelley on the american anti-slavery society's speaking tour. years later, she joined her sisters in arms in seneca falls as they drafted and signed the declaration of sentiments.  margaret pryor was the third person to sign the declaration, which outlined the ways in which women's rights, or lack thereof, needed to evolve from their outdated state.  

margaret pryor's fight for abolition and suffrage is a platform which should have been the basis for the presidency in 1825.  the era of good feelings in the country ended in 1825 -- a time period in which signaled a more bipartisan movement in the united states.  had margaret pryor been elected, how much longer would the years of progress and cooperation have lasted?  would the focus have been the country's political parties, or would we have been more concerned with ensuring that our country's people -- not necessarily its elected officials -- were unified in equality?

emma willard - 5 of 45

education reigns supreme in  21st century america; children are ushered through doors of elementary schools regardless of income, doors are opened by degrees, and student loan reform is on the tip of every potential presidential candidates tongue.  

emma willard was a pioneer in the realm of education and helped ensure that women were offered the same opportunities as men.  she was born into a family that, while not wealthy or highly learned, did encourage emma in her quest for knowledge.  she was enrolled in school and within two years graduated from student to teacher.  

after lengthy petitioning, broken promises of financial aid from the government, and a discussion of the religious ramifications of educating women, emma willard opened the first school to offer higher education to women.  she broke boundaries that restricted women from utilizing their incredible brain power; she created the necessary fissures in the foundation laid by our male ancestors and allowed women to construct a new educational structure.  

the emma willard school was an attractive option for the societal elite, but had we elected as president in 1817, her impact on education reform for women could have been much farther reaching.  would we have had to wait another half-century until a woman graduated from college?  would quality education still be a by-product of a family's financial success?

nancy hart - 4 of 45

as was true for many women of her time, nancy hart was uneducated and illiterate.  she also stayed home to take care of the family and house while her husband fought in the revolutionary war...most of the time. 

her adherence to female societal norms of the 19th century essentially ended there. she married ten years later than the average woman of the 1800's. while her husband was fighting, she would occasionally disguise herself as a man, embed herself in the british camps, and gain intelligence for the american army.  

most famously, she was accosted by a group of six british soldiers who forced entry into her home and demanded she provide food and drink.  nancy hart provided them with ample amounts of corn whiskey and, while the soldiers were imbibing, she signaled the surrounding troops of american soldiers to alert them of the trouble brewing.  nancy hart seized the soldiers' guns and held them hostage until backup arrived.  

nancy hart was truly fearless, and did not let her gender dictate the events of her life or limit her impact.  the tenacity she displayed during the country's fight for independence would have been a welcome force in women's fight for equality. 

 

mercy otis warren - 3 of 45

history has accredited james madison with penning the bill of rights, but has largely ignored that the precursor to this document was written 18 months earlier by mercy otis warren in her publication: observations on the new constitution.   

how little we discuss mercy otis warren borders on the absurd once all her achievements are brought to the forefront.  not only was she a powerfully influential writer (anonymously), but she shaped the social and legal constructs that we continue to abide by to this day.  without mercy otis warren, freedom of speech, the right to a trial by jury, and freedom of the press would have had one less vocal advocate in a time when only the loudest voices were heard.  compared to many of voices of the american revolution, mercy otis warren's was a decibel above the din.  

she had a very close friendship with john and abigail adams, which allowed her to shape the malleable foundation of our young country.  abigail adams and mercy otis warren had a friendship akin to that of john adams and thomas jefferson, both in terms of their differences in political affiliation as well as succession in our 45women reconstruction of history.   their relationships were based on mutual respect and admiration of the other's character, affording them much needed guidance in uncharted territory.  mercy otis warren was capable of accomplishing incredible feats while remaining anonymous; where would we be if she was allowed to be as visible as she was heard?