A book by Sally Roesch Wagner about the life of Matilda Joslyn Gage. Published in 1998 by Sky Carrier Press.

The tittle was actually Gage's 'Indian Name' given her by the Onendaga Nation near Syracuse, NY. They gave her this name in response to her work trying to raise awareness of their mistreatment at the hands of the US Government. The book sort of glosses over this work of hers in favor of her abolition and suffrage work.

This is an excellent portrait of Matilda Joslyn Gage, but it has a few flaws.

The book is rather short, and there are places when I had the distinct impression Wagner was holding out on me. While it is true that very little is known about Gage, I was doing research on her myself at the time, and it appears that the author has actually declined to mention certain facts about Gage's life. I also wasn't entirely satisfied with the organization of the book. It almost seemed as though there were two books being written: one about Gage's public life, and one about her personal life. When both books were completed, the author spliced them randomly together, the idea being to give the impression of what was going on in both parts of her life at the same time. Unfortunately one book, the one about her personal life, was shorter than the other. The way it reads, one can never be quite so sure about exactly when one event in Gage's life occured in relation to another. Sort of like watching something with one long leg and one short leg try to walk.

Wagner uses lots of excerpts from Gage's prolific writing, which gives the reader an impression of her literary style and her way of thinking. This was a passionate woman with a powerful legal mind and an unshaking dedication to her cause. I would not want to be in the opposition with Gage in the room. She had a fierce temper, which, according to contemporary reports, she controlled in public, but I suspect that anger only sharpened her logic and contributed to her energy. In her day she was as well known as Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton it would be a loss indeed if she were to be forgotten entirely by history.

I'm not wild about Wagner's writing, but I think the book is worth wile to anyone wanting to know more about Matilda Joslyn Gage. Another good book to check out would be Excluded from Suffrage History by Leila R. Brammer published by Greenwood Press in 2000.

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