Tag Archives: Feminism

The Kind of Woman We Need Today

The story of the Rebel Girl
Benjamin Silverman chronicles the radical legacy of IWW leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

August 7, 2012
“FOR PEACE and socialism is in the hearts, in the minds, on the lips of millions around the world…The ‘sun of tomorrow’ shines upon us. The future is ours.”

So said one of the giants of American radicalism, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, in a May Day speech in 1941. Flynn dedicated her life to the struggles of the working class through its highest and lowest points. She breathed class struggle and spoke of revolution for nearly 60 years, and her legacy is worthy of the highest admiration.

Born to poor Irish immigrants in 1890 in New Hampshire, she could claim proudly, “There had been an uprising in each generation in Ireland [against British rule], and forefathers of mine were reputed to be in every one of them.”

Her father, Thomas Flynn, educated her and her siblings in the meaning of her Irish heritage and the politics of liberation. “When one understood British imperialism, it was an open window to all imperialism,” wrote Flynn. “As children, we came to hate unjust wars, which took the land and rights away from other peoples.”

Now living in the South Bronx, her father drifted to socialist politics and brought young Elizabeth with him. Recounting what her father taught her, Elizabeth said, “Scientific socialism made clear that it was not a poor man’s fault if he is out of work…and you were not a ‘failure’ because you did not climb to riches on the backs of your fellow man.”

Thomas Flynn–who ran for the New York State Assembly on the Socialist ticket in 1918–later became overbearing and eventually jealous of his daughter’s popularity in the labor movement. But looking back, Elizabeth still felt that “[o]ur father’s methods were not entirely correct, but his purpose was clear, not to allow his children to be ‘educated’ against the interests of the working class.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

FLYNN WOULD begin to develop politically on her own, devouring socialist novels like Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and William Morris’ News From Nowhere, along with the works of Peter Kropotkin and August Bebel. It was the latter’s book Woman Under Socialism that she used as a basis for her first public speech and lecture on “What Socialism Will Do For Women,” which she gave at age 15.

A lifelong advocate for birth control access and a fighter for women’s rights, she said looking back on those times, writing in her autobiography Rebel Girl:

Fathers and husbands collected women’s wages, sometimes right at the company door. Women did not have a legal right to their own earnings…Equal opportunity, equal pay and the right to be organized were the crying needs of women wage-earner then and unfortunately still now.

This teenage agitator become a hit among working men and women, and a target for sexist ire from the snobbish New York Times, which commented after her first of many arrests in 1906, “Miss Flynn, who will graduate school in two years and whose shoe tops…show below her skirts [i.e., she dressed immodestly], tells us what to think, which is just what she thinks.”

A Broadway producer wanted to offer her a career as an actress due to her clear oratory talents, which she refused, saying, “I don’t want to be an actress! I want to speak my own words.”

Flynn began to speak across the country on behalf of the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, often referred to as the “Wobblies”). She joined the IWW’s Mixed Local No. 179 in 1906, a year after the IWW’s founding.

During her long train trips to labor struggles and speaking engagements, she said she “fell in love with [this] country, its rivers, prairies, forests, mountains…I felt then, as I do now, it’s a rich and fertile land, capable of satisfying all the needs of its people. It could be a paradise on earth if it belonged to the people, not to a small owning class.”

Now, as a “professional revolutionist” with the IWW, she became a close collaborator with socialist Eugene Debs and IWW leaders Vincent St. John, Mother Jones and Joe Hill, the rebel songwriter. Flynn became a close friend of legendary Irish socialist James Connolly, who would be executed by the British in 1916 for his part in leading the Dublin Easter Rising against imperial rule, and helped him organize the Irish Socialist Federation.

One of her most important political relationships was with IWW leader and organizer William “Big Bill” Haywood. Flynn recalled some years later how Bill said in a speech, “‘I’m a two-gun man from the West, you know.’ And while the audience waited breathlessly, he pulled his union card from one pocket and his Socialist card from the other.”

Though the two would have a major political falling out some years later over the direction of the IWW, Flynn and Haywood worked closely together in a number of the IWW’s most historic struggles.

They worked together organizing agricultural workers in the West and lumber workers in the Pacific Northwest, and at countless freedom of speech fights all over the country. They were part of the 1913 silk strike in Paterson, N.J.; massive textile strikes in Lowell and New Bedford, Mass., and the great “Bread and Roses” strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Mass.

