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

By Karlyn Kohrs Campbell | Go to book overview

activists to live up to what she saw as their Christian obligations. In her written speeches, she altered the argument to indict the Founding Fathers for not fulfilling the lofty ideals on which the government was based.


CONCLUSION

Although her call for granting rights to women was redefined as granting them the means to fulfill their responsibilities, Howard Nichols's basic ideas were much like those of her more radical contemporaries. Allowing women rights so that they might become better mothers and wives was a difficult argument for opponents to refute because it made her proposals seem modest and reasonable. It was a comforting argument for her listeners because it indicated that she was not interested in encouraging women to abdicate their socially appropriate roles. This argument was cautious and measured, even conservative, when compared to other calls for woman's rights based on the inherent personhood and citizenship of women.

An analysis of Clarina Howard Nichols's oral and written discourses demonstrates that she skillfully used a variety of strategies to put her audiences at ease and to overcome difficult rhetorical obstacles. Her emphasis on herself as a traditional woman, her selection of supporting materials, her nonverbal messages, and her argument about women's responsibilities were all developed as means of diverting the audience's attention away from her violations of social norms as a speaker and an activist. These strategies were also designed to make woman's rights seem like a reasonable, modest proposal. Finally, her life's work and her rhetorical skills indicate that Clarina Howard Nichols has earned a place as a memorable, rather than a "forgettable," champion of the rights of women.


SOURCES

The Clarina Howard Nichols Papers, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, have been edited and published by Joseph Gambone. A few letters and others documents, also edited and published by Gambone, are found in the Clarina I. Nichols Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe.

Gambone Joseph G. "The Forgotten Feminist of Kansas: The Papers of Clarina I.H. Nichols, 1854-1885." Kansas Historical Quarterly 39 (Spring 1973):12-57; (Summer 1973):220-261; (Autumn 1973):392-444; (Winter 1973):515-563; 40 (Spring 1974):72-135; (Summer 1974):241-292; (Autumn 1974):410-459; (Winter 1974):504-562. (FFK)


Biographical Sources

Bassett T. D. Seymour. "Nichols, Clarina Irene Howard." NAW 2:625-627.

Kunin Madeleine M. "Clarina Howard Nichols: Green Mountain Suffragette." Vermont Life 28 ( 1978):14-17.

Nichols Clarina I. Howard. "Reminiscences." HWS 1:171-200.

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