Betsy Mix Cowles: Champion of Equality

Stacey M. Robertson. Westview, $20 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-8133-4771-4
During the 1840s and ’50s, in an era when shoulder-to-shoulder crowds gathered to hear nationally recognized orators, reformer Cowles’s work as an educator and grassroots organizer helped her spur politically progressive northern Ohioans to action. Her devout religious philosophy and unwavering beliefs informed her support of antislavery and women’s movements as well as education reform. Robertson (Parker Pillsbury) uses Cowles’s story to illustrate the difficulties faced by unmarried, educated women and the larger societal discrimination against both blacks and women in antebellum America. This straightforward introductory text gives students an understanding of competing 19th century social movements (though the author occasionally relies on overgeneralizations about them), as well as a description of life in Ohio during the period. Interestingly, Cowles upset some abolitionists by arguing for racial equality—in addition to fighting to end slavery—a position best illustrated by quotes from her letters and speeches, none of which are presented here. Because of the emphasis on her low-key leadership and dedication to the classroom, there are few personal details (other than an account of her relationships with her sisters). As a result, Robertson’s book depicts his subject’s deep convictions but doesn’t reveal much about the woman behind them. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 01/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-8133-4772-1
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