Flynn was arrested for one trumped-up charge or another at just about all of these occasions. Her son Fred boasted many years later that he had been arrested twice, once in Missoula and a second time in Spokane–before he was even born.

During the Lawrence “Bread and Roses” strike, Flynn and Haywood worked hard to educate the mostly immigrant textile workers of, as Flynn put it:

their power, as workers, as the producers of all wealth, as the creators of profit. We talked of “solidarity,” a beautiful word in all languages. We said firmly, “You work together for the boss. You can stand together to fight for yourselves!” We ridiculed the police and militia. “Can they weave cloth with soldiers’ bayonets or policemen’s club?”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THIS WAS the Wobblies’ great strength–the ability to relate and speak to people on their own terms, to point out to workers what they already knew in their guts, that the whole system is stacked against them and the only chance they’ve got is to band together, into “One Big Union.”

These were the high points of the early IWW, but they didn’t last. While the key to the IWW’s success was organizing among the unskilled workers who the American Federation of Labor refused to organize, some of their own policies diminished their ability to hold the group together.

For instance, the IWW refused to sign contracts over wages, benefits and working conditions because this, IWW leaders believed, represented a compromise with the bosses. Without contracts, the IWW failed to consolidate many of the gains it made during the brave workers’ struggles it led. In many cases, when IWW organizers left town, the local organizations fell apart.

The IWW also argued that the key to transforming society was organizing the majority of workers into “One Big Union,” which would be the framework for a new socialist society. The final blow to capitalism would come through a mass general strike that would paralyze the economy and force the bosses to give industry over to the working class. As a result, the IWW didn’t participate in politics–leaving this important arena of struggle to the Socialist Party, which was dominated by a conservative wing.

Reflecting many years later, Flynn said that “possibly a permanent industrial union movement could have been built a quarter century earlier than the CIO. But our incurable ‘infantile leftism’ blinded us.” By the beginning of the First World War, the IWW had been weakened by splits, factionalism and an unwillingness to tackle explicitly political issues.

And this was just before its greatest challenge. With the entry of the U.S. into the First World War, a wave of government-backed mob violence spread across the country. Pacifists, certain Christian sects, German immigrants, socialists and especially Wobblies were attacked, brutalized, tarred and feathered, and sometimes lynched.

During the Red Scare, socialists and communists, anarchists, Wobblies, unionists and other radicals were attacked, their halls ransacked and their members arrested. Many were rounded up in the Palmer Raids, named after Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, and deported under the auspices of the Espionage and Sedition Acts.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn took it upon herself at this time to struggle for the freedom all of these “class war prisoners.” She said, “We planned to work for the release of all [labor] and political prisoners…the imprisoned comrades, of whatever persuasions, were a bond of unity.”

She became a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a principal activist within the International Labor Defense (ILD), which formed in 1925.

“One of our first undertakings was to publicize the facts of each case,” explained Flynn. “We organized outside correspondents to write to the prisoners. Through these channels, we soon became very familiar with the conditions inside the gray, forbidding walls of federal penitentiaries.”

Flynn helped win the release of those who participated in the Green Corn Rebellion, a revolt of poor Oklahoma farmers against the draft, fought for the freedom of many imprisoned Wobblies and antiwar activists, and was heavily involved in the campaign to save Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti from execution.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

HER POLITICAL activities in the 1920s were cut short by illness, and she spent the better part of a decade ill and inactive. When she finally re-entered her lifelong work as a revolutionist, it was to join the Communist Party (CP)–an organization she had already moved close to through her work with the ILD.

Flynn joined the Communist Party in 1936, was elected to the national committee two years later and became national chairperson in 1961. By this point, the U.S. Communist Party, like all those around the world, had become a creature of the new ruling bureaucracy in Russia, led by Joseph Stalin, and so it followed the dictates from Russia, even when this meant opposing struggle.

Flynn followed the CP line through its many appalling twists and turns, including the Stalin-Hitler Pact, and then support for the Second World War, revelations by Khrushchev of the extent of Stalin’s murderous crimes, and the Russian suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

But this period in her life shouldn’t overshadow Flynn’s record of militancy and courage in the cause of the labor movement, for which she faced police violence and was thrown in jail countless times for her beliefs and even served two years behind bars in the late 1950s as a victim of McCarthyism.

In a world of “great men” she was a proud, working-class, Irish woman who stood with her shoulders square and spoke with an impassioned voice that was eloquent, yet relatable; inspiring, but not condescending; and militant to the core.

