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The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights

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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in the dangerous territory of Eastern Maryland, opened their basement kitchens as stations on the Underground Railroad. Tubman was enslaved, Wright was a middle-class Quaker mother of seven, and Seward was the aristocratic wife and moral conscience of her husband, William H. Seward, who served as Lincoln’s Secretary of State. All three refused to abide by laws that denied them the rights granted to white men, and they supported each other as they worked to overturn slavery and achieve full citizenship for blacks and women. The Agitators opens when Tubman is enslaved and Wright and Seward are young women bridling against their traditional roles. It ends decades later, after Wright’s and Seward’s sons—and Tubman herself—have taken part in three of the defining engagements of the Civil War. Through the sardonic and anguished accounts of the protagonists, reconstructed from their letters, diaries, and public appearances, we see the most explosive debates of the time, and portraits of the men and women whose paths they crossed: Lincoln, Seward, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others. Tubman, embraced by Seward and Wright and by the radical network of reformers in western New York State, settled in Auburn and spent the second half of her life there. With extraordinarily compelling storytelling reminiscent of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time and David McCullough’s John Adams, The Agitators brings a vivid new perspective to the epic American stories of abolition, the Underground Railroad, women’s rights activism, and the Civil War.


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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in From the author of the New York Times bestseller Nothing Daunted, The Agitators chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright: three unlikely collaborators in the quest for abolition and women’s rights. In Auburn, New York, in the mid-nineteenth century, Martha Wright and Frances Seward, inspired by Harriet Tubman’s rescues in the dangerous territory of Eastern Maryland, opened their basement kitchens as stations on the Underground Railroad. Tubman was enslaved, Wright was a middle-class Quaker mother of seven, and Seward was the aristocratic wife and moral conscience of her husband, William H. Seward, who served as Lincoln’s Secretary of State. All three refused to abide by laws that denied them the rights granted to white men, and they supported each other as they worked to overturn slavery and achieve full citizenship for blacks and women. The Agitators opens when Tubman is enslaved and Wright and Seward are young women bridling against their traditional roles. It ends decades later, after Wright’s and Seward’s sons—and Tubman herself—have taken part in three of the defining engagements of the Civil War. Through the sardonic and anguished accounts of the protagonists, reconstructed from their letters, diaries, and public appearances, we see the most explosive debates of the time, and portraits of the men and women whose paths they crossed: Lincoln, Seward, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others. Tubman, embraced by Seward and Wright and by the radical network of reformers in western New York State, settled in Auburn and spent the second half of her life there. With extraordinarily compelling storytelling reminiscent of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time and David McCullough’s John Adams, The Agitators brings a vivid new perspective to the epic American stories of abolition, the Underground Railroad, women’s rights activism, and the Civil War.

46 review for The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women's Rights

