Saturday, June 29, 2013

44. Star of Hope: The Rights of Women

Star of Hope by Becky Brown.
The center square is an old fabric that she dyed with
blackberry juice to match the others.
Marianne with her liberty cap and tricolor banner 
became the symbol of revolutionary France.

After America's Revolution, ideas about human rights conflicting with the rights of kings took hold in France. In 1789 at the beginning of a ten-year insurrection, the French Assembly adopted The Declaration of the Rights of Man with principles of liberty, fraternity and equality promising hopes of an enlightened future.

Olympe de Gouges

Olympe de Gouges soon realized that revolutionary idealists ignored the rights of women. In 1791 she outlined radical ideas for true equality and liberty in areas of marriage and divorce, voting, slavery and education in her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen. "Woman, wake up....What advantage have you received from the Revolution?” De Gouges publicized her ideas through plays, salons and clubs known as the Society of the Friends of Truth. "Woman has the right to mount the scaffold; she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum."

Women's Patriotic Club by Jean Baptiste Lasueur 1749-1826

French hopes were brutalized in counter revolutions. Outspokenness was dangerous and de Gouge's words predicted her death. She was guillotined in 1793.

De Gouge's ideas seem to have died with her. In 1804 Emperor Napoleon established a civil hierarchy with wives legally subservient to men in his Napoleonic Code, an enduring legacy.

Hubertine Auclert (1848-1914)
founded the French Women's Suffrage Society

Auclert left a permanent statement on her tomb, 
a bronze shawl with the words Women's Suffrage.

Women were not able to vote in France until 1944 and the end of World War II. In 1965 French wives achieved equal legal status in marriage.

Star of Hope by 
Georgann Eglinski

Star of Hope can remind us of the broken promises of the 1789 Revolution. The block was given that name in the 1930s by the syndicated Nancy Page quilt column. 

The BlockBase number is #1631d. Be sure to add the d if you are looking it up by number.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - 5 squares 3-1/8". (3-3/16" if you use BlockBase's 1/16th inch default)

B - Cut 4 squares 3-7/8".

Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles. You need 16 triangles.

Cutting a 12" Finished Block

A - 5 squares  4-1/2"
B - Cut 4 squares 5-3/16". Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles

Star of Hope by Becky Brown

Marianne about 1930: 
a idealized female symbol of a state run by men.

Read Olympe de Gouge's declaration here at the City University of New York's website.

Star of Hope by Dustin Cecil

 Hermes scarf

Saturday, June 22, 2013

43. Gentleman's Fancy: Dropping from the Clouds

Gentleman's Fancy
By Becky Brown

Woman and child from the Library of Congress

In 1838 three antislavery activists published their research in American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses.

Theodore Weld,  Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké  used a clever source for their "cloud of witnesses."  They analyzed runaway slave advertisements in Southern newspapers that outlined the scars, brands and burnt faces, missing eyes and hands that owners described in painting a verbal picture of the runaway who, it was often alleged, had been "well treated."

Angelina Grimké Weld & Sarah Grimké  after the Civil War.

Weld and the Grimké  sisters were the first to use slave ads for a primary source, followed to this day by others from textile historians to genealogists. Runaway slave ads sometimes include children, as in this one from their book:
 Bet ran away from a sadistic master who burned her face. "Her children are both boys, the oldest in his seventh year; he is a mulatto and has blue eyes; the youngest is black and is in his fifth year."
We can parse a good deal about Bet from the ad including the all too common fact that her children had different fathers with the eldest probably the son of a white man in the owner's family. We can guess Bet had no right to choose her first sexual partner. She and many other suffered under a 19th-century update on the feudal droit du seigneur, the medieval lord's right to the virginity of the serfs on his estate. American Slavery As It Is made a few references to sexual exploitation of young slaves but the authors generally danced around the topic.

Mary Boykin Chesnut is a famous exception. In her Civil War diary in she observed:

"Like the patriarchs of old our men live all in one house with their wives and their concubines and the mulattoes one sees in every family exactly resemble the white children---and every lady tells you who is the father of all the mulatto children in everybody's households, but those in her own she seems to think drop from the clouds, or pretends to think."

Unknown family about 1860 from the Library of Congress

The Grimké sisters, who left their childhood home in Charleston because they could not bear to live in a slave-holding culture, were well aware of the mixed-race siblings inherent in the system. Their brother Henry fathered at least three sons with his slave Nancy Weston, relatives they discovered only after their nephews were freed by the Civil War. The sisters sponsored the Harvard education of two of the younger

Archibald Grimké became a lawyer and Francis Grimké a minister

Slavery is a painful past for many reasons. We can use the block Gentleman's Fancy block to recall an abuse of power that was rarely spoken of in polite company, the slave holder's right to sex. The pattern was published by the Ladies' Art Company and is based on the same seam lines as Nonsense (see Block 38).

