Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lady Morgan Quote

Lady Morgan, the Irish novelist, witty and captivating, who wrote "Kate Kearney" and the "Wild Irish Girl," when speaking of the laxity of a certain bishop in regard to Lenten fasting, said:

"I believe he would eat a horse on Ash Wednesday. A very
proper diet if it were a fast horse."

Friday, February 18, 2011

Olympe de Gouges

From the time of the French Revolution, French citizenship was limited to only men.  It was made clear in The Declaration of Rights of Man and of the citizen written by the National Assembly brought into law in 1789.  .

Olympe used her talent as a playright to pen The Declaration of the Rights of Women and of the Citizen in 1791 and mirror it after the male one. 

In her document, she asserted woman's ability to reason and make moral decisions, and pointed to the feminine virtues of emotion and feeling. She made woman man's equal partner.

As one can predict, her document did not go over well.  How dare she assume that women had the right to act as members of the public.  By doing so, she violated the precious boundaries that the revolutionary leaders had worked so hard to declare and initiate.

Her declaration stated that women had the right to free speech and the right to reveal the identity of the fathers of their children, something unheard of at the time.  She declared that children born out of wedlock be given the same consideration and equality as those born in marriage.  This stirred up ire for it insinuated that women too had the freedom to satisfy their sexual desires outside of marriage and that men need not fear any responsibility. 

In July 1793, four years after the Revolution, Olympe de Gouges was arrested for her assertations and declarations and also for her refusal to be silent on the rights of women.  She faced the guillotine in November of that year.

Documents in the case against her cite:

"Olympe de Gouges, born with an exalted imagination, mistook her delirium for an inspiration of nature. She wanted to be a man of state. She took up the projects of the perfidious people who want to divide France. It seems the law has punished this conspirator for having forgotten the virtues that belong to her sex.  In the midst of a Revolution to extend rights to more men, Olympe de Gouges had the audacity to argue that women, too, should benefit. Her contemporaries were clear that her punishment was, in part, for forgetting her proper place and proper role as a woman."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Queen Elizabeth I Said

"Though ye be burly, my Lord Burleigh, ye make less stir than my Lord Leicester."

Queen Elizabeth I

Friday, February 11, 2011

Queen Christina of Sweden

In 1933, the great Greta Garbo portrayed my life in a film entitled Queen Christina. Here is a short clip of the movie.

I was born to King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and Maria Eleanora of Brandenburg.  I was an only child and therefore the only heir.  Because of this, my father took a great interest in me and saw that I had the best education, just as a boy heir would have enjoyed.  In fact, he ordered that I be brought up as a boy.

King Gustavus

Maria Eleanora of Brandenburg

My mother was a woman of distraught temperament and her attempts to make me feel guilty for the difficult birth prejudiced me against wishing to produce an heir to the throne one day myself.  

In 1632 my father was killed in battle and I assumed the throne.  I was six years old. A man named Axel Oxenstierna acted as my regent until I reached maturity.

He continued as my adviser afterwards. Although he advised me against it, I put an end to the Thirty Years War and made peace with Westphalia in 1648.

I named my cousin, Carl Gustav (Karl Charles Gustavus) as my heir and successor.

Karl Gustav

Rumours abounded that we were in love, but we never married.  Other rumors began to circulate regarding Countess Ebba "Belle" Sparre, my lady-in-waiting. It was said we were lovers.

Ebba Sparre

 I know that letters have survived between us which demonstrate our high regard for each other. At times, we even shared a bed together. Our relationship was curtailed when the Countess married and left my court, but the passionate exchange of letters continued.

I was a great patroness of art, theater, and music.  I faced many difficult political situations including taxation, governance, and strained relations with Poland.  The pressures proved too difficult for me to bear.  In 1651, I proposed my abdication.  My council did everything they could to talk me into changing my mind and staying.  The additional strain caused me to suffer some sort of breakdown and I confined myself to my rooms where I received consultation from Father Antonio Macedo.

Finally, in 1654 I could no longer bear it and I officially abdicated.  The true reasons for my abdication continue to be controversial and argued about to this day by historians.

I changed my name to Maria Christina Alexandra, and disguised as a man, departed from Sweden a few days later.  I travelled to Rome where I resided in a palazzo that I filled with beautiful art and books.  Here I established a salon which became a popular center of culture.

I also became Roman Catholic and was much respected and liked by the Vatican and aligned myself with a particularly free-thinking branch of Roman Catholicism. Slowly I found myself drawn into political and religious intrigue between the French and Spanish factions in Rome.

My peaceful existence soon faded.  In 1656, I aligned herself with the French and launched an attempt to become Queen of Naples.  The Marquis of Monaldesco, a trusted member of my  household, betrayed my plans to the French to the Spanish Viceroy of Naples.

