Against the Tide: Women Reformers in American Society

By Paul A. Cimbala; Randall M. Miller | Go to book overview

Day used spiritual tools--prayer, fasting, and education--to reassert what she believed was the early church's pacifist ethic. Although the bishops fell short of condemning the possession of nuclear weapons and continued to rely on "just war" theology over absolute pacifism, they did uphold the right of conscientious objection and endorsed economic and social justice throughout the world.

Catholic Worker stands on economic justice, social equality, the rights of political prisoners, and peace seemed similar to the positions of the Left. Admirers of the movement, such as the Communist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who bequeathed her modest estate to the movement, and Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman, who viewed Day as the first hippie, understood the utter authenticity of Day's radicalism. Unlike these sympathetic radicals, Day insisted on an explicit spiritual grounding for the movement, an appreciation of the Catholic heritage. When a few young Catholic Workers of the early 1960s whose beer blasts, free sexuality, and uninhibited expression (they printed the magazine Fuck You! on the Catholic Worker's press) displayed their preference for a bohemian lifestyle over service to the poor, Day demanded that they leave, an incident known humorously as the "Dorothy Day Stomp."

Both a traditional Catholic and a dedicated lifelong radical, Day possessed a genius for synthesis. Without compromising her social radicalism, she joined the Catholic Church. By fortifying herself with a spiritual shield, Day built a nonviolent revolution from daily service to the poor and agitation for change. Dedicated to building a new heaven on earth, she understood that the poor "are not put in our way to be judged, only that we may purchase heaven from them." Love, prayer, and works of mercy were for Day the "holy force" leading to revolution and salvation. 13

Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness ( New York, 1952), 285.
Floyd Dell, Homecoming: An Autobiography ( New York, 1933), 296.
Day, Long Loneliness, 149-150.
Catholic Worker 1 (November 1933): 2.
Rosalie Troester, ed., Voices from the Catholic Worker ( Philadelphia, 1993), 5-6.
Dorothy Day, "Here and Now" ( 1949), in Robert Ellsberg, ed., By Little and by Little: Selected Writings of Dorothy Day ( New York, 1983), 101.
Dorothy Day, quoted in Stanley Vishnewski, ed., Meditations: Dorothy Day ( New York, 1970), 48.
An anonymous author covered the spirituality of picketing in "Orbach and Klein Violate NRA Codes and Jail Pickets," Catholic Worker 2 ( February 1935): 1, 6.
Dorothy Day, "Editorial--CW Stand on the Use of Force" ( September 1938), quoted in Thomas C. Cornell and James H. Forest, eds., A Penny a Copy: Readings from the Catholic Worker ( New York, 1968), 36.
Day much-quoted jeremiad first appeared in the Catholic Worker in September 1945, and is reprinted in Ellsberg, ed., By Little, 266-269.
Dorothy Day, quoted in William D. Miller, comp., All Is Grace: The Spirituality of Dorothy Day ( Garden City, N.Y., 1987), 102.


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Against the Tide: Women Reformers in American Society
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Catharine Beecher and Domestic Relations 1
  • Notes 16
  • Bibliography 17
  • Mary Ann Shadd Cary and Black Abolitionism 19
  • Notes 38
  • Bibliography 40
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Woman's Rights Movement 41
  • Notes 51
  • Bibliography 53
  • Dorothea Dix and Mental Health Reform 55
  • Notes 69
  • Bibliography 71
  • Frances Willard and Temperance 73
  • Notes 82
  • Bibliography 83
  • Jane Addams and the Settlement House Movement 85
  • Notes 97
  • Bibliography 98
  • Ida Wells-Barnett and the African-American Anti-Lynching Campaign 99
  • Notes 110
  • Bibliography 111
  • Jessie Daniel Ames and the White Women's Anti- Lynching Campaign 113
  • Notes 123
  • Bibliography 123
  • Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement 125
  • Notes 136
  • Bibliography 137
  • Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement 139
  • Notes 151
  • Bibliography 152
  • Betty Friedan and the National Organization for Women 153
  • Notes 164
  • Bibliography 165
  • Index 167
  • About the Editors and Contributors 171


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