Voting Rights and Family Fights: The Story of Mary Grew

This year’s political processes have been rightly described as messy, but they’re not unprecedentedly so. A century ago, women could not legally vote and two centuries ago, neither could people of color. The struggle to extend voting rights to all Americans was a long one, in which some of the country’s most ignoble fears and prejudices were revealed. Yet, and not without the prolonged work of activists and advocates, progress was made. One influential political mover was Mary Grew, a nineteenth century woman who dedicated her life’s work to fighting for women’s suffrage and the abolition of slavery, and who is buried at The Woodlands Cemetery. 

Portrait of Mary Grew

Portrait of Mary Grew

Mary Grew was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1813. Her early life was surely shaped by the then-unconventional spiritual, moral and political positions of her father. Henry Grew was a writer and abolitionist whose rigid and radical interpretations of scripture brought a quick end to his career as a pastor at the First Baptist Church of Hartford. Despite Henry’s resignation (or perhaps deposition) from the clergy, the Grew family was materially comfortable and Mary received a strong education at the Hartford Female Seminary. This school, run by Catharine Beecher, was considered unorthodox for following the standard curriculum of contemporary boys’ schools and giving little attention to the “domestic and ornamental arts.” 

In 1834, when she was twenty-one years old, Mary Grew’s entire family moved to Philadelphia, possibly to take a more active hand in the abolitionist movement. At the time, Philadelphia was an important locus of anti-slavery activism, and Mary Grew soon became acquainted with some of the influential female social reformers of her day including Lucretia Mott, Sarah and Angelina Grimke and Abigail May Alcott (the mother of novelist Louisa May Alcott). Mary Grew joined the newly established Female Anti-Slavery Society, where she would serve as the corresponding secretary for nearly three decades. 

In this capacity, Mary was instrumental in organizing the first Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in New York City in 1837. Following the success of this meeting, the Philadelphia delegates to the convention dedicated themselves to raising funds for the construction of Pennsylvania Hall, an abolitionist assembly place. The hall was finished just in time for the second annual Anti-Slavery Convention of American women, but from the first day of the conference, conflict was imminent. 

As the women convened, inflammatory pamphlets were scattered across the city, urging “citizens entertaining a proper respect for the right of property and the Constitution of these states” to bring about the “immediate dispersion” of the convention. By the time of a public meeting the next evening, rioters had surrounded Pennsylvania Hall and began throwing rocks at the building. With impressive determination, the “mixed audience of men and women, white and black” continued their meeting, even as the brand-new building’s windows were shattered. On the evening of the conference’s third day, perhaps encouraged by an apathetic show of resistance on the part of Mayor John Swift and the Fire Department, the rioters broke into Pennsylvania Hall and burnt the building to the ground. It must have been with full knowledge of her opponents’ capacity for violence, as well as with some irony, that in the process of planning the third annual convention, Grew told a friend that the “City of Brotherly Love” would “endeavor to give you a better reception, and accommodations, than you met with last spring."

Depiction of Pennsylvania Hall  which was burned to the ground by anti-black rioters on the night of May 17, 1838. The structure stood a mere three days before being burned down. 

Depiction of Pennsylvania Hall  which was burned to the ground by anti-black rioters on the night of May 17, 1838. The structure stood a mere three days before being burned down. 

Abolitionism was extremely controversial, yet women activists faced particular ire from both within and outside of the anti-slavery movement. A New York newspaper reporting on the arson of Pennsylvania Hall suggested, “females who so far forget the province of their sex as to perambulate the country” attending political meetings should be “sent to insane asylums.”  Many male abolitionists held similar views on the impropriety of women in the public sphere or feared that the controversial presence of women in the movement would hurt an already contentious political cause. The Female Anti-Slavery Society existed in the first place because the American Anti-Slavery Society was not open to women until 1840. And for Mary Grew, sexist objections to her political vocality came not just from inside the abolitionist movement, but from inside her own family as well. 