My vengeance was swift.  I had Monaldesco executed in my presence and claimed it was my right to do so. For this act, Roman society turned a cold shoulder and  did their best to avoid me.  As time passed, however, I became involved again in church politics.

This time, I set my sights on becoming Queen of Poland.  My attempt failed. Then I attempted to win the Papacy for my confidant, advisor, and lover, Cardinal Decio Azzolino. Again, I failed.

I died in 1689 at the age of 63.  I named Cardinal Azzolino as my sole heir. I was buried in St. Peter's, an unusual honor for a woman.

I gained notariety because I often dressed in men's clothing and my personal relationships which led to rumours about my sexuality.
In 1965, my body was exhumed for testing, to see if I bore the signs of hermaphroditism or intersexuality, but the results were inconclusive.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

An Ancient Greek Woman Said

When offered some old wine in a tiny glass by her miserly host, who boasted of the years since it had been bottled, the Grecian woman inquired, "Isn't very small for its age?"

Friday, February 4, 2011

Anna Ella Carroll

Anna Ella Carroll is a heroine of the State of Maryland and one of the most important women of the nineteenth century.

She was the daughter of Gov. Thomas King Carroll (1830) and the former Juliana Stevenson, born at the family plantation home on August 29, 1815.

In the 1850s Carroll became active nationally in the Whig and American (Know-Nothing) political parties. The Know Nothing party in Maryland was the progressive party in the state as it was not proslavery, and was prolabor and pro-Union. Catholic and Episcopalian slaveholders could lead the Irish and German Catholic vote in Baltimore to establish a proslavery state government, which was in good part what the Know Nothings were trying to prevent. Presbyterians like Carroll opposed the growing political strength of the Catholic Church that also ruled Italian provinces, on the grounds of free speech, temperance, Sabbatarianism, and being antislavery and prorepublican.

In 1857 Carroll was the publicist for Gov.Thomas H. Hicks, Maryland's pro-Union governor in his first bid for that office. During the secession crisis of early1861, strong secession forces in the state pressed Governor Hicks to call a secession convention which he refused to do. Carroll flooded the press with articles defending Hicks's pro-Union stance. Ultimately Hicks wrote that Carroll's writings did more than any others to elect a Uniongovernor in November 1861.

After the circulation of her reply (to Sen. John C. Breckinridge) pamphlet in the summer of 1861, Pres. Abraham Lincoln requested that Carroll continue to write on behalf of his administration. Asst. Secty. of War Thomas A. Scott entered into a verbal contract with Carroll for this, under his general authority as a government official. Carroll produced three more pamphlets, outlining the war powers of the president and the federal government. Carroll later wrote one of the few most ably argued pamphlets on the Emancipation Proclamation. Still Lincoln detractors do not understand that the proclamation was a military order. Therefore it could only be enforced by military officers in areas ruled by martial law, that is, the revolted states, not the loyal ones. In October 1861,

Carroll traveled to St. Louis with secret agent Lemuel D. Evansto gather intelligence. As a result of an interview conducted with a Union riverboatpilot, Carroll submitted a plan that advocated a Confederate invasion upon the Tennessee River. Twenty years of Congressional testimony clearly show that the Lincoln administration adopted Carroll's plan and Edwin M. Stanton was appointed secretary of war to implement it. With that said, research also shows that MG Henry W. Halleck and Lincoln were simultaneously and separately planning thesame movement without each others's knowledge, Lincoln's plan based on Carroll's  submission.

As William Safire pointed out long ago, Carroll was the only person to put the Tennessee River plan before the president. After the war, Carroll went to the Congress to try to get reimbursed for $5,000 still owed her for her publications. Four military committees that were convened through 1890 all voted in her favor. Only one did not recommend payment, on spurious grounds. Likely one major reason why no bill ever passed the Congress was that Carroll represented the perfect reason why women should get the vote, and she was supported by the nascent suffrage movement at the time. Some have distorted the facts of Carroll's role in the war effort and her congressional claim. However, the idea that four military committees of the US Congress could be all wrong regarding Anna Ella Carroll's contributions to the war effort is silliness at its height.

Anna Ella Carroll died on February 19, 1894, supported by her sister, Mary, and funds raised by Union veterans and women's organizations. She is buried in the graveyard of the Old Trinity Episcopal Church
in Church Creek, Dorchester County,Maryland.

Biography written by C. Kay Larson
Great Necessities: The Life, Times, and Writings of AnnaElla Carroll, 1815-1894

Phila.: Xlibris Corp., 2004

Click here to purchase

Book #20452 available soft and hard cover at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu Said

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

"There is only one reason I am glad I am a woman: 
I should never have to marry one."