When Elizabeth Gurley Flynn went to see the great IWW songwriter Joe Hill in Salt Lake City while he was awaiting execution for a crime he didn’t commit, Joe dedicated a song to Flynn called “The Rebel Girl”:

Yes, her hands may be harden’d from labor
And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating
That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling
When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl.
For the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

And this is exactly how Elizabeth Gurley Flynn deserves to be remembered.


Looking with a Critical Eye

Is the current Bishop of Rome serious about change in the Church of Rome? In a brilliant essay my friend Dr Mary Hunt speaks truth to power and identifies the porquerias which Francis verbalizes on a regular basis.

Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D., is a feminist theologian who is co-founder and co-director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. A Catholic active in the women-church movement, she lectures and writes on theology and ethics with particular attention to social justice concerns.


Her essay:

Pope Francis is a Feminist? Not!

by Mary E. Hunt

August 5, 2015


Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig in The New Republic thinks that feminists should not give up on Francis. Maybe not though he provides little to chime my feminist bells. My view is that any suggestion that Pope Francis is a feminist is like calling Raul Castro a Republican. It is simply absurd.

While one can affirm many good things about Francis’ views on the environment, the end of capitalism, and the need to transform global structures of power, all of which I agree with, his views on women and most ethical issues having particular impact on women are problematic with devastating consequences. Think about the ban on birth control and then try to use the word “feminist” in the same sentence. It does not compute. The educational needs of poor women and dependent children are simply too grand to pass over a key element of what opens doors for them, namely, safe, reliable, legal, and economical forms of family planning.

Time and again Francis reiterates what in Argentine Spanish is called “porquerias,” a folksy way of saying “rubbish” or “garbage.” His pious statements about women as mothers and wives are embarrassing. His notion that women theologians are like “strawberries on the cake” would make Sigmund Freud do a double take. When he isn’t joking about women, he is proclaiming the need for more women to be involved in church life without making any structural changes, e.g. ordination, to make that real. One statement in which he said having women in key positions would be a form of “functionalism” remains completely obscure. Whatever can he mean? What does having men in those jobs signal? I admit that I am confounded by it.

On his recent trip to Ecuador, Francis had lunch with a group of Jesuits. A picture of it is haunting. The pope and two dozen of his confreres were enjoying a happy occasion at a well-set table with a nice red wine, joking and toasting as the boys will do. Several women, hovering in the background and well out of their sight, served the table. One peers around the corner of the open door (to the kitchen no doubt). The men are focused entirely on one another; the women exist to serve them, if they exist at all. The photo captures a reality I have seen too often. It makes me ill.

Uncritical journalists give Francis a pass on women, as if he were someone’s old uncle who just crawled out from under a rock. Yet they praise his pastoral touch, his homilies, and his erudition on lofty matters of science and economics. What would it take to get him to sit down with a few women and hear how we see things? I could connect him with some powerful feminists in Argentina who could talk in his preferred language about experiences in settings he knows well. They would give him an earful and be ready to answer his questions with patience and kindness.

pope with colleagues-Articolo

Did it ever occur to the gentlemen at the luncheon to turn the tables and serve the women the next day? Women are not decorations and servants. We are far more than the sum of our marital status and our commitments to children. Many of us are trained and able, capable of professional work with the best of men, no questions asked. And we are well aware of the plight of most women in the world who still can’t resist their husbands sexual advances, many of whom lose children to unclean water, live with HIV/AIDS, and want the best for their families. What is so complicated that he can’t understand about twenty-first century women?

It is amazing that someone who can call for massive lifestyle changes to deal with climate change cannot see the connection between women’s reproductive choices and population issues. It is stunning that someone who preaches equality at every turn has to think twice about ordaining women to the priestly ministry and thereby including them in the decision-making structures of their own church. It is beyond belief that a pope who understands global politics does not get the fundamentals of feminism that that shares many of the same goals he espouses but with full and dynamic participation of women on women’s own terms.

How does one explain a pope who comes from a male religious community with many, perhaps a majority of, gay members who is unable to see the beautiful reality of same-sex love and justice of marriage equality? What gives Francis the right to pronounce on women’s use of contraceptives and abortion as if he were going to care for the children that result from policies he supports?

Apologists for Francis reinforce and reinscribe male power by ignoring his limitations when it comes to women. My question is why so many people, especially in the media, are so enthusiastic about him despite this major lacuna in his thinking. Obviously his predecessors were even less attuned to how cultures have changed with regard to gender and sexuality. But it is only if one brackets the matters most specific to women that such enthusiasm can be sustained. I, for one, cannot bring myself to do so.