As historian Bruce Dorsey explains in Reforming Men & Women: Gender in the Antebellum City, Henry Grew had made it “his particular calling to remind other abolitionists that the Bible (in his opinion) confirmed a woman’s subordination to men.” This tendency was prominently displayed in 1840, when he, Mary Grew, and a number of other influential American abolitionists travelled to London for the first World Anti-Slavery Convention. Upon their arrival at the convention, the women delegates were informed by the British conference organizers that they were unwelcome; they could observe the proceedings from the gallery of the assembly room, but were not permitted to speak. Some delegates, including the Massachusetts minister and politician George Bradburn (with whom, according to Lucretia Mott, Mary was “quite intimate”) strongly opposed the segregation of the convention. Others, including Henry Grew, supported it. Despite the fact that it would debar his own daughter, Henry claimed that the exclusion of women from the conference was not only fitting with British custom, but also “the ordinance of Almighty God!” 

One can only imagine how humiliating and disappointing this rejection would have been for the women who had travelled from the United States to participate in the conference. Fortunately, it also proved galvanizing. For these delegates (and perhaps for the voting-rights movement as a whole) the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention was a turning point, after which abolition and women’s suffrage were not so cleanly divisible.  The Convention exposed a contradiction in the abolitionism of the early nineteenth century, which decried racial inequality while remaining silent or complicit in the matter of gender inequality. 

After their return to the United States, the female delegates resumed their abolitionist organizing, but also took active steps towards expanding women’s rights. Driven by the shared experience of ostracism at the World Anti-Slavery Convention, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott began planning the Seneca Falls Convention, which eventually took place in 1848. Mary Grew assisted in organizing this groundbreaking summit but did not attend, perhaps due to poor health. 

Mary did participate, however, in the fifth Woman’s Rights Convention held in Philadelphia in 1854. As Dorsey explains, “Henry Grew made a habit of following Mary to abolitionist and woman’s rights meetings” where he would vocalize his strong contrary opinions. At the 1854 convention, while his daughter was sitting on the speaker’s platform, Henry Grew took the opportunity to “express his disagreement with the proceedings” and quote bible passages that supported his conviction “that man should be superior in power and authority to woman.” Lucretia Mott executed an effective takedown of Henry Grew’s argument, yet the entire episode could not have been easy for Mary. Still, even with her father’s interference, Mary Grew sustained her involvement in the Woman’s Rights Conventions and a few years later delivered the closing address at the 1860 meeting.

Grew’s increased interest in women’s suffrage and equal rights did not lessen her commitment to abolition. In fact, her dedication to fighting the institution of slavery is reinforced by the fact that she did not assume a major leadership role in the women’s rights movement until 1870, at which point the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments had been ratified and the Female Anti-Slavery Society officially disbanded. 

Mary Grew served as the president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association for over two decades until ill health prompted her to retire in 1892. There is something tragic about the fact that even though Grew spent her entire adult life fighting for the expansion of voting rights to all Americans, she herself was never able to cast a ballot. Mary Grew died in 1896, a full twenty-four years before women received the right to vote in the United States. Still, she worked to bring about some of the most remarkable social and political progress the country has seen, and the story of her long career deepens the meaning of enfranchisement in 2016. Today, as in Mary Grew’s time, egalitarianism is not a political certainty, a fact which makes the exercise of the of the voting rights she fought for all the more important. 

Want to visit Mary's gravesite? She is located in Section C, Lot 559. Download a section map of the cemetery here.

                                                                                                                                                              -By Rive Cadwallader

 

Here's What We Dug Up:

Exciting news at The Woodlands—we made an archaeological breakthrough!

Kim sorts and washes artifacts found during the dig. Photo: Ryan Collerd

Kim sorts and washes artifacts found during the dig. Photo: Ryan Collerd

If you’ve walked through the grounds recently, you may have noticed we’ve been doing some digging around the Mansion. Thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, The Woodlands has partnered with AECOM to conduct a series of archaeological digs between the Mansion, the Stable and the (no longer extant) greenhouse hoping to locate a servant pathway that once connected them.  