Gentleman's Fancy
By Becky Brown

(BlockBase #2838) 

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A - Cut 4 squares 3-1/2".

Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 8 large triangles.

B - Cut 4 squares 3-7/8".

Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles.
You need 16 small triangles.

C - Cut 1 square 3-1/8". (3-3/16" if you use BlockBase's 1/16" option)

Cutting a 12" Finished Block
A - Cut 4 squares 4-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally.
B - Cut 4 squares 5-3/16". Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles.
C - Cut 1 square 4-/2".

Gentleman's Fancy
By Georgann Eglinksi

Gentleman's Fancy By Dustin Cecil

Read American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses by Theodore Dwight Weld and the American Anti-Slavery Society (1839) on Google Books. Click here and click on the cover.

Mary Chesnut's diary is available from the University of North Carolina's Documenting the American South website. Click here to read it:
Mary & her friends at the center of Confederate power are the topic of our Civil War applique BOM for 2020 called Cassandra's Circle.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

42. Cats & Mice: Hunger Strikes

Cats and Mice
By Becky Brown

In 1909 battles between the London police and the Women's Social and Political Union reached an impasse.
The back-and-forth game of  WSPU civil disobedience and routine arrests was escalated when the women began prison hunger strikes. They hoped to disgrace the government led by H.H. Asquith and the Liberal Party.

Sylvia Pankhurst after a hunger strike, greeted by her
mother and supporters with bouquets

 WSPU medal for valour in a hunger strike, 1909

Initially the government responded to this move by releasing the prisoners. In 1912 the government changed tactics and prison staff began force feeding. Protesters served their four-or six-month terms without voluntary meals as jailers using tubes and brutality kept them minimally nourished.

Here in a WSPU image a woman prisoner
 is restrained and fed through her nose
 by a diabolical doctor.

The WSPU characterized the tactic as torture and likened it to rape, a campaign effective enough to force the government to introduce a new battle plan in 1913. They jailed the hunger-striking women until their health was in danger, released them in a form of parole to regain their strength, then arrested  them again. The WSPU dubbed the "Temporary Discharge for Ill Health Act" the Cat and Mouse Act, showing their continuing skillful manipulation of the media.

The cat was the party in power toying with the WSPU.
Or was the cat and mouse game a parry and thrust by both sides?

In this poster the mad doctor resembles 
politician David Lloyd George

The Cat and Mouse Act and the cycle of civil disobedience and arrest went on in the months before the beginning of World War I. The August, 1914 declaration of European war abruptly changed everything. The Pankhursts pronounced WSPU activities at a wartime standstill.

After the war the WSPU never regained its prominence in the campaign for women's rights. In 1918 the government conceded a portion of their demands by passing a law enfranchising some women (propertied women over 30). That right was not extended to all adult British women until 1928.

Cats and Mice
By Georgann Eglinski

Cats and Mice is a patchwork pattern given the name by the Ladies' Art Company in the early 20th century. 

(BlockBase # 2916 )
 Perhaps the cats are the squares and the mice the small triangles.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 10 squares 2-1/8". (2-3/16" if you use the BlockBase option of 1/16th")

Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.  You need 20 triangles.

B - Cut 5 squares 2-3/8"

C - Cut 1 square 6-1/2". (6-9/16")

Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles. You need 4 triangles.

Cutting a 12" Block
A - Cut 10 squares 2-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally
B -  Cut 5 squares 3-5/16".
C -   Cut 1 square 9-3/16". Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles. 

Cats and Mice
By Dustin Cecil

Cats and Mice
By Becky Brown

Becky put 9 of her Morris-style blocks together to
make a virtual quilt. The blocks interact in interesting fashion.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

41. Contrary Wife: Frances Kemble Butler

Contrary Wife
By Becky Brown
We've had a Contrary Husband block so must give equal time to the Contrary Wife and tell of a notorious divorce in mid-19th-century America, that of the Butlers of Philadelphia, Georgia and London.

Pierce Mease Butler and Frances Kemble Butler

Friend Sidney George Fisher described Fanny:
"Exuberant & animated, a little theatrical, very clever & somewhat dictatorial, tho in a good natured way."

Frances Ann Kemble, born into an English acting family, captured America's attention in an 1832 tour. She also captured the heart of wealthy young Pierce Butler Mease, who had changed his name to Pierce Mease Butler to inherit his grandfather's estate, a fortune based in slavery.

 Frances Ann Kemble (1809-1893)
in 1834, the year of her marriage.
Portrait by Thomas Sully

Spectacularly mismatched, each realized their illusions before a year was out. Fanny was an independent woman with notions of a "well-assorted marriage"; Pierce was not forward thinking. Fanny had abolitionist leanings; Pierce was a huge slave owner.