I cannot utter a full-throated praise of Francis much as I support his efforts to socialize resources and protect our fragile Earth. I respect him, which means I have high expectations and high hopes. Thus far, I have been deeply disappointed when it comes to half of the world. What surprises me is that many others do not respect him and expect as much of him as I do.

What does he have to do to erase the asterisk I put on virtually every sentence he speaks– *except for women? First, the problem is not really the pope but the papacy. The very structure of a hierarchy with one person in the highest spot is antithetical to feminist commitments to participation and power sharing. The logical step would be to jettison the papacy and every structure that flows from it in favor of a horizontal, concentric circles model of church.

Assuming that won’t happen, I would expect him—as a minimum condition for qualifying for a history-changing papacy—to strike down all distinctions between men and women in church teachings and policies. That would mean making women eligible for every office and ministry, involving women in making decisions at every level, and ending clericalism as we know it. He would also need to regularize the sacraments for everyone, i.e., ordination of all who feel called, are trained, and vetted; marriage for all who request the sacrament, including same-sex couples.

If there is any justification for a hierarchical structure with one person having Francis’ quantity of power, it must be used to open doors. Thus, Francis could show his colors by telling recalcitrant church officials to rehire those fired because of their sexuality, reappoint priests who have married, receive with a warm welcome those who are divorced and remarried, and especially make reparations for sexual abuse and its cover-up by clergy. That’s for starters and none of it is novel, just common sense driven by history and the good example of other Christian groups.

The argument will be that no one can change a two thousand year old institution in five years. To the contrary, I think that anything less is simply more of the same power wielding of his predecessors albeit with a kinder, gentler face. After all, we now send an email in a nanosecond rather than posting a letter to the Vatican in the diplomatic pouch. Now is the time to change while there are still people who are interested. Millenials’ interest in things Catholic is surely on the wane. Concern for market share if nothing else ought to play a role in making change.

It is all well and good for Francis to decry capitalism and call for environmental changes. But without a) involving women as full partners, b) making connections between patriarchal theological ideas and problems of inequality planet-wide, and c) leaving aside outmoded notions of women as virgins and mothers, this pope will be half as effective as he could be, and nothing even faintly resembling a feminist. I know a lot of women (and a few feminist men) around the world who would be delighted to help him change that.


My addendum:

As a liberal Protestant with intellectual roots deep in the Reformation, I personally take a much more critical view of Pope Francis. Dr Hunt’s essay is, in my mind, generous to the man. My Protestant sensibilities are offended by the very concepts of “papacy” and “infallibility” and the other assorted heresies which those unbiblical concepts have spawned. In my view Francis is a bishop, the Bishop of Rome, one among thousands of Christian bishops in the multiple branches of Christianity and he is no more unique than the bishops of the Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist churches or any other such called and anointed bishops, women and men alike.

The Progress of Events~January 1864~24th to 28th

The Progress of Events ~ Reverend D Paul

A Northern preacher exhorts his congregation to support the war and the total abolition of slavery, which he describes as “a giant, God-dishonoring crime.” A Southern newspaper mocks Mr Lincoln and claims that he wants to place “the Negro . . . astride of the white man.” A strange situation occurs at a Southern college for women named after an English abolitionist.” Scattered fighting continues. Scarcity and other problems plague the Confederacy and the broader world continues to turn.


January 24– Sunday– Mansfield, Ohio– “Now, my dear friends permit me, simply as your pastor, to say, with all earnestness, that I have no sympathy with political preachers, and no disposition to drag mere party politics into the pulpit. But when a moral question becomes a question at issue between political parties, that fact does not, and shall not close my mouth. If in opposing what I believe to be a giant, God-dishonoring crime, I oppose a political party, so be it. If any political party shall array itself against the principles which I have vowed to maintain, and which I believe to be in accordance with the word of God, I will pay my vow to God, even if I should stand accused of political preaching. If in so doing I should be compelled to part with those whose friendship I value, and whose kindness I have experienced I shall be filled with grief, but not torn with remorse. But need there be any parting ? Are there any here who would prefer a political party to the church of God ? If you forsake the communion of this church on account of its opposition to slavery, in all this free north where will you find a more congenial home? Would you cling to an institution whose death doom God has written in letters of fire and blood ? Would you re-fasten the shackles on limbs from which they have been broken by the fortunes of war ? Would you hurl back to chains and slavery those who, side by side with the nation’s nobles, have met in the shock of battle, and driven back, the traitorous foe? Would you, if you could, arrest the progress of events which promise, though with toil and suffering now, to leave to coming generations a constitution and a union, without that institution which had risen in power and influence, and the audacity of crime, until, like a spire tipped tower it pierced the clouds of Jehovah’s wrath, calling down their scathing lightening on the heritage our fathers left us? We are persuaded better things of you!” ~ A sermon preached in the United Presbyterian church by the pastor, Reverend D Paul.