The path was described in detail and sketched by Charles Drayton after he visited The Woodlands in 1806, but was filled in at some point once the Cemetery Company took over the grounds. Drayton’s sketch is one of the only known visual records of the Hamilton-era landscape and the only map that explicitly illustrates the path between the Mansion and the Stable. According to Drayton’s description, the path was sunken below grade and concealed by a screen of shrubs and trees, reflecting William Hamilton’s interest in choreographing and concealing movement (particularly servant movement) around the Mansion and the landscape. The pathway extended from the west end of the cryptoporticus (the subterranean passageway also utilized by servants that spans the north side of the Mansion) slowly rising upwards and expanding as it reached the Stable and greenhouse. Hamilton’s design ensured that visitors arriving by carriage at the north side of the Mansion enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the landscape.

Earlier archaeology work undertaken in 2009, located what we believe to be part of the foundation of William Hamilton’s greenhouse. The greenhouse is also included on historic maps dating into the Cemetery Company Era in the mid-19th century. Hamilton’s sizeable greenhouse would have extended west of the Stable, in the general vicinity of the walled carriage turnaround, which was added later by the Cemetery Company.

Sketch of the path made by Charles Drayton which accompanied the description in his diary entry on November 2, 1806 (dotted line indicates the location of the path).

Sketch of the path made by Charles Drayton which accompanied the description in his diary entry on November 2, 1806 (dotted line indicates the location of the path).

A Site Plan for The Woodlands Cemetery from 1846 depicts the location of Hamilton's greenhouse relative to the Mansion and Stable. 

A Site Plan for The Woodlands Cemetery from 1846 depicts the location of Hamilton's greenhouse relative to the Mansion and Stable. 

To estimate the precise location of the path, the archaeology team first projected the Drayton sketch and other historic maps onto current aerial imagery. Once a rough location of the path was determined, they further analyzed the area using ground penetrating radar. Based on findings, three dig locations were chosen along the projected path.

Photos: Ryan Collerd

Photos: Ryan Collerd

Less than an hour into the first dig and approximately three feet below the current grade, the team hit two stone walls that we later learned enclosed the brick-paved walkway. The rough schist walls weren’t immediately identifiable as part of the path system, but continued excavation eventually revealed the paved brick path about three feet farther down.

An intact section of the path showed smooth and worn 18th century brick laid in a herringbone pattern. It also appeared to rise at a gentle slope towards the Stable, matching the verbal account written by Charles Drayton in 1806!  

The first excavation trench, facing southeast towards the mansion, shows rough schist walls flanking the subterranean path. 

The first excavation trench, facing southeast towards the mansion, shows rough schist walls flanking the subterranean path. 

View of the walls and path from above the pit, facing west. 

View of the walls and path from above the pit, facing west. 

Detail of 18th century herringbone brick path.

Detail of 18th century herringbone brick path.

In addition to locating the path, the dig produced a number of artifacts including 18th century delft pottery, Chinese porcelain, redware, creamware, oyster shells, and silver utensils and accessories. The wealth of artifacts in this small area only further confirms the fact that significant, untapped archaeological resources remain on site.

Artifacts found during excavation on display at The Woodlands annual benefit. Pictured from top: redware, 18th century creamware, and Chinese export porcelain. Photo: Ryan Collerd

Artifacts found during excavation on display at The Woodlands annual benefit. Pictured from top: redware, 18th century creamware, and Chinese export porcelain. Photo: Ryan Collerd

Piece of 18th century delft featuring a cherub's head, found during the excavation. 

Piece of 18th century delft featuring a cherub's head, found during the excavation. 

Findings from this project further enhance our understanding of the Hamilton Era, help us interpret and illustrate the connection between the Mansion and the Stable and greenhouse, and help inform future landscape decisions at The Woodlands—which we now realize will likely include more archaeology! Until then, the path will be filled back in for safekeeping. Stay tuned for more information as we continue to analyze the results.