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    In mid-1800s America, freedom was a foundational concept, but it had many, often thorny, branches. Who could doubt that African slaves were deprived of it, or that women, no matter how privileged, were not enjoying its fullest benefits? These multifaceted issues would lead to a destructive war and a lingering divide. In the midst of the fray were three remarkable women --- Harriet Tubman, Martha Wright and Frances Seward --- whose portraits are painted in THE AGITATORS by Dorothy Wickenden, a no In mid-1800s America, freedom was a foundational concept, but it had many, often thorny, branches. Who could doubt that African slaves were deprived of it, or that women, no matter how privileged, were not enjoying its fullest benefits? These multifaceted issues would lead to a destructive war and a lingering divide. In the midst of the fray were three remarkable women --- Harriet Tubman, Martha Wright and Frances Seward --- whose portraits are painted in THE AGITATORS by Dorothy Wickenden, a noted writer and the executive editor of The New Yorker. Harriet Tubman’s story is perhaps the best known: a former slave who singlehandedly started what became known as the Underground Railroad to move Black people from captivity in the Southern states to new lives in the Northern regions. Along the way, she was able to enlist the assistance of people like Martha Wright, a Quaker mother of seven, and Frances Seward, the wife of Governor, then Senator, then Secretary of State William H. Seward. Wright and Seward were already allies in Auburn, New York, both free-thinkers whose views were not always understood by their neighbors or, at times, their spouses. Wright was the sister of Lucretia Mott, who was well known to Tubman as a radical defender of all human rights; Mott avowed that Quakers should be not quietists but “agitators” in the face of injustice. As the possibility of war geared up, Wright, Seward and Tubman would approach it in different ways, but all were determined to abolish slavery, and to press for women’s rights and suffrage. Wickenden has mined the annals of social, political and cultural history in composing this complex, wide-ranging tome. She shows each woman in particular situations that highlight her aspirations, even describing an incident where Tubman, posing as an old lady in prayer, initiated a street brawl with constables holding a fugitive slave in chains. There are behind-the-scenes glimpses of Lincoln seen by some as a radical, by others as ineffectual. Opinions differed about his Emancipation Proclamation, with Tubman believing it wouldn’t help the people enslaved in border states like Maryland, Wright seeing it as “far less than we had hoped,” and Seward referencing doubts about its “ultimate consequences.” All three women were esteemed in their time, heading organizations and championing causes to proclaim and promote human rights well ahead of majority thinking, and all have been duly recognized and honored in Auburn and beyond. Wickenden is participating in that ongoing process, bringing their accomplishments and shared goals to light for a new generation. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden is an excellent nonfiction that weaves together the stories of three friends or “Auburn agitators”: Frances Seward, Harriet Tubman, and Martha Wright. This was an excellent book! I loved learning more about Frances, Martha, and Harriet and their quests for not only personal accomplishments, survival, and concern, but also for their selfless devotion to abolition and to advance women’s rights. I learned so much more about their involvement and additions to the ad The Agitators by Dorothy Wickenden is an excellent nonfiction that weaves together the stories of three friends or “Auburn agitators”: Frances Seward, Harriet Tubman, and Martha Wright. This was an excellent book! I loved learning more about Frances, Martha, and Harriet and their quests for not only personal accomplishments, survival, and concern, but also for their selfless devotion to abolition and to advance women’s rights. I learned so much more about their involvement and additions to the advancement of these causes, their involvement with the Underground Railroad, and also more about the societal problems and political atmosphere during the 1840s-1910s. I loved the addition of a few other famous advocates: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (National Woman Suffrage Association) , Lucy Stone, Fredrick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, and many others. I had no idea how intertwined all of these figures were. I have to say my favorite aspect was learning even more about Harriet Tubman. She is truly one of the most amazing women in modern history. I am stunned with each new thing I learn about her. I loved it! This book is well-written, well-paced, and thoroughly researched. It is clear the author did her due diligence in all of her listed sources. What she was able to create was a book that is breathtaking and unforgettable. I have already purchased this as a preorder and will recommend this to everyone I know. Well done! 5/5 stars Thank you to the Author and Scribner for this stunning ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR, Instagram, Bookbub, Amazon, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This book is as much about the Civil War as abolition and women’s rights—but of course the war heavily shaped what came next. I enjoyed the audiobook, with three narrators. Full of letters and details of these women’s backgrounds and intertwining lives, you get a real feel for the ways in which they transcended the expected roles for women of the time. But Harriet Tubman looms larger than life. I was stunned at how much I didn’t know about her, from her Union position during the Civil War to her This book is as much about the Civil War as abolition and women’s rights—but of course the war heavily shaped what came next. I enjoyed the audiobook, with three narrators. Full of letters and details of these women’s backgrounds and intertwining lives, you get a real feel for the ways in which they transcended the expected roles for women of the time. But Harriet Tubman looms larger than life. I was stunned at how much I didn’t know about her, from her Union position during the Civil War to her activism into her 90’s. So much to learn about even the African Americans we thought we’d studied...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Danaw

    Wickenden helps complete the story of the fight for women’s rights and abolition through the eyes of three incredible women. This refreshing view is knitted together through meticulous research and correspondence that provides new details and insights about a difficult time in our history. Wickenden’s storytelling is compelling and would intrigue readers interested in a good story, even if they aren’t interested in the history of the time.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Judy Santos

    Reading a good story like this one, I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition this April. If you are interested kindly check this link https://www.facebook.com/104455574751... for the mechanics of the writing contest this April and also, I am sharing your book in Facebook to help reach readers. Thank you Reading a good story like this one, I suggest you join NovelStar’s writing competition this April. If you are interested kindly check this link https://www.facebook.com/104455574751... for the mechanics of the writing contest this April and also, I am sharing your book in Facebook to help reach readers. Thank you

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As seen in the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... As seen in the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deign Pen

    Great story! You can broaden your audience by publishing your story on NovelStar Mobile App.

  8. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  9. 4 out of 5

    Johan Baetens-Verbruggen

  10. 5 out of 5

    Johnisha

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Nichols

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nonesuch

  13. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Delzeith

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jodie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alex Kasdin

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  23. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  24. 5 out of 5

    Demetria

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jen (Pop! Goes The Reader)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  29. 4 out of 5

    Blake Loomis

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ayah

  31. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jinx:The:Poet {the Literary Masochist, Ink Ninja & Word Roamer}

  33. 4 out of 5

    Julia Brown

  34. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

  35. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  36. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  37. 4 out of 5

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  38. 4 out of 5

    Lara

  39. 4 out of 5

    Shernell

  40. 5 out of 5

    MarieM

  41. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  42. 5 out of 5

    Carol Johnston

  43. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  44. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  45. 5 out of 5

    Madison Johnson

  46. 4 out of 5

    C.

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