January 24– Sunday– Paris, France– Birth of Marguerite Durand [dies March 16, 1936], actress, journalist, suffrage activist, labor organizer and feminist leader. [In 1897 she will found the feminist daily La Fronde, staffed completely by women. “Feminism owes a great deal to my blonde hair” she will write in 1903.]

Marguerite Durand

Marguerite Durand

January 25– Monday– La Grange, Tennessee; Mount Pleasant, Mississippi; Bainbridge Ferry, Alabama; Sulphur Springs, Arkansas; Bayou Grand, Florida– Skirmishes, ambushes, fire fights and mayhem.

January 25– Monday– Nashville, Tennessee– “The municipal regulations failing to keep the city effectually policed, it is hereby ordered, for the preservation of the health and lives of the citizens, and of the troops on duty at this place, that the occupant of every house daily sweep or scrape clean the pavement or sidewalk in front of his building. This will be done daily before 9 o’clock A. M. On stated days, hereafter to be announced, each occupant will clean to the middle of the street in front of his premises, collecting the sweepings into piles, to be carried away by Government wagons. For any neglect of this regulation, a fine double that enforced by the municipal ordinance will be imposed by the Provost Marshal; and if not paid at his office within one week from notice, will be levied by sale at public auction of goods sufficient to realize the sum.” ~ Order issued by Union General R. S. Granger.

January 25– Monday– Pozega, Slavonia– Birth of Julije Kempf (dies June 6, 1934), Croatian historian and author.

January 26– Tuesday– Wheeling, West Virginia– “The supervisors of the several counties of the State are hereby authorized, from time to time during the war, to borrow money in their corporate names, for such time and on such terms as may be agreed upon, for the purpose of providing for the support and relief of the families of living and deceased soldiers of their respective counties.” ~ Enactment of the state legislature.

January 26– Tuesday– Washington, D.C.– “[Secretary of War Edwin] Stanton tells some curious matters of Jeff Davis, derived from Davis’s servant, who escaped from Richmond. The servant was a slave, born on Davis’ plantation. Mrs. Davis struck him three times in the face, and took him by the hair to beat his head against the wall. At night the slave fled and after some difficulty got within our lines. He is, Stanton says, very intelligent for a slave and gives an interesting inside view of Rebel trials and suffering. It should be taken, perhaps, with some allowance.” ~ Diary of Gideon Welles.

January 26– Tuesday– Camden County, Georgia– “Mr Fisher and myself went to see Mrs. Alberti . . . . We stayed over night . . . had a cup of real coffee and tea with sugar and milk, and biscuit and butter. Our ride was about 23 miles and all the way through pine woods. Now and then a house to cheer the sight. We were upset once by the breaking of a rein, the buggy was turned completely over and left in the gutter. We fortunately were near a house where we procured help. The spinning wheel was going briskly– the women were hard at work trying to clothe the family while the men were in the army. They were indifferent as to the termination of the war if it would only end that they might be kept from starvation. We stopped at Dr. Mitchell’s. Mrs. Mitchell put on an old cloak to hide her rags and says they are experiencing great destitution. We have frequent applications from people far and near for clothing. So far as we can ascertain people seem certain that the confederacy is short lived; that this year must terminate the war. Confederate money is almost valueless. Worth only five cents on the dollar. Dr. Mitchell prepared for me a bottle of cough mixture and a few powders– charged $8.00. Sent in Sybil’s bill, a little short of $300 for eight or nine visits– and refuses confederate money. Julia writes that she will soon visit us and bring some necessary articles.” ~ Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher.

January 26– Tuesday– Mellby, Sweden– Otto Lindblad, musician and composer of Sweden’s royal anthem, dies at 55 years of age.

Otoo Lindblad

Otoo Lindblad

January 27– Wednesday– Cambridge, Massachusetts– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Henry Dana, Jr, and Professor J. Peter Lesley (prominent geologist and educator) are elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

January 27– Wednesday– Washington, D.C.– President Lincoln instructs Union General Frederick Steele in Arkansas that the state’s civil authorities could be allowed to remain in charge of state government without the appointment of an interim military governor. However, the new government must maintain the abolition of slavery.

