Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1800-1925: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

MARY CLYENS LEASE (1850-1933), "raising hell": for Populism and woman's rights

THOMAS R. BURKHOLDER

"What you farmers need to do is raise less corn and more hell!" Thus, we are told, Mary Clyens Lease admonished Kansas farmers in 1890. According to Katherine Clinton, "every account of Populist history mentions this female orator. Yet her fame rests largely on [that] single piece of advice. . . . Ironically, Lease twice denied ever having made the famous statement" ( 1969:52). Nonetheless, through ignorance or perhaps a simple desire to tell a good story, historians and rhetoricians alike seized on the line and created a legend only slightly larger than the life of this remarkable woman. The advice she "allegedly gave to Kansas farmers," said O. Gene Clanton, "has come down to the present time undiminished, and is remembered by even the most casual student of American history" ( 1968, 190).

Despite Clyens Lease's notoriety as an orator, primarily as a leading voice of Populism in Kansas and throughout the nation, but also as an advocate of woman's rights and woman suffrage, until 1988 ( Burkholder, 1988) no detailed analysis of her discourse existed, nor was there a comprehensive collection of her speeches and essays. Populist rhetors as a group, however, have been studied ( Ecroyd, 1973, 1980; Gunderson, 1940). Her speeches and essays are scattered through unindexed copies of old newspapers, and, when located, they are often fragments rather than complete texts. Nevertheless, analysis of those texts reveals that Clyens Lease was a rhetor of considerable sophistication and wit and a formidable debater and campaigner with the ability to adapt her message to a variety of situations.


BACKGROUND

Mary Elizabeth Clyens was born in Ridgeway, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 1850, the sixth of eight children of Joseph P. and Mary Elizabeth Murray Clyens, Irish Catholics who immigrated sometime after 1842 ( Paulson, NAW 2:380; Clanton, 1968, gives 1853 as her birth date). In 1871, she moved to Osage Mission, Kansas, where she taught briefly at St. Ann's Academy for girls ( Blumberg, 1978:3). In 1873, she married Charles L. Lease, a local pharmacist. In 1874, the couple moved to Denison, Texas. There, she accepted the invitation of Sarah Acheson, wife of her husband's employer, to join the WCTU. "She was asked to speak at one of their meetings," Dorothy Rose Blumberg reported. "Her eloquence was the surprise of the evening and marked the first step toward her future career as orator and advocate" ( 1978:4). By 1884, the Lease family had moved again, first to a farm in Kingman County, Kansas, and eventually to Wichita, where she began her career as a professional lecturer. Clyens Lease

-111-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Women Public Speakers in the United States, 1800-1925: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 512

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.