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

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

hell with almost everyone. In 1895, she published a book entitled The Problem of Civilization Solved, which, according to Clanton, "was filled with nativistic and racist nonsense, and in which she called for a Napoleon to liberate the industrial world" ( 1968:200). By 1896, she denounced her former Populist allies, primarily for their cooperation with Democrats ( Clanton, 1968:195-196). Before the end of the decade, she moved to New York City to be a professional lecturer. In 1900, however, she returned to Kansas and Nebraska to campaign against William Jennings Bryan, once the Populist nominee for president, and for Republican candidates, once her enemies ( Clinton, 1969:58; Clanton, 1968:200).

The ambivalence with which many contemporaries came to regard Clyens Lease was clearly expressed by William Allen White, the Republican newspaper editor, once her bitter foe, whose view of her eventually mellowed. When the Populist revolt ended, White said, she "left Kansas and made an honest and honorable living in New York City and died a respected citizen. But she flashed across Kansas in that day of turmoil, a harridan in the eyes of her enemies, a goddess to her friends. Looking back across a generation, I think she was a litle of both" ( 1946:219).


SOURCES

Biographical information on Clyens Lease, like the texts of her speeches, is scattered through various sources. Most histories of the Populist movement, especially those focusing on Kansas, include some material, but no full-length biography exists. Especially useful in completing this study were:

Blumberg Dorothy Rose. "Mary Elizabeth Lease, Populist Orator: A Profile." Kansas History 1 (Spring 1978):3-15.

Clanton O. Gene. "Intolerant Populist? The Disaffection of Mary Elizabeth Lease." Kansas Historical Quarterly 34 (Summer 1968):189-200.

Clinton, Katherine B., "What Did You Say, Mrs. Lease?" Kansas Quarterly 1 (Fall 1969):52-59.

Paulson Ross E. "Lease, Mary Elizabeth Clyens." NAW 2:380-381.

Other sources on the development of Populism in Kansas and the nation contain scattered references to Clyens Lease. Most useful were:

Argersinger Peter H. "Road to a Republican Waterloo: The Farmers' Alliance and the Election of 1890 in Kansas." Kansas Historical Quarterly 33 (Winter 1967):443- 469.

-----. "The Most Picturesque Drama: The Kansas Senatorial Election of 1891." Kansas Historical Quarterly 38 (Spring 1972):43-64.

Clanton O. Gene. Kansas Populism: Ideas and Men. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1969.

Hicks John D. The Populist Revolt: A History of the Farmer's Alliance and the People's Party. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1931.

Miller Raymond Curtis. "The Background of Populism in Kansas." The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 11 ( March 1925):469-489.

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