January 27– Wednesday– Richmond, Virginia– “Oh! what a grand, what a successful hit was made for Puritanism in polities and religion, and for the whole tribe of shoddy when the Negro got astride of the white man, what a grand thing it was that the people were so easily gulled by those tricksters, those gamblers in human life, who are now riding roughshod over the prostrate form of popular freedom, sweeping away the bulwarks raised by the great men of the revolution around the Temple of Liberty. But we have already dwelt too long on this last decide of the American Autocrat, and must hasten to a conclusion . . . . The amnesty which is offered to the Confederates under a certain rank . . . is too absurd to be worthy of even a passing notice. . . . . The Southern people are fighting in a just cause, as they are fighting against usurpation, and confiscation, and for freedom and State rights. They are fighting to preserve their land against the fate of Ireland and Poland. They are fighting against a power that has trampled every principle of law and constitutional authority under foot. They are fighting for their homes, for their dearest rights. They are now fighting the battles of the Revolution over again; and if they fail, then the history of Ireland will be repeated on their own soil . . . . there is no man possessing a sense of justice, and who is not impelled to silence by the dread of a penalty which has fallen upon many for exercising the right of free speech, who will not acknowledge that the cause of the South is to-day the cause of Liberty against Despotism. If any man wants a proof of this, he will find it in the last message of the Washington Autocrat.” ~ Richmond Dispatch criticizes President Lincoln’s offer of amnesty.


January 27– Wednesday– Fair Garden, Tennessee– In a fight that lasts most of the day, Federal troops beat a Confederate force. However, the Federals are forced to withdraw at nightfall as they are fatigued and low on ammunition. Total Union casualties– dead, wounded, missing– are 100 and 165 for the Confederates.

January 27– Wednesday– Columbia, Tennessee– James Andrews, the mayor, is arrested for killing a Federal soldier and mortally wounding another during a confrontation at his place of business.

January 27– Wednesday– Munich, Germany– Leo von Klenze, prominent neoclassicist architect as well as a painter and writer, dies, weeks away from his 80th birthday.

Mary Sharp College

Mary Sharp College

January 28– Thursday– Winchester, Tennessee– “I addressed you yesterday by Telegraph informing you that a Negro man by name of Marcus Combs now living in Nashville came to my house yesterday accompanied by some soldiers who belong to the command of Colonel James S. Selfridgeof the 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers and demanded a Negro girl belonging to me, aged 13 years. This Negro Marcus Combs claims to be the father of the girl. This Negro man Marcus formerly belong to me and the community demanded of me to sell him out of the place for theft & other misconduct which would have put a free man into our penitentiary. Such is the character of the Negro. Now he brings a verbal order from you to the Colonel Selfridge commanding the post at Dechard Depot (so the Colonel informs me that the girl is to be delivered up to him) and I assure you, that I am a good loyal Citizen of Tennessee, having taken the oath of allegiance at the earliest day possible for me, and received a Guarantee of Protection signed by yourself & Major General Rosecrans, for all my property both real & personal. Now with this statement of facts before you I would most respectfully petition you to inform me either by mail or Telegraph immediately (for the case is very urgent) whether the Negro girl is protected by the papers I hold? Whether Colonel Selfridge has a right to take the property from me without given me a voucher for the same as he is commanded to do by yourself & General Rosecrans in the protection papers given to me at the time I took the oath of allegiance?” ~ Letter from Zuinglius C. Graves, President of Mary Sharp College to Andrew Johnson, military governor of Tennessee.[Graves (1816 – 1902) was born in Vermont and licensed as a Baptist preacher around 1833 or 1834. He became the first president of Mary Sharp College in 1850. Ironically the school was named after a niece of the British abolitionist Granville Sharp (1735 – 1813). Mary Sharp herself was an ardent abolitionist, active in campaigns to abolish the Atlantic slave trade. Graves, a supporter of the system of slavery, envisioned a college and created a curriculum designed to provide for women the “same knowledge, literary, scientific and classical, that had been for so many generations the peculiar and cherished heritage of the other sex; that the sister should be placed on an equality with the brother, for the development and unfolding of all the qualities of her mind, thus making her what she was designed to be by her Creator, a thinking, reflecting, reasoning being, capable of comparing and judging for herself, and dependent upon none other for her free, unbiased opinion.” The college will close in 1896 due to financial problems.]