Fanny told friend Eliza Middleton Fisher that when she married him she had no idea about where his family money came from. Pierce, on the other hand, had many premarital clues to Fanny's personality. Her independence, celebrity and theatricality must have been the attraction but he expected her to put the role of Fanny Kemble aside and become Mrs. Pierce Butler.

Although retired from the stage, she could not retire from the limelight and published the Journal of Frances Anne Butler the following year, reviewed as a "work of very considerable talent [and] exceeding bad taste. There is something overbold, not to say indelicate, in the very idea of a young woman's publishing her private Journal." Fanny infuriated her American friends with her thinly disguised portraits of their behavior, so quaint in British eyes, but most forgave her.
The Butler's Philadelphia House

The Butlers spent a winter on one of the family's Georgia plantations while Pierce hoped to convert Fanny to the benefits of the slave economy. A horrified Fanny continued her journal, which she threatened to publish.

By 1839 they had two daughters and a crumbling marriage that, like her wardrobe, was the talk of Philadelphia. Eliza Fisher kept her mother up to date. Fanny received guests (amazingly enough) " in a riding Habit & coloured shirt.... Butler insisted that to see her daughters she must live at his house although separate and that she would concede his authority over what she published particularly in regards to slavery."

 Pierce Butler (1810-1868), 
probably during the Civil War.
Library Company of Philadelphia

Pierce was notorious for his drinking, spending and affairs, reportedly moving a mistress into the house in the role of governess. In a culture that permitted a husband's discreet misbehavior, his indiscretions made news.

 Eliza Middleton Fisher.
Despite different views of wifely roles
Eliza and Fanny were friends.

The Butlers lived under the same roof but did not speak. In 1843 Eliza Fisher wrote: "Tittle tattle about Mr & Mrs Pierce Butler whose squabbles have become serious enough to be known generally---His conduct to her has been shameful & although I daresay she has her faults of temper, it is unmanly & cruel to treat her so. Even his family side with her...."

Eliza's brother Williams sided with Pierce, however. "He was sure she was to blame & abused her for her oddities &c." Eliza had to agree. As Pierce's vengeful behavior increased and he exercised his legal right to refuse Fanny visits to the girls: "Unfortunately she has brought a good deal upon herself by her own folly."

Too much will & vitality & force of character

Fanny returned to England and the stage. In 1848 her husband divorced her for abandonment. Another member of the extended Fisher family summarized the problems. Sidney George Fisher wrote he "always liked Mrs. Kemble. She is a woman of genius & of noble impulses and kind feelings. Too much will & vitality & force of character, however, to be very happy in domestic life, more especially with such a man as Butler, her inferior far in all intellectual endowments, but her equal in firmness & strength of character. She is not a person to be governed by force."

She became Mrs. Kemble and returned to Philadelphia where Thomas P. Cope ran across her one day out in the country. She was fishing, "dressed in a light frock coat, pantaloons, boots & man's hat, having every outward appearance of a male. Altho' an actress & accustomed to exposure of the person, it seemed wonderful that she should thus outrage the accustomed laws of female decorum among so plain a people [Quakers]. She drives her own carriage and pair round the neighborhood, with her own hands to the amusement of the sober natives."

Wonderful was not a compliment in Quaker Cope's vocabulary. Fanny Kemble, outrageous, odd and possessed of too much will, was a contrary wife whose divorce and loss of her children served as an abject lesson to any English or American women who might have considered her a role model.

Contrary Wife
By Georgann Eglinski

Contrary Wife was given the name in the Kansas City Star in 1941.

 BlockBase #1687c
(Don't forget the c if you look for it by number.)

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 5 squares 3-1/8" (or 3-3/16" if you use the 1/16" default)
B - Cut 4 squares 3-1/2"
Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.  You need 8 triangles.

Cutting a 12" Finished Block

A - Cut 5 squares 4-1/2" 
B - Cut 4 squares 4-7/8"
Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.  You need 8 triangles.

Contrary Wife
By Becky Brown
The purple is scraps left over from a muu-muu
her Grandmother made her soon after
Hawaii became a state.

Read more about Fanny's Georgia diaries and the Butler plantations here:

Read a biography of Fanny Kemble by J.C. Furnas, Fanny Kemble: Leading Lady of the Nineteenth-Century Stage.  Furnas outlines the conflict. Fanny believed marriage should be "like a well arranged duet for four hands," while Pierce Butler viewed this idea as an insurmountable problem with his contrary wife, writing in consternation:  "She held that marriage should be companionship on equal terms...that at no time has one partner a right to control the other."

Contrary Wife
By Dustin Cecil