By Starr Herr-Cardillo

Sources:

Wunsch, Aaron. “Woodlands Cemetery,” HALS No. PA-5

Drayton, Charles. Diary (photocopied transcription), 2 November 1806, Drayton Hall Coll., National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Drayton, Charles [Sketch accompanying diary entry of 2 November 1806]. Drayton Hall Coll., National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

Plan of the Woodlands Cemetery, 1846, The Woodlands Cemetery Company Collection.  

 

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden and the Invention of the National Park

Yellowstone National Park is a geologist’s paradise: the nearly three and a half thousand square miles of land include the largest volcanic system in North America, extensive geothermal activity caused by a subterranean magma chamber and the highest concentration of geysers in the world. Yet the park is also appreciated by millions of visitors each year for its sheer beauty and pristine landscape. The double appeal of Yellowstone goes all the way back to its early history when a team of scientists and artists were dispatched to explore the yet-uncharted region. The combination of their academic and creative accomplishments was instrumental in the establishment of Yellowstone as the first national park of the United States.

A photograph of the Summit of Jupiter Terraces taken by William H. Jackson. Paintings and photographs of Yellowstone were crucial to its establishment as a national park.

A photograph of the Summit of Jupiter Terraces taken by William H. Jackson. Paintings and photographs of Yellowstone were crucial to its establishment as a national park.

Ferdinand Hayden, the leader of an 1871 surveying expedition to the Yellowstone area. 

Ferdinand Hayden, the leader of an 1871 surveying expedition to the Yellowstone area. 

In the years following the Civil War, the region that is today Yellowstone was a mystery to most Americans. Could accounts of hot water spouting from the ground or rumblings underfoot possibly be credible? And more importantly, was the land suitable for agricultural development? In 1871, the General Land Office turned to Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, an expert geologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania (who is now buried at The Woodlands Cemetery) to answer these questions. Hayden put together a team of over thirty men, wisely including Civil War photographer William H. Jackson and esteemed painter Thomas Moran, and set off on what would be the largest of four “Great Surveys” of the American West.

After a long cross-country voyage, the explorers arrived in Yellowstone and were amazed with what they found. While the paleontologists, geophysicists and lithologists in the group set about collecting geological data and rock samples, Jackson and Moran visually recorded the natural landscape. By Moran’s account, he “took great pains with delineation of the form and texture of the rocks” which he “realized to the farthest point I could carry them”. This creative approach is exhibited in The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone which Moran completed in 1872. The dramatic oil painting highlights the formations and stratifications of the rock with great accuracy while capturing, as Moran hoped to, “the character of that region.”

In Moran's The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone sunlight falls on the park's spectacular rock formations, which are depicted with geological accuracy.

In Moran's The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone sunlight falls on the park's spectacular rock formations, which are depicted with geological accuracy.

When Ferdinand Hayden returned to the East from his expedition, he had a vision for Yellowstone that was unprecedented amid the pioneer mentality of the 19th century United States. Hayden wanted Yellowstone to remain undeveloped, as a natural space available to generations of future Americans. Along with the proposal he submitted to Congress, Hayden included Jackson’s photographs and some of Moran’s watercolors. These beautiful visual depictions of the region were crucial in persuading congressmen (most of whom had not seen for themselves the magnificence of the West) to establish Yellowstone as “a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” in 1872.

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden is buried at The Woodlands Cemetery in Section H, Lot 301. 

Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden is buried at The Woodlands Cemetery in Section H, Lot 301. 

Thanks to the enthusiasm and determination that Hayden brought to his lobbying for Yellowstone National Park, this model became broadly accepted both in the United States and around the world. Over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, thirty-five natural places within the U.S. were granted this status before the National Park Service was formally signed into being in 1916. In honor of the bureau’s 100th birthday, this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show will celebrate the beauty of our national parks. Although Philadelphia and Yellowstone may not appear to have much in common, the early history of the park was determined by a resident of this city. If you’re visiting for the Flower Show this week, consider stopping by Penn’s Hayden Hall or The Woodlands to pay a visit to the final resting place of Ferdinand Vendeveer Hayden, the scientist behind America’s national parks.

