Tag Archive | Quakers

Circus Trip 2018: Women’s Rights NHP

Day 45, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Women’s Rights National Historical Park, Seneca Falls, New York

White women gained the right to vote in the United States 100 years ago, in 1920.  But have you ever thought about when the movement for women’s suffrage began?  1848… That’s right – women had been fighting for the right to vote for more than 70 years before the 19th amendment was ratified by the states.  Prior to 1848, there were scattered movements around the nation, but 1848 is considered the beginning of the movement that we know today as the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  So what happened in 1848?

On Sunday July 9, 1848, Lucretia Coffin Mott, Mary Ann M’Clintock, Martha Coffin Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Jane Hunt met and organized a Women’s Rights Convention, to occur in Seneca Falls on July 19 and 20th. They were all Quakers with the exception of Stanton, and they were fed up and wanted change.  During their planning meetings, they drafted 10 resolutions demanding that women should have equality in the family, education, jobs, religion, and morals.  They restricted the first day of the Convention to women, but allowed men on the second day and invited a number of influential men, including Frederick Douglass.

Interestingly, women’s suffrage was not one of the original demands drafted by the organizers, and the women were actually split on whether or not they wanted it included.  It was heavily debated during the convention, with many attendees believing that its inclusion would cause a loss of support for other resolutions considered to be more “reasonable.”  In the end, it was included, and the Declaration of Sentiments was signed by 100 of the 300 attendees; 68 women and 32 men.

If you are interested, you can read the Declaration of Sentiments, which is modeled after the US Declaration of Independence…

The Declaration of Sentiments

The Historical Park has several sites you can visit.  The Visitor’s Center has a lot of information about the convention, the women’s suffrage movement, and these powerful women who were instrumentation in getting it off the ground.

The Wesleyan Chapel where the convention was held was built in 1843 and extensively altered in the years after the convention.  When the National Park Service acquired the site, it was a shell of a building with some original portions of the wall left standing.  They have rebuilt it, showing where the construction is original and what is reconstruction.  It is interesting to see!

I also visited the homes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Hunt and Mary Ann M’Clintock.  The Stanton and M’Clintock houses are open to the public on tours, but only on select days (not when I was there).  The Hunt house was acquired by the Park Service in 2000 and they are working on restoring it.  It is not currently open to the public, but one day it will be neat to see!

It was amazing to see these sites and experience where five women started on a course that would eventually change history.  It makes me sad that the cause for women’s suffrage took so long that none of these women were alive to see the culmination of what they set in motion.  We still have a lot of work to do, but it is inspiring to see what these women achieved with their voices!


Circus Trip 2018: Herbert Hoover Birthplace NHS

Day 19, Friday, August 3, 2018

Herbert Hoover isn’t a President I know much about.  In fact, I didn’t even know about the Herbert Hoover Birthplace National Historic Site, and kind of stumbled upon it by accident.  I saw the road sign as I was driving east after visiting the Amana Colonies and had enough time to stop before it closed for the day; I arrived just before 4pm.  What an unexpected treat!

Hoover was born to Quaker parents in a small two-room cottage in West Branch, Iowa on August 10, 1874.  He was orphaned at the age of nine, when his mother died at age 35 (his father had died in 1880 at the age of 34, when Herbert Hoover was 6).  He and his two siblings were split up after his mother’s death, each living in a different relative’s home; Hoover was sent to Oregon at the age of 11 to live with a maternal uncle and aunt.

The cottage where Herbert Hoover was born

The Herbert Hoover Birthplace NHS preserves the two-room cottage where Hoover was born, as well as several other sites significant to his early childhood.  His father’s Blacksmith Shop (rebuilt a little west of the original site), the Schoolhouse, and the Quaker Friends Meetinghouse, where the family worshiped, have all been preserved.  It is unknown if Hoover attended school in the actual building at the site, although it was being used as the primary school at the time Hoover was in school in West Branch, having been built in 1853.  The Blacksmith Shop was built in 1957, representing what such a shop would have been like in the 1870s.  Herbert Hoover’s older brother Theodore provided sketches of his recollection of his father’s shop as well.

The Friends Meetinghouse is original to the community where Hoover’s Quaker family worshiped; it was built in 1857.  The Quakers held two meetings each week to worship; men and women sat on different sides of a central partition.  They worship with “silent waiting,” a form of silent worship that does not use music or sacraments, or even a paid minister delivering a sermon.  When a Quaker is moved by the “inward light,” they stand and share their insight or prayers.  If you become known for your inspired insights, you become a “recorded minister” and are given a seat on the benches up front with the Quaker elders.  Herbert’s mother Hulda was considered a recorded minister.  Quakers believe in the equality of all people, a value that Hoover embodied when he was President and during his global humanitarian work.

The Quaker meetinghouse Hoover attended


The interior of the Quaker meetinghouse

The site also has a Visitor’s Center with a movie about Herbert Hoover and his life, and of course, stamps for my National Parks Passport.  There are also some later homes at the site; although they didn’t exist at the time that Hoover lived in West Branch, they add to the historic ambiance of the site.

A short drive away is Herbert Hoover’s grave site, along with the grave of his wife, Lou Henry Hoover.  Hoover died on October 20, 1964, at the age of 90.  He selected his grave site to look over his birthplace home, and chose a simple design of white marble, with a curved walkway and an American flag.  Lou Henry Hoover died in 1944 and was buried in Palo Alto, CA, but was re-interred here after Herbert Hoover died.  His Presidential Library is also there, although I didn’t have time to visit it that day.  I’ll have to return and learn more!

Herbert and Lou Hoover’s graves


The view from Hoover’s grave – his birthplace home

It was a fascinating stop!