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Free Thinker

Nonfiction: Politics & Current Events
Unabridged   11 hour(s)
Publication date: 03/31/2020

Free Thinker

Sex, Suffrage, and the Extraordinary Life of Helen Hamilton Gardener

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684576975
Digital Download ISBN:9781684576968


A story of transgression in the face of religious ideology, a racist and sexist scientific establishment, and political resistance to securing women's right to vote.

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Product Description

When Ohio newspapers published the story of Alice Chenoweth's affair with a married man, she changed her name to Helen Hamilton Gardener, moved to New York, and devoted her life to championing women's rights and decrying the sexual double standard. She became one of the most sought-after speakers on the nineteenth-century lecture circuit, published seven books and countless essays, supported herself, hobnobbed with the most interesting thinkers of her era, visited twenty-two countries, and was celebrated for her audacious ideas and keen wit. Opposed to piety, temperance, and conventional thinking, Gardener eventually settled in Washington, DC, where her tireless work proved, according to her colleague Maud Wood Park, "the most potent factor" in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Free Thinker is the first biography of Helen Hamilton Gardener, who died as the highest-ranking woman in federal government and a national symbol of female citizenship. Hamlin takes active steps to unpack the racism that underpinned the women’s suffrage movement, giving listeners a detailed view of Gardener's politics and the contradictions inherent in them. Her life sheds new light on why it was not until the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Nineteenth Amendment became a reality for all women.


“Hamlin provides a captivating behind-the-scenes view of the suffrage movement on the cusp of its final victory, and her eloquent account sparkles with Gardener’s sharp personality. Feminists and fans of women’s history will be exhilarated.” —Publishers Weekly

“Throughout the chronological, passionately researched narrative, Hamlin captures all angles of her fascinating subject. A captivating story of yet another strong, brilliant woman who should be better known.” —Kirkus Reviews

Author Bio

A recipient of the NEH Public Scholar Award, Kimberly A. Hamlin teaches history and American studies at Miami University of Ohio and contributes to the Made by History series in the Washington Post. The author of From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women's Rights in Gilded Age America, she lives in Cincinnati.