By Rive Cadwallader

 

You can find more information about Hayden's expedition and the art it inspired from: 

Jackson, W. Turrentine. "The Creation of Yellowstone National Park," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 29, No. 2 (1942): 187-206

Wagner, Virginia L. "Geological Time in Nineteenth-Century Landscape Paintings," Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 24, No. 2/3 (1989): 153-163

 

The Great Electrobat

Pedro Salom, the inventor of the first battery powered car, is buried at The Woodlands.

Pedro Salom, the inventor of the first battery powered car, is buried at The Woodlands.

When the Tesla Roadster was released in 2008, the car was praised as a remarkable feat of engineering that could change transportation in the 21st century. As innovative as the Roadster may have been, it was far from the first electric car to be developed. That award goes to the 1894 Electrobat and its creator, Pedro G. Salom, who is buried at The Woodlands Cemetery.

In the late nineteenth century, Pedro Salom, an electrochemical engineer, teamed up with inventor Henry G. Morris under the common goal of creating the world’s first battery-powered automobile. Both men had been involved in the electrification of urban streetcars, which eliminated the messes and hassles of animal-powered public transportation. Using the same lead-acid batteries that powered the new streetcars, Salom and Morris developed the first prototype of their electric automobile in a mere two months and patented the vehicle on August 31, 1894.

When the two inventors took their electric car out for its first test run that summer, they had to receive a special permit from City Hall. Accompanied by a police officer tasked with conducting carriages away from the automobile (which was liable to frighten horses), the car made its way down busy, cobblestoned Broad Street. The precautions taken on this first ride were called for: the first model of the Electrobat was unwieldy and unpredictable. Looking something like a cross between a Radio Flyer wagon and an equipage, the car was encumbered with a battery that weighed a full 1,600 pounds.

Salom and Morris in an early Electrobat (1896).

Salom and Morris in an early Electrobat (1896).

However, within a year, Pedro Salom and Henry Morris had refined their original model significantly. The fourth prototype of the car had a 350 pound battery, a fraction of the weight of the original, which allowed the steel wheels of the first Electrobat to be replaced with pneumatic tires. Armed with cutting-edge technology, the engineers founded the Morris and Salom Electric Wagon and Carriage Company and began promoting their invention as a modern kind of hansom cab. Before long, the company had dozens of Electrobat cabs operating in New York City, and was effectively competing with horse-drawn cabs in Philadelphia and Boston as well. The addition of electric automobiles to the late nineteenth century urban environment caused quite a stir. One newspaper claimed that “no modern development is fraught with greater possibilities than the motor-propelled road vehicle.” Another acknowledged the growth of Morris and Salom's company, but maintained that "the American mechanical public at large is viewing the horseless carriage a dream of the dreamers."

An Electrobat cab, ready to navigate the bustling streets of Manhattan.

An Electrobat cab, ready to navigate the bustling streets of Manhattan.

Automotive technology may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering The Woodlands but a great contributor to this field is buried in the cemetery. Long before twenty first century iterations of the electric car, Salom and his Electrobat changed the face of urban transportation and added to the Philadelphia’s list of innovations in science and engineering. 

By Rive Cadwallader

To learn more about the Electrobat, see: 

Bruce Duffie. "Charging Up the Electric Cabs." http://www.kcstudio.com/colcharging.html

Bruce Duffie. "Prologue: Preparing the way for the Columbia cars, and the formation of the Electric Vehicle Company." http://www.kcstudio.com/electrobat.html

Alexis C. Madrigal. "The Electric Taxi Company You Could Have Called in 1900." The Atlantic (March 2011). http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/03/the-electric-taxi-company-you-could-have-called-in